Mark Thornton

Mark Thornton

Mark Thornton is Senior Fellow at the Mises Institute. He serves as the Book Review Editor of the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics. His publications include The Economics of Prohibition (1991), Tariffs, Blockades, and Inflation: The Economics of the Civil War (2004), The Quotable Mises (2005), The Bastiat Collection (2007), An Essay on Economic Theory (2010), The Bastiat Reader (2014), and The Skyscraper Curse and How Austrian Economists Predicted Every Major Crisis of the Last Century (2018).

Articles by Mark Thornton

Understanding the Montaigne Fallacy

With the world moving more and more in the direction of trade protectionism and war, it is worth remembering the origin of the fallacies upon which this movement is based.Michel Montaigne, the sixteenth-century minor politician and writer, is credited with the illogical view that trade and exchange result in one person winning and the other losing.

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The Minimum Wage

What is the Mises Institute?

The Mises Institute is a non-profit organization that exists to promote teaching and research in the Austrian School of economics, individual freedom, honest history, and international peace, in the tradition of Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard. Non-political, non-partisan, and non-PC, we advocate a radical shift in the intellectual climate, away from statism and toward a private property order. We believe that our foundational ideas are of permanent value, and oppose all efforts at compromise, sellout, and amalgamation of these ideas with fashionable political, cultural, and social doctrines inimical to their spirit.

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The Minimum Wage

What is the Mises Institute?

The Mises Institute is a non-profit organization that exists to promote teaching and research in the Austrian School of economics, individual freedom, honest history, and international peace, in the tradition of Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard. Non-political, non-partisan, and non-PC, we advocate a radical shift in the intellectual climate, away from statism and toward a private property order. We believe that our foundational ideas are of permanent value, and oppose all efforts at compromise, sellout, and amalgamation of these ideas with fashionable political, cultural, and social doctrines inimical to their spirit.

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How People Can Better Fight Inflation

Taken from the Minor Issues PodcastPeople can’t stop the Federal Reserve from inflating the money supply, nor can we prevent them from adding more fuel to their fire.We can only fight the fire started by the arsonists at the Fed from spreading further into our lives.In this article, I want to review the ways that people fight the Fed’s fire—higher prices everywhere and the reasons why everyone should be actively fighting against inflation.These techniques require some thinking, choosing, and acting, which isn’t a pleasant thing to do. Budgeting helps us set a pattern in life, and the Fed’s inflation disrupts our “pattern” in a bad way.Most people will respond that they are not willing to do those things, or that they can’t do those things. I would encourage you to listen and think them

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The Montaigne Fallacy

What is the Mises Institute?

The Mises Institute is a non-profit organization that exists to promote teaching and research in the Austrian School of economics, individual freedom, honest history, and international peace, in the tradition of Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard. Non-political, non-partisan, and non-PC, we advocate a radical shift in the intellectual climate, away from statism and toward a private property order. We believe that our foundational ideas are of permanent value, and oppose all efforts at compromise, sellout, and amalgamation of these ideas with fashionable political, cultural, and social doctrines inimical to their spirit.

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Fight Inflation Now

What is the Mises Institute?

The Mises Institute is a non-profit organization that exists to promote teaching and research in the Austrian School of economics, individual freedom, honest history, and international peace, in the tradition of Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard. Non-political, non-partisan, and non-PC, we advocate a radical shift in the intellectual climate, away from statism and toward a private property order. We believe that our foundational ideas are of permanent value, and oppose all efforts at compromise, sellout, and amalgamation of these ideas with fashionable political, cultural, and social doctrines inimical to their spirit.

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Doctor Copper Is Sending Signals Our Way

The price of copper has hit an all-time high. This represents a signal about the world economy. The euphemism on Wall Street for the implications of the price of copper is called Doctor Copper.If the price of copper is moving higher, then Doctor Copper is diagnosing economic growth, or possibly an artificial economic boom. If the price of copper is moving lower, then Doctor Copper will diagnose an economic contraction, or economic bust, or even an economic crisis, brought on by the previous artificial economic boom.The reason why people listen to Doctor Copper is less than obvious to most of us. However, historically, copper is a key ingredient in the construction of new buildings for pipes, electrical wiring, etc. on the inside and the extension of the electrical grid and infrastructure

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Reading, Teaching, and Quoting Mises

What is the Mises Institute?

The Mises Institute is a non-profit organization that exists to promote teaching and research in the Austrian School of economics, individual freedom, honest history, and international peace, in the tradition of Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard. Non-political, non-partisan, and non-PC, we advocate a radical shift in the intellectual climate, away from statism and toward a private property order. We believe that our foundational ideas are of permanent value, and oppose all efforts at compromise, sellout, and amalgamation of these ideas with fashionable political, cultural, and social doctrines inimical to their spirit.

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Doctor Copper

What is the Mises Institute?

The Mises Institute is a non-profit organization that exists to promote teaching and research in the Austrian School of economics, individual freedom, honest history, and international peace, in the tradition of Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard. Non-political, non-partisan, and non-PC, we advocate a radical shift in the intellectual climate, away from statism and toward a private property order. We believe that our foundational ideas are of permanent value, and oppose all efforts at compromise, sellout, and amalgamation of these ideas with fashionable political, cultural, and social doctrines inimical to their spirit.

