My wife left for the week-end and I got together with a few friends to record this cover tune of the first W.E.T. album. It turned out as a Valentine’s gift. Thank you for listening.
The greatest threat to liberty throughout history has been the state. Humanity’s worst travesties are stories told about the abuses of governments who violate the inalienable rights they are charged with protecting. The indignation of the state in victimless crimes seeks only to confiscate and redistribute wealth only to favour those loyal to a crown or a party. Western civilization sought to resolve these issues sometimes through bloody conflict and some through legislation. Protecting this principle requires the effort of an informed citizenry that remains active in their society. In all of histories cases where this abusive course was reversed, this is the case.
The English Penal code sought to enforce the superiority of Anglican religion and the supreme sovereignty of the English crown over other faiths such as non-Anglican Protestantism and Catholicism. These laws sought to limit the influence, property and rights of English subjects with forfeitures, fines, and penalties. The Clarendon Code required all municipal officials to take Anglican Communion and reject Solemn League and Covenant. Other acts forbid the unlawful religious practice, forced required prayer books upon the people and the clergy, and forbade nonconformist ministers from associating with others. Many sought refuge outside England and those leaving the religious persecution left a wake of social upheaval. Some fled to the United States seeking freedom from this persecution. In 1688, the Glorious Revolution sought to relieve this tension through political violence and an overthrowing the king. Following the revolution, Parliament instituted the Bill of Rights in 1689 and this limited the powers of the crown while adding significant protections toward the subjects of the kingdom. The Bill of Rights in 1689 sought to liberalize religious tensions in the England toward an idea that retributive justice would have a punishment fitting the crime. This Bill of Rights in 1689 aimed to protect citizens from cruel and unusual punishment.
During the 1920’s the Asquith family owned a butcher shop in West Yorkshire, United Kingdom (“ASDA Group Ltd. History,” 2015). They expanded their business to seven shops as business remained profitable. Around the same time the Stockdale and Craven families ran a dairy (Tugby, 2015). Their business grew as well. When these two collaborated, their resources to create the Asquith plus Dairies brand and the modern era of the supermarket was born in the United Kingdom (“ASDA Group Ltd. History,” 2015). In 1985, it was changed to ASDA (Tugby 2015).
As a background, the United Kingdom had many nationalized businesses in the marketplace because of state-imposed limitations on how resources were spent during World War II (Schifferes, 2008). The 1960’s and 1970’s were periods in the history of the United Kingdom that saw continue devaluation of the currency, a loss of jobs and industrial capacity, and increased unemployment and stagnation in the economy(“UK recessions since 1945: how they compare,” 2010). One of these brands in the United Kingdom was the state-run grocery called the Government Exchange Mart (Whysall, 2005).
Also following World War II in the United Kingdom, manufactures distributed their goods in services in the marketplace and required agents of their products to sell at a minimum or maximum price. This practice was called Resale Price Maintenance (Garrett, Burtis, & Howell, 2008). This form of Price fixing was legal in both the United States and the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom began to review this practice in 1954 with the Restrictive Trade Practices Act (Dennison, 1959) and ten years later the Resale Prices Act in 1964 (Rothstein, 1964). The latter Act considered the practice of price fixing to incentivize retailers to carry product lines as a practice against the public interest.
The country of Brazil contains 26 different states in South America. On the eastern shores of the state of Bahai lie the Bay of the Saints and on the eastern edge of this bay is the town of Lobato. One of Brazil’s most prolific writers was Monterio Lobato. In addition to his writing credit, he pioneered Brazil’s oil industry and promulgated the belief that oil would be the vehicle that would industrialize Brazil (Wirth, 2001a). He was opposed in the 1930’s by Hota Barbosa who wanted to invite foreign investment namely, from US Standard Oil to modernize Brazil (Wirth, 2001a). Amidst this controversy of import vs. domestic, oil was discovered in the town named after Lobato in 1939 on an exploratory well named DNPM-163 (Leite, 2009).
Setting the Stage
During the summer of 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported on the trend of foreign ownership of Japanese companies. The periodical noted in 1990, foreign ownership of Japanese companies was less than 5% and by 2014, it had risen to more than 30% (Fujikawa, 2014). The trend of foreign ownership paralleled the liberalization of the Japanese financial sector which began in the late 1990’s following what business historians call the lost decade (Kuepper, 2015). Japan’s lost decade was preceded by the largest capitalization of the Japanese Stock market in history reaching record highs in 1989 (“Tokyo Stocks at New Record,” 1989). This bubble was caused largely in part by a real estate speculation.
