67 thoughts on “Monday message board

  1. It is not the first time I have heard this said but when I stumbled on it again in Wikipedia I felt inclined to share it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parliamentary_system

    EXTRACT:-

    There is also a body of scholarship, associated with Juan Linz, Fred Riggs, Bruce Ackerman, and Robert Dahl that claims that parliamentarianism is less prone to authoritarian collapse. These scholars point out that since World War II, two-thirds of Third World countries establishing parliamentary governments successfully transitioned to democracy. By contrast, no Third World presidential system successfully transitioned to democracy without experiencing coups and other constitutional breakdowns. As Bruce Ackerman says of the thirty countries to have experimented with American checks and balances, “All of them, without exception, have succumbed to the nightmare [of breakdown] one time or another, often repeatedly.�

    It is interesting to note that Iraq chose a parliamentarian system of government.

    Clearly the US system of government works for the USA. And there would be no point in the USA changing systems. However it may not be the best flavour of democracy to spread across the globe.

  2. I agree on the benefits of a parliamentary system.

    A presidential system has an inherent problem of conflicts between the executive and legislative branches. You have the awkward problem of two mutally dependent branches of government being controlled by opposing sides.

    This often creates gridlock and frustration. It is also an unbalanced power situation where the President can use his control over the police and military to break the deadlock, at the cost of producing authoritarianism.

  3. In the USA they have the electoral college that decides who becomes president (and hence who holds executive power). In some ways a parliamentary system is like an ongoing electoral college with the capacity to change its mind as events unfold. In spite of concerns about the AWB scandal and the governments senate majority I think that the Australian position does still constrain the ability of the executive wing (ie cabinet) to get excessively self absorbed.

  4. As for benefit analysis of different systems of gov: let’s not over-simplify the scrutiny just because here in Oz we have a parliamentary system, so it just must be the best one, hey?

    Currently it’s leaving a lot to be desired!

    Or to put it not so mildly: “caca y mierda”, which translated is something like: the poor choice between poo and sh*t, or like the Australianism: “same sh*t, different smell”.

    All this reminds me of a discussion (more a monologue really) while having a haircut a while back at my local barbers, most of them being Iraqi and Irani. Shortly after the invasion and the call for elections, this punter was telling them how the magic answer to all their sectarian problems was a parliamentary system and a federal structure, just like Oz. In fact it was perfect for most of the Middle-East: it will give them representation, independence and enough room to make everyone happy, etc, etc.

    Whenever they’d very humbly abstain from comment or even raise a difficult point or another kind of objection, he’d just wave it all away and tell them how much they should learn from stable mature democracies like UK/Oz and just get on with it, since we knew what was better for them…

  5. “Howard says Iraq is not a disaster! Seems he’s still not reading his cables.”
    Well David it may well be a case of 2 steps forward (the 2 Iraqi elections) and 1 step backwards(the stalemate over al Jafaari) The question now is whether breaking the parliamentary gridlock will see another couple of steps forward. Perhaps necessity is the mother of invention in the sense that a taste of sectarian civil war provided the impetus for all elected representatives to consider the stakes and compromise. Let’s face it, we have the luxury of leaving them all to their sectarian civil war if that’s the path they really choose.

  6. Mr Anonymous Observa,

    Um, didn’t Bush,Blair and Howard choose the path?

    Even if you think Howard is wonderful and want to vote for him forever, etc., how can his description of Iraq not being a disaster be accepted by any rational and enquiring mind? The definition of ‘disaster’ can’t possibly be stretched far enough not to include the situation in Iraq.

    I think we could debate the cons of this disaster forever. I’d prefer for Howard to explain it all to a judge at his trial for war crimes. Can’t get fairer than that. You are either for the rule of law or against it, after all.