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There Are Good Reasons Why Consumer Confidence Is Low

Most people have heard about statistics or polls that report on the state of the American consumer and something called “consumer confidence,” but few know what they are or what they mean or even recall what the latest reports reveal.You might have also heard that Keynesian Paul Krugman had claimed that such statistics were biased against Democrats and President Biden, but my colleague at the Mises Institute, Jonathan Newman, showed that properly understood the statistics from late last year were reasonable and straightforward. You should follow Dr. Newman’s writings on Mises.org.As the American and world economy begin to emerge from the economic chaos induced by Covid and the Government’s and Federal Reserve’s “war of all against all” we are beginning to see more synchronicity in economic

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Commercial Real Estate’s Future

What is the Mises Institute?

The Mises Institute is a non-profit organization that exists to promote teaching and research in the Austrian School of economics, individual freedom, honest history, and international peace, in the tradition of Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard. Non-political, non-partisan, and non-PC, we advocate a radical shift in the intellectual climate, away from statism and toward a private property order. We believe that our foundational ideas are of permanent value, and oppose all efforts at compromise, sellout, and amalgamation of these ideas with fashionable political, cultural, and social doctrines inimical to their spirit.

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It’s the PPI Once More!

In early September 2023 we reported on the Producer Price Index, the PPI. This price statistic takes a back seat to the Consumer Price Index in media reporting and the policy-setting agenda. Back then we explained what it was and what it was telling us about the economy.The timing of that episode reflected our concern that the sharp drop in the PPI to that point in time might not be a sign of things to come. The PPI had been dropping since mid-2022. Regular listeners will recall our regular discussions and doubts about the Fed’s battle against inflation.So how does the PPI look six months later?Since the last episode on PPI, the decline has stopped and the Producer Price Index has leveled off instead of continuing its decline. Since the report for December 2023, the next

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Consumer Confidence

What is the Mises Institute?

The Mises Institute is a non-profit organization that exists to promote teaching and research in the Austrian School of economics, individual freedom, honest history, and international peace, in the tradition of Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard. Non-political, non-partisan, and non-PC, we advocate a radical shift in the intellectual climate, away from statism and toward a private property order. We believe that our foundational ideas are of permanent value, and oppose all efforts at compromise, sellout, and amalgamation of these ideas with fashionable political, cultural, and social doctrines inimical to their spirit.

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The Great Chocolate Crisis of 2024

You probably haven’t even noticed the Great Chocolate Crisis of 2024, but it is real and some of us are very concerned! The wholesale price of cocoa, which comes from the cocoa bean, is the main ingredient in chocolate and has skyrocketed in price!When the Spanish Conquistadors came across cocoa 500 years ago it was use by the Aztecs of Mexico in a drink combined with hot peppers—Talk about “hot coco!” It was called "the food of the gods." On the Thornton Necessity Index, it comes in third place behind Electricity and Gasoline. Americans on average consume it every day, or at least wished they did.Twenty years ago, the price of cocoa was about $1,500/metric ton. Wholesale cocoa is traded in the “futures market” where chocolate makers contract with cocoa suppliers for trades in the near

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The Great Chocolate Crisis

What is the Mises Institute?

The Mises Institute is a non-profit organization that exists to promote teaching and research in the Austrian School of economics, individual freedom, honest history, and international peace, in the tradition of Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard. Non-political, non-partisan, and non-PC, we advocate a radical shift in the intellectual climate, away from statism and toward a private property order. We believe that our foundational ideas are of permanent value, and oppose all efforts at compromise, sellout, and amalgamation of these ideas with fashionable political, cultural, and social doctrines inimical to their spirit.

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Introducing the Unanimity Podcast

What is the Mises Institute?

The Mises Institute is a non-profit organization that exists to promote teaching and research in the Austrian School of economics, individual freedom, honest history, and international peace, in the tradition of Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard. Non-political, non-partisan, and non-PC, we advocate a radical shift in the intellectual climate, away from statism and toward a private property order. We believe that our foundational ideas are of permanent value, and oppose all efforts at compromise, sellout, and amalgamation of these ideas with fashionable political, cultural, and social doctrines inimical to their spirit.

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The PPI Again!

What is the Mises Institute?

The Mises Institute is a non-profit organization that exists to promote teaching and research in the Austrian School of economics, individual freedom, honest history, and international peace, in the tradition of Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard. Non-political, non-partisan, and non-PC, we advocate a radical shift in the intellectual climate, away from statism and toward a private property order. We believe that our foundational ideas are of permanent value, and oppose all efforts at compromise, sellout, and amalgamation of these ideas with fashionable political, cultural, and social doctrines inimical to their spirit.