The US Dollar helped to rebuild Japan after the Japanese surrender in World War II under the Supreme Commander of Allied Powers in 1945. There were shortages of food, supplies and goods. A top-down approach led by New Deal Democrats under George Marshall’s team helped to rebuild the infrastructure and institutions in this postwar economy (“The Reconstruction of Japan,” 2015). Instead of building laissez-faire capitalist structures or classical liberal institutions, Marshall’s team reshaped the landscape. They broke up family owned conglomerations of companies called Zaibatsu. These intertwined industries had risen to power during the Meiji Era of Japan (Watkins, 2015b). This era of Japanese history is known as an ending of isolation or Sakoku. This happened roughly the same time as the industrial revolution in the West. It remained coordinated with the central government of Japan and allowed businesses to maintain virtual monopolies over entire market sectors (“The Meiji Restoration and Modernization,” 2009). Following World War II and as the US purchased many goods from Japan to fight the Korean War, Japan continued to retool and rebuild its domestic infrastructure. This investment evolved into a different form of corporatism called Keiretsu. Instead of having family linkages these corporations bought each other’s shares and swapped member’s of the board which insulating the businesses against failure (Watkins, 2015a). These companies were usually formed around a bank and during this time companies like Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Isuzu, and Daihatsu Motors emerged as economic producers. Japan wanted to get out of debt and remained cautious with its international capitalization until the 1970’s where it began to invest in foreign economies, including the US more than foreign companies were investing in Japan. Japan exported more goods than it imported in the 1970’s and this brought more capital to the Japanese economy.
In the formation of the United States the English crown sought to limit the fiscal ability and prosperity of the colonies by limiting their capacity to print colonial scrip. Additionally, following the imposition of a Stamp Tax the colonies went to war with England to gain their independence. When the United States obtained this independence from England, a debate about a central bank occurred. The purpose of this central bank was to repay the war debts which were then mostly owed to France (“U.S. Debt and Foreign Loans, 1775–1795” 2015). In 1811, the charter for the First American Bank expired and Congress refused to renew it with a tie-breaking vote by the Vice President Clinton. Shortly after and not so coincidentally a war with England followed. Some believed the war of 1812 was a banking war (Rivero 2013). A few years following the Bankers War the Second US Bank was chartered and it too was created as a private bank. The charter of this second bank ended in during the presidency of Andrew Jackson in what was called the bank war but was more political than the military conflict between the US and England in 1812. Jacksonian Democrats inferred that this central bank gave special privilege to banking elites and created social inequality. These Democrats sought to ensure that the charter was not renewed and during the 1832 election succeeded in getting Jackson re-elected to fulfill this campaign promise. Jackson’s opponent reacted like a scorned child and using the banking resources at their disposal retracted credit in the country and created a terrible recession that became known as the Panic of 1837 (“Andrew Jackson, Banks, and the Panic of 1837” 2015). Jackson’s campaign against the bankers was successful and for a generation Americans prospered even despite debts that would be incurred by a civil war that tore the country apart. The money supply in the United States favored only the equality of industry and honest labor for labor.
There is a common perception that the US economy is in a multi-decade period of decline. The Business Insider reported the US was becoming the first post-industrial country and the country that brought the industrial revolution to the world shipped more garbage abroad than it did goods (Snyder, 2010). In 2012 the Wall Street Journal reported a hostile taxation climate toward United States businesses continued to drive them overseas (McKinnon & Thurm, 2011). The Washington Post echoed a similar sentiment by naming names with 73 formerly US-based companies totalling more than $679 billion in revenue and many targeted for takeovers by multinational companies (Douglas-Gabriel, 2014). The Philadelphia Trumpet accentuated this perception when they reported, “Manufacturing as a share of the economy has been plummeting. In 1965, manufacturing accounted for 53 percent of the economy. By 1988 it only accounted for 39 percent, and in 2004, it accounted for just 9 percent,” (Morley, 2006). The Fiscal Times expressed a similar pessimism when it noted the manufacturing sector would never recover from these losses (Goozner, 2012).
Companies produce goods and services and are taxed by the states in which they operated. In 2014, Fortune magazine noted that the US, Japan, Argentina, Pakistan and Venezuela led the world with corporate tax rates– all more than 30% (Dumaine, 2014). A 2014 Tax Foundation report noted that the United States had the third highest general top marginal corporate income tax rate in the world at 39.1 percent, and was exceeded only by Chad and the United Arab Emirates at 40% and 55% (Pomerleau, 2014). While these state governments provide some services to businesses, corporations in these countries incur corporate tax as part of the cost of doing business. Since these businesses really don’t pay tax, they must pass this expense onto their customers in the form of elevated prices. If countries have differing rates of taxation such as China whose corporate tax rate was at 25% then if other things about the production and distribution of products and services in a global marketplace are equal the nominal corporate tax rate can put domestic US companies at a disadvantage (“China Corporate Tax Rate,” 2015).