  7. You’re right David that a debate about the pluses and minuses of progress in Iraq would be a lengthy one. Let me just make a few points. Yes the COW has been on a steep learn curve too, but that was inevitable. AQ has largely been frustrated in its attempts to get a decent foothold in Iraq, namely wide support from Iraqis. Yes they intermingled with the Sunni insurgency, but the Sunnis largely told them to push off when they overstepped the mark. Also Coalition troops have succeeded in defeating the Sunni insurgency, to the extent that Sunnis now know they cannot take back power militarily. They now need the Coalition troops to prevent incursions by Shia militias and police. The Coalition have fired a warning shot or two back at those militias to give Sunnis a feeling of equality of treatment. Now the Coalition are leaning hard on the major groups to compromise politically. In that sense the compromise of Maliki is an important glimmer of light. The Shia could have stalled indefinitely over this if they felt their military strength could grasp the reins of power permanently. Don’t underestimate here how important compromise is in any fledgling democracy, given some deep misgivings between the various groups. This was always going to be the hardest part of the Iraqi BOL venture and it’s proving to be. I’m not prepared to surrender to Western ADD just yet.

  8. Mr Anonymous Observa, (is it Mr?)

    COW, AQ,BOL,ADD. Can you provide a glossary?

    When you explain it Iraq doesn’t sound like a disaster at all. It must be just me.

    I gather you are for the rule of law and agree that Howard should explain it all to judge? He’s always saying he’s got nothing to hide. I’m sure he’d welcome the opportunity to explain how his actions aren’t covered by the international laws Australia is signatory to.

  9. I recently found that I had forgotten an embarrassing amount of detail surrounding the catastrophic rise in insurance premiums around 2001 and the associated attacks on legal liability (referred to as “tort law reform”). Does anybody know of a good, factual account in book or article form?

  10. As mentioned previously on this site I am concerned by the continued decline of the Australian dollar as measured by gold (now A$1

  11. As mentioned previously on this site I am concerned by the continued decline of the Australian dollar as measured by gold (now A$1 = 37mgg). The inflation pressure is building as we speak.

    With tax cuts coming up soon this is a bit of a policy worry. Because if the inflation monster pops its pressure valves and flows through to higher CPI then it may partially resurrect the old myth that tax cuts cause inflation.

    With oil and gold and most commodity prices heading upwards the worlds monetary authorities have clearly got things wrong again. Even spot market prices like company stocks are headed upward.

  12. Terje,

    If skyrocketing commodity prices do not flow through to higher prices for the things that end-consumers actually buy (ie consumer goods and houses), whats the problem?

    Or is it your view that skyrocketing commodity prices WILL lead to increasing general inflation, and thats why its a worry?

  13. The second one.

    It is not too late to turn it around but if they don’t do it soon then consumer prices will follow commodity prices upward. We don’t need to follow the USA down this hole but historically it seems that we do choose to.

    One could argue that it is just an oil shortage. But coupled with gold and all the other commodities I am strongly inclined to think we are suffering a currency surplus not a commodity shortage.

  14. Terje,

    Why do you think it is a currency surplus, and not a temporary speculative frenzy that will pop and leave no lasting inflationary effect?

  15. Shorter observa: “whatever happens in Iraq is what we secretly wanted to happen. The BOL is AOK (or will be PDQ).”

  16. James says: “Terje, there’s an influential British stock broker who’s been making much the same argument as you.”

    Brilliant reference: “influential British stock broker” – a David Ricardo, who wrote in 1810.

  17. It amusing to see that those who so desperately want the American Empire’s operation in Iraq to succeed,clutch at any straw..however insubstantial!!
    The new P.M comes from a shiite faction ,and spent much of his time in exile from Saddam,in Syria where he has many friends…the other man in the contest had many friends in Iran…how funny that the USA is now dependent on support from man who has link with what Bush once called the axis of evil . Still when your in the deepest of holes like Bush ,you must be thankful for small mercies..”.the kindness of strangers”,to quote a famous line .
    I remember the joy when they caught Saddam…that would solve the problem!! but it didn’t …then the elections(several) would do the trick…but no way…now a handful of politicians hiding inside the Green Zone will do the trick!!! very unlikely I think. but hopes spring eternal.!!..still better keep plenty of helicopters on hand for that interesting day when the US and its puppets have to make their exit by helicopters(see;Saigon file;1975)…now that was a real exit strategy!!!

