He who places his hope on thee, O Virgin all-glorious, will prosper in all he does.

Inscription on Byzantine coin during reign of Romanus III

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"Expanding Lending Capacity"

This is Rep. Bobby Scott's phrase to describe the fix for what's acutely ailing the economy. Short-term business credit must be unfrozen to finance things like payroll and inventory. Otherwise, the problems that have been limited mostly to the banking sector will expand into the larger economy.

I like Ad Orientem's insight here.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Paranormal Issues

Orrologion has devoted a couple of postings pointing out the irony of atheists believing in paranormal phenomena. Here and here.

Well, it really depends what you mean by paranormal. All sorts of nonsense gets thrown into that category, you know, like Loch Ness, astrology, Sasquatch, Atlantis, and whatnot.

Let's talk about the psychical stuff. I'm an empirical person, and I'm fascinated by empirical phenomena that can't be measured.

Like human consciousness, for instance. Velocity and direction, two parameters that describe material phenomena, don't apply to consciousness. We're talking about a qualitatively different phenomenon. It exists, but it can't be measured. We have introspective evidence, and sensory evidence of affects, but none of that counts as measurement.

Once one accepts the existence of consciousness and its ability to affect material phenomena, the only remaining step to accepting an incarnational world is determining whether the survival of the personality makes sense.

Or, maybe a religion that treasures each human personality should be adopted for that reason alone.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Concerned About Wall Street?

You should be. The free allocation of capital to opportunities is the key determinant of economic growth. Low marginal tax rates, low regulatory burdens, concretely specified property rights, and the easy transferability of such rights play an important role.

The two Presidential demogogues and their journalist groupies are spouting meaningless cliches about greed and free-wheelin' Wall Street megabuxters.

What they don't tell you--perhaps they don't know--is that Wall Street is already heavily regulated with rules designed by smart attorneys. Maybe that means that more regulations designed by more smart attorneys would have a low probability of solving anything, but a high probability of getting in the way.

Let's go back in time, say, six or seven years ago, when the Federal Reserve dumped liquidity into the financial system with a 1% Federal Funds rate target. The commercial banking system lent the excess moola, Wall Street created hedge funds and customized securities, and Main Street bought or flipped or refinanced mortgaged real estate.

Then, the Fed decided that liquidity was causing "imbalances" and decided to jack up interest rates, and, after a respectable period of time, the liquidity disappeared, hedge funds blew up, securities tanked, and Main Street got stuck with a big house that won't sell or excess condos or a pesky ARM.

Boiled down to its essence, recent economic history is easy to understand. You should be concerned about Wall Street. You should be concerned also about government involvement.


The proactive money is already handicapping the prospect of an OCA corpse, not that the hierarchical bumpkins on Long Island don't richly merit such pessimism.

Let's see. Former Met. Herman lent himself $150k by taking a mortgage against St Tikhon's.

Lent himself?

Well, modernist concepts like carefully-specified ownership rights and responsibilities don't apply to Bishops, who are addressed as Master (despota).

But...but...what about the...by-laws? Yeah, right.

My experience with day-to-day Church matters tells me that the disedifying and disillusioning cult of personality drives more faithful away from Orthodoxy than the saccharine call of Protestant megachurches. Let's blame ourselves for tempting our clergy to act as ringleaders of bootlickers, rather than as the servants of servants.


I stopped over at Gabriel's place to briefly ponder the dissonance of an OCA/AA merger.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Here's To You, Mr. Robinson

Perry Robinson, a prime mover of the web's finest Orthodox blog, finds himself in financial straits. I'm sure that he'd appreciate your prayers, but your cash spends better.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Russian Paper Tiger, II

When Judy Shelton speaks, I listen. Her article, "The Market Will Punish Putinism," in today's Wall Street Journal dealt with Russia's positioning itself for another financial failure. Let's see: the seizure of foreign business interests, the outflow of international capital, the threat to withhold natural resources from Western supporters of Georgia, and so on.

Commenting on another blog, I asserted that Canada's reliance on prosperity through selling natural resources made its economy a one-trick pony. Magnify that reliance, and you'll have an idea about how desperately Russia relies on high commodity prices. The recent run-up in those prices and the concomitant increase in revenue put some spring in Putin's noisy step. As Shelton notes, "Today, oil revenues ostensibly provide a bulwark against economic losses caused by government misjudgments".

Unfortunately, for Putin, we're seeing a reversal of fortune as prices slide with the global economic slowdown. Much as I hope that a poorer Putin will lower his grumbling volume, I suspect that he'll increase it.

You know, I used to think that, perhaps, Putin's grievances had merit. It's kind of hard, however, to take any of his protestations seriously when his smoking gun proving Western complicity in the Georgian affair is an American passport that's been canceled for three years.

I love free capital flows. Capital seeks opportunity and flees tyranny. Capital seeks property right protections and flees legal whimsy. Putin's about to find out that his fiat doesn't extend to eradicating economic laws.