Slope of Hope Blog Posts

Slope initially began as a blog, so this is where most of the website’s content resides. Here we have tens of thousands of posts dating back over a decade. These are listed in reverse chronological order. Click on any category icon below to see posts tagged with that particular subject, or click on a word in the category cloud on the right side of the screen for more specific choices.

Just a Taste

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For those of you who might have missed it last weekend, I announced that David Stockman’s Contra Corner was available for subscription by way of this link. To me, this is like catnip. I read it with relish every weekday evening. Here’s an excerpt from the most recent missive:

But at least back then, the Goldman Democrat in the White House, Secretary Hank Paulson, brought a semblance of competence and restraint to the dark business of pumping trillions of loot into the coffers of crony capitalist supplicants.

By contrast, this time we have a pathetic Goldman flunky, Steve Mnuchin, who is familiar with bailouts only because he got a $3 billion windfall from Uncle Sam last time around for taking virtually no risk during the pointless resurrection of a busted Savings and Loan called Indy Mac, which had absolutely no reason for existence.

Well, of course, he also helped Eddie Lampert load up the venerable Sears & Roebuck with crushing debts to fund massive self-serving share buybacks, thereby obliterating a chain of nearly 4,000 retail stores across America with $50 billion of sales in world’s record time.

Now—just one month after crowing about the stock market’s record high on February 19— this knucklehead has been put in charge of dispensing $1 trillion in Federal bailouts to a veritable soup line of corporate supplicants who have no one to blame but themselves for the alleged cash crunch now upon them.

Japanese Reflection (4 of 4)

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I’ve been pleasantly surprised that some of my most popular posts are excerpts from the only history book I ever wrote, Panic, Prosperity, and Progress. Over this holiday weekend, I’ll be sharing, over the course of four days, the chapter dedicated to the inflation and bursting of the Japanese bubble of the 1980s. I think you’ll find some interesting parallels with China. You can read the first part here, part two is here, and part three is here.

Equities in Japan peaked on the last trading day of the year in 1989. The Nikkei ended the year with a crescendo, and the majority of market observers agreed that the market was not overvalued. There was no reason they should not have expected 1990 to bring in more profits, since the trend has been so strong, so persistent, and so long-lived.

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Japanese Reflection (3 of 4)

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I’ve been pleasantly surprised that some of my most popular posts are excerpts from the only history book I ever wrote, Panic, Prosperity, and Progress. Over this holiday weekend, I’ll be sharing, over the course of four days, the chapter dedicated to the inflation and bursting of the Japanese bubble of the 1980s. I think you’ll find some interesting parallels with China. You can read the first part here and second part here.

Japan’s economic growth did not, of course, go unnoticed by its stock market. The Nikkei 225 index, which stood at a price level of 1929 on May 31, 1970, grew steadily to 5359 by January 31 of 1973, an expansion of 177%. By August 31, 1981, the Nikkei stood at 8019, a growth of about 315% from the 1970 level. As tremendous as those returns are, looking at the long-term chart of the Nikkei, the growth was relatively steady and, in light of the bubble to come, quite muted.

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Japanese Reflection (2 of 4)

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I’ve been pleasantly surprised that some of my most popular posts are excerpts from the only history book I ever wrote, Panic, Prosperity, and Progress. Over this holiday weekend, I’ll be sharing, over the course of four days, the chapter dedicated to the inflation and bursting of the Japanese bubble of the 1980s. I think you’ll find some interesting parallels with China. You can read the first part here.

In the early 1950s, Japan focused on what it called “priority production”, which meant a focus on basics such as coal mining, steel production, and shipbuilding. It was creating a solid foundation for the widespread industrialization that would come years later, and it helped move the country away from its former focus on farming. In the modern world, becoming proficient at industries such as steel would be more valuable than another marginal increase in rice output.

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Japanese Reflection (1 of 4)

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I’ve been pleasantly surprised that some of my most popular posts are excerpts from the only history book I ever wrote, Panic, Prosperity, and Progress. Over this holiday weekend, I’ll be sharing, over the course of four days, the chapter dedicated to the inflation and bursting of the Japanese bubble of the 1980s. I think you’ll find some interesting parallels with China.

As the summer came to a close in 1945, Japan lay in ruins. It had spent the past five years at war, and the nation had been assaulted by an unrelenting fire-bombing campaign, climaxed, of course, by the only two nuclear weapons ever dropped on humans in world history. Japan, once with dreams of Pacific-wide domination, was now one of the poorest and most-devastated nations on Earth.

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One Summer: 1927

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I’m surely traipsing onto hallowed ground by saying so, but honestly, I don’t care much for this holiday. It has nothing to do with the man we’re supposed to be sitting around and remembering today. Whether today was in honor of MLK, Cole Porter, FDR, or Buddha, it’s not the person that rubs me the wrong way: it’s the timing. Hear me out on this.

See, I’m a workaholic. I’m shamelessly addicted to workahol. Yet every year, around November 20th or so, things start to slow down, as we enter the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s triumvirate of getting nothing done. Everything slows down. But, hey, I can work with that. I can maybe put together a family vacation. And there’s decorating to be done. There’s family to see. The whole schmear.

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MLK PPP – Part Three

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Preface to all three parts: I’ve written dozens of books, but the only history book I’ve ever written was Panic Prosperity and Progress. This weekend, I’m sharing one of the chapters from the book in three parts, since it offers interesting lessons about what can happen when governments decide to experiment with finance and economics. You can read Part One here and Part Two here.

Unlike many modern legislative bodies, the French Parliament did not accept the financial machinations happening around them lightly. Parliament had, by and large, protested the introduction of paper money, and even as apparent prosperity pulsated through Paris, the Parliament viewed it with great skepticism.

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