Monday , October 3 2022
Home / Ryan McMaken
Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken is the editor of Mises Wire and The Austrian. Send him your article submissions, but read article guidelines first. (Contact: email; twitter.) Ryan has degrees in economics and political science from the University of Colorado, and was the economist for the Colorado Division of Housing from 2009 to 2014. He is the author of Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.

Articles by Ryan McMaken

The Fed Is Finally Seeing the Magnitude of the Mess It Created

10 days ago

When asked about price inflation in his Sunday interview with 60 Minutes, President Biden claimed that inflation “was up just an inch…hardly at all.” Biden continued the dishonest tactic of focuses on month-to-month price inflation growth as a means of obscuring the 40-year highs in year-over-year inflation. This strategy may yet work to placate the most ignorant voters, but people who are paying attention know that price inflation continues to soar.
Thus, while Biden may be pretending that it’s all no big deal, the Federal Reserve knows it better do something about price inflation which even the Fed now admits shows no signs of even moderating.

Another 75 Basis Points
On Wednesday, the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee announced that it will again raise the

Read More »

Central Bankers Are Gaslighting Us about the “Strong Dollar”

12 days ago

On February 8, the Japanese yen fell to a 24-year low against the dollar, dropping to 143 yen per dollar. Not much has changed since then with the yen hovering between 142 and 144 per dollar. In September of 2021, one only needed 109 yen to buy a dollar.
Overall, the yen has dropped 21 percent against the dollar over the past year, yet Japan’s central bank apparently has no plans to change course. Nor should we expect it to do so.  Japan’s debt load has become so immense that any attempt to raise interest rates or otherwise tighten monetary conditions would prove extraordinarily painful.  So, it’s no surprise the BOJ is now positioned to become the world’s last central bank clinging to negative interest rates.
It’s Not Just Japan
The yen is sliding the most among

Read More »

Why the Fed Usually Ignores its Mandate for “Stable Prices”

13 days ago

In recent years, Congress has attempted to add various new mandates to the Federal Reserve’s mission. In 2020, Democrats introduced the “Federal Reserve Racial and Economic Equity Act.”  Then, in 2021, pundits and politicians were telling us that it’s the Fed’s job to “combat climate change.” These are just the latest efforts to use the enormously powerful central bank to achieve political ends to the liking of elected officials.
This is a helpful reminder, of course, that the Fed is not independent from politics. The Federal Reserve has never been politically independent, and it certainly isn’t so now. Fed independence is a fairy tale academic economists like to tell their students. The debate over new mandates has also highlighted the fact the Fed already has no

Read More »

Molinari Explains the Difference between Monarchy and Popular Government

16 days ago

With the impending burial of the United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth II, republicans from London to Sydney have ramped up their efforts to end the British monarchy. The resulting war of words between monarchists and their opponents has highlighted the sheer diversity of opinions over the desirability of monarchy. Indeed, it would be impossible to enumerate all the different criteria on which different groups and individuals judge monarchy as an institution. However, for those of us who favor the ideology known as laissez-faire liberalism—also known as “classical” liberalism or libertarianism—a fundamental question we must ask ourselves in judging monarchies is whether or not they are useful in limiting state power.
This is not a new question, and fortunately the

Read More »

August’s Price Inflation Soared, and That Means Earnings Fell Yet Again

18 days ago

The federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics released new price inflation data today, and the news wasn’t good. According to the BLS, Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rose 8.3 percent year over year during August, before seasonal adjustment. That’s the seventeenth month in a row of inflation above the Fed’s arbitrary 2 percent inflation target, and it’s six months in a row of price inflation above 8 percent.
Month-over-month inflation rose as well, with the seasonally adjusted CPI rising 0.1 percent from July to August. With the exception of July’s month-over-month figure, which was zero, monthly CPI inflation has risen twenty-seven months in a row.
August’s increase keeps price inflation near forty-year highs. June’s year-over-year increase of 9.1

Read More »

GDP Shrinks Again as Biden Quibbles over the Definition of “Recession”

July 31, 2022

The U.S. economy contracted for the second straight quarter during the second quarter this year, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Thursday. With that, economic growth has hit a widely accepted benchmark for defining an economy as being in recession: two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth.
According to the BEA, the US economy contracted 0.9 percent during the second quarter in the first estimate of real GDP as a compounded annual rate. This follows the first quarter’s decline of 1.6 percent. MSNBC reports:
The decline came from a broad swath of factors, including decreases in inventories, residential and nonresidential investment, and government spending at the federal, state and local levels.
Gross private domestic investment tumbled 13.5%