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Disappointing News

Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito

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Mises Institute is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Contributions are tax-deductible to the full extent the law allows. Tax ID# 52-1263436

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The Population Explosion Disaster that Never Happened

I do not hear much talk about world population these days, the way I did growing up in the 1960s and ’70s. People were supposedly starving, dying, with tens of millions more sure to die. The problem back then was that there were just too many, well, people.Population numbers coming out of China and India were unthinkable, and projections indicated many more people were going to be born into this dire situation. There were over twenty thousand people in my hometown and as far as everyone was concerned, that was enough already!People were dying! We were told to eat our broccoli and clean our plate because there were starving children in China. Everyone knew that was a stretch of the imagination because we all knew that Chinese people only ate rice.The book The Population Bomb was published

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Chokepoints

What happens when war shuts down the Strait of Hormuz? Mark looks at the economics and causes of a growing list of problems with the "chokepoints" of international trade: the Panama Canal, the Suez Canal, and Baltimore harbor. Will these chokepoints become scapegoats for the Federal Reserve, and could war closing the Strait of Hormuz become a genuine world crisis?Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.Get your free copy of Dr. Guido Hülsmann’s How Inflation Destroys Civilization at Mises.org/IssuesFree.

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Population

Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito

Website powered by Mises Institute donors

Mises Institute is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Contributions are tax-deductible to the full extent the law allows. Tax ID# 52-1263436

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The Drug War

In this episode, Mark shares the latest video in the Mises Institute’s The Costs of the Progressives series, "The Drug War," which cites Mark’s research on the economics of prohibition."The Costs of the Progressives" is a historical series that focuses on great leaps in Washington’s consolidation of power on a variety of issues that affect our day-to-day lives, and the costs we pay with our taxes and our liberty: Mises.org/ProgressivismBe sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.Get your free copy of Dr. Guido Hülsmann’s How Inflation Destroys Civilization at Mises.org/IssuesFree.

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Free Trade

In this week’s episode, Mark examines Ludwig von Mises’s important contributions to free trade theory. Free trade is more important than people think, and most government intervention is protectionist—or aids the promoters of protectionism.

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Golden Opportunities Ahead

In this week’s episode, Mark looks at the opportunities ahead of us for significant reforms and dismantling the State. Increasingly, more people realize that the government has been lying to them and working against their interests. Many also realize that Austrian economists, in contrast with Mainstream economists, have been presenting the true picture of the State. The political landscape has already shifted—and continues to shift—beneath the State, like an earthquake under a teetering third world building. The foundations of the World Economic Forum agenda are now in tatters.Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.Get your free copy of Dr. Guido Hülsmann’s How Inflation Destroys Civilization at Mises.org/IssuesFree.

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The Prospects of War

Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito

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Mises Institute is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Contributions are tax-deductible to the full extent the law allows. Tax ID# 52-1263436

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Anti-Wild Cards

In this week’s episode, Mark looks at the type information that investors need, but do not have. These anti-wild cards are going to appear in the economy, but no one really knows what, where, or when. Mark looks back at some historical examples.
See also Surprised Again! The Covid Crisis and the New Market Bubble by Alex Pollock and Howard Adler: Mises.org/MI_59A
Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.
Get your free copy of Dr. Guido Hülsmann’s How Inflation Destroys Civilization at Mises.org/IssuesFree.

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Anti-Wild Cards

In this week’s episode, Mark looks at the type information that investors need, but do not have. These anti-wild cards are going to appear in the economy, but no one really knows what, where, or when. Mark looks back at some historical examples.

See also Surprised Again! The Covid Crisis and the New Market Bubble by Alex Pollock and Howard Adler: Mises.org/MI_59A
Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.
Get your free copy of Dr. Guido Hülsmann’s How Inflation Destroys Civilization at Mises.org/IssuesFree.

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The Fed vs. the Real Economy

In the old days, the Federal Reserve operated in obscurity "behind the curtain". Today, they are front-and-center for the stock market. Total credit card debt in the US is now over $1.1 Trillion. In this episode, Mark looks at the disconnect between the Fed, the stock market (featured in the last episode), and the Real Economy.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.
Get your free copy of Dr. Guido Hülsmann’s How Inflation Destroys Civilization at Mises.org/IssuesFree.

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Fed Wisdom and the Magnificent Seven

In this week’s episode, Mark takes a quick look back at Fed wisdom in the year 2000, and then surveys today’s stock market—and, in particular, the Magnificent Seven stocks, which represent very narrow leadership of the overall stock market.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.
Get your free copy of Dr. Guido Hülsmann’s How Inflation Destroys Civilization at Mises.org/IssuesFree.

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Tightwads at the Fed

Mark talks about the Fed’s Reverse Repo Operations, which explain the conundrum of the Fed’s "tight" monetary policy and new record highs in the stock market. It turns out that the Fed is not a bunch of "tightwads" after all, but has served up a nearly $2 trillion monetary injection since the bond market cratered last year.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.
Get your free copy of Dr. Guido Hülsmann’s How Inflation Destroys Civilization at Mises.org/IssuesFree.

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Measure 110 and Property Rights

In this week’s episode, we replay Mark’s recent appearance on the Rob Taylor Report. Mark and Rob take a deep look at the practical impact of socialist ideology in Oregon when mixed with the partial "decriminalization" of all hard drugs in the state.  The main issues they discuss are the lack of respect for private property rights, and woke government causing social chaos in Oregon; but, it’s a lesson for everyone, everywhere.

The Rob Taylor Report is available online at RobTaylorReport.com
Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.
Get your free copy of Murray Rothbard’s Anatomy of the State at Mises.org/IssuesFree.

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What Is Inflation for 2024?

