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Just How Big Would a Trillion Dollar Coin BE, Anyway?

[ Comments Off ]Posted on January 6, 2013 by admin in Politics

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

The web is buzzing with silly talk of fixing the economy by minting a trillion dollar coin. So just how big would that coin be, if it were made of gold?

Yup. That’s a football field. Details below.

You’ve probably heard about the “Trillion Dollar Coin” by now, and maybe even taken the time to take in the experts’ predictably confident and just as polarized positions on the topic. The fact that the idea is even being discussed seriously is rather telling. Can you imagine the same conversation occurring before the bailouts of 2008? It seems unlikely. And that’s ONE angle on this whole thing that especially intrigues me. As much anger as some of us may have experienced as a result of the bailouts and their aftermath, I for one am thankful for them. Partly because it was probably the only way to avoid a replay of the great depression, but more importantly, because it was probably the first crack in a centuries-old paradigm that has far outlived its usefulness. Talk to someone who has studied economics, and the conversation will rapidly fill up with elaborate terminology that tries to express the incredible complexity of global markets and speculative investment. But as much pride as economists or financial experts may take as they display their head-spinning depth of knowledge on the topic, they are usually overlooking one stark, annoyingly simple fact. At the foundation of it all, their elaborate constructs are all based on a rather simple social contract, i.e.: the tacit agreement on the part of large numbers of people that a piece of paper is worth what someone says it is. It’s tragic that millions of people suffered through a decade of poverty and that perfectly functional factories sat idle after the crash of 1929. And the tragedy was compounded by the fact that it was primarily because pieces of paper had lost their perceived value. That was the magical thing that occurred in 2008; Paulson & Bernanke’s Bailout Bankster Brigade basically “broke capitalism”. That has only peripherally sunk in for people, but every passing day, more people get hip to concepts like fictitious capital, and we live in an era of some of the most innovative thought in human history. About the only thing the archaic entity called a “bank” is good for these days is laundering drug  or war money, and centralizing power. That paradigm is not long for this world, in my opinion.

That’s why I don’t find the blogsplosion about the Trillion Dollar Coin  particularly interesting. As Matt Taibbi, the pop media journalist the Goldman Bankster Gang loves to hate most points out in his most recent piece: “The federal rescue of Wall Street didn’t fix the economy – it created a permanent bailout state based on a Ponzi-like confidence scheme”. A paper version of the Trillion Dollar Coin was created in 2008, and we’ve been gleefully spending imaginary money since long before that, it’s just that the average person doesn’t understand why THEY don’t have any. They’ll eventually figure this out, and that’s when the feces will really hit the fan. So what really intrigued me was this silly question:

What if we still had to back currency with a real-world asset, and we were only allowed to mint this trillion dollar coin out of GOLD?

Here’s the rough result. I explain my admittedly sketchy methods below.

Trillion Dollar Coin

I’m no genius when it comes to volumetric geometry and 3D imaging, so this graphic may be a little off. Feel free to correct me in the comments! I used yesterday’s price of gold, which was $1661 an ounce. Dividing a trillion with that figure, I determined it would take about 181.23 tons of gold, and according to Wolfram Alpha, that would require a cube that’s 65 meters on each side. I tried to approximate the dimensions of a quarter (24.26mm x 1.75mm) to create the cylinder/disc dimensions. That ended up being a disc about 418 meters in diameter and 2 meters thick. The football field isn’t perfectly to scale, but you could obviously fit four football fields end-to-end on a 420 meter disc, so I roughed it in.

Too Big To Jail

[ Comments Off ]Posted on August 19, 2012 by admin in Editorial & Opinion

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

Why none of the crimes of the financial services industry will ever be punished.

If you want to commit a crime and get away with it, one way to do it is to make it an EPIC crime, surround yourself with lots of fall guys, and remain utterly unrepentant. Nixon understood this in the Watergate scandal; his abuse of office was remarkable, and he had no qualms about letting his underlings dangle. Reagan & Bush understood this in the Iran Contra affair; mixing billion dollar drug and weapons deals to negotiate the extended enemy-state-sponsored kidnapping of American citizens to win an election was a stunning exercise in criminality that went largely unpunished. In fact one of their fall guys is now a high-paid “journalist” with Fox News. And in a recent bizarre example, the US government dropped charges against a fugitive doctor wanted in a multimillion dollar international racket selling prescription drugs online, simply because the evidence against him was using too much space on federal servers.

Another way to achieve your goal is to create a legitimate business that so insinuates itself into people’s lives that they feel they can’t live without it, and then charge them enough to buy deregulation for yourself, so you can basically get away with murder, price-fixing, repossession of property, Read the rest of this entry »

If Deficits Don’t Matter, Why Does The Government Keep Taxing Us?

[ Comments Off ]Posted on February 16, 2011 by admin in Politics

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

I’m taking the same approach to federal budget discussions that I took with the health care bill. I’m hiding ’til they’re over, so I can smugly observe later that nothing has changed.

It Prints Money!
This image really has little to do with
the article, but we spent a lot of time on
it so we like to use it whenever we can.