  18. More on ‘labour market flexibility’ or lack thereof:

    Robert Rowthorn and Andrew J. Glyn (2006) “Convergence and Stability in U.S. Employment Rates”, Contributions to Macroeconomics: Vol. 6: No. 1, Article 4

    “Since the seminal work of Blanchard and Katz, it has been widely believed that interstate migration causes state-level employment rates in the United States to revert rapidly to normal following a regional employment shock. This paper identifies two sources of bias in conventional estimates of the dynamics of regional labor markets: small sample bias stemming from the use of short time series, and measurement error in survey based series for employment status at the state level. Estimates that use more reliable series and correct for these biases suggest little or no mean reversion in state-level employment rates. Thus the perception that U.S. regional labor markets are highly flexible appears to be incorrect. “

  19. Ernestine,

    If labour is not so mobile then isn’t it somewhat essential (for the unemployed) that price is made as flexible as possible.

    Assuming price flexibility then a decline in production within an economic region will lead to a decline in currency within that region (as consumption continues for a while via imports) and in turn there will be downward pressure on prices (localised deflation). It is this reduced price of labour that then attracts new factors of production to the region.

    On a global scale we are currently seeing this effect in play as factors of production move to regions where labour prices are cheapest.

    So if the mountain won’t come to the Mohammad we should not make it unappealing for Mohammad to go to the mountain.

    Regards,
    Terje.

  20. Katz, calm down mate. Prissy pursed-mouth responses to humour don’t belong in debate among rational people who have a whole persona. Your behaviour is rather like Generalissimo Quiggin and his post earlier this week about smokers being barred from all scientific discussion – perhaps they are to be burned on a pyre next.

    Anyway I principally logged in to unscramble some of the alphabet soup of Observa, and very interesting it is.
    COW = Council of War, that’s obvious
    AQ = Osama’s team Al Qaeda
    BOL = spaghetti Bol. Actually it seems that observa is the main proponent of this arcana acronymiis. Tony Blair is a fan of the Beacon of Light (BoL, BOL) approach that Iraq, cleaned up of Saddam, would be a beacon of light for the middle East. Observa, this acronym is hard to understand and you’re its main proponent and I note your extensive use of the phrase in many posts in many websites almost never gets understood.
    ADD = attention deficit disorder, and refers of observa’s point that (I’m with him on this too) it’s so typical of the West and the US that they don’t stay the distance, due to a confluence of two strands – the ‘get them out now’ Latham-followers and the Cindy Sheehans and the bleeding heart liberals want to get out and leave the moderates in the local couintry higfh and dry, and the ‘realpolitik limited objectives’ people like George Bush 1 after GW1 (Gulf War 1) and Roosevelt at Yalta with Stalin who also pull out too early and leave havoc behind. This is why the US is rarely trusted around the world for its staying power and why many in-country people hold back and don’t commit because of fear that the US will pull out and the locals, exposed, will get killed like the Kurds etc after GW1.
    So coming bacxk to observa’s theme, and I agree, this is why we must not have any ill-considered get out now approach. This is not some weekend fling. The Iraq democratisation has gone through many different phases which oibserva has summarised very well, comoplete with acronyms. Unfortunately you get little of this in the media because they all conflate all the many factions into one pottage of rag-heads, with no discernment of what’s actually happening.
    LOL

  21. While it may amuse Brian to see Iraq descend into sectarian civil war in order to somehow punish evil Murrikans (and presumably all the other COW evil empires involved) for daring to presume Iraqis might need better civil govt than Saddam’s regime, it certainly won’t amuse me. Nor quite a few Iraqis I dare say, if they fumble the baton and fail to run with it. I like many others, will not exactly be so chuffed to think that ME Muslims really need the totalitarian hand of a Saddam to weld their countries together. However if that is the case I will take on board that information stoically and move on. Personally, the followers of Islam have not been a great source of amusement for me these last few years.

  22. AG,

    How very post-modern of you to adopt the persona of the unreliable narrator. For that is the only explanation possible of your melange of half-truths and ham-fisted “wisecracks”.