In this week’s episode, Mark compares two definitions of inflation and what this means for policy-makers and the productive population in 2024. The mainstream view creates nothing but confusion and smokescreens, while the Austrian definition shows that the true definition shows a much higher level of economic pain and uncertainty and more economic problems to come in 2024.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.
Get your free copy of Murray Rothbard’s Anatomy of the State at Mises.org/IssuesFree.

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The Oregon Problem: It’s Not Drugs! It’s the Socialistic Political Culture

Not many people know that Oregon decriminalized all drugs through a ballot initiative. The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article: “Oregon Decriminalized Hard Drugs: It Is Not Working.” The question here is, why not?
In 2020, the State of Oregon decriminalized all drugs, including hard drugs such as heroin, crystal meth, which you will remember as the centerpiece of the hit series Breaking Bad, and fentanyl, a highly dangerous synthetic opiate. Fentanyl is another example, really the latest step-product, of the war on drugs.
Prior to decriminalization, if you were caught possessing one of these drugs you would be arrested for possession. Oregon was also on the forefront of legalizing cannabis for medical reasons in 1998 and for recreational purposes in 2014. Under the new

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What is a “Fed Pivot,” And When Is It Likely to Happen?

Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome “Jay” Powell, recently sent mysterious shock waves into financial markets with comments that suggested that Fed rate cuts might come sooner than expected.
Stock and bond markets took this as a good sign. They were already in a Santa Claus rally and broke out to new highs for the year. The interest rate on ten-year government bonds, which had already fallen by almost 1 percent since October, threatened to break support and go even lower. Financial journalists were all smiling with exuberance talking about the “Fed’s pivot.”
However, so far, this is just talk of a Fed pivot, not the actual Fed pivot, and its talk about the suggestion of a possible pivot. Most importantly, it’s all just talk that is positively goosing markets in the direction that Jay

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The Draconian Budget Slashing Act of 2024

On this week’s episode, Mark opens the Congressional Political Playbook to examine the proposed Congressional compromise spending legislation—and what they might name it.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.
Get your free copy of Murray Rothbard’s Anatomy of the State at Mises.org/IssuesFree.

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Secession

This week’s episode begins 2024 by looking at the growing political divide among the American people—and how to solve it.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.
Get your free copy of Murray Rothbard’s Anatomy of the State at Mises.org/IssuesFree.

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Greenwashing: A Bridge between Austrians and Environmentalists?

Greenwashing is a relatively new term to describe false and misleading claims that a product or business practice has environmental benefits. The point is that companies can advertise their efforts as “green” while continuing various profitable activities that environmentalists consider “harmful,” gaming the system and profiting off well-intentioned, sustainably minded consumers.
The term was coined forty years ago by a student in response to a hotel that wanted customers to reuse the towels in their rooms to save the environment and save the hotel money.
As an Austrian School economist, I can agree with environmentalists to a point here, but let’s see how far on their side of the bridge they are willing to go. Let’s start with the idea that human beings are motivated to achieve their

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2023: A Year Reviewed

In this episode, Mark looks back at 2023 as a great year for the goals and prospects of the Mises Institute moving forward, but a very bad year for the State.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.
Get your free copy of Murray Rothbard’s Anatomy of the State at Mises.org/IssuesFree.

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The Fed Pivot

Stock and bond markets are abuzz this week over Chairman Jay Powell’s hints of a "Fed Pivot" in interest rate policy. Mark Thornton explains why this optimism is badly misplaced.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.
Get your free copy of Murray Rothbard’s Anatomy of the State at Mises.org/IssuesFree.

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Greenwashing

In this week’s episode Mark explains the term "Greenwashing" and describes how Austrian economists might agree with the sentiment behind it. Are Austrian school economists against the environment? Mark thinks not and explains why.  

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.
Get your free copy of Murray Rothbard’s Anatomy of the State at Mises.org/IssuesFree.

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The Oregon Problem

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that the ballot initiative to decriminalize all drugs in the state of Oregon is failing, and that efforts are underway to recriminalize hard drugs. Mark points out that decriminalizing drug possession does nothing to improve black market production of drugs, which makes drugs much more dangerous to consume. More importantly, it is Oregon’s socialist ideology that coddles homelessness and open hard drug use that is the real problem for the good citizens of the state—and is not helping the drug addicts either. The solution is for society—the nexus of private property owners—to reassert its will. 

See also "Welcome to Needle Park" by Mark Thornton: Mises.org/Minor48_A
Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.
Get your free

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All-Time Highs!

In this week’s episode, Mark looks at "All-Time Highs" in such things as stocks, real estate, and stock indexes. Housing prices hit an all-time high this week, and gold is not far behind. While all-time highs—or even "new highs"—are unambiguously good for owners of these assets, it is much more ambiguous as a signal about the future. Gold might be an exception to this rule, as Mark explains.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.
Get your free copy of Murray Rothbard’s Anatomy of the State at Mises.org/IssuesFree.

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Jim Chanos and Stock Markets

In this week’s episode, Mark looks at the implications of famed investor Jim Chanos shutting down his hedge fund which specialized in shorting stocks. The closure comes as stock markets in the US hit all time record highs. Mark frames these two events in light of the Austrian Theory of the Business Cycle. 

