Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Category Archives: Free Market

U.S. Oil Production Will Soon Overtake Saudi Arabia’s

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, January 22, 2018:

Fatih Birol, head of the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA), told a congressional committee last week, “What we see is a result of the shale revolution [fracking]. The U.S. is becoming the undisputed leader of oil and gas production worldwide. [U.S.] oil production is growing very strongly and will continue to grow. We think that this growth is unprecedented [both in the] size of the growth and the pace of the growth.”

In 1973, Saudi Arabia punished U.S. citizens with an oil embargo in retaliation for the U.S. government’s support for Israel during the Yom Kippur War. It could do so because it held the biggest hammer: Saudi Arabia controlled the world’s largest reserves of crude oil and the kingdom. Within months, the price of oil quadrupled in the United States, resulting in shortages and rationing. Gas stations were closed, and when they reopened they were forced to restrict gasoline purchases to “odd” and “even” days depending upon their customers’ license plate numbers. The federal government imposed “double-nickel” (55 mph) speed limits on highways, and experimented with “daylight saving” time in order to reduce the impact of the embargo.

Those days are long gone and not likely ever to return. Saudi Arabia and its OPEC cartel are slowly being reduced to bit players in the global energy market. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman saw that coming more than two years ago when he announced

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Amazon Opens Its First “Just Walk Out” Store in Seattle

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, January 22, 2018: 

On Monday morning regular customers started shopping at Amazon’s no-lines walk-away store in Seattle. Some have said it feels like they’re shoplifting, until the bill shows up on their iPhone. Others feel like they’re just raiding the pantry, not worrying about price but just grabbing what they need.

Before Monday only Amazon employees could shop at the 1,800 square foot store on 7th Avenue — about the size of a 7-11 — using their experience to refine the software and hardware behind it. To get the technology right, which depends upon hundreds of hidden cameras in the ceiling trained on shoppers’ iPhones and the items on the shelves, it took four years before the store opened to the general public. For the moment, at least, those items are ordinary: groceries, sodas, ready-to-eat meals, potato chips, ketchup, toilet paper, toothpaste, and the like. But each item sports a dot similar to a barcode. When the item is moved into the customer’s bag, it moves it into his online shopping cart. When the customer leaves the store the software adds everything up, bills his account, and sends a receipt to his iPhone.

There are at least two things those new customers will notice:

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The Coming Avalanche of Repatriated Dollars

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, January 19, 2018: 

English: Historical GDP per capita for the Uni...

This is an old chart of US GDP. Get ready for the next leg up

On Thursday The New American speculated about the impact of Apple’s repatriation of its overseas profit hoard of some $250 billion and where Apple intends to invest some of it. It raised questions about the $2.5 trillion in profits that is still held overseas by American companies unwilling to subject those profits to the United States’ outrageously high income tax rates.

With Apple’s decision, and the repatriation tax rate of just 15.5 percent in the new tax law, some of those questions can be addressed.

First,

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Economy Beats Forecasters Again: Jobless Claims at 45-year Low

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, January 19, 2018: 

The seal of the United States Department of Labor

Economists polled by Reuters expected jobless claims filed during the week ending January 13 to be a little lower than the week before — 250,000 new claims compared to 261,000 new claims filed the first week in January. Once again, the economy surprised to the upside: Jobless claims fell to a 45-year low of 220,000. Any number below 300,000 in an economy as large as the United States’ reflects a healthy economy.

Excuses for the miss ranged from

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Apple’s Repatriation of Its Profits: Talk About Stimulating the Economy!

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, January 19, 2018: 

After paying the world’s largest tax bill – $38 billion – Apple, Inc., the world’s largest company by market capitalization and now the government’s largest taxpayer, will have $214 billion left over.

It is making plans for that $214 billion. In its announcement on Wednesday, the company said it would be making “a new set of investments to build on its commitment to support the American economy and its workforce, concentrated in three areas where Apple has had the greatest impact on job creation: direct employment by Apple, spending and investment with Apple’s domestic suppliers and manufacturers, and fueling the fast-growing app economy that Apple created with iPhone® and the App Store®.”

