2013 Global Financial Summit Report

I just returned from the Global Financial Summit in the Bahamas, where over 200 attendees came from all over the world to learn about new investment opportunities and market solutions to the world’s problems.  We were welcomed by the cabinet members of the Bahamian government, who emphasized how the Bahamas is a first-rate financial center and investment paradise.  It has no tax on income or investments (but does impose a high 42% import duty).   I visited Albany, a new development for the superrich such as Tiger Woods.  I am not surprised they are moving there in droves, given the huge tax increases imposed in 2013.

My family and I lived in the Bahamas in the mid-1980s and I saved enough in taxes to buy a flat in London (without giving up my citizenship).  My story can be found here.

Here’s a short summary (expect more detail in the March Forecasts & Strategies newsletter): [Read more…]

Big News! Stossel Coming to FreedomFest 2013

Big News! John Stossel Coming to FreedomFest!

Dear FreedomFest attendees,

Lots of news to report about this year’s big show.  First and foremost:

When we ask past attendees, what famous libertarian they want to speak at FreedomFest, John Stossel is their #1 choice – by far.

Your wish is our command:  We are happy to announce that John Stossel is coming to FreedomFest and will be taping a special edition of his Fox Business show, STOSSEL, at FreedomFest on the first day of the conference, Thursday, July 11, 2013 (just think 7-11). And you all are invited! [Read more…]

My First Book Review for Barrons – “Conscious Capitalism”

Here is my first book review on Barrons — on John Mackey’s new book, “Conscious Capitalism,” which I regard as revolutionary and encourage everyone to get a copy at either a Whole Foods store (always fun to visit) or on Amazon:


The Soul of the New Capitalism

A worthy successor to The Wealth of Nations

Reviewed by Mark Skousen

We tend to regard capitalism in these cynical times as the worst economic system, except for all the others. By contrast, in Conscious Capitalism, Whole Foods Market Co-CEO John Mackey and Bentley College marketing professor Raj Sisodia put forward what could be the most ambitious, indeed revolutionary, model for capitalism ever conceived. Had their application of higher consciousness been in the boardroom a generation ago, we might have avoided the suffocating regulations of Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank, and the dire straits of companies like General Motors, Sears, Citibank, and even Enron.

Conscious capitalism, according to Mackey and Sisodia, is “a way of thinking about business that is more conscious of its higher purpose, its impacts on the world, and the relationships it has with its various constituencies and stakeholders.”

Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business

by John Mackey and Raj Sisodia
Harvard Business Press
368 pages, $27

Although they call free enterprise the source of “unprecedented prosperity for humanity,” they challenge the two celebrity philosophers of capitalism, Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman. They reject the Randian notion that “selfishness” and “greed” are virtues, and deny the Friedman view that the only responsibility of capitalism is to maximize profits for its shareholders.

“Business is not about making as much money as possible,” the authors declare. “It’s about creating value for stakeholders.” Companies must develop sterling reputations to attract loyal customers, employees and suppliers, and generate community goodwill. If they do, superior returns can be achieved in earnings and stock price as a byproduct, not as a primary goal. [Read more…]

Report from AEA Meetings in San Diego: The FED = Inflation

I returned early this year from a productive trip to San Diego for the American Economic Association (AEA) meetings, where I met with several top economists, including Nobel Prize winners. One of the most popular sessions was a panel on the 100th anniversary of the Federal Reserve. The most shocking graph was presented by Ken Rogoff, a Harvard economist.

As the graph indicates, there was virtually no inflation prior to 1913, when the Federal Reserve was created (other than wars, which caused temporary inflation) and we went off the classical gold standard. Rogoff noted that since the Fed was created, prices have skyrocketed 30-fold, or 3,000%! This data confirms Murray Rothbard’s contention that the Fed was created to remove the barriers to inflation, not to control it.

Despite the fact that the Fed engineered all of this inflation, caused the Great Depression and failed to regulate the mortgage banks prior to the 2008 crisis, all of the panelists gave high marks to the Fed! (You can bet that won’t be the case at our special panel on the 100th anniversary of the Fed at FreedomFest!)

Another telling sign was the fact that the sessions with super Keynesian Paul Krugman were standing room only, while monetarists including Nobel laureate Bob Lucas had a small turnout.

