Peak "Greater Fools"?

The ratio of bulls to bears has never (that is ever) been higher according to (the perhaps ironically names) Investor’s Intelligence. There are now more than 4x more bulls than bears and even more concerning, the only time “bears” have been lower than the current 14.3% was in the spring of 1987…

 

 

h/t @Not_Jim_Cramer


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/hYOhrfvWFAY/story01.htm Tyler Durden

Peak “Greater Fools”?

The ratio of bulls to bears has never (that is ever) been higher according to (the perhaps ironically names) Investor’s Intelligence. There are now more than 4x more bulls than bears and even more concerning, the only time “bears” have been lower than the current 14.3% was in the spring of 1987…

 

 

h/t @Not_Jim_Cramer


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/hYOhrfvWFAY/story01.htm Tyler Durden

Should Detroit Sell Its High-Value Art Collection to Pay for Its Bankruptcy? Only If it Cares About its Finances – or Art

I’ve got a new column up
at The Daily Beast
, in which I argue that Detroit should the
collection at the Detroit Art Insitute (DIA) for up to an estimated
$866 million. Not only would such a move make a serious dent in
Motown’s debt problem, it would also allow the art to be sent to
places where it might actually be seen.

Here’s a snippet:

What sort of message would it send to current and future
residents—not to mention current and future bondholders—if Detroit
refuses to put everything on the table? You can’t eat the DIA’s
Still
Life With Fruit, Vegatables, and Dead Game
,” no matter how
well-rendered, and for most of the past 80 years, the city has been
subsidizing not just the day-to-day running of the museum but also
its acquisitions. Such spendthrift priorities are one small reason
why the burg is in such bad shape to begin with (and also why the
city has relatively clear title to the artworks under
consideration).

Building a future around a
slogan like Detroit: Come for the Bankruptcy but Stay
for the
Bruegel
 is no way to resurrect a city
whose population
peaked
 back in 1950. As urban theorist Joel
Kotkin has put it, “We
get it wrong. We think the cultural amenities drives the prosperity
[in cities], when it’s really the prosperity that drives the
cultural amenities.” Artifacts from past periods of
wealth—especially publicly funded museums, sports
stadiums, orchestras,
and the like—are luxury goods that never pay for themselves, either
directly or indirectly. Detroit can rebuild its municipally owned
art collection if and when it can afford to cover expenses related
to activities beyond the core functions of government. Until then,
let the bidding begin!


Read the whole thing.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/11/should-detroit-sell-its-high-value-art-c
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A Plague of Fake Interpreters

The Associated Press describes
what may be the single strangest story to come out of the Mandela
funeral:

A man who appeared to provide sign language
interpretation on stage for Nelson Mandela’s memorial service,
attended by scores of heads of state, was a “fake,” the national
director of the Deaf Federation of South Africa said on
Wednesday….

Four sign language experts, including Druchen, said the man was not
signing in South African or American sign languages and could not
have been signing in any other known sign language because there
was no structure to his arm and hand movements….Ingrid Parkin,
principal of the St. Vincent School for the Deaf in Johannesburg,
said she’s received complaints from the deaf community from Canada
to China about the man on stage and that his movements look “like
he’s signing gibberish.”

A strange story, but evidently not strange enough. File this
under Social Problems That Never Occurred To Me Before:

Bogus sign language interpreters are a problem in South
Africa, because people who know a few signs try to pass themselves
off as interpreters, said Parkin, the principal of the school for
the deaf. And those hiring them usually don’t sign, so they have no
idea that the people they are hiring cannot do the job, she
said.

Bonus video: See the opening sketch here.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/11/a-plague-of-fake-interpreters
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The "It's Libertarian So It's Bad" Argument Against Bitcoin

A very silly piece from the Business Insider is making
the rounds this morning for those who wish to stand athwart the
digital future sneering “but it’s libertarian.” (The
article has pretty much no intellectual value for anyone else.)
(For an earlier take on people who have a hard time swallowing the
libertarian implications and practice of the digital past, present,
and future, see
this from me earlier this week
.)

The article by Jim Edwards posits that “Bitcoin
Proves the Libertarian Idea of Paradise Would be Hell on
Earth
,” with a bill of indictments against the surging digital
currency that applies in pretty much every respect to any currency
at all.