It added:

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Apple to Repatriate Its Foreign Profits and Put Them to Work in America

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, January 18, 2018:  

Apple announced Wednesday that not only would it repatriate nearly all its foreign cash holdings under the new tax reform law, but it was going to put a lot of it to work right away. This puts the lie to anti-capitalists who predicted that such a plan would only further enrich the already rich.

Instead Apple is going to spread the repatriated funds around, announcing that it would not only be creating new jobs but would be building new facilities and expanding its financial commitment to the company’s “innovation” fund. It also is expanding its efforts to reach students in high school to teach them coding language (for free) so that many of them will be able to provide Apple with the coders and software developers it will need as it expands into the future.

In the process it will also pay the largest single tax bill in history:

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Record Bullish Bets on Crude Oil Raising Red Flags

OPEC countries

OPEC countries

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, January 15, 2018: 

Traders in oil futures have just set a new record: The bets they have placed that crude oil will move even higher just set a world record. As of last week, there were 432,000 net long positions reflecting that optimism. That optimism could be short-lived. As analysts from JBC Energy consulting told its clients on Monday: “From a fundamental perspective, the surge in U.S. managed money raises a clear red flag for us.”

Since the low in June, the price for the future delivery of U.S. crude oil is up almost 50 percent, from $44 a barrel to $64 on Friday. In London, Brent crude traded above $70 for the first time since December 2014.

Their optimism is based on indisputable facts.

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Walmart Voluntarily Raises Its Minimum Wage

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, January 12, 2018: 

The world’s largest retailer, Walmart, announced on Thursday that it was voluntarily raising its minimum wage for new workers to $11 an hour starting next month. Included in the announcement were staged bonuses that will be paid to present workers based on their time with the company. Also included was a vast improvement in maternity benefits, with full-time hourly workers receiving 10 weeks of paid maternity leave and six weeks of paternal leave. Parents who adopt will get the same benefits plus a check from Walmart for $5,000 to help cover their adoption costs.

This is on top of the wage increases announced by the retailer in 2015 to be staged in over the next three years.

What’s notable is that this is taking place ahead of

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Credit Card Debt Hits $1 Trillion; Wall Street and Michael Snyder Yawn

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, January 10, 2018: 

Michael Snyder rivals only David Stockman in his pessimistic economic outlook, reflecting that outlook by naming his blog “The Economic Collapse.” On the first day of the New Year, Michael dug into his files for the most “crazy” numbers from 2017. He found 44, including these:

One out of every ten young adults in the United States has been homeless at some point over the past year;

 

The United States has lost more than 70,000 manufacturing facilities since China joined the WTO in 2001;

 

A total of 6,985 store locations were shut down last year, and we are expected to break the record again in 2018:

 

Only 25 percent of all Americans have more than $10,000 in savings right now; and

 

44 percent of all U.S. adults do not even have enough money “to cover an unexpected $400 expense,” according to the Federal Reserve.

What’s missing from Michael’s list? Credit card debt, student loan debt, and vehicle financing debt. Surely he was aware of these numbers, but for some reason didn’t include them in his list. For the first time in history, credit card debt last year hit $1 trillion, eclipsing the record set back in 2008 following the real estate collapse and the beginning of the Great Recession. Snyder didn’t mention the nearly $3 trillion in “non-revolving” debt (i.e., auto and student loans) either. Seeking Alpha called these numbers “scary” but Snyder ignored them.

A closer look behind the numbers reveals that these may not be such “scary” numbers after all. Perhaps that’s why Snyder ignored them, simply because, by his definition, they didn’t qualify as “crazy.” For one thing, fewer than 40 percent of all households carry any sort of credit card debt. Among millennials ages 18 to 29 only a third even have a credit card.

Next, the ratio of income to credit card debt at the end of 2017 (before the new tax cuts) was already declining with the ratio of credit card debt compared to the nation’s gross domestic economic output at about 5 percent, compared with 6.5 percent in 2008.

Also, credit card delinquencies remain way below the 9 percent historical average, at just 7.5 percent, and far below the rate of 15 percent touched following the 2008 financial crisis.

There’s another way to look at credit card debt: compare outstanding balances to incomes.ValuePenguin performed such a service, showing that households with annual incomes of between $25,000 and $100,000 have less than $7,000 in outstanding balances on their credit cards. Further, that analysis showed that the average has increased only slightly since 2013.

