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Daily Archives: September 3, 2022

In Pictures: 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350

Source : Bring A Trailer

Book Review: The Politically Incorrect Guide to Economics

David Gordon wrote . . . . . . . . .

Like Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard, Tom DiLorenzo is an economist with an extraordinary knowledge of history, and this shows to great advantage in his brilliant new book. In it, he stresses that economists who fail to grasp how the free market works often devise elaborate theories to show “market failures,” but when examined in the light of historical evidence, these theories fall to the ground.

As a prime example of this, Paul Samuelson in his Economics, for decades the most influential university textbook, indicted the market for its failure to conform to the welfare ideal of “perfect competition.” Concerning this, DiLorenzo says:

That never-to-be-realized-anywhere-on-earth state of perfect competition is one where all products in every industry are identical; they are produced by “many” business firms; everyone charges the same price; everyone has perfect information … and there is free or costless entry into every industry and every exit out of it. Several other equally unrealistic assumptions were added over the years, but these were always the main ones. This pipe dream became the new understanding of what constituted “competition,” at least among academic economists. (pp. 30–31)

Supporters of this view used the perfect competition model to demand that large firms be broken up. Couldn’t “monopolists” engage in “predatory pricing” to secure their position against competitors? DiLorenzo finds no historical evidence that such a thing has ever taken place.

In fact, to this day there is no record of any business achieving a monopoly through predatory pricing! There have nevertheless been hundreds of antitrust lawsuits based on this theory, most of them private lawsuits with one company suing a competitor for lowering its prices. Think about that: in the name of protecting the consumer, antitrust regulation allows businesses to sue to “protect” customers from their competitors’ lower prices. (p. 38)

Unfortunately, perfect competition is far from the only case of an alleged “market failure.” Critics charge that “public goods,” goods that are both nonrival and nonexcludable, cannot be adequately supplied in the free market. As an example, a guided-missile defense system protects everyone within a territory, not just customers willing to pay for it; and, given the large numbers of consumers of this good, people could in a free market “free ride,” imagining that others would bear the burden. General awareness of this phenomenon will make everyone reluctant to pay, since even those who want the good would rather not pay for it.

“Away with this flimsy theory!” says DiLorenzo: it too lacks historical support.

Another problem with the theory of the “free-rider problem” is that there are examples all around us of private individuals and groups providing myriad types of goods and services that are “nonrival” and “nonexcludable.” Americans are probably the most charitable people in the world…. The very existence of the many privately funded charities proves that the free-rider problem is not nearly as severe a problem as students of economics are led to believe…. Especially at the state and local levels of government, it is hard to think of any service provided by governments that is not also provided by private businesses (or private nonprofit organizations), usually at a fraction of the cost and with higher quality and customer service to boot. (pp. 67–69)

DiLorenzo finds a general pattern that underlies the failure of all the various attacks on the free market. In the free market, entrepreneurs have an incentive to satisfy consumers, as that is the path to profit. Government bureaucrats have no such incentive; to the contrary, they are free to seek “power and pelf,” as Murray Rothbard used to say. DiLorenzo puts this key insight in this way:

Profits and losses are the measuring rods of how good a job a business is doing with regard to serving its customers. Growing profits mean that a better and better job is being done in that regard; losses mean the opposite. No one is forced to buy anything from anyone in a free market…. In government bureaucracies, failure is success. The worse the public schools get, the more money they get in next year’s budget. The longer government fails in the War on Poverty, the more money the poverty agencies get. The longer the failed wars that are never won go on, the more enriched is the Pentagon and the military-industrial establishment. And on and on. (pp. 121–23)

If the free market is better than a centrally directed economy, we must in choosing proper policy beware that we have the genuine article, not a counterfeit. As an example, DiLorenzo first aptly brings out the fallacies of protectionism. “Chief among them is the ‘Buy American’ scam designed to make people believe that protectionism will somehow save American jobs. The truth is that protectionism may temporarily preserve some jobs in the protected industry, but always at the expense of destroying other American jobs elsewhere and plundering American consumers with higher prices” (p. 178).

But, he says, international trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) do not in fact promote free trade but subject it to government control.

Just because politicians call something a “free trade agreement” doesn’t make it one. They always choose wonderful-sounding names for their legislation, which in reality is usually the work of scores of greedy plunder-seeking lobbyists. This was the case with NAFTA, which was some 2,400 pages of bureaucratic regulation and central planning of the trade between the United States, Canada, and Mexico and the rest of the world. It contained nine hundred pages of tariffs, the opposite of free trade. (pp. 181–82)

As mentioned above, DiLorenzo has a wide knowledge of history, and this he puts to exemplary use in his discussion of the federal income tax, which, he aptly reminds us, the great Old Right author Frank Chodorov called “the root of all evil.” However much we hate to pay taxes, Chodorov’s phrase may seem exaggerated, but, DiLorenzo reminds us, he had a point.

