Once upon a time the United States had some standing to lecture communist countries on the virtues of free markets. Today, however, our government is growing larger by the minute, while Cuba and Russia — once the most communist of communist nations — are heading in the opposite direction, at least in economic terms.

moneyThe Associated Press reports that a government investigator has discovered that 89,000 stimulus payments of $250 went to people who were either dead or in prison. The 89,000 payments were among nearly 52 million sent to Social Security recipients and federal retirees as part of the mammoth economic recovery (stimulus) package enacted in 2009. In making the $250 payments, the government simply failed to confirm that the recipients were not incarcerated and not deceased.

Ben BernankeWhen Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke says the country is in trouble, many aren’t listening, partly because the media wasn’t there reporting on it, and partly because those listening can’t understand what he’s saying. Speaking at the Annual Meeting of the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council on Monday, the best he could do was “There is no way around it — meeting these challenges will require … the public to make some very difficult decisions and to accept some sacrifices.”

The price of gold as measured against the U.S. dollar hit a record $1,341 per ounce at the close of commodities market day October 5, just after the Bank of Japan announced plans to lower interest rates to zero and create $60 billion in new currency. Silver, copper, platinum, palladium, and most other commodities also measured recent highs in trading on the same day.

globeThere is little growth on the horizon for the global economy, and a significant likelihood of further trouble, believes the International Monetary Fund.