What does this situation bode for the future? If Krugman has his way, it means greater deficits, more inflation, and higher taxes.

Paul Krugman’s Endorses Say’s Law!

Paul Krugman endorses Say’s law! In a Sept 13 New York Times op-ed, “The iPhone Stimulus,” Paul Krugman blunders by confusing Keynes’ law (demand creates supply) with Say’s law (supply creates demand). He discusses how the production of the iPhone 5 will now bring a boost to gross domestic product (GDP) of something like half a percent. As classical economist Steve Kates wrote, “Krugman uses the production and
sale of a very much value adding item of technology to prove that Keynes was right when what he is really doing is proving that Keynes was wrong and that Say’s Law is right.” Krugman argues that when a private sector firm produces a value-adding good or service, it adds to economic growth. This is not Keynes, this is Say’s law and classical economics, which always has looked at economics from the supply side. Keynes’
“innovation,” a disaster of the highest order, was to argue that you could stimulate an economy from the demand side by simply buying things without having had value-adding production first.

Yours in liberty, AEIOU,

Mark Skousen

My Run In with the Irrepressible and Dangerous Paul Krugman in London

I’ve been in Poland and England on a very successful speaking tour — all SRO crowds.  In Poland, thanks for Jan Fijor, many of my books have been translated….In London I spoke at the Adam Smith Institute on “Austrian economics for Investors” and the Institute for Economic Affairs on “Hayek vs. Keynes:  Who’s On Top?”  Needless to say, in today’s crisis mode, Keynes and Keynesian economics are clearly on top.

Speaking of which……

This evening after my wife and I went to “Top Hat,” a fantastic new musical based on Irving Berlin’s film of the same name, we ran into Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize economist and foremost advocate of “crude” Keynesian deficit spending, who is here in London on a book tour.  I asked him a series of questions: [Read more…]

A Visit to Morocco

On April 19, my wife and I flew to Morocco for the Mont Pelerin Society meetings, the first to take place in an Arab country.  We stayed at the Le Royal Mansour Meridien in downtown Casablanca, a first class hotel with great service, but surrounding the hotel was a lot of dust, litter, and construction.  The city of 6 million did not live up to its romanticized exotic reputation, and was quite “Third World.”  

That evening we went to Rick’s Café for our wedding anniversary.  The restaurant, named after the famous Humphrey Bogart film, is eloquent and first class: www.rickscafe.ma.  When we arrived the maitre d’ announced, “best table in the house for the Skousens!”  We were placed right next to the piano, where the piano player played tunes such as “As Time Goes By.”  We had a great meal, and a wonderful evening.  Highly recommended.  [Read more…]

Making of Modern Economics #2 in Ayn Rand Institute’s Top-Ten Must Read Books in Economics

Good news.  My book, The Making of Modern Economics, now in its second edition, won recognition from the Ayn Rand Institute, which published its first “top ten must-read books in economics,”  The Making of Modern Economics was ranked second, right behind Henry Hazlitt’s classic Economics in One Lesson. I’m not complaining, since Steve Mariotti, president of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), recently wrote that “Mark Skousen is the Henry Hazlitt of our time who can explain complex issues in a clear way.”

My book tells the bold story of economics, with free-market economist Adam Smith as the heroic figure who comes under attack by the Marxists, socialists and Keynesians, but triumphs in the end with the help of the Austrians, Chicagoans, and supply-siders. It recently won the Choice Book Award for Outstanding Academic Title, and is highly popular among students and intelligent laymen who love a good story with lots of anecdotes and pictures. As John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, says, “I’ve read Mark’s book three times. It’s fun to read on every page.”

It is available on Amazon, including an audio version, but you can get the book cheaper by calling Eagle Publishing at 1-800/211-7661. The price is only $49.95 for hardback (code ECONH3), $29.95 for paperback (ECONP3), plus $5 for shipping and handling ($10 if outside of the United States).

My Run-In With the SEC

Last Thursday I was at Utah State in Logan, where I delivered the luncheon address at the annual Partners in Business conference there.  It is the first time I’ve been invited to speak before a group of professional accountants.  Beautiful setting in the mountains.