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.
Get your free copy of Murray Rothbard’s Anatomy of the State at Mises.org/IssuesFree.
Additional Resources
"The Social Function of Stock Speculators" by Robert P. Murphy: Mises.org/Minor46_A
"Short Sellers Keep the Market Honest" (Wall Street Journal) by Jim Thanos: Mises.org/Minor46_B
"Jim Chanos, Short Seller Who Took on Enron and Tesla, to Close Hedge Funds" (Wall Street Journal) by Gregory Zuckerman Follow and Peter

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Mohamed El-Erian’s New Views on the Fed

In this week’s episode Mark reports on Pimco’s former financial guru Mohamed El-Erian and his new views on the Fed. Mark also does some minor deconstruction of recent financial news to paint a clearer picture of imminent recession—something mainstream economists will be reluctant to call until 2025. 

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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Seed Corn and Dry Powder

On this week’s episode, Mark looks at the financial condition of the government and of American citizens on the cusp of the next recession. The financial condition of the United States Treasury, the Federal Reserve, and the American citizenry is weak; debt is high and rising, and this is very worrisome in an economic environment of rising interest rates and a weakening global economy. Please share this episode with a curmudgeon.
The U.S. Debt Clock: USDebtClock.org

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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Monetary Chaos

On this week’s episode, Mark addresses how we the people can prevent the government and the Federal Reserve from grabbing more power and implementing their own preferred "solutions" to economic issues. This is the third round of monetary chaos the Fed has subjected us to in recent history—a history from which valuable lessons can be learned.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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On the Cultural Impact of the Paper Dollar

On this week’s episode, Mark recaps Professor Guido Hülsmann’s recent lecture on the cultural impact of the paper dollar. Hülsmann explains how an ever-inflationary monetary system and depreciating currency are leading to moral decay and divisiveness in America.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.
Additional Resources
"The Cultural Impact of the Dollar" by Guido Hülsmann: Mises.org/Minor_42A
"Abundance, Generosity, and the State: An Inquiry into Economic Principles" by Guido Hülsmann: Mises.org/Minor_42B

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Where Did the Dollar Come From?

On this week’s episode, Mark takes a look back to where our dollar came from. Our nation started with silver as money: the Silver Dollar, and before that the Spanish Peso in colonial times. That type of large silver coin goes back to the early 1500s and the Early Modern Era when such coins expanded trade, improved the food supply, led to commercially produced clothing, and gradually changed housing from mud-and-grass construction to brick-and-lumber construction. Our modern paper dollar is worth less than 5% compared to silver.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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The Dollar Descent

Recorded at the Mises Institute Supporters Summit in Auburn, Alabama, 12-14 October 2023. Sponsored by Gregory and Jane Gandee.
Download the slides from this lecture at Mises.org/SS23_PPT_6

The Dollar Descent | Mark Thornton

Video of The Dollar Descent | Mark Thornton

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Separation 101

Mark contemplates the political divide in America, the lack of a middle ground, the political divisions in DC, and the turmoil over the Speaker of the House. Looking around the world, similar problems exist in many places; but, there is a tried and true solution, which Mark explains.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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Mark Thornton Explains the Yield Curve, “Soft Landings,” and Today’s Bubble Economy

[In recent months, Senior Fellow Mark Thornton has been covering today’s economy in detail in his Minor Issues podcast, so we asked him some questions about where the economy is headed now.]
Mises Institute: You’ve become notable for the idea of the “skyscraper curse,” which is an illustration of how an inflationary economy can lead to more and more gargantuan construction projects. The projects keep getting bigger (and taller) until the bust finally kicks in. That is, in many ways skyscrapers have become a symbol of bubbles and malinvestments. Looking around today, can you point to any particular building projects that might be an indication of where we are in the business cycle right now?
Mark Thornton: The skyscraper curse, or skyscraper index, might appear to be broken, but attempts

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Hometown Entrepreneurs in Mississippi

In this week’s episode, Mark looks at the "Home Town" entrepreneurs in Laurel, Mississippi, who have done so much to turn around the fortunes of their poor and struggling hometown. Mark points out that this is going on all around us, but is seldom recognized—except in the isolation of forgotten small towns. Entrepreneurs make the good of the world we live in, and can help fix the problems that we face.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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The Data Shutdown—Smokescreen?

This episode examines the impending Government Shutdown, which will suspend new releases of the government’s "vital" economic statistics. How will the "Data Dependent" Fed manage its policy behind the cloak of missing data? Mark suggests it’s best to consider that the Fed is playing its typical confidence game.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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Touch-and-Go

In this week’s episode, Mark interprets the Fed’s new economic projections for the economy, in which the Fed "doubles-down" on current economic growth and the economy’s prospects moving forward. Essentially, the Fed is saying that they are taking us from the "touch-and-go" economy of the last three years to a touch-and-go landing, where the economy will take off and perform much better than anyone anticipates. Don’t bet on it.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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Where’s the Beef?

Americans are mad about the economy, and particularly about the Fed’s inflation of prices and declining inflation-adjusted wages and incomes. Keynesian economist Paul Krugman, on the other hand, thinks that you are ignorant and that everything in the economy is great. Mark looks at Beef prices and consumption to provide some insight into why Americans are rightfully mad at the Federal Reserve, Democrats, and Republicans. Mark concludes that Americans have a legitimate beef! 

