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

Tag Archives: Economy

Puerto Rico’s Vote for Statehood Means Nothing

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, June 12, 2017:

Despite 97 percent of Puerto Ricans voting for statehood in Sunday’s plebescite, the chances of adding the island as the country’s 51st state are between slim and none.

The island’s voters had three choices on Sunday’s ballot: Stay as a U.S. territory, move ahead with statehood, or seek full independence as a sovereign nation. This is the fifth vote on the issue since 1967, with the first three failing to gain a majority vote for statehood. That majority is required for the U.S. Congress to consider it. The fourth vote was marred by some 500,000 voters boycotting it to protest the ballot allegedly being rigged in favor of statehood.

The chances this time aren’t any better.

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What’s Life Really Like in Venezuela?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, June 9, 2017:

Personal suffering under socialist and communist regimes is often buried under mounds of statistics. In Venezuela, for example, observers know that Maduro’s madness has caused its economy to shrink by a quarter since 2013, that unemployment touches one out of four, that the bolivar is essentially worthless thanks to runaway inflation, that grocery stores and supermarkets have miles of empty shelves, that dozens of protesters have been shot and killed, thousands of others have been arrested and are rotting away in filthy jails with some of them being tortured daily, and on and on.

Once in a while, however, the truth bubbles to the surface, sometimes in out-of-the-way places. 

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Venezuela’s Bonds Selling at Massive Discounts for Fear of Default

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, June 8, 2017:

When it was learned that Goldman Sachs had purchased $2.8 billion of Venezuela’s bonds for just $865 million — a 69-percent discount — the firm received criticism from opponents of Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro (shown). The critics claimed that by buying them, even at such a fire sale price, Goldman allowed Maduro to pay some critical bills that kept his corrupt Marxist regime afloat for a little while longer.

Now comes word that Maduro has resorted to desperation financing — what the Wall Street Journal calls “unorthodox” — by issuing bonds to one of its state-owned banks, which then

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Aetna Next to Leave Connecticut for Better Business Climate

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, June 6, 2017: 

Aetna Insurance Company and Aetna National Ban...

Aetna Insurance Company and Aetna National Bank, Hartford, Conn, from Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views

Aetna, the $50 billion health insurer that has had its headquarters in Hartford, Connecticut, since 1853, confirmed rumors last week that it was looking to move out of state. The company said, “We are in negotiations with several states regarding a headquarters relocation, with the goal of broadening our access to innovation and the talent that will fill knowledge-economy type positions … and hope to have a final resolution by early summer.”

Hartford’s Mayor Luke Bronin expressed his disappointment:

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Trump Considering Oil Sanctions Against Venezuela

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, June 5, 2017:

Senior White House officials, speaking anonymously to Reuters on Sunday, said that the Trump administration is considering various potential sanctions against the socialist Venezuelan regime headed up by Marxist Nicolas Maduro. Reuters assured its readers that the administration is just considering them, and there is nothing imminent planned — at least for the moment.

The present “package” of possible sanctions includes

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May’s Jobs Report Stronger Than It Appears

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, June 2, 2017:

The headline number from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) May jobs report, released on Friday, appeared weak: Just 138,000 new jobs were created last month compared to expectations of 185,000 by forecasters. But as usual, a peek beneath the headlines shows an economy growing steadily, providing it with more than enough workers to absorb those leaving or retiring.

After revisions were made to March and April numbers, May’s job creation was more than the last three months’ average of 121,000. Taking into account robust numbers reported from ADP, a national human resources and benefits firm, on Wednesday — it reported that 253,000 new jobs were created in May — Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics remarked,

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With Nod to Sovereignty, Trump Dumps UN “Climate” Regime

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, June 1, 2017. It was written by Alex Newman, a colleague of mine, and is reprinted here with his permission.  

After months of keeping the world in suspense about his intentions, President Donald Trump formally announced that the United States would be withdrawing from the United Nations “Paris Agreement” on alleged man-made global warming. Blasting the non-binding UN scheme as a counterproductive effort to disadvantage America and redistribute U.S. wealth rather than fix the “climate,” Trump portrayed the decision as one that puts “America First.” He also chastised foreign powers and their lobbyists for demanding that the United States continue to handicap its economy under the guise of doing virtually nothing for the climate. The withdrawal, Trump said, represents the “re-assertion of America’s sovereignty” and a fulfillment of his efforts to re-invigorate the American economy. It was also the fulfillment of Trump’s oft-repeated pledge to “cancel” the UN scheme.

However, frustrating some of his supporters and climate realists, Trump also indicated that he was open to either re-negotiating the Paris Agreement or creating a similar international “climate” regime that would be more “fair” to the United States. In fact, the president even offered to work with Democrat Party leaders to create a new global-warming scheme — provided

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Trump Pressured to Stay in Paris Climate Agreement

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, May 29, 2017:

Candidate Donald Trump repeatedly promised that he would, if elected president, withdraw from the Paris Agreement agreed to under the previous administration in 2015. He said, “We are going to cancel the Paris climate agreement [and] stop all payments of the United States tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.”