Read More »

How the World Embraced Nationalism, and Why It’s Not Going Away Soon

July 19, 2022

Perhaps one of the more astute observers of Russian foreign policy in recent decades has been John Mearsheimer at the University of Chicago. He has spent years warning against US-led NATO enlargement as a tactic that would provoke conflict with the Russian regime. Moreover, Mearsheimer has sought to explain why this conflict exists at all. Why, for example, doesn’t the Russian regime just accept US-led expansionism in the region? Or perhaps, more precisely, why have so many Russians continued to support Vladimir Putin in his efforts to counter US influence in the region? After all, many countries—Poland and Estonia, for instance—have benefited materially from embracing “the West.” For Mearsheimer the answer to this question is related to the question of why the

Read More »

Inflation Hits 9.1 Percent after Months of Empty Talk at the Fed

July 17, 2022

The US Bureau of Labor statistics released new Consumer Price Index inflation estimates this morning, and the official numbers for June 2022 show that price inflation has risen to 9.1 percent year over year. That’s the biggest number since November 1981, when the price growth measure hit 9.6 percent year over year. The month-over-month measure surged as well, with the CPI measure hitting 1.4 percent. That’s the highest month-over-month growth since March 1980, when the measure hit 1.5 percent.
June marks the fifteenth month in a row during which CPI inflation has been more than double the Fed’s 2 percent target inflation rate. CPI inflation has been more than triple the 2 percent target for the past nine months, and year-over-year growth in CPI inflation has

Read More »

To Avoid Civil War, Learn to Tolerate Different Laws in Different States

July 4, 2022

Most commentary on the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—which overturns Roe v. Wade—has focused on the decision’s effect on the legality of abortion in various states. That’s an important issue. It may be, however, that the Dobbs decision’s effect on political decentralization in the United States is a far bigger deal.
After all, the ruling isn’t so much about abortion as it is about the federal government’s role in abortion. State governments are free to make abortion 100 percent legal within their own borders. Some states have already done so. The court’s ruling limits only the federal government’s prerogatives over abortion law, and this has the potential to lead to many other limitations on federal power as well. In this

Read More »

Powell Is the New Arthur Burns, Not the New Paul Volcker

July 3, 2022

Last year, just as it was becoming increasingly clear that price inflation was mounting, Jerome Powell repeatedly denied there was any reason for concern. He called inflation “transitory.” A few months later, he admitted it was not transitory, but denied it was “entrenched.” Then, by late 2021, he admitted price inflation was getting out of control but still took no action of any consequence. Through it all, the Powell plan was repeated delay and opposition to any lessening of the Fed’s established policy of ramming down interest rates again and again.

By spring 2022, however, it became impossible to pretend the previous six months of rising inflation rates never happened. In order to avoid looking utterly clueless, Powell was forced to endorse a 25 basis point

Read More »

What Will It Take to End Rampant Home-Price Inflation?

June 30, 2022

Real wages are falling, inflation is at a 40-year high, and the Atlanta Fed predicts we’ll find GDP growth at zero for the second quarter. Meanwhile, both the yield curve and money-supply growth point to recession. 
But when it comes to the latest data on home prices, there’s still no sign of any deflation or even moderation. For example, the latest Case-Shiller home price data shows home prices surged above 20 percent year-over-year in April, marking yet another month of historic highs in home price growth. It’s now abundantly clear that a decade of easy money, followed by two-years of covid-induced helicopter money, has pushed home price growth to levels that dwarf even the pre-2008 housing bubble. This continues to make housing less affordable for potential

Read More »

Wholesale Prices Rise More than 10 Percent, Pointing to Continued Price Hikes

June 26, 2022

Year-over-year PPI growth came in at over 10 percent for the sixth month in a row. This will put more pressure on the Fed to “do something.”