Criminals can use it! It can be stolen! (We all have things that
are valuable to us on our hard drives. Bitcoin may end up being the
most valuable thing lots of us have on our drives,
but—back up, back up, back up. Undoubtedly a trustworthy and
robust system of outsiders serving the function of digitally
storing your wallets on other than just your harddrives will become
common, just like pretty much every other valuable human need gets
met by the market. Like every human endeavor, some crooks might get
involved as well, naturally.) 

Edwards is right, let’s just return to barter…this whole
“currency” thing seems toooo risky.

Edwards also gives way too much importance to
a supposed bug in the system
that might allow colluding miners
to cut out other miners (a problem that is probably fixable in the
open-source debuggable Bitcoin system and that need not destroy the
value of the currency to most users), and then gives even more
scary attention to the notion that people can use Bitcoin as a tool
to commit crimes, in case you didn’t get it the first time and
repetition might make it start to scare you.

He also is incensed that due to the nature of how it has rolled
out, a small number of people have a lot of Bitcoin. This has
little to do with its value as a means of exchange, unless he is
imagining a world where suddenly the only thing that has value is
Bitcoin and those of us lacking it are screwed. And for someone so
worried about centralized power and manipulation of currency, he
doesn’t seem to have thought a lot about the Federal Reserve’s role
in the economy, even though circumventing it is one of the
libertarian joys of Bitcoin.

Edwards hits on one point that, right this second, makes Bitcoin
less than ideal as a currency: its huge day to day fluctuations in
value in relation to all other monies and commodities in the world.
It seems obvious to me that we are seeing lots of churn in Bitcoin
based on people seeking in it not a currency but an investment
vehicle, because of its huge zooms in value very recently.

We are still in the beginning of the world understanding how it
wants to use digital currencies, and I would expect that in the
near future we will see far more stability in Bitcoin’s day to day
value–though where this level will be in terms of the U.S. dollar
is impossible to say.

What seems easy to say is that for anyone who has ever tried to
transfer money, nationally or internationally, that the values in
ease, speed, and cost of digital currency means that it will have
the same leveling effect on industries like banking and finance
that depend largely on their middleman function that already we’ve
seen happen in book sales, video rentals, and travel agents.

People who doubt this are letting their ability to write Bitcoin
and other digital currencies off as “libertarian” blind them to
economic trends of the past 20 years in the digital age. If you can
understand the value of, say, PayPal, then you already understand
the value of Bitcoin; except Bitcoin doesn’t have a middleman
skimming.

The Internet has made life very unstable for those who made
their living as middlemen skimming–even more unstable than the
recent day to day value of Bitcoin.

Yes, it’s decentralized, hard to control, hard to tax, arising
from the free play of the market rather than government
command–it’s pretty libertarian stuff. The world can be, at its
best, a pretty libertarian place. Don’t let that scare you away
from the future, libertarian haters. (Or go ahead! See if I
care!)

For more on Bitcoin from a libertarian perspective, see
this great essay by John Mather
defending it from old-school
Austrian economists who see it as essentially a non-money, and a
Ponzi scheme.


Reason on Bitcoin
, and our recent December feature by
Jerry Brito on the many
uses for the Bitcoin protocol
besides a currency.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/11/the-its-libertarian-so-its-bad-argument
via IFTTT

The “It’s Libertarian So It’s Bad” Argument Against Bitcoin

A very silly piece from the Business Insider is making
the rounds this morning for those who wish to stand athwart the
digital future sneering “but it’s libertarian.” (The
article has pretty much no intellectual value for anyone else.)
(For an earlier take on people who have a hard time swallowing the
libertarian implications and practice of the digital past, present,
and future, see
this from me earlier this week
.)

The article by Jim Edwards posits that “Bitcoin
Proves the Libertarian Idea of Paradise Would be Hell on
Earth
,” with a bill of indictments against the surging digital
currency that applies in pretty much every respect to any currency
at all.

Criminals can use it! It can be stolen! (We all have things that
are valuable to us on our hard drives. Bitcoin may end up being the
most valuable thing lots of us have on our drives,
but—back up, back up, back up. Undoubtedly a trustworthy and
robust system of outsiders serving the function of digitally
storing your wallets on other than just your harddrives will become
common, just like pretty much every other valuable human need gets
met by the market. Like every human endeavor, some crooks might get
involved as well, naturally.) 