With almost two million more people working today than held jobs a year ago, and others enjoying wage and salary increases, that $1 trillion in credit card debt becomes far less “scary.” In a $20 trillion economy that is growing at three percent a year, $1 trillion in credit card debt may reflect that growth as banks are willing to issue more cards to more credit-worthy individuals and those individuals, having perhaps learned lessons from the Great Recession, are using them more prudently. That “trillion” dollar number may instead reflect a growing and increasingly healthy economy employing more people making more money who are using credit opportunities more wisely.

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Sources:

USATodayCredit card debt hits new record, raising warning sign

SeekingAlpha.comCredit card debt on watch

Michael Snyder: 44 Numbers From 2017 That Are Almost Too Crazy To Believe

ValuePenguin.com:  Average Credit Card Debt in America: 2017 Facts & Figures

What the Latest Jobs Reports Really Mean

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, January 8, 2018:

There were three jobs reports released last week: two from the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (one based on its “household” survey, the other on its “establishment” survey), and one from ADP based upon its payroll data.

ADP’s numbers came in first on Thursday, showing job growth in December exceeding forecasters’ predictions at 250,000. This was followed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report on Friday, showing 148,000 new jobs in December. They both said that the unemployment rate held steady at a record low 4.1 percent.

Mark Zandi, the establishment economist at Moody’s, was “disappointed” in Friday’s numbers from the BLS and thinks they’re going to get worse going into the New Year. First,

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Economist Mark Zandi Exposes His Statist Worldview

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, January 8, 2018:

Mark Zandi should be embarrassed. Not because he is an establishment economist. Not because he is a Keynesian. And not because he’s not a smart guy. He should be embarrassed that someone allowed him to publish nonsense about the state of the economy in order to promote his worldview.

He lives in a world that is behaving much differently than he expected or than he apparently wants. He wants the Trump tax reform law to fail. He must admit that the economy is working much better than he ever expected it to. But, in the end, he says that it’s all a mirage, temporary, that the resurgence measured by nearly every metric isn’t going to last.

He is establishment to the core, and perhaps that’s why he’s willing to go to the mat for a worldview that is being overturned and increasingly discredited: that statists can control things much better than an uncontrolled “free” economy can.

He admitted in an article for CNBC that things are going just swimmingly:

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Trump’s Interior Secretary Proposes Selling Offshore Drilling Leases Starting in 2019

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, January 5, 2018: 

English: Nancy Pelosi photo portrait as Speake...

One of the usual suspects

President Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was very careful in announcing his agency’s next step in expanding energy development to include the United States’ offshore reserves. He knew that environmentalists and far-left politicians would attack his plan and did what he could to placate them in advance. Said Zinke:

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Trump Economy Making Democrats Look Increasingly Foolish

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, January 5, 2018:

The kept media dutifully reported California Democrat Nancy Pelosi’s disgust over President Trump’s tax reform program, even though it made her look foolish. Said Pelosi, “If this goes through, kiss life on earth goodbye. The debate on health care is life/death. This is Armageddon.” This was followed by the media quoting Democrat Chuck Schumer: “Tax breaks don’t lead to job creation … [this bill is a] punch in the gut for the middle class.”

It may be a little early to tell, but at the moment the middle class is doing just fine. Life goes on; if Armageddon occurred, the media missed it. That “punch in the gut for the middle class” is about to be caused by heavier wallets, thanks to tax cuts showing up in their February paychecks.

For hundreds of thousands, that punch in the gut was immediate:

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Dow Smashes Through 25,000; to Smash Dems in November?

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, January 4, 2018:

The surprising thing about the Dow’s volcanic eruption through the 25,000 level on Thursday is that it was matched by all-time highs in other key stock market indexes such as the S&P 500 Index, the NASDAQ, and the Russell 2000. Even more surprising is that this isn’t happening in an American vacuum: Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average hit a new 26-year high, rising above 23,000 for the first time since January 1992. The Hang Seng (Hong Kong) Index just touched a new 10-year high, while major stock market indexes in New Zealand, the Philippines, and Thailand also set new records on Thursday.