Original Article: “Wholesale Prices Rise More than 10 Percent, Pointing to Continued Price Hikes”

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics released new Producer Price Index (PPI) data today, and it’s not good news for consumers.
The PPI is a measure of prices at the production phase of goods and services, and is often an indicator of where consumer prices are headed. Prior to 1978, the index was known as the Wholesale Price Index.
This May, year-over-year PPI growth came in at over 10 percent for the sixth month in a row, reaching 10.8 percent. This was a small drop from April’s year-over-year rate of 10.9 percent, but

Read More »

No, It’s Not “Greed” or “Price Gouging” that’s Driving up Gas Prices

June 18, 2022

Both consumer prices and producer rose near to multi-decade highs last month. Price inflation rose to 8.6 percent while wholesale producer prices rose by more than 10 percent.
In both cases, a significant factor behind rising prices—but certainly not the only factor—was high energy prices. This has been reflected in prices related to transportation and shipping. Prices for air travel, for example, have seen some of the biggest price increases in recent months while gasoline (naturally) has fueled sticker stock for households across the nation.
Perhaps most notable to the average consumer has been the increase in gas prices. In June, gasoline prices have risen on average to a new nominal high of over 5 dollars per gallon.
Short of recession (or depression), relief

Read More »

Slowing Money-Supply Growth in 2022 Points to Recession

June 15, 2022

Money supply growth fell slightly in April, falling below March’s eight month high. Even with March’s bump in growth, though, money supply growth remains far below the unprecedented highs experienced during much of the past two years. During thirteen months between April 2020 and April 2021, money supply growth in the United States often climbed above 35 percent, well above even the “high” levels experienced from 2009 to 2013. As money supply growth returns to “normal,” however, this may point to recessionary pressures in the near future.
During April 2022, year-over-year (YOY) growth in the money supply was at 7.23 percent. That’s down from March’s rate of 7.41 percent, and down from the April 2021’s rate of 36.8 percent.
The growth rate peaked in February 2021

Read More »

Are Today’s Homeownership Rates Sustainable?

June 9, 2022

There is scattered evidence that home prices are finally starting to slow down. But, if the phenomenon is system-wide, we’re still waiting to see the evidence in numbers. Last week, the most recent Case-Shiller national data, for example, showed that home prices in March rose an eye-popping 20 percent, year over year. That’s well in excess of what we saw during the height of the housing bubble leading up to the 2008 financial crisis.
That makes nine months in a row that year-over-year growth has been above eighteen percent. Asset price inflation in residential real estate has been compounding at more than 5 percent per year for most years of the past decade, and price growth accelerated to historic highs over the past two years. Yet, remarkably, there’s still no

Read More »

Debt-Fueled Demand and Oil Price Inflation Brings Airfares Roaring Back

June 6, 2022

If you’ve purchased any airline tickets lately, you’ve probably noticed that prices are up. It’s quite a reversal from the days of covid lockdowns, when airline tickets could be had for half the price of 2019 fares. Or even lower, in many cases.
But those days are apparently over, and as Yahoo Finance notes this week:
Airline fares soared 18.6% in April, according to the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)…. The jump, which built on March’s 10.7% monthly rise in airfares, marked the largest increase since the inception of the series as a component of the public transportation index in December 1963.
On an annual basis, airline fares logged a 33.3% increase from the same time last year, the largest 12-month rise since

Read More »

Don’t Be Fooled: The World’s Central Bankers Still Love Inflation

June 5, 2022

The Bank of Canada on Wednesday increased its policy interest rate (known as the overnight target rate) from 1.0 percent to 1.5 percent. This was the second fifty–basis point increase since April and is the third target rate increase since March of this year. Canada’s target rate had been flat at 0.25 percent for twenty-three months following the bank’s slashing of the target rate beginning in March 2020.
As in the United States and in Europe, price inflation rates in Canada are at multidecade highs, and political pressure on the central bank to be seen as “doing something about inflation” is mounting.
The bank is following much the same playbook as the Federal Reserve when it comes to allowing the target rate to inch upward in response to price inflation. The

Read More »

Police Botched the Uvalde Standoff. Now Gun Controllers Want to Give Police More Power.

May 28, 2022

First it was Columbine. Then it was Parkland. Now, we learn that at Robb Elementary School, police officers again stood around outside a school while the killer was inside with children.
NPR reports today:
Frustrated onlookers urged police officers to charge into the Texas elementary school where a gunman’s rampage killed 19 children and two teachers, witnesses said Wednesday, as investigators worked to track the massacre that lasted upwards of 40 minutes and ended when the 18-year-old shooter was killed by a Border Patrol team.
“Go in there! Go in there!” nearby women shouted at the officers soon after the attack began, said Juan Carranza, 24, who saw the scene from outside his house, across the street from Robb Elementary School in the close-knit town of Uvalde.