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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The Producer Price Index

In this week’s episode, Mark looks at PPI—the Producer Price Index—which provides evidence of the costs for suppliers in various industries, macroeconomic instability, and the potential for economic recovery. Here, very low prices provide the potential for recovery; and rising prices can indicate both recovery in the economy, as well as inflationary pressures moving forward. The Covid Bubble and restrictions caused a 50% increase in producer prices, and since the peak in 2022, PPI has only corrected about 10%. 

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.
"Producer Price Index by Commodity: All Commodities" (PPIACO): Mises.org/Minor_PPI
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Navigating by the Stars on a Cloudy Night

In this episode, Mark examines Fed Chairman Jay Powell’s recent confession that the Fed is "navigating by the stars on a cloudy night." This reveals the fundamental methodological weakness of the Fed’s economic policy and mainstream economics in general ("data dependency"). In contrast, it also reveals the strengths of Austrian economics, economic theory, and the self regulation of the free market. Mark suggests that we all be prepared for big negative surprises in the economy and additional Federal Reserve and government power grabs.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.
Recommended Reading
"What the Central Bank Cartel has Planned for You" by Thorsten Polleit: Mises.org/Minor34A
"Transparency or Deception: What the Fed Was Saying in 2007" by Mark Thornton:

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Why We Need a Crash Landing

In this episode, Mark explains why we need a Crash (or very Hard) Landing in the US economy and the world economy. Specifically, why is a crash landing better to resolve the malinvestments caused by the Fed? Why is a crash landing better in many ways for the productive class of workers and savers? And, how would a crash landing place much of the pain and the overall burden on the rich, politically-connected classes?

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.
Additional Resources
"The Fed’s Real Mandate": Mises.org/Minor33A
"Black Hole or Shock Absorber: How Does a Free-Market Economy Respond to Crises?": Mises.org/Minor33B
"The REAL Solution to the Coming Economic Crisis": Mises.org/Minor33C
"Eliminating Economic Crises": Mises.org/Minor33D
"Austerity: A Real

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Crash Landing

Will we get a soft landing or a hard landing in the economy? Or, should we hope for a crash landing? Mark Thornton explains.

See also "Soft Landing? Not Likely" featuring Bob Murphy and Jonathan Newman on the Human Action Podcast: Mises.org/HAP407
Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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Update on Toilet Paper

In this episode, Mark updates his early March 2023 episode (Mises.org/Minor11) on the high price of toilet paper. He shows how economic changes, so far, in 2023 seem to have vindicated his forecast of lower toilet paper and paper towel prices. It also demonstrates how the market process works on a minor scale, even when large determinants like Amazon, Covid, and the US home construction industry get tangled up with politicians and bureaucrats.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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There Are No Constraints on Us Government Borrowing

In this week’s episode, Mark reviews what people have said about Fitch’s downgrade of US government debt. Mark sees it as a good thing, but not good enough. The "minor issue" in the latest debt ceiling agreement is ignored by the mainstream media: politicians suspended the debt ceiling into 2025, rather than raising it to some arbitrary, higher figure.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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Economic Inequality

Inequality is a good thing in the free market. Economic equality is a disastrous government policy that leads to economic ruin for all—including the poor and workers.
Download the slides from this lecture at Mises.org/MU23_PPT_36.
Recorded at the Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, on 28 July 2023.

Economic Inequality | Mark Thornton

Video of Economic Inequality | Mark Thornton

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Minimum Wage

There is no clear basis in economics, ethics, efficiency, or fairness for Minimum Wage Laws. The minimum wage works the way it was intended one hundred years ago.
Download lecture slides at Mises.org/MU23_PPT_16.
Recorded at the Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, on 25 July 2023.

Minimum Wage | Mark Thornton

Video of Minimum Wage | Mark Thornton

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Explore the Minor Issues Archives

This week Mark invites you to explore the Minor Issues archives. We have produced about a half a year’s worth of short audio commentaries about the economy, and we are grateful to our listeners for their feedback. Topics range from the price of toilet paper to macro-business cycle topics, but our specialty is highlighting issues that the mainstream media ignores or misrepresents as insignificant. Thank you for listening. 

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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The Dollar is Down

In this episode, Mark looks at the "minor issue" of the value of the dollar. While everything in the economy seems great—including stock markets, price inflation, unemployment, and consumer confidence—the value of the dollar index has fallen 12% during the rebound in stocks since last October.
Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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Two More Elephants in Your Electric Vehicle

On this week’s episode, Mark summarizes the many problems with EVs, and focuses on two consequences funded by taxpayer subsidy. Large, overpriced, long range vehicles have been subsidized at the expense of more efficient technological applications. These EVs are significantly heavier compared to their fossil fuel counterparts (which have engines and gas tanks). These heavier vehicles create greater crash risks for passengers and pedestrians. Failure to disclose such issues reveals some uncomfortable truths about the political elites who drive this agenda onto the American people.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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The Mystery of the Inverted Yield Curve

In this week’s episode, Mark looks back at the history of the Inverted Yield Curve. While many observers have now dismissed the significance of the yield curve inversion in 2022—and no recession, yet—Mark shows that the history of the IYC may back a completely opposite interpretation.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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The Reality of the Market Process

As we enter the dog days of summer, I have heard several media conversations and a few private ones that express exasperation over languishing capital markets. Why do things take so long to unravel? What will happen next? When will X, Y, or Z happen? Why are tech stocks so bullish now? The market takes time to process the information that it already has — or is in "process" — and everyday brings new data.
The Austrian perspective highlights the role of reality in the market process. This is especially important in this period of unprecedented government intervention and the chaos it has generated in markets. 