I wish I were the US government, or a bank. Then, whenever I’m broke or actually running at a deficit, I could just say “that’s okay, Deficits don’t matter” or “people of America, if you don’t give me exactly the amount of money I need, life as you know it will cease to exist” and everyone in America (and their grandchildren) would give me billions of dollars, which I could share with my other friends who had been frivolous about finances or made some insanely bad investments. Unfortunately, I’m not a bank or the government, so it is mostly with a detached amusement that I sit and read about the shirtless flirts in Washington that we pay so much to sit around arguing about the annual budget. I mean, we shouldn’t be surprised that congressmen spend all their time looking for dates on Craigslist, when the alternative is actually trying to understand monstrously incomprehensible legislation like the health care bill, net neutrality issues, or for the near future, the federal budget. I mean, have you actually ever looked at the thing? Even when the New York Times creates a clever and relatively simple interactive graphic, it’s mind boggling. But definitely preferable to buying the darn thing, I mean, The basic overview is 216 pages and costs 38 bucks, and the Appendix is 6 times longer than that (1368 pages) and costs 75 bucks. If you bought all the available related publications, you’d have 2448 pages to sift through, at a cost of $214.00. And that doesn’t include the CD-ROM, which thankfully is not an audio book read by Timothy Geithner. If you want to learn more about how the budget is put together without spending 200 bucks, the Wikipedia page goes in-depth. Over 13,000 words in depth in fact. Remarkably, the words “billion” and “trillion” are only used 81 and 59 times respectively. Me? While everyone else sits around arguing about taxes, spending, sacrifice, and responsibility, I’ll be kickin’ back, ignoring the doorbell and the phone as creditors continue harassing me. Why? Because deficits don’t matter. And besides, I oddly find myself agreeing with Fox/WSJ writer Paul B. Farrell’s rant Fed dictator Bernanke needs to be toppled – Forget Mubarak, it’s Fed reign of terror that must end. To distract myself while I sit here broke with it not really mattering, I think I’ll play a few rounds of the poverty survival game  Spent. Because virtual homelessness is a lot more fun than real homelessness.

Indian Microcredit Industry About To Collapse?

[ Comments Off ]Posted on November 17, 2010 by admin in Editorial & Opinion

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

In spite of the feelgood vibe associated with microfunding for the economically challenged people of the world, no-one’s going to be singing “Tiny Bubbles” if India’s massive microlending industry bubble bursts.

Even with microlending, there
are always strings attached.

Wow. Just when I had stopped worrying about how the collapse of Ireland’s economy might trigger the broader collapse of the global economy (it turns out Ireland’s economy isn’t dead, it’s just resting ), now I have to worry about the collapse of India’s economy. After watching America’s banking system get gutted by smart rich guys loaning tons of money to people to buy houses they couldn’t afford, SOMEONE should have noticed the potential for the same to happen with the massive microcredit industry in India. The parallels are actually rather remarkable, except the consequences are much more dramatic. This Globe And Mail piece politely refers to how the poorly-regulated microloan industry in India has resorted to “usurious interest rates and coercive means” to operate. Meaning they’ve apparently been operating much like the local loan sharks everyone was happy to see them replace. This has led to suicides by microcredit-bankrupted individuals who are now being urged by Indian legislators to “strategically default”. Which then gives the banks a fright, because they’re exposed to the tune of $4 billion on all of this lending. The tragic thing on the human end of this scenario? The worst of these overextended borrowers who are choosing suicide as a solution may only owe as little as $2,000. Too bad the Gates Foundation and others didn’t speak up sooner about how the microcredit model was so flawed. For a refresher on how this sort of crisis can play out, see the graphic below. Read the rest of this entry »

The QE2, The Titanic, And Why I Didn’t Vote Last Week

[ 1 Comment ]Posted on November 6, 2010 by admin in Politics

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

But I’m glad you were on deck screaming “I don’t think we should sink!” I’m sure it helped. Oh. And all these “bubbles” you keep hearing about? They’re normal when a huge ship is going down.

Context here if you don’t get this joke

Yesterday a friend asked me if I voted last week. I calmly said “nope”, to find myself on the receiving end of a laser-like liberal glare that screamed “how could you abandon us at this crucial juncture in history?“, but then out loud they said “Why the f— NOT? Are you RETARDED or something???” I then reminded my liberal friend that it’s not nice to say “retarded”, and went on to explain that my decision not to vote was part of my plan to accelerate my collapsitarian vision for a shiny new apocalypse. You see, what liberal, conservative, and especially that other bunch of voters seemed not to notice last week was the fact that Ben Bernanke had instructed Washington to print a bunch of money in a quantitative easing effort. For those of you not familiar with sophisticated economic terminology, 1 bunch=$600,000,000, and according to many, quantitative easing = bank bailout. To me the best part of this all is that since everyone’s calling it “QE2″, we no longer have to resort to that hackneyed “polishing the brass on the Titanic” line. The QE2, as you may recall, was the last of the great steam-powered luxury liners, whose only satisfied customers were probably the British soldiers that she ferried to the Falkland War. The debate will rage about this economic strategy until the results manifest themselves, but for one of the more balanced views of what’s going on (even if you do think he’s full of shibboleth) Paul Krugman sums things up here. And there’s one likely side effect of this cash injection that I find hilarious: in spite of the fact that if teabaggers had any idea what’s going on in the real world, they would be in a psychotic rage about the government printing a bunch of money at a time like this. But in their inexplicable ignorance, they’ll support it with every bone in their little heads, because clearly, if the rest of the world thinks an idea is stupid, it must be the patriotic thing to do. By the way, if you want to print your own money at will just like Ben, HowStuffWorks has excellent step-by-step instructions. Read the rest of this entry »

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