Read More »

Real Wages Fall Again as Inflation Stays Near 40-Year Highs

May 14, 2022

Inflation is so high in America that we’re now supposed to believe that inflation is “moderating” if it doesn’t go above 8.5 percent. That, at least, was the message in much of the speculation yesterday around what April’s CPI inflation numbers would show. Much of the “consensus” was that inflation would come in around 8 percent, and that inflation overall had peaked and is therefore moderating. It’s too early to know if inflation has peaked, but one thing if for sure: there’s no reason to celebrate yet another month of wealth-killing inflation at levels not seen in decades. After all, once purchasing power is lost to inflation in our modern economy, it’s gone forever.
The central bank will never allow inflation to persist for any sizable period, so that

Read More »

Expect Washington to Throw a Fit over China’s New Deal with the Solomon Islands

May 7, 2022

Washington regards the entire world as its “sphere of influence.” But now Beijing is looking to follow the US playbook on hegemony and expand Beijing’s network of military bases abroad.

Original Article: “Expect Washington to Throw a Fit over China’s New Deal with the Solomon Islands”

Over the past twenty years, the United States has increasingly tried to claim that Washington does not believe in spheres of influence and that only supposedly imperialist states like Russia are interested in spheres of influence. This has always been nonsense, of course, especially since Washington’s Monroe Doctrine explicitly claims a sphere of influence for the United States. But the US doesn’t even stop there, and further claims a global sphere of influence through its

Read More »

The Fed’s New “Tightening” Plan Is Too Little, Too Late

May 5, 2022

Since 2008, a key component of Fed policy has been to buy up mortgage-based securities and government debt so as to both prop up asset prices and increase the money supply. Over this time, the Fed has bought nearly $9 trillion in assets, thus augmenting demand and increasing prices for both government bonds and housing assets. Moreover, these purchases were made with newly created money, contributing greatly to liquidity and the easy-money policies that have prevailed since 2009.
For all this period, the Fed repeatedly stated that it would at some point “normalize” the balance sheet, presumably by returning the Fed’s total assets to a level at least somewhat close to its pre-2008 levels below $1 trillion.
Many skeptics of Fed policy frequently wondered aloud when

Read More »

It’s Mid-2022 and the Fed Has Still Done Nothing to Fight Inflation

May 4, 2022

It was last August when Jerome Powell began to admit that inflation just might be a problem. But even then, he was only willing to say that inflation would likely be “moderately” above the arbitrary 2 percent inflation standard. Back in August, low inflation—not high inflation—was still perceived to be the “problem.” But things had certainly changed by late November when Powell was forced by reality to retire “transitory” as the preferred adjective to describe price inflation. At that point, the Fed began strongly hinting that it would finally do something to rein in price inflation. But exactly when that might happen remained anyone’s guess.

Fed Talks Big, Does Little
Throughout the end of 2021 and into early 2022, the Fed settled into a comfortable pattern of

Read More »

1991: When America Tried to Keep Ukraine in the USSR

May 1, 2022

The US government today likes to pretend that it is the perennial champion of political independence for countries that were once behind the Iron Curtain. What is often forgotten, however, is that in the days following the fall of the Berlin Wall, Washington opposed independence for Soviet republics like Ukraine and the Baltic states.
In fact, the Bush administration openly supported Mikhail Gorbachev’s efforts to hold the Soviet Union together rather than allow the USSR to decentralize into smaller states. The US regime and its supporters in the press took the position that nationalism—not Soviet despotism—was the real problem for the people of Eastern Europe and the Caucasus.
Indeed, in the case of Ukraine, President George H.W. Bush even traveled to Kyiv in

Read More »

To Fight Russia, Europe’s Regimes Risk Impoverishment and Recession for Europe

April 23, 2022

European politicians are eager to be seen as “doing something” to oppose the Russian regime following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Most European regimes have wisely concluded—Polish and Baltic recklessness notwithstanding—that provoking a military conflict with nuclear-armed Russia is not a good idea. So, “doing something” consists primarily of trying to punish Moscow by cutting Europeans off from much-needed Russian oil and gas.
The problem is this tactic doesn’t do much to deter Russia in anything other than the short term because Russian oil can turn to numerous markets outside of Europe. Most of the world, after all, has declined to participate in the US and European embargoes and trade sanctions, opting for more measured approaches instead.
By limiting

Read More »

Real Wages Fall Again as Inflation Surges and the Fed Plays the Blame Game

April 23, 2022

Money printing may bring rising wages, but it also brings rising prices for goods and services. And those increases are outpacing the wage increases.