Similarly, companies that produce goods and services must use the currencies of that country to conduct business in that country since currency is the legal tender of those countries. When the supply of money in countries exceeds the real output, these countries experience inflation (Ely, Adams, Lorenz, & Young, 1926). Inflation can be influenced by the cost of other money’s in countries that trade with the domestic market. The Nomad Capitalist reported in 2013 that the top five countries in the world with inflation were South Sudan, Iran, Syria, Sudan and Venezuela (Henderson, 2013). In the United States the rate of inflation has been reported at 1.5% in 2013 (Current US Inflation Rates: 2005-2015, 2015). When considering the supply of money and its valuation in the world markets, currencies can strengthen or weaken themselves in the marketplace. When speaking of a strong or a weak dollar the value of that dollar changes against other currencies in the world. When the dollar is strong, it means that this currency can buy more goods and services and when it is weak it means that other currencies can buy goods and services in the domestic market. These fluctuations happen on a daily basis and high speed traders can capitalize on these differences for a profit in the FOREX marketplace (Nakaso, 2011). In these instances, investors can capitalize on inequalities in the movement of those currencies as well.
Another area of macroeconomic interest is the means by which countries borrow money from each other and this metric is more commonly called national debt. When companies buy and sell in countries the rate at which governments assume debt means that at a later point in time the government of that country will have to take first from productive entities in the economy. If they tax citizens at a higher rate, then people will have less money to buy the companies products or services. If the governments increase the nominal taxation rate on businesses they will have to pass these increases onto their customers which means that fewer people will be able to afford their products or services, or worse, will choose a competitor’s product that can be sold on the market for less. Forbes reported in 2014 that the five most indebted countries of the world are: Japan, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Singapore (Patton, 2014). The same report matched the debt to the gross domestic product and all these countries are trending at increasing this ratio.
When economies experience a recession, many central banks will turn to expansionist monetary policies as an attempt to stimulate an economy. Governments who measure a significant decline in aggregate demand may observe recession and cyclical unemployment. Discretionary spending policies are often implemented to resolve this, notably increased government spending, and reduced taxation or some combination of the two (McConnell, Brue, & Flynn, 2009). Economists O’Sullivan, Sheffrin, and Perez note that, “Policies that increase aggregate demand is expansionist,” and that, “Policies that decrease aggregate demand are contractionary policies,” (O’Sullivan, Sheffrin, & Perez, 2010). The idea behind the increase in aggregate demand is that enough government spending will increase consumer spending more and thus improve conditions in the economy. This is called the Fiscal Multiplier in as much as the shift in aggregate demand remains expected to outpace the initial increase in output of government spending (Quiggin, 2013).
More recently, expansionism included the creation of liquidity by the central bank through a phenomenon called Quantitative Easing (R.A., 2015). Quantitative Easing often comes in three varieties which include: an easing interest rates through the purchase of securities, the sale of short-term debt in exchange for long term debt, and portfolio re-balancing where investors sell assets to the central bank and use the funds to buy new assets in the economy (“Q’S, or not Q’S? ,” 2012).
International trade organizations attempt to promote trade between nation states by utilizing mechanisms of the state. Following World War II, the United States and its trading partners engaged in the development of a trade framework designed to liberalize trade and payment systems between countries (Irwin, Mavroidis, and Sykes 2007). The reasons behind this were because Europe needed to be rebuilt following the devastation of World War II and factories needed to be rebuilt (“International Trade Agreements: GATT and NAFTA, Why Are They Important?” 1996). Several institutions were created from these negotiations to include the International Monetary Fund, The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and The General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade which set up the International Trade Organization. GATT had its legal origins in the Reciprocal Trade Agreement of 1934 (The Reciprocal Trade Agreement Act of 1934). This trade agreement shifted power from Congress which gave up the ability to legislate duties on specific goods when it delegated tariff negotiating power to the executive (Irwin, Mavroidis, and Sykes 2007). Since these countries also needed to resolve conflict and other non-trade issues the United Nations also came out of these negotiations (Choi 2015). A university of Economics Professor, Dr. Choi noted that, “GATT was the result of an international conference held at Geneva in 1947 to consider a draft charter for the International Trade Organization (ITO). The US initiated negotiations with 22 other countries that led to commitments to regulate 45,000 tariff rates,” (Choi 2015).