Charlie’s month-end reading list

Finance Articles December 2019

Welcome back Ramparts readers! Just in time for some summer reading, we’ve collected an enticing list of articles that piqued our interest here at Fort Pitt:

Many a millenial has taken on a heap of debt to fund a college education. Tyler Durden’s article, “What the $1+ trillion student debt bubble is being spent on,” shows us how the hundreds of billions in government loans are spent. Hint:  Employee counts and salaries at institutions of higher education across the land are taking off like a rocket.

The Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency (UTOPIA for short), failed miserably in its effort to bring broadband to the masses. “Municipal broadband is no Utopia” by Thomas Schatz and Royce Tassell discusses the failure of Utopia (and others) in the context of a recent groundswell of interest in public networks. “The project is a prime example of why governments should not be in the business of building or operating broadband networks – and why the federal government should not be in the business of cheerleading for them,” say Schatz and Tassell.

According to Liam Pleven and Laura Saunder’s “Expatriate Americans break up with Uncle Sam to escape tax rules,” a growing number of middle-class US citizens abroad are renouncing their allegiance to Uncle Sam. US offices abroad reported that 1,001 US citizens have done so in the first three months of the year. The article delves into problematic changes in tax law and enforcement that are causing Americans to surrender their citizenship.

The underpinnings of inflation are misunderstood by most Americans. “How inflation picks your pocket,” by Dan Sanchez, destroys the myth that inflation could somehow make a society more prosperous. “The Federal Reserve is like a pickpocket. Its taxation is far more insidious. Unless you read articles like this one, you don’t even see its hand in your pocket,” he says. Sanchez concludes that inflation is simply a redistribution of wealth, with the average American losing out to banks and government bureaucrats.

Home-equity troubles affecting nearly 10 million households are described in a Yahoo! Finance piece entitled “Mortgage, home-equity woes linger.”  Reporter Conor Dougherty notes that ‘underwater’ mortgages make it difficult for many homeowners to sell their homes without dipping into their savings. “Real estate is in some ways like a ladder,” says Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist. “When underwater homeowners don’t trade up, it makes it harder for newcomers to get in.”

Our next piece takes an international view of the Chinese financial system. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard’s “Chinese anatomy of a property boom on its last legs,” analyzes the recent hiccups in China’s biggest property markets. The major take-away:  When China sneezes… you will catch a cold, wherever you are,” he says.

Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. of Mises Daily addresses monetary policy and the confusion it produces in the economy.  “Speaking truth to monetary power,” says Quantitative Easing stimulates activity, but not the kind of activity consumer’s demand. The more artificial stimulus the Fed creates, the more artificial the economy itself becomes, he says.

Finally, something a little different. “The man who knows too much” is a lengthy GQ interview with Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who gave voice to Edward Snowden and set in motion the greatest intelligence breach in U.S. history. Michael Paterniti’s quirky and informative piece outlines Greenwald’s initial meeting with Snowden, and delves into his personal life and potential future endeavors.