Monday, July 18, 2011

Corn, Corn Everywhere But Not an Ear to Eat

The 2011-12 U.S. corn crop is estimated at 12.5 billion bussells. The largest producer, by state, is Iowa at 2.2 billion bussells, followed by Illinois at 2.0 billion bussells, and Nebraska at 1.5 billion bussells. With all that corn one would think that corn-on-the-cob would be readily available in farmers' markets and grocery stores in the state of Iowa. But such is not the case. The tenth largest farmers' market in the nation is located in Iowa City, IA. Dozens of farmers offer their goods each Saturday morning from spring to fall. But last weekend not one ear of corn was offered for sale there. The largest grocery store in town is the Hy-Vee, part of a Midwestern chain of 220 grocery stores. There one can buy corn-on-the-cob...shipped to Iowa from Georgia. So where is all that great Iowa corn? I think it's hiding in your gas tank.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My letter to the Wall Street Journal re: How to Cure the Housing Slump

Re: U.S. Tackles Housing Slump

Dear Sirs:
U.S. interventions have caused massive malinvestment in housing for decades. As a result, America has the wrong housing in the wrong places at the wrong price. This inventory must be liquidated before we can return to a "normal" housing market. Therefore, make foreclosures easier not harder. And, in order to prevent the same thing from happening in the future, dismantle the entire governmental housing intervention bureaucracy. Liquidate Fannie, Freddie, the FHA, etc. Repeal the extortionist Community Reinvestment Act. Don't bail out anyone.

Patrick Barron

Germany at the Rubicon

From today's Open Europe news summary:

In the Telegraph, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard argues that, with the eurozone crisis seemingly turning to Spain and Italy, “Germany must now be willing either to buy or guarantee Spanish and Italian debt, and in doing so to cross the Rubicon to fiscal and political union, or accept that EMU must break up with calamitous consequences for German foreign policy. Large matters, beyond the intellectual vision of Germany's current leaders.”

Germany--and the rest of the world, for that matter--must face up to the fact that debt, once created, cannot be ignored. It must be repaid or written off. It is time for the world to recognize that more debt solves nothing and, in fact, is counter-productive. More debt forestalls reform and funds the failed inflationist and statist policies of the post-war years. I hope that Evans-Pritchard is wrong and that these matters are not beyond the intellectual vision of Germany's current leaders. The Euro project is a failure due to economic laws that cannot be ignored. Fiat, government controlled money is a failure at the national level; elevating it to a regional level solves nothing but merely masks the inherent fatal flaws.