Under that agreement (not a treaty which then-President Obama claimed wouldn’t need Senate ratification), so-called global warming would be limited by slashing carbon dioxide and other emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and concentrating instead on green energy development.

One sign that Trump intends to keep his promise followed the official dispatch from the G7 Summit in Sicily on Friday:

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Moody’s Revelation: “Managed” Economies fail

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, May 26, 2017:  

Perhaps without knowing it, Moody’s downgrade of China one full notch on Wednesday exposed the fallacy of managed economies: that government bureaucrats with fancy degrees from the University of Chicago, Harvard, or Yale know what they’re doing. One of those fallacies that have been promoted for years came from Yale grad Arthur Laffer as far back as the Reagan administration. On the surface it sounds eminently logical: cut taxes and the economy will grow. The fallacy is knowing just how much to cut, whose to cut, when to cut, and how long to cut.

The Laffer Curve undergirds the whole idea of “supply side economics” –

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Moody’s Credit Downgrade of China First in Almost 30 Years

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, May 25, 2017:

China GDP

China GDP

Moody’s Investors Service, one of the big three credit-rating services in the country, downgraded China’s creditworthiness one full notch on Wednesday. It moved the world’s second-largest economy from Aa3 (“high quality [with] very low risk”) to A1 (Upper-medium grade [with] low credit risk”). It explained why:

The downgrade reflects Moody’s expectations that China’s financial strength will erode somewhat over the coming years, with economy-wide debt continuing to grow as potential growth slows.

That “potential growth” has been slowing since at least 2010. In that year Chinese government agencies reported growth in excess of 10 percent. By 2014, it had slowed to 7.3 percent, to 6.9 percent in 2015, and is now at a reported 6.7 percent.

Moody’s is late to the game.

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The Sausage-Making in Washington Begins

his article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, May 24, 2017: 

Engraving of Otto von Bismarck

Engraving of Otto von Bismarck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now that the White House has released the budget for fiscal year 2018, the quote from Otto von Bismarck becomes operative: “Laws are like sausages; it is better not to see them being made.” But that only becomes operative after the election, about which H. L. Mencken said, “Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.” And when those stolen goods exceed $4 trillion, everyone has a distinct interest in getting, keeping and expanding his share.

When Trump’s “blueprint” was rolled out in March, it provided the bare bones of what he hoped it might accomplish:

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Venezuela Entering Final Stages

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, May 23, 2017: 

After eight weeks of protests, 49 deaths, 13,000 injured, and 1,500 arrests, Venezuela’s citizens are turning violent. In the town where Hugo Chávez spent his early years, termed the “cradle” of his socialist revolution, protesters not only burned down his childhood home but also several government buildings, including the regional office of the National Electoral Council. This led one observer of the violence to remark that at least the protesters know whom to blame for their current troubles. Said Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas, “It is pretty symbolic that the citizens are venting their frustrations on the author of the Bolivarian revolution.”

And well they might.

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Trump’s Budget: a Mixture of Magic, Hope, Pixie Dust, and Gimmicks

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, May 23, 2017:

Now that the long-awaited Trump budget for Fiscal Year 2018 has been released, it hasn’t failed to deliver what skeptics initially expected: Growth coupled with lower taxes will drive the economy to levels that will balance the budget — by 2027  — much of it based on magic, hope, pixie dust, and gimmicks.

First, the “magic.”

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Labor Department’s April Jobs Report Strong and Getting Stronger

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, May 5, 2017:  

The headline numbers from the Labor Department’s latest employment report for April were encouraging: 211,000 jobs were added last month (compared to economists’ expectations of less than 190,000), pushing the unemployment rate to 4.4 percent, the lowest seen in 10 years, while average wages grew, year-over-year, by 2.5 percent.

That’s exactly what one would expect from a healthy economy.

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OPEC Increasingly Irrelevant as Cartel Seeks to Extend Output-cut Deal

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, May 3, 2017: 

English: Flag of the Organization of Petroleum...

Gregory Brew’s statement from Oilprice.com on Tuesday was spot on: “OPEC Begins to Unravel.” Except that the unraveling began years ago as entrepreneurs in the United States found a way to tap underground shale profitably.

OPEC faces an essentially insurmountable task. On May 25, oil ministers from all 13 of the cartel’s members will meet in Vienna to decide whether or not its present oil output cut agreement should be extended. Either way, OPEC’s doom as the prime determiner of world crude oil prices is likely sealed.

If they decide not to extend the output cut, the world will know that OPEC is finished. The ministers will depart Vienna and tell their governments that

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Latest GDP Report: The Good News and the Bad News

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, April 28, 2017:

Friday’s report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) was so filled with disclaimers that one will have to wait another month to get a true picture of how the economy is performing under President Trump. In the meantime, said the BEA, real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 0.7 percent in the first quarter of 2017.