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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Energy Prices

While talk of high gas prices is no longer a headline issue, energy economics is still a vitally important aspect of understanding the economy, including the business cycle. Mark explains the basics, tells us where we now stand, and what the major implications are for the near future.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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Where Is That Darn Recession?

Mark takes a look at all the wrong predictions of recession in recent years, including those of Austrian School economists. While the MSM and Fed officials try to downplay the coming of a recession, many of the statistics and facts that Austrian consider important are indicating a looming recession, if not a full-blown economic crisis.

Check out Anatomy of the Crash: The Financial Crisis of 2020, edited by Tho Bishop: Mises.org/AnatomyOfTheCrash
Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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Dividing the Housing Market

In this week’s episode, Mark explains why the market for existing homes has been diverging from the market for new houses. The Fed ZIRP, QE and Covid bailouts have locked Americans into their mortgages and low payments, reducing the supply of existing homes. This keeps them off the market and home prices high in an economy that is headed for a recession or crisis. Buyers have been diverted to newly constructed homes where builders have more flexibility to sell and there are no existing homeowners locked into mortgages.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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Expecting Rate Cuts

After a long series of rate hikes, Fed officials and asset markets are expecting a long series of interest rate cuts. This is based on the tried and hue Phillips Curve analysis. In color theory, "hue" is the technical appearance of color that can be described mechanically as a number. Let’s hope interest rate expectations are not being distorted by other factors of reality, and that current Phillips Curve model perceptions of hue are also true.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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Bank Reserves

Bank reserves are seldom mentioned except in cases of bank runs. The other possible mention is all the interest money the Fed pays to banks simply for holding reserves. Mark explains the role of bank reserves in the current "system" and gives a brief explanation of why the Austrian view is better and actually gets the job done.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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Investing in Gold

Mark discusses something bigger than the Disney layoffs: the Wall Street Journal’s April 25 frontpage article on investing in gold. It would seem that the recent rise of the price of gold is the result of tired, dumb, and disillusioned crypto currency investors throwing in the towel to "chase shiny new object—gold." Mark explains that the rational reasons for investing in gold loom larger than the entire Magic Kingdom!

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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Eye on Apple

Mark looks at the price of Apple stock—one of the best performing stocks over the last quarter century, and one of the largest holdings in stock indexes, mutual funds, and Berkshire Hathaway portfolio. Market watchers have kept a keen eye on Apple as it heads for a new all-time high; but, Mark is concerned that a downturn would have a huge ripple effect on the overall market—possibly equivalent to a tsunami. 

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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Things Are Going Down

Mark takes a look at the good news on price inflation and why it is better than reported, but probably short-lived. Other statistics are worsening and, amazingly, even landlords are starting to feel the pain!

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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The Gold Family

This episode explores precious metals. Gold (Au) is the main precious metal, followed by Silver (Ag), Platinum (Pt), and Palladium (Pd). These are distinct from valuable industrial metals such as copper (which served as money historically), nickel, and zinc, which have served as token coins in modern times. There are many different ways and forms you can own precious metals.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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The Price of Gold

Mark is not fooling around today. He looks back at the history of gold and its price, which some believe is too erratic and too unstable (like Bitcoin) to serve as a basis of a monetary system. Mark shows that it is not gold that destabilizes events in the real world, but rather real world events related to political decision-making that has made the price of gold unstable. The price of gold is a "minor" indicator of what governments are really up to.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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Inflation Can Get Much Worse

In this episode, Mark looks at the far away minor issue of the impact of hyperinflation in Zimbabwe. Even though they have switched from Zim dollars to US dollars, ordinary people are still suffering. Their government and its inflationary monetary policy is manifesting itself in some interesting ways.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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Bank Failures: Runs and Funds

SVB Bank and Signature Bank failed this week and were bailed out. Mark explains why the banks failed and why it was bound to happen. The minor issue is that the total FDIC bailout fund is actually smaller than either one of the banks.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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Toilet Paper

Mark discusses how the Federal Reserve and Covid restrictions greatly increased the price of cardboard boxes; but, with online sales softening, we should expect suppliers to shift the raw materials used to make boxes (wood pulp) into the production of other paper goods, such as toilet paper. Because our demand for toilet paper is relatively inelastic, we should see a decline in the price of toilet paper and better availability.
The market will reallocate toward consumer wants and lower prices.

Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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The Fed’s “Disinflation” Story Just Flew Out the Window

Mark talks about the recent price inflation reports, as well as reports of job openings from private sector job placement companies. Inflation was higher than expected and job openings declined. What will the Fed do? People are making painful adjustments—Domino’s reported disappointing sales, because their customers are "eating in".
Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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Business Cycle Intel Report

Mark uses Intel Corporation, the computer chip manufacturer, as a barometer of the business cycle. He looks at the stock price in recent years, its production capacity expansion, and the company’s very recent cost- and dividend-cutting moves.
Check out Mark Thornton’s free book, The Skyscraper Curse: And How Austrian Economists Predicted Every Major Economic Crisis of the Last Century: Mises.org/Curse
Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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The Fed’s 2% Inflation Target

Mark Thornton explains the target as another smokescreen that was originally intended to stabilize monetary policy, currencies, and exchange rates, but has become a justification for inflation and central bank manipulation.
Be sure to follow Minor Issues at Mises.org/MinorIssues.

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Austerity: A Real Solution to Help Heal the US Economy

Economists like Paul Krugman have claimed that practice of austerity in government would damage the US economy. As Mark Thornton points out, the opposite is true: austerity works.

Original Article: "Austerity: A Real Solution to Help Heal the US Economy"
This Audio Mises Wire is generously sponsored by Christopher Condon.

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US Labor Market: Help Wanted!

As we enter the holiday season stock owners have been the big losers of 2022, but jobs are still plentiful and nominal wages are rising rapidly. The Wall Street Journal reports “Stiff Demand Drives Gains in Jobs, Wages” (December 4). Faced with a stagnant stock market, nothing bolsters confidence more than the plethora of job openings, seemingly everywhere, and for all types of jobs.
The number of job openings is a statistic worth paying attention to as a gauge of the overall economy, but certainly not the only one. Here we examine it in relation to economic conditions and other statistics. This reveals some good, some bad, and some ugly insights into the economy, but overall, the signs all point to the business cycle and the turn toward economic crisis.
The Good
Let’s start with the

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The REAL Solution to the Coming Economic Crisis

My previous article demonstrated how the free market solves a boom-bust crisis and is the only solution, its effectiveness depending upon the magnitude of the crisis and, more importantly, how much the government intervenes in response. The bigger the problem created by the Fed, the greater the crisis and the more government intervenes, and the slower the economy recovers.

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The Fed’s Real Mandate

The Federal Reserve has a legal dual mandate to minimize unemployment and price inflation. The current “dual” between the two mandates is to reduce price inflation by increasing interest rates to increase unemployment and kill businesses to choke off aggregate demand.

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Thomas Piketty Wants to Bring Back Communism in the Guise of Democratic Socialism

Thomas Piketty’s Brief History is the fourth installment of his assault on economic inequality, following as it does the best-selling Capital in the Twenty-First Century and Capital and Ideology. The third, Time for Socialism: Dispatches from a World on Fire, 2016–2021, is just a collection of popular articles based on which the New York Times dubbed Piketty a “vaguely left-of-center” economist.

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Nickel: How Government Alchemists Turned a Base Money Hard and Now Are Expected to Kill It.

The nickel, the once popular US five-cent coin, is known for its nickel content (25 percent nickel and 75 percent copper). It originated as a type of fiat money in that its intrinsic metal value was far less than the purchasing power stamped on it. The final act in the illustrative monetary career of the nickel is expected to be extinction, as with the penny, as inflation increases the coin’s cost of production and reduces its real purchasing power.

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How Did CNN+ Get Canned by Netflix? Austrian Economists Might Have an Answer

Days after Netflix reported bad earnings and an “unexpected” hit to their subscriber base, CNN announced that it had pulled the plug on its own brand-new streaming service, CNN+. Despite arguments to the contrary from the parent company, the CNN+ adventure turned out to be a costly mistake that attracted few subscribers and a paltry number of regular viewers.

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We’re Living in a Chaos Economy. Here’s How to End It.

The chaos economy we’re witnessing is not the fault of the market economy. Rather prices in some areas of the economy need to rise so high and so fast to harmonize supply and demand that entrepreneurs can hardly keep pace.

Original Article: "We’re Living in a Chaos Economy. Here’s How to End It."
This Audio Mises Wire is generously sponsored by Christopher Condon. Narrated by Michael Stack.

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The Demise of the Gold Standard

This is the fiftieth anniversary of the demise of the gold standard and the beginning of the current fiat paper standard. Many will say “good riddance” to gold and “thank goodness” for the “good ole greenback”! Reflection, however, produces an alternative conclusion.

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The Saving Problem in America: Alternatives and Reforms

Since before covid-19 and the lockdown, I have written articles that touch on the purpose and importance of personal savings, and more importantly, why the lack of personal savings was going to make an economic crisis in the year 2020 potentially tragic for most Americans.
As a result, I have been interviewed a couple of times specifically on the topic of personal savings. These interactions have indicated to me that people do not understand the importance of savings and rather believe the demonization of savings as a “leakage” from the economic system and that hoarding money is one of the greatest threats to the economy.
Even more importantly, I discussed the reasons why Americans save so little and the related dangers, and I discussed how you can get around those government interventions

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Two Analogies for the Economy That the Media Keeps Getting Wrong

In an attempt to maintain the lockdown and their authority over our lives, politicians, health experts, and the mainstream media have been misusing some unusual analogies to describe the current economy. By using these analogies, our political overlords hope they can continue to keep the economy shut down, force companies to produce what the government forgot to purchase before the virus hit, and toss out trillions of dollars of handouts and bailouts to their friends.

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6b.) P: Mises.org 2015-05-27 19:25:15

Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito

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