Edwards is right, let’s just return to barter…this whole
“currency” thing seems toooo risky.

Edwards also gives way too much importance to
a supposed bug in the system
that might allow colluding miners
to cut out other miners (a problem that is probably fixable in the
open-source debuggable Bitcoin system and that need not destroy the
value of the currency to most users), and then gives even more
scary attention to the notion that people can use Bitcoin as a tool
to commit crimes, in case you didn’t get it the first time and
repetition might make it start to scare you.

He also is incensed that due to the nature of how it has rolled
out, a small number of people have a lot of Bitcoin. This has
little to do with its value as a means of exchange, unless he is
imagining a world where suddenly the only thing that has value is
Bitcoin and those of us lacking it are screwed. And for someone so
worried about centralized power and manipulation of currency, he
doesn’t seem to have thought a lot about the Federal Reserve’s role
in the economy, even though circumventing it is one of the
libertarian joys of Bitcoin.

Edwards hits on one point that, right this second, makes Bitcoin
less than ideal as a currency: its huge day to day fluctuations in
value in relation to all other monies and commodities in the world.
It seems obvious to me that we are seeing lots of churn in Bitcoin
based on people seeking in it not a currency but an investment
vehicle, because of its huge zooms in value very recently.

We are still in the beginning of the world understanding how it
wants to use digital currencies, and I would expect that in the
near future we will see far more stability in Bitcoin’s day to day
value–though where this level will be in terms of the U.S. dollar
is impossible to say.

What seems easy to say is that for anyone who has ever tried to
transfer money, nationally or internationally, that the values in
ease, speed, and cost of digital currency means that it will have
the same leveling effect on industries like banking and finance
that depend largely on their middleman function that already we’ve
seen happen in book sales, video rentals, and travel agents.

People who doubt this are letting their ability to write Bitcoin
and other digital currencies off as “libertarian” blind them to
economic trends of the past 20 years in the digital age. If you can
understand the value of, say, PayPal, then you already understand
the value of Bitcoin; except Bitcoin doesn’t have a middleman
skimming.

The Internet has made life very unstable for those who made
their living as middlemen skimming–even more unstable than the
recent day to day value of Bitcoin.

Yes, it’s decentralized, hard to control, hard to tax, arising
from the free play of the market rather than government
command–it’s pretty libertarian stuff. The world can be, at its
best, a pretty libertarian place. Don’t let that scare you away
from the future, libertarian haters. (Or go ahead! See if I
care!)

For more on Bitcoin from a libertarian perspective, see
this great essay by John Mather
defending it from old-school
Austrian economists who see it as essentially a non-money, and a
Ponzi scheme.


Reason on Bitcoin
, and our recent December feature by
Jerry Brito on the many
uses for the Bitcoin protocol
besides a currency.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/11/the-its-libertarian-so-its-bad-argument
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Obamacare Is Supposed To Sign Up 7 Million By March – 365,000 So Far

Submitted by Jim Quinn of The Burning Platform blog,

The MSM  is trying to spin the 110,000 sign ups in November as a fantastic result. When a “free” new entitlement is announced and rolled out in this country, they would normally be knocking down the doors to sign up. Anyone who really wants Obamacare has already signed up. The first two months should generate the biggest numbers. When you have only achieved 5% of your goal after two months, you’ve failed miserably. Obamacare is a disaster before it even gets off the ground and bankrupts the country. Young healthy people will never sign up for Obamacare. They know it’s a scam. They also know that Obama and his IRS minions are so incompetent, they’ll never figure out how to collect the fines from people who don’t sign up. Have you ever met an IRS employee?

But, the MSM will do their darndest to mislead the public about Obamacare success.

 

Behind Obamacare figures

The latest figures on Obamacare enrollment are out, and they have better but not great news for the White House. The stats show that Obamacare enrollees who have selected insurance plans through the federal HealthCare.gov website quadrupled from October to November, but other figures don’t show growth that rosy.