In the morning session, the chief accountant of the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) from 2007 to 2011 (he’s now works for Price Waterhouse but said he wants to come back as an SEC commissioner) spoke for nearly an hour on the “Current Developments of the SEC” and not once mentioned the $64 billion Bernie Madoff scandal or how it has affected SEC policy (new whistleblower program, etc.).

Needless to say, I was incensed. 

After his talk, he took questions, and I asked, “I’m amazed that in your entire talk you never once mentioned the biggest scandal in SEC history and biggest financial fraud ever committed on Wall Street.  Is it because you are too embarrassed to talk about it?  Do you think that investors who lost money in the Madoff scandal should have the right to sue the SEC for negligence?”

The SEC man looked shaken and visibly unset.  He strongly defended the SEC and said he sacrificed his salary to work for the SEC, and the SEC gets hundreds of letters about potential fraud cases, and can’t police them all, but the SEC does a highly competent job for the American people. 

He made no attempt to express sympathy for the victims of the Madoff crime ($64 billion fraud), or what changes the SEC has made because of its massive failure.  When I brought up Harry Markopolos and his book “Nobody Would Listen,” about how Markopolos the repeatedly warned the Boston and New York offices about Madoff’s ponzi scheme, he was silent. 

“Is that your apology?” I asked.

“Apology?  I don’t need to apologize and will never apologize for what happened.  In fact, you should be thanking us for what we did,” he said with considerable emotion. 

Half the audience applauded!

Can you believe the arrogant of this guy?  The SEC is out of control, I fear.  Why couldn’t he just acknowledge that the SEC made a huge blunder and has adopted a number of policies and rules to make sure it never happens again?  Instead, he adopted the “no apology” and “let’s not talk about it” routine.

Needless to say, my tough questioning was the talk of the conference, and I believe my luncheon speech was energized by the earlier confrontation with the SEC man. 

The new “whistleblower” program of the SEC — in direct response to the Madoff scandal — awards up to 30% of the fines to anyone who directly leads to the conviction of anyone engaging in insider trading or other financial fraud, with a minimum payment of $1 million.  I fear this new aggressive whistleblower program at the SEC will be abused and will create spy networks throughout corporate America and Wall Street, thus hampering more the long-term recovery of the economy. 

All in all, I was surprised at how defensive the accounting profession has become.  I may be misjudging the profession based on just one conference, but it seemed to me that the accountants focused primarily on compliance, auditing, detecting fraud, etc., rather than ways to make companies more profitable and fiscally sound.

Your in (Financial) Liberty, AEIOU,

Mark Skousen

Weekend Update

This weekend I attended a very unusual college graduation ceremony.  It isn’t often when the valedictorian is a man convicted of murder!  But that is the case at Sing Sing penitentiary, where 24 students graduated last night from Mercy College’s four-year degree program, Hudson Link.  My wife Jo Ann and I have been involved in this highly successful program for the past three years — she teaching English lit and I teaching economics.  The most amazing results have come from this all-privately funded college program:  Of the 50 graduates who have left prison life, NONE have returned.  The recidivism rate nationwide is over 60%, but Hudson Link boasts a rate of an unbelievable 0%.  Many celebrities have gotten involved because of the success.  Warren Buffett showed up at last year’s graduation ceremony to find out more.

This year my wife and I arranged for Steve Forbes to give the commencement address.  He told the graduates, “Wealth is not in material goods. Wealth is in the mind.” He explained, “Oil is just glop. You can’t drink it, eat it, or feed it to a camel. But a human mind figured out how to turn that glop into energy.” He offered another example. “Silicon is just sand. You find tons of it on every beach. But a human mind figured out how to turn that sand into a micro chip, and completely transformed our world.” He regaled the men with numerous stories, and encouraged them to use their minds to see things differently and make a difference in the world.   For more on last night’s graduation ceremony, see my wife’s review in the Daily Callerhttp://dailycaller.com/2011/06/02/sing-sings-scholars/

My son, Tim, has made a documentary on this success story called “Zero Percent.”  It won the first Silver Spirit Award at the Dallas Film Festival, and will be showing at several more film festivals soon.  To see the 3-minute trailer, go to https://www.facebook.com/ZeroPercentMovie