The reasons why aren’t surprising:

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Dakota Access Pipeline Fulfilling Its Promise

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, January 1, 2018: 

Fully operational since June, the Dakota Access Pipeline is lowering transportation costs, reducing tank car usage, reducing environmental and population risk, improving North Dakota’s financial condition, and putting the lie to the alarmist anti-pipeline propaganda.

There’s scarcely a downside.

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Obama Fracking Rule to be Overturned by BLM in January

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, December 29, 2017:

Map of the part of the region in Texas, red is...

Part of the Permian Basin in west Texas

A federal appeals court refused on Wednesday to reconsider its decision to overturn an Obama administration rule on fracking, holding that the issue was moot: The Trump administration is planning to throw out the rule altogether in January.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) said that the Obama administration’s rule “unnecessarily burdens industry compliance costs and information requirements that are duplicative of regulatory programs of many states and some tribes. As a result, we are proposing to rescind, in its entirety, the [Obama administration’s] 2015 final rule.”

The original decision in 2016 ruled that the Obama administration was guilty of federal overreach,

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The Permian Basin is Driving Another Nail into OPEC’s Coffin

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, December 29, 2017:  

English: Pumpjack east of Andrews, TX

English: Pumpjack east of Andrews, TX

Just a few years ago, the Permian Basin was considered nearly depleted. But with the advent of fracking technology, the enormous basin – called a “super basin” – could now contain two trillion barrels of recoverable crude oil. That is more than the reserves of Saudi Arabia’s Aramco oil field and all of Venezuela’s proven reserves put together. IHS Markit, the world leader in information gathering and analysis, just announced that the Permian Basin’s production exceeded its previous high registered back in 1973, producing a record 815 million barrels of oil in 2017. It estimates that its daily production will approach 3 million barrels a day (mbd) next year, which will set another record of a billion barrels produced in single year.

This far exceeds the requirements for any oil basin to quality as a “super basin”: 5 billion in reserves and 5 billion in accumulated production. It also far exceeds the reserves of Saudi Arabia’s Aramco oil field (265 billion) and those of Venezuela (300 billion).

It’s also a “disrupter,” according to Pete Stark, a director of IHS: “When we consider the impact on the world’s crude markets, the Permian has to be considered a global disrupter.” IHS’ Reed Olmstead added:

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Bah Humbug: The Left Is Unhappy with Year-end Bonuses Paid Following Tax Reform

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, December 27, 2017:  

Within hours of passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) on December 20, major American companies began announcing year-end bonuses, salary increases, and plans to expand capital investment. This was an unexpected but pleasant surprise to many, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, who tweeted: “It’s only been a few hours … and companies are already announcing new investments into the US economy & raises for their employees.”

Senator Tim Scott, Republican conservative from South Carolina, called its passage “a tremendous victory,” adding that it’s an “early Christmas present for the American people.”

Details of raises, bonuses, and capex expansion plans poured out of Comcast

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Opening ANWR to Energy Development May Be Too Late

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, December 20, 2017: 

Part of the motivation by Republicans to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to energy development — off limits for nearly 40 years thanks to environmental extremists and the Obama administration — is to use lease fees to offset the deficits in the tax reform bill.

The numbers coming from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) are impressive. Leasing even a tiny part of the tiny part that “Section 1002” represents of the total ANWR acreage would produce $2.2 billion in revenues over the next 10 years, to be split evenly between Alaska and the federal government.

Alaska’s Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said in a speech on the floor of the Senate late Tuesday night that

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Trump Can’t Do Everything Himself, so He Nominated Neomi Rao to Help Him

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, December 18, 2017:  

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

Who? Up until Thursday, few had ever heard of Neomi Rao. Looking into her background, fewer still would have predicted the role she is playing in helping President Donald Trump keep one of his most important campaign promises.

After graduating from Yale University with “highest distinction” in ethics, economics, and philosophy, she attended the University of Chicago Law School where she received her Juris Doctor degree. She was comment editor of the school’s law review and also executive editor for the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.

But she never drank from the cup of regulatory Kool-Aid. Instead she went on to clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and from there to serve as a staffer on the Senate Judiciary Committee. In 2012, she received tenure from George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School where she founded the Center for the Study of the Administrative State.

In other words, until Thursday, Rao was invisible.

But when Trump nominated her in April to his Office of Management and Budget with the mind-bending title of Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Jonathan Adler took notice.

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.