HHS figures show that HealthCare.gov enrolled 110,410 new consumers in health plans last month, more than four times that of the 26,794 signed up during October, as the troubled website started to work out the troubles it experienced from its inception Oct. 1.

Growth in the number of people processed through the system wasn’t as sharp. HHS figures indicate that 822,789 consumers were deemed eligible for health plans last month, up 17% from the 702,619 reported for October. The pace of those who completed applications for health coverage was slightly better, with November postings of 1.23 million, up 19% from the 993,635 reported for October.

Further, activity slowed significantly on both the federal and state marketplaces, though some of that wane can be attributed to initial heavy interest. After nearly 27 million unique users clamored to HealthCare.gov and the state websites in October, that slowed down to roughly 12.2 million in November, a drop of 54%. Calls to the various service centers dropped to 2.1 million from 3.2 million, falling by a third.

HHS officials said nearly 365,000 people have selected health plans from state and federal marketplaces since Oct. 1, with nearly two-thirds of that coming from the states. The number of federal marketplace enrollees deemed eligible for coverage is twice that of the state-run exchanges — at 1.5 million vs. the states’ 780,000.

In addition to the 365,000 nationwide sign-ups, more than 800,000 were deemed eligible for Medicaid or the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program. HealthCare.gov serves 36 states, while the 14 other states and the District of Columbia run their own exchanges.

HHS hopes to enroll 7 million people in health plans by March 31. It has been hampered severely by troubles with HealthCare.gov, which it says is operating smoothly for the bulk of consumers visiting the site.


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/8v_h99lqECs/story01.htm Tyler Durden

A. Barton Hinkle Says More Contraception, Less Conscription

In a rational world, women in the U.S. would be
able to buy birth control over the counter — something that is
perfectly safe to do, and that women in other countries do as a
matter of routine. But, says A. Barton Hinkle, because American
women cannot, the country is now embroiled in an unnecessary debate
— one that, exacerbated by tendentious red-team/blue-team
cheerleading.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/11/a-barton-hinkle-says-more-contraception
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Dan Loeb Takes On Santa Claus

The following Third Point letter may or may not have been actually sent, although if indeed shareholder activists – more aggressive now than ever thanks to the brilliant idea of forcing management teams to lever themselves up to the gills with what for now appears to be cheap credit – do get some original ideas thanks to this particular Vanity Fair lampoon, then children around the world will have a fabricated Dan Loeb to thank for having their Christmas presents delivered by an army of highly efficient and profit-maximizing Amazon drones.

Source: a rather humorous Vanity Fair


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/xhu4iEozHuI/story01.htm Tyler Durden

Last Day of the Reason Webathon! Let’s Make That Box Orange, People!

Her name is Caitlin. http://jakethealligatorman.com/caitlin-the-lobster-girl/ ||| Jake the Alligator ManLook over there at the top of
the next column to your right. What do you see? A donation box
that’s theeeeees close to being all filled up with
your amazing generosity here during this, our most successful
annual Reason webathon to date. As of 6:30
this morning ET, we were 97.5% toward our audacious goal of raising
$150,000 to fund the best damn libertarian journalism, commentary,
and general carrying-on in the known universe. If you plunk down
$3,800 (or its equivalent in Bitcoins)
right the hell now, BOOM, mission accomplished.

What do you get for your donation? Besides
the feeling of intense satisfaction in knowing that your money will
never pay for ridonkulous headlines like, “Bitcoin
Proves The Libertarian Idea Of Paradise Would Be Hell On
Earth
,” $100 gets you a subscription & a classic black
Reason T shirt; $250 gets you that plus a gift sub & a copy of
Reason.tv’s enraging full-length documentary, America’s Longest
War
; $500 gets you a video answer to your question for the
next “Ask a Libertarian” Reason.tv extravapalooza; $1,000 adds a
private lunch with a Reason editor of your choice; and $2,500 gets
you VIP tickets to the next Reason Media Awards. And a gift of any level
will be honored in the webathon ticker box at the top of this
page.

Thanks for putting up with a week of sales pitches (though
please note that there are m-a-n-y more hours in the day!), and
thanks most of all for helping us get better at doing what we do.
Take it away, Nick Gillespie & friends!

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/11/last-day-of-the-reason-webathon-lets-mak
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