    Given your betrayal of your lack of comprehension, your views on Iraq, while symptomatically fascinating, come as no surprise. That fact in no way detracts from their ability to amuse.

    Please do make more contributions on as many issues as you feel fit to comment upon. (I believe that you may well feel confident in commenting on an almost infinite range of interesting and important topics.)

    The world needs more humour, even though it happens to be unintentional.

  23. COW was ‘Coalition of the Willing’ in reference to the countries that participated in the invasion of Iraq and regime change. It was widely used at the time but may have fallen from favour somewhat nowadays.

  24. Not surprisingly the term “Coalition of the Willing” (COW) has fallen into disuse as erstwhile COW nations have folded their tents and stolen away into the night. Italy will soon do the same. Britain tried something similar some time back when the British Government attempted to convince Australia to take over Britain’s role in Basra for the purported reason that Britain had more pressing business in Afghanistan.

    Just for the record, I do agree with Observa’s comments about the “ADD” of the West.

    Observa has dedicated himself to becoming a cheerleader supporting greater firmness of purpose.

    I, on the other hand, am less romantic in my expectations. The infirmity of purpose of US voters is a long-standing fact. Any assessment of US foreign military policy that ignores this fact is useless.

    A perusal of the poll figures measuring US attitudes to the war in Iraq indicate that it is highly likely that the US will run out of steadfastness of purpose long before “the job is done”.

    No amount of pom pom waving by Observa is likely to change that fact.

    So why deceive people with promises that can’t be fulfilled?

  25. “So why deceive people with promises that can’t be fulfilled?”

    Probably to do with the shortcoming of our ‘infidel assemblies’
    http://theage.com.au/news/world/bin-laden-says-west-waging-war-against-islam/2006/04/24/1145730817390.html
    Nothing to do with 25% of reconstruction costs being absorbed by security, albeit that business overdraft rates around 23% on borrowed capital in our economies, the last time I looked, had some rather unpleasant repercussions.

    No, you’d have to put it down to infidel assemblies if Iraq goes pear shaped. If that is the case then we can forget any thought of intervention/regime change in places like Sudan, Zimbabwe, Iran, etc. Just bomb the shit out of them like Milosevic and Ghaddaffi. Sweating in the dark, particularly underground, may be the most effective cure for these totalitarian motor mouths and their cheer squads. Clearly infidel assemblies are for true infidels only.

  26. You’re flirting with the fringes of opacity here Observa.

    Please state your case in short sentences.

    Please restrict yourself to one (apt) metaphor per paragraph. Your metaphors tend to fight each other like cats in a bag. (If you’ll pardon the simile.)

  27. And let’s face it on this remembrance day. Trench warfare and Marshall Plan reconstruction aint exactly what they used to be. Video game weapons delivery on our news is more hip and has the added benefit of not having to put up with the Cindy Sheahans.

  28. Katz,
    Basically Osama reckons our ‘infidel assemblys’ and Islam are incompatible. The left have largely tended to agree with him, but perhaps due to the shortcomings of our infidel assemblies ‘we’ have been slow to see their truer light here. Beacon of Light Blairites in Iraq, might eventually have to concede that. ‘We’ (collectively via our infidel assemblies)are not generally given to continually ignore the bleeding obvious. That would then call for a change of methodology and it will be axiomatic to look at what has worked in the past with dictators and their cheer squads. IMO we won’t have to look much further than Milosevic and Ghaddaffi. AmenJihad and Co have probably already worked that out. Leaves them in a delicate dilemma over affecting short term outcomes in Iraq too wouldn’t you say? Well, at least until they can pick up some nuclear insurance it does.

  29. Osama seems to be quite an astute chap, especially in the light of the bizarre nature of his world view.

    He appears to understand that there is a fundamental contradiction between establishing a civil society and the methods used by the vestages of the COW in Iraq and elsewhere.

    Napoleon faced the same problems in Spain. He entered the country promising liberty and liberation from superstition, ignorance and tyranny. Unlke the US troops, French troops actually did receive flowers and chocolates from grateful natives in the early days.