Americans were literally turned into slaves of the state, said Chodorov, for what the government was now saying to its citizens was: “Your earnings are not exclusively your own. We have a claim on them, and our claim precedes yours. We will allow you to keep some of it, because we recognize your need, but not your right … The amount of your earnings that you may retain for yourself is determined by the needs of the government, and you have nothing to say about it.” In other words, the income tax was the biggest attack on the principle of private property in American history. (p. 163)

Relying on the great book of Felix Morley, Freedom and Federalism, which he calls “the best book ever written about American federalism” (p. 165), DiLorenzo says that the federal income tax bypassed the authority of the states over their citizens. Further, “it essentially turned most state governments into puppets of the ‘federal’ government once the federal government had enough funds with which to bribe or threaten the states to bend to its will by either granting or withholding ‘aid to the states’” (p. 165).

Tom DiLorenzo’s masterful book brings out in unsurpassed fashion that the free market rests on mutually beneficial exchange. He quotes Adam Smith: “Whoever offers to another a bargain of any kind proposes to do this: Give me that which I want, and you shall have that which you want, is the meaning of every such offer; and it is this manner that we obtain from one another the far greater part of those good offices which we stand in need of” (p. 5). (Smith, by the way, here alludes to the Latin do ut des, “I give that you may give,” important in the Roman religion and civil law.). The book is, as David Stockman says, a worthy successor to Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson.

Source : Mises Institue

China’s Biggest Developer Says Property Crisis Has Yet to Bottom

China’s biggest property developer by sales is predicting more pain for the real estate industry after posting a record drop in first-half profit.

“The home market hasn’t entirely bottomed out, and the sector’s consolidation isn’t over,” Country Garden Holdings Co. Chief Financial Officer Wu Bijun said at an earnings briefing on Tuesday afternoon. “Property sales nationwide still haven’t stabilized.”

China’s developers are grappling with a yearlong sales slump, as homebuyer confidence evaporates during a liquidity crunch that’s stalled projects and triggered a wave of debt defaults.

Country Garden’s net profit slumped 96% to 612 million yuan ($88 million) in the six months ended June, the Foshan-based company said. That was the sharpest decline since its 2007 listing in Hong Kong.

Wu said that while a trough of corporate profit has “started to emerge,” the developer’s income statement will remain under pressure in the near future. “No one had envisioned such a cold market environment earlier,” she said.

Speaking at the same online briefing, President Mo Bin said the housing market is likely to return to normal by June next year.

Source : BNN Bloomberg

Read also at Fortune

Chinese property developers slump 87% in the first half of 2022—and it’s possible the housing market still hasn’t ‘bottomed out’ . . . . .


作者: 何國俊 . . . . . . . . .



為了應對極端氣候勢將帶來的超額死亡,政策制定者有兩大核心工具可用:一、減緩氣候變化政策(climate change mitigation policy),即通過降低能源的生產和消耗來減少溫室氣體排放。二、適應氣候變化政策(climate change adaptation policy),比如天氣寒冷之際,提供廉價取暖能源;夏季時則在公共場所和家居進一步普及空調等。2016年,《政治經濟學期刊》(Journal of Political Economy)的一篇文章估計,近半個多世紀以來,隨着空調的普及,美國人死於酷熱的風險下降了75%。







在搜集和分析了日本在2008至2015年間各地區的死亡、天氣、節能目標等資料後,筆者與柏克萊加州大學的合作者Takanao Tanaka在研究中發現,節能政策會加劇極端溫度對死亡率的影響:在節能目標較高的地區,更多人死於極端高溫或低溫。由於日本節能政策主要強調要在夏季節約用電,高溫帶來的死亡風險上升最為明顯。具體來說,我們的測算表明,日本大規模的節能政策造成與高溫相關的死亡風險增加了約3倍,導致每年超過7700人超額死亡。






Source : HKU











她的这种暗示在学界也得到了呼应。新加坡管理大学(Singapore Management University)法学院终身教授高树超(Henry S. Gao)在推特上转发了这篇文章,并评价说,在中国,历史并不仅仅是一些有趣且无用的事实,它往往预示着重大的政治变化。在推文中,他还贴出了作为文革导火索的姚文元文章《评新编历史剧〈海瑞罢官〉》的截图。











Source : RFA

Read also at 中国历史研究院

中国历史研究院课题组:明清时期“闭关锁国”问题新探 . . . . .