Saturday, May 23, 2009

How Much is the Dollar Worth? Past U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's (FDR) First Inaugural Address Shows why Greed Kills : Also in $$-Rich China

"As Dollars Pile Up, Uneasy Traders Lower the Currency’s Value" - that is the title of Jack Healy's May 22, 2009 piece at the New York Times.

How Much is the Dollar Worth and What is it Likely to be Worth Tomorrow?

The opinions differ. Some have uncertainty and fear, but all that we really have to fear . . . is fear itself.

In his first inaugural address, past U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosvelt addressed and confronted the nation with the problems raised by what was then the depths of the Great Depression. President Obama is today in an analogous situation - having to pull the economy out of the hole into which it has dug itself. Here is an excerpt from FDR's words, which are still quite applicable today:

"This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper . . . the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.... [W]e face . . . common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things....

Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind's goods have failed....

They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish....

The measure of the restoration [of the economy] lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit. Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.

The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.

[Confidence in the future] thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance; without them it cannot live."

Read the full text of the inaugural address here.

The solution, now as then, is to roll up our shirtsleeves and get to work.

Whether in deflation or inflation, the dollar, higher or lower in value, will surely survive.

And to learn that money is not everything, one has to read about the problems that China has simply because it has too many dollars, 2 trillion of them. Paul Krugman in his April 2, 2009 article at the New York Times clues us in on China's Dollar Trap.

There is a lesson here: greed kills.

Do it Like the Norwegians : Prudence, Stability and Sovereign Wealth Fund Legislation in Thriving Norway are an Example for the Rest of the World

Norway is doing something right that many of the countries in our world are doing wrong, namely running the national economy wisely.

Is Norway a model for a healthy and prudent national economics?

Landon Thomas Jr. in his May 13, 2009 New York Times article Thriving Norway Provides an Economics Lesson gives us a nice summary of the economic policies followed by a "wealthy" but "relatively frugal" country. Of course, it helps that Norway is the world's third largest exporter of oil and in 2008 counted $68 billion in oil revenue. But that is not the whole story.

As Thomas writes:

"[I]n the midst of the worst global downturn since the Depression, Norway’s economy grew last year by just under 3 percent. The government enjoys a budget surplus of 11 percent. By comparison, the United States is expected to chalk up a fiscal deficit this year equal to 12.9 percent of its gross domestic product and push its total debt to $11 trillion, or 65 percent of the size of its economy....

Norway’s relative frugality stands in stark contrast to Britain, which spent most of its North Sea oil revenue — and more — during the boom years. Government spending rose to 47 percent of G.D.P., from 42 percent in 2003. By comparison, public spending in Norway fell to 40 percent from 48 percent of G.D.P.

'The U.S. and the U.K. have no sense of guilt,' said Anders Aslund, an expert on Scandinavia at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. 'But in Norway, there is instead a sense of virtue. If you are given a lot, you have a responsibility.' "

Read the full article to find out why Thomas writes:

"The global financial crisis has brought low the economies of just about every country on earth. But not Norway. "

Linex Legal : Forget it : This Allegedly Free Service Is Not Free For Everyone : Possibly Illegal Discrimination on the Basis of the Email Provider

As someone who is retired from teaching law at the university level, I nevertheless keep up on legal developments worldwide, inter alia, also co-authoring the world's leading (Langenscheidt-Routledge) German-English dictionary on business, commerce and finance and also doing legal work for the European Commission.

Recently, I ran across an outfit called Linex Legal at LinexLegal.com (apparently based in the UK) which allegedly offers a free legal newsletter service. They write at their website:

"Sign up for a free account

Discover what you have been missing. Sign up now for your free account and access all the latest updates and reviews covering your area of interest."

When I went to the registration page at the Linex Legal registration page, they - however - had the following proviso:

"If you register with a public email address (hotmail, yahoo, gmail etc), your access to Linex may be restricted."

Hmm. Can one - as a matter of law - offer a free online service in come-on advertising, without CLEARLY and EXPRESSLY limiting that come-on accordingly, and then discriminate against certain preselected public email providers at the registration page? I doubt it.

OK. I did want to see what this service was all about - more out of curiosity than out of any expected utility - so I registered for the allegedly free service with my personal Stanford Alumni address, and got the following reply:

"Unfortunately – being a business to business tool – we can only accept registrations with an academic email address."

I suppose from that statement that they only offer their free service to those who are actively getting paid by academic institutions and from whom some kind of a business-to-business commercial or advertising advantage at such institutions appears obtainable in the short or long term.

In other words, the "free" advertising aspect is just a come-on for commercial ends.

Now, in our view, either such law sites are offering a free or a commercial service - nothing wrong with that, as long as the service is truthfully labelled - but the "free" misleading come-on in the Linex Legal advertising is not suitable for the legal field and in our opinion, unless clearly, expressly, and openly advertised as being free for only a select group of persons, i.e. for those with active academic email addresses, it would appear to us that the Linex Legal advertising is clearly misleading and thus fraudulent as a matter of law.

The harm to persons such as myself is that I wasted a good bit of my valuable time registering for a free service which actually was not intended to be free for me - and I am quite angry about that. Time is my most valuable commodity and I do not have a mind to award it for free to outfits like Linex Legal. I have a mind to bill Linex Legal for my lost time -and that bill would be quite expensive - and rightly so.

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