    But it couldn’t last. And it didn’t. Goya documented it brilliantly. They’re well worth a look. Many remind me of Abu Ghraib.

    As someone observed, “No one likes a missionary carrying a gun.”

    Eventually Spain evolved into a civil society indistinguishable from the rst of Europe, but it didn’t happen until more than a century and a half after Napoleon was booted out of the Iberian Peninsula.

    The Americans don’t seem to understand that if you try to rush these things you just make them worse. This is a fatal weakness for a culture that has the attention span and the pain tolerance of a gnat.

  30. I’ll treat the silly remark of Katz about shooting me ,with the contempt it deserve,though how John Quiggin views such tasteless remarks, I don’t know. If I was a Palestinian activist of course ,the “democratic” Israelis would call that”targeted killing.,Katz wouldn’t they?..and Andy George calling Arabs “ragheads”is just a pure example of racism,which I was suprised to see on this website,and the sort of stuff one would expect to hear on “Fox” news or some US shock-jock’s program.
    As for Cindy Sheehan she actually has the distinction of having lost a son in Bush’s futile war.Still all will be revealed in time,as facts are stubbon things,and the US and it’s diminished band of allies(Italy will now be out within a month!)will one day,surely, learn the futility of its’ policies…based on these two unswerving principles ,getting the opl,and supporting Israel.I just read today thast Brent Scowcroft, a senior republican aide to Bush.Snr. in 1990,said that”Sharon had George .W. twisted round his little finger”…now if you want to know about the disasters of US policy in the M.E .that might be a matter to consider.

  31. Actually Brian I would have thought your obvious point about US support for Israel, would have flown completely in the face of ‘it’s all about oil’ logic concerning US foreign policy here. Funnily enough if the US pragmatically backed the Arabs and the Russians Israel, I could easily imagine the left prattling on about the evil, US and its lackey Arabs picking on the poor little bloke in the ME. Since the US backs liberal democratic Israel against any obvious oil self-interest in the region, then it’s all the way with Islamic theocracy for the left, although some like John Quiggin, can’t hold their noses any longer over Allah’s Axers, Hammers, Hissholler, or whatever name the latest Muslim death cult worshipper prefers to go by. This new theocratic left of course have no grubby interests in earthly things like oil, because they walk everywhere or if they do own a bicycle, they walked(or more likely swam) to the factory to purchase it. Still we mustn’t begrudge them their moment of truth that Muslims are not ready for our ‘infidel assemblies’ and it could be centuries before they ‘evolve’ in their own good time. If they are right, I’ll look forward to their logical conclusion that multicuturalism is a pipe dream and naturally what it means for deciding who comes here.

  32. Brian,

    That remark was made by “Steve at the Pub”. I deleted it as soon as I saw it, but didn’t catch the response from Katz, who was quoting the now-vanished post by SATP.

    SATP, this was a serious breach of civility, which I specifically require from all commenters and mention explicitly in the post announcing this thread.

    I request that you apologise to Brian and refrain from anything similar in future. Please don’t offer quibbles about “only a joke” or similar. It’s hard enough running a blog without having to deal with this kind of thing.

  33. Just passing by and wish to explain one point. My use of the term ragheads was not to imply that this is my view as, as I hoped my post showed, there is a range of views, many different races, tribes and religious groups involved. I meant only to comment on the fact that most of the popular media makes no distinction between Shia, Sunni, Kurd and other people of Iraq and conflates them into ‘Itaqi insurgents, Iraqi unrest, etc.’ I’ve been reading Fisk today and am interested to see that even he, who also favours exist of the COW from Iraw, is at a loss to understand who’s behind the bombings and who’s behind the destablisation campaign.
    I take your point Katz about Napoleon and other ‘peacemaker’ hegemonists, and parallels include Stalin post-Yalta and the Germans in France. The problem is that, having made the mess, the COW now, if they retire, will create a massive loss of life. I for one don’t want to be culpable for that.