However, last-minute retail sales data (which showed slowing) wasn’t incorporated into Friday’s report, causing the BEA to say that its estimate

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Former Heritage Economist Stephen Moore Refutes CBO’s Doom & Gloom

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, April 26, 2017:

Stephen Moore by David Shankbone, New York City

Stephen Moore

The Heritage Foundation’s Distinguished Visiting Fellow Stephen Moore, now a CNN economics commentator, thinks the latest report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is far too pessimistic. Instead, he believes that most of the nation’s fiscal problems can be solved just by prodding the economy.

The CBO report, “The 2017 Long-Term Budget Outlook,” assumed that little would change politically over the next 10 to 30 years, despite promises from President Trump that his policies would “make America great again.” It projected that the Baby Boomers would exhaust the resources of Medicare and Social Security, and then those costs would be shifted directly to the Department of the Treasury.

If nothing changes, said the CBO, the percentage of the national debt held by the public (pension plans, mutual funds, foreign governments, and wealthy individuals) would double over the next 30 years, which would “pose substantial risks for the nation.”

The problem is exacerbated, said the CBO, not only by an aging population demanding that the government keeps its promises to them, but also

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Trump Floats Trial Balloon on Tax Reform; Wants Feedback

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, April 26, 2017:

Initially referred to as a statement of general principles, the one-page summary of the Trump administration’s tax reform plan looked more like a trial balloon. Said the White House, the administration “will hold listening sessions with stakeholders to receive their input … [in order to] develop the details of a plan that … can pass both chambers.”

Reiterating Trump’s goals of growing the economy, creating millions of jobs, simplifying the tax code, and providing tax relief to middle-income families, the trial balloon as summarized would

lower the corporate tax rate from 39.6 percent to 15 percent, including Subchapter S or “pass-through” corporations;

 

reduce the number of individual income tax brackets from seven to three: 10%, 25% and 35%, depending on income;

 

double the standard deduction, currently at $6,300 for individuals and $12,600 for married couples filing jointly;

 

expand tax relief to families with child and dependent care expenses;

 

eliminate various tax breaks that apply mainly to the wealthiest taxpayers;

 

keep mortgage interest and charitable deductions while eliminating deductions for state income taxes paid;

 

repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT);

 

repeal the 3.8% ObamaCare tax that hits small businesses and investment income;

 

allow a one-time “tax holiday” for international corporations holding trillions overseas; and

 

eliminate tax breaks for special interests.

Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called it “the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country,” while his Chief Economic Advisor Gary Cohn said the plan represented a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to do something really big.”

What’s really big is the potential deficits Trump’s plan could cause, with at least one critic estimating that it would result in $6 trillion in deficits over the next 10 years.

The underlying goal of the administration being pushed by Trump is that by cutting these tax rates the economy would awake from its slumber and start generating three percent annual rates of growth of the nation’s GDP. Although the Laffer Curve was not mentioned by Mnuchin or economist Stephen Moore (in his recent critique of the government’s economic outlook), it’s the same principle: lower tax rates to result in higher economic growth which will (in theory) result in higher taxes collected by the government.

The increase in the standard deduction is also designed to allow an estimated 27 million Americans who file a long form listing their mortgage interest and charitable deductions to use a “big postcard” instead. This “simplification” of the tax code has long been a stated goal of Trump as candidate and his administration after he was inaugurated in January.

Wednesday’s announcement is just the opening salvo in what promises to be a long war before anything reaches Trump’s desk. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling it a gift for the already-wealthy Americans who don’t need any more tax breaks. And Mnuchin referred to the Senate strategy of “reconciliation” that is likely to be needed to pass the Senate without Democrat votes. He noted that he hoped that the bill that finally passes Congress and is signed into law by the president will be permanent, but “if we have them for [just] 10 years, that’s better than nothing.”

Reconciliation would allow Republicans to pass it without a single Democrat vote, but would also cause the plan to expire in 10 years if it generates deficits. This is what happened to the tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush. When the projected revenue growth didn’t meet expectations, his tax cuts for the most part were automatically ended.

The obstacles are substantial, including determined if futile resistance from Democrats and complaints from the energy industry which might see its depletion allowance deductions cut or removed in Trump’s final bill. Those details will be revealed in June and could also negatively impact heavily-indebted public utilities and cable companies that might see some loss of their interest deductions.

On the other hand, winners could include companies that are currently most negatively impacted by high corporate rates in force, including engineering and construction companies, food wholesalers, publishers, and retailers.

The old proverb applies as Trump’s trial balloon gets translated into specific language in the tax reform bill in June: “There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip.” A newer one is this from Isaac Boltansky, an analyst at Compass Point Research and Trading, who has been following these events closely:

The sugar high of tax cut headlines could turn into a nagging headache once stakeholders return to the painstaking consideration of process and pay-fors.

Three Stock Market Indicators Spell Trouble for Pension Fund Managers

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, April 24, 2017:

Warren Buffett speaking to a group of students...

Warren Buffett

Michael Lombardi is a bear. Canadian-born, Lombardi has been dishing out investment advice for decades. He is getting nervous. And so should pension fund managers trying to make up for lost time.

In his March newsletter, Lombardi looked at the Warren Buffett Indicator:

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