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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Return of Stagflation

November 24, 2010
Alvaro Vargas Llosa
Washington Post Writers Group

Stagflation will likely come back into our daily lexicon. The political effect of the previous stagflation was the Reagan-Thatcher movement in the 1980s. The effect this time promises to be equally momentous. Let us hope it is peaceful, legal and reasonable. The danger that it will take a messianic, populist and authoritarian form cannot be discarded, given the signs we are already seeing at the ballot box in some European countries where anti-immigration far rights have polled strongly.
We are entering an era of high inflation, to judge by the massive growth of the money supply in the United States, Europe and Asia, and the stubbornness of central bankers who insist that high unemployment demands the creation of even more money. The last time the world went through a similar period was the 1970s. The term that defined the era was “stagflation.”
Pull quote

In a nutshell, stagflation back then was the result of a recession partly caused by stratospheric oil prices followed by the decision to print tons of money in the hope of inflating the economy out of unemployment. In other words, stagnation was not so much because of oil prices; rather, it was the result of the monetary response to the stagnant environment that the high energy costs had helped create. Inflation simply added a new ill to an already grave situation.

What is happening today is in essence not all that different. The response to high unemployment caused by the recession has been a massive increase of the money supply. Since the end of the housing bubble, the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet (assets and liabilities) has almost tripled while in Europe the money supply has increased annually by double digits. Click here to read more.
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Botched Paramilitary Police Raids: An Epidemic of "Isolated Incidents"

"If a widespread pattern of [knock-and-announce] violations were shown . . . there would be reason for grave concern." —Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, in Hudson v. Michigan, June 15, 2006. An interactive map of botched SWAT and paramilitary police raids, released in conjunction with the Cato policy paper "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids," by Radley Balko. What does this map mean? How to use this map View Original Map and Database

Key

Death of an innocent. Death or injury of a police officer. Death of a nonviolent offender.
Raid on an innocent suspect. Other examples of paramilitary police excess. Unnecessary raids on doctors and sick people.
The proliferation of SWAT teams, police militarization, and the Drug War have given rise to a dramatic increase in the number of "no-knock" or "quick-knock" raids on suspected drug offenders. Because these raids are often conducted based on tips from notoriously unreliable confidential informants, police sometimes conduct SWAT-style raids on the wrong home, or on the homes of nonviolent, misdemeanor drug users. Such highly-volatile, overly confrontational tactics are bad enough when no one is hurt -- it's difficult to imagine the terror an innocent suspect or family faces when a SWAT team mistakenly breaks down their door in the middle of the night. But even more disturbing are the number of times such "wrong door" raids unnecessarily lead to the injury or death of suspects, bystanders, and police officers. Defenders of SWAT teams and paramilitary tactics say such incidents are isolated and rare. The map above aims to refute that notion.