  34. “The problem is that, having made the mess, the COW now, if they retire, will create a massive loss of life. I for one don’t want to be culpable for that.”

    That is a valid moral viewpoint.

    However, does anyone seriously suggest that the COW still has, or intends to, invest military and financial resources necessary to decrease materially the current suffering of the Iraqi people?

    It’s not good enough to argue that things were worse under Saddam. He’s been gone for more than three years.

    The US has already pulled stopped supplying development aid.

    No nation is committing significantly increased numbers of troops. Italy is about to leave. Britain is removing troops.

    So isn’t it naive to believe that the COW is doing anything useful right now for the suffering Iraqis?

    And isn’t it true that Bush’s tough talk is primarily for domestic purposes?

    Thus we arrive at the overriding practical point which trumps even the most valid moral point: why continue to subsist on false hopes and why prolong the agony?

  35. “why continue to subsist on false hopes and why prolong the agony?”

    That’s really a question you need to address to the elected representatives of the Iraqi people. As far as I’m aware they want COW troops there and presumably when they don’t any longer, they’ll ask us politely to leave. True, we could make an executive decision without consulting them on this.

  36. observa Says:

    That’s really a question you need to address to the elected representatives of the Iraqi people. As far as I’m aware they want COW troops there and presumably when they don’t any longer, they’ll ask us politely to leave.

    Nice bit of fantasy there, observa.

    The US apparently plans to stay for a long time, regardless of any polite requests.

    NEWSWEEK: Balad Air Base in Iraq Evidence That U.S. Planning to Stay For a Long Time; 15-Square-Mile Mini-City One of Four ‘Superbases’ Where The Pentagon Will Consolidate U.S. Forces
    Sunday April 23, 3:38 pm ET
    New $592 Million ‘Massive’ U.S. Embassy Being Built in Baghdad

    NEW YORK, April 23 /PRNewswire/ — Despite all the political debate in Washington about a quick U.S. pullout from Iraq, the vast Balad Air Base, a 15-square-mile mini-city of thousands of trailers and vehicle depots located 43 miles north of Baghdad, is hard evidence that the Pentagon is planning to stay in Iraq for a long time-at least a decade or so, according to military strategists.

  37. Can we assume then the Iraqi govt has indicated they’d like a US security presence around for at least a decade or so? Presumably they both agree on the need for such an air base to launch air strikes against any neighbouring threat to Iraq’s security, particularly from those seeking WMD. It certainly makes a lot of sense, given some of the rhetoric of late.

  38. Can we assume then the Iraqi govt has indicated they’d like a US security presence around for at least a decade or so?

    What’s with the attachment to fantasy, observa? Why would anyone assume that the government formed a couple of days ago pre-emptively asked months ago that this base be built?

  39. Off subject, but it is now midweek?

    We have not heard much of the Family Tax Benefit from the economic gurus that loiter on this blog.

    “Here’s a wild idea. Lower taxes might mean cutting government spending on middle-class welfare such as family tax benefits and childcare subsidies. The Government collects less tax, pays less out in welfare and, instead, allows people to decide for themselves how they spend their money”.

    Read more here:

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,18712230-32522,00.html

  40. Good God econwit, how are you possibly going to wean the Women’s Movement off subsidised childcare. Besides many of us have shares in ABC Childcare Centres. You just need to be able adjust to new economic realities in times of rapid social change.

  41. Gosh, I have been very naughty and expressed a sentiment which is quoted verbatim by Katz. “Somebody

    Brian: Sorry for saying you should be shot. I was out of order. Blog commenting should never attract wishes of physical harm. How much better off (if at all) the world would be without you is something I am in no position to know. I believe you are quite safe, as nobody ever seems to take instruction/advice from me.

    JQ: I most definitely was NOT joking. Would never my mind to claim that I was. Neither will I claim I just meant he should be “winged”, as I was thinking “fair between the eyes”, even if I didn’t say it.

    Slanging matches online are rather pointless and jejune. I certainly don’t want to start one. There is enough ranting of “you’re a commo”, retort “you’re a nazi” etc etc online without me giving people cause to start more rot.