Original Article: “Real Wages Fall Again as Inflation Surges and the Fed Plays the Blame Game”

According to a new report released Wednesday by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer Price Index increased in March by 8.6 percent, measured year over year (YOY). This is the largest increase in more than forty years. To find a higher rate of CPI inflation, we have to go back to December 1981, when the year-over-year increase was 9.6 percent.
March’s surge in consumer price inflation is also the twelfth month in row during which the increase is well above the Federal Reserve’s arbitrary 2 percent inflation

Read More »

Real Wages Fall Again as Inflation Surges and the Fed Plays the Blame Game

April 13, 2022

According to a new report released Wednesday by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer Price Index increased in March by 8.6 percent, measured year over year (YOY). This is the largest increase in more than forty years. To find a higher rate of CPI inflation, we have to go back to December 1981, when the year-over-year increase was 9.6 percent.
March’s surge in consumer price inflation is also the twelfth month in row during which the increase is well above the Federal Reserve’s arbitrary 2 percent inflation target. March’s CPI inflation rate was up from February’s rate of 7.9 percent. The month-over-month increase (seasonally adjusted) was 1.2 percent, which was the highest since September 2005.

The price inflation was driven largely by increases in

Read More »

The Ukraine War Shows Nukes Mean Safety from US-Led Regime Change

April 12, 2022

Some journalists like Steve Portnoy of CBS seem unable to grasp that escalations that might lead to nuclear war are a bad thing. The journalist seemed incredulous last week when asking White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki why the United States has not started a full-on war with Moscow. Psaki’s position—with which any reasonable person could agree—was that it is not in the interest of Americans “to be in a war with Russia.”
Washington’s reluctance to go to war might seem odd for anyone who has paid attention to American foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. After all, for more than thirty years, Washington has been enthusiastic when presented with an opportunity to start wars with many countries—including the civilians who live there. Iraq has been a target

Read More »

NATO: Our International Welfare Queens

April 11, 2022

The states of Europe have more than enough wealth and military potential to deal with a second-rate power like Russia. The American taxpayers, on the other hand, deserve a break from Europe’s grifting.

Original Article: “NATO: Our International Welfare Queens”

American policy makers have shown a surprising amount of sanity so far in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While some war enthusiasts among the American punditry have certainly been agitating for World War III, the leadership in both the White House and Congress has repeatedly and straightforwardly refused most calls to escalate the conflict.
Unfortunately, a number of foreign parliaments among the US’s NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) “partners” have not been nearly as hesitant to

Read More »

Money Supply Growth Heads Back Up: February Growth Up to 7 Percent

April 7, 2022

Money supply growth rose for the third month in a row in February, continuing ongoing growth from October’s twenty-one-month low. Even with February’s rise, though, money supply growth remains far below the unprecedented highs experienced during much of the past two years. During thirteen months between April 2020 and April 2021, money supply growth in the United States often climbed above 35 percent, well above even the “high” levels experienced from 2009 to 2013. As money supply growth returns to “normal,” however, this may point to recessionary pressures in the near future.
During February 2022, year-over-year (YOY) growth in the money supply was at 7.1 percent.
That’s up from January’s rate of 6.8 percent, and down from the February 2021 rate of 39.1 percent.

Read More »

If Ukraine Joins the EU, It Will Be the Poorest Member by Far

April 3, 2022

Within days of the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian regime applied for membership in the European Union. This is understandable from the perspective of Kyiv. If Ukraine is going to be denied membership in NATO—as increasingly looks to be the case—The Ukraine regime could nonetheless increase its geopolitical connections to the West by joining in the EU. Moreover, given the fact the EU is moving toward creating its own EU military institutions, EU membership could mean membership in a Western military pact.
The response of many EU members to Ukraine membership has been “ok, but not yet.” This response is understandable from anyone with familiarity with the actual economic situation in Ukraine.
Ukraine is very close to being the poorest

Read More »