Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The pillars of prosperity

"The three pillars on which prosperity is built are sound money, fiscal restraint and free trade." Antony Mueller

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Inflation, war and permanent ruin

“The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.”
Ernest Hemingway

Friday, March 20, 2009

Ten famously inaccurate quotes

Posted by Daniel Finkelstein at:

"Never said it: 10 famously inaccurate quotes

Following my post on Voltaire and his failure to say "I disagree with what you have to say but I defend to the death your right to say it" here are ten other famous characters who didn't say the things most often associated with them.
Sherlock Holmes: Elementary, my dear Watson
Except for the fact that it's not. The most notorious resident of Baker St never actually used these words in the original books. Not that that's stopped his onscreen counterparts.
Edmund Burke: All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing
And nothing is precisely what the statesman had to do with this phrase. Blame Bartlett's Familiar Quotations for the first mistaken attribution. The words do not appear in any of Burke's papers.
Benjamin Franklin: Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes
Franklin may have repeated this quote but, unlike so many of witticisms, he didn't come up with it. According to one source, Christopher Bullock was the first to make this point. In 1716 he wrote, "Tis impossible to be sure of anything but Death and Taxes."
G.K. Chesterton: When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing - they believe in anything
But they shouldn't believe that Chesterton actually said this. The redoubtable Oliver Kamm is on a mission to clear up the mystery.
John Maynard Keynes: When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?
Keynes may be the man of the moment but take care when you're using this phrase. Samuel Brittan is among those who believe that Keynes never said it, dismissing it as a 'banal misattribution.' The phrase in question, Brittan insists, was probably, "When I change my mind I say so, what do you do?"
Casablanca: Play it again Sam
As time goes by, more and more people believe that Ingrid Bergman used this phrase in Casablanca. Only she didn't. Just watch.
Vladimir Lenin: Useful idiots
The catchphrase may have entered the political lexicon of the Soviet Union but there's no indication that it came from Lenin. The Library of Congress itself is on record saying that there's no trace of it in any of Lenin's works.
Jim Callaghan: Crisis, what crisis?
Credit the Sun with this one. Their pointed headline may have summed up the general mood at the time but it also saddled Callaghan with something he'd never actually said.
Plato: Only the dead have seen the end of war.
This phrase famously opens the movie Black Hawk Down but, despite the epigram, it has nothing to do with Plato. Instead George Santayana penned it in his 1924 Soliloquies in England. General Douglas MacArthur is responsible for misleading the entire West Point cadet corps by quoting it in his farewell address of 1962.
Winston Churchill: Show me a young Conservative and I'll show you somone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I'll show you with someone with no brains.
No-one can accuse Churchill of stinting us on the good quotation front. But this famous phrase, which comes in several variations, was not one of his originals. The debate over who first came up with it still rages. George Bernard Shaw? Disraeli? Otto von Bismarck? Your answers on a postcard.
Posted by Daniel Finkelstein on March 18, 2009 at 02:46 PM in Miscellaneous
var addthis_pub="articletol";

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Keynesian economics

"... Time after weary time, it is the mainstream and Keynesian economists (who ridicule and ignore Austrian economics as unscientific) whose predictions are utterly refuted by the events of history. Yet they continue to propound their eternal nonsense and use government coercion to force their bankrupt ideology on everyone else. As Paul Feyerabend said, "I have no objection to incompetence but I do object when incompetence is accompanied by boredom and self-righteousness." --

The myth of laissez-faire

George Reisman sets the record straight:
"... Laissez-faire capitalism has a definite meaning... Laissez-faire capitalism is a politico-economic system based on private ownership of the means of production and in which the powers of the state are limited to the protection of the individual's rights against the initiation of physical force. This protection applies to the initiation of physical force by other private individuals, by foreign governments, and, most importantly, by the individual's own government. This last is accomplished by such means as a written constitution, a system of division of powers and checks and balances, an explicit bill of rights, and eternal vigilance on the part of a citizenry with the right to keep and bear arms. Under laissez-faire capitalism, the state consists essentially just of a police force, law courts, and a national defense establishment, which deter and combat those who initiate the use of physical force. And nothing more.
The utter absurdity of statements claiming that the present political-economic environment of the United States in some sense represents laissez-faire capitalism becomes as glaringly obvious as anything can be when one keeps in mind the extremely limited role of government under laissez-faire and then considers the following facts about the present-day United States..."
Continue reading:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


"There are known knowns. There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns....there are also unknown unknowns."
Former US secretary of defense Ronald Rumsfeld

Popular delusions and the madness of crowds

"The masses have never thirsted after truth. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim."
~ Gustave Le Bon

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Cheops Obama

"... According to Herodotus, Cheops achieved full employment by enlisting nearly the entire population to build his legendary pyramid – but this was done by depleting the treasury so thoroughly that the ruler had to sell his own daughter into slavery to raise the funds for some forgettable and long-effaced bit of decorative filigree.
The same ancient historian observes that for centuries after Cheops died, the Egyptians refused so much as to utter his name (or that of his equally despicable brother, Chefren), so reviled had he become on account of his tyrannical profligacy..." Will Grigg

Monday, March 2, 2009

Warren Buffett on financial models

“Constructed by a nerdy-sounding priesthood using esoteric terms such as beta, gamma, sigma and the like, these models tend to look impressive. Too often, though, investors forget to examine the assumptions behind the symbols. Our advice: beware of geeks bearing formulas.”
Warren Buffett