    You do a sterling job putting up with all of us & keeping this blog running. I can’t keep track of where on the net I even left a blog comment, never mind watch over and moderate the comments of others. I don’t know how you do it.

  42. Katz: It is not the slightest interest to me what the NSW crimes act says. NSW is suitable as a GST collection point, the proceeds of which are then injected by the government into my northern town. Otherwise it isn’t even on the radar screen here, (except at State of Origin time).

    Read again that link you provide. Crown law would not touch with a 40-foot pole a case against me.

    Even if I did step into the Tardis & go to NSW, what would I have to worry about? I have spent time in NSW, I have seen Lebanese thugs deliberatly and coldly STAB people in front of a cinema full of witnesses, get arrested, and still not go to jail (not even on remand) or recieve any punishment. What could I possibly have to fear by typing an abstract comment such as: “Someone should do the world a favour & shoot Brian”?

    Queensland law, however, has jurisdiction over me, and despite my most fervent prayers, it is still not a breach of the law here to express the sentiment that “someone should shoot someone”.

    You are suggesting I am a loser? This thought crosses my mind every day. Wins in life seem to be so much outnumbered by the losses that sometimes I wonder why I bother. Or perhaps that is just my personal perception, as others feel that my lot in life is a very fortunate one, and they would love to be me.

  43. Terje, there’s an influential British stock broker who’s been making much the same argument as you.

    James,

    Thankyou for the article.

    http://socserv2.socsci.mcmaster.ca/~econ/ugcm/3ll3/ricardo/bullion

    Unfortunately David Ricardo includes some classical arguments such as:-

    Gold and silver, like other commodities, have an intrinsic value, which is not arbitrary, but is dependent on their scarcity, the quantity of labour bestowed in procuring them, and the value of the capital employed in the mines which produce them.

    I find this type of appeal to “intrinsic value” to be a very disappointing but popular argument amoungst gold bugs (and classical writers). I have yet to see any useful definition for “intrinsic value” that makes any economic sence.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intrinsic_theory_of_value

    Value is subjective and is not resident within an object in the manner that electric charge or mass might be. The comment also seeks to import a naive version of the “labour theory of value”. Of course it is not just gold bugs that make this mistake. It is frequently argued that the value of fiat currencies is created merely “by decree” when in fact the value is once again a market phenomena underpinned by supply and demand.

    No disrespect to David Ricardo. I am sure he could make some very astute counter points.

    In terms of what gets into the media these days I found this more recent article:-

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/business/faber-says-gold-price-may-reach-us6000/2006/04/25/1145861346435.html

    MARC FABER, who told investors to bail out of US stocks a week before the 1987 Black Monday crash and began recommending commodities at the end of 2001, said gold might rise tenfold in the next 10 years.

    The author of the newsletter The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report said gold wasn’t expensive when “you compare its price to the quantity of money that has been printed in the last 10 to 15 years in the US and the world in general”.

    Whilst I fundamentally agree that printing extra currency is inflationary in nature the actual outcome in terms of a currencies value (and an actual inflation outcome) depends not only on changes in supply of a currency but also changes in demand. With floating fiat currencies we have a complex situation since every new round of currency printing increases the supply of the domestic currency but also creates a new source of demand for foreign currencies. Hence a lot of new currency printing may simply end up as reciprocal reserves in foreign central banks as each bank increases supply to contend with demand created by other central banks. Only a more detailed analysis would be able to uncover any significant “quantity” pointers that might be indicative of future currency valuations.

    There are many arguments in favour of using gold as a benchmark for value. Whilst I am an advocate of the proposition I also observe that a lot of the arguments simply don’t stack up. I would caution against any assumption that gold is headed for US$6000 per ounce. Although I will be bold and predict that we will see more such forcasts in the media in the coming months.

    Should the central bankers at the US Federal Reserve become cognisant of the problem and should they have the will to act then gold could be back at US$450 within hours. All they need do is announce that they are targeting gold instead of interest rates, indicate their target trading range and back it up with open market operations. Easy peasy!!

    Regards,
    Terje.

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