What Recovery? Possible Slides for Jackson Lake Lodge/Grand Teton Teach-In
Jackson Hole 2015 Weblogging

Grifters and Goldbugs and Bears, Oh My!: Jackson Hole 2015 Weblogging


We of What Recovery? and all of our friends at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Economic Policy Conference and Drinking Party are not the only people up in Jackson Hole this week. There are also moose, elk, bison, cougars, and assorted other charismatic albeit dangerous megafauna. And bears--although most of the bears appear to be in Shanghai this week...

And then there is the American Principles Project down-valley somewhere--a conference that seems to me to be totally composed of grifters and goldbugs, with the accent on the first. They are there, charging their attendees a healthy sum, because, they say, current Federal Reserve policies are dangerously inflationary, and so they need to "bring sanity back to U.S. monetary policy":

American Principles Project

American Principles Project: FIVE WEEKS: Historic Economic Summit to Take Place in Jackson Hole, Wyoming August 27-29: "The first official Jackson Hole Summit is just five weeks away...

...The historic event will take place on August 27-29, 2015 in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The Summit will take place directly opposite of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s annual Jackson Hole Symposium, the flagship conference of the Federal Reserve System. More than two dozen high profile speakers.... The Jackson Hole Summit will feature many of the best and brightest economists in the world, including participants from prestigious institutions, such as The Cato Institute, The Heritage Foundation, The Atlas Network, and England’s The Cobden Centre. All presidential candidates from both major parties have been invited to present their vision to maximize America’s future prosperity and strengthen the United States’ position in driving the global economy.

The Jackson Hole Speaker List (as of July 22nd, 2015): George Gilder--Chairman, George Gilder Fund and former Reagan advisor. Steve Moore--Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Heritage Foundation. Benn Steil, PhD--Senior Fellow & Director of International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations. Peter Schiff--Financial Analyst. Jim DeMint--President, Heritage Foundation...

Take a look at those top five speakers.[1] Suggestions for people who are bigger tools in their views on monetary policy and would be worse-qualified speakers than any of Gilder, Moore, Stei, Schiff, and DeMint would be welcome. But I don't think there are any, at least now that Don Luskin has managed to quiet itself.

First on their list--their biggest draw--is George Gilder. He is a twofer: a goldbug and a grifter:

You searched for george gilder American Principles Project

Why do I say George Gilder is a grifter? Remember this:

Katie Hafner: The Revolution Is Coming, Eventually: "'I knew [at the end of 1999] that [the stock market] was going to crash, I really did'...

...Gilder says, looking out a window on to Main Street. Since 1996, he has published the "Gilder Technology Report", a monthly newsletter that in its heyday was arguably the most influential tout sheet on Wall Street. He glances my way and notices my arched eyebrows. I had plowed through several years' worth of issues, and while I read page after page of praise for a lengthy list of seemingly promising telecommunications companies, I saw nary a hint of warning in anticipation of the Nasdaq's March 2000 tumble and the financial tumult that followed...

Gilder says that he knew the market was going to crash--but did not tell the many subscribers to his paid newsletter:

He adds quickly, "I told people in early 2000 they should sell half their shares in these companies." Then he says, in a tone of self-rebuke: "I didn't say it often. I didn't put it in a newsletter." He made the recommendation to sell, he admits, only within the limited confines of the Telecosm Lounge, his online salon...

Why didn't he put it in the newsletter he was charging for? Let's listen to Gilder:

If I had said, 'Hey, this is a top, you should all sell,' it would've been a cataclysmic event. I'd think about telling people that they should sell half their holdings, and each time I'd conclude that my subscribers would be enraged. I also wondered what I'd precipitate if I did it. Half of my subscribers would have been eternally grateful [for a warning], but the other half--the new ones--would've been enraged because they had just come in. It was quite terrifying. I really didn't know what to do...

He "really didn't know what to do"? Really? It's easy to know what to do: If you are in the business of charging people money to learn what you think, you tell them what you think--even or perhaps especially if it enrages them. That's what you are there for. And you want to provide them with real value in exchange for their money, right?

It is only if you are a grifter pure and simple that the question of how best to play your marks becomes a difficult and a confusing one.

That is the person whom the American Principles Project holds up to the world as their preeminent draw at the grifter-goldbug conference they sell as an attempt to "bring sanity back to monetary policy".

[1] "How about speakers six through ten?" you ask, "Aren't you cherry-picking here?" How can I cherry-pick: these are the top five they HIGHLIGHT MOST. But I did look further down the list. The only one of six through ten I remember ever having heard of before is number six, Sean Fieler, President of the American Principles Project.

Fielder is, I think, best known for being the biggest funder of Mike Huckabee's daughter Sarah's American Principles Fund.

The American Principles Fund is in turn best known for its hit on Liz Cheney in the 2014 Wyoming Republican Senate primary:

MSNBC: The go-to network for Barack Obama and his liberal elites. So what is Liz Cheney doing here? In Wyoming, Cheney campaigns as a conservative. In Washington, she appears on MSNBC to campaign against a marriage amendment and support government benefits for gay couples: "I applaud, for example, the State Department decision to extend benefits to same-sex partners around the world". Liz Cheney: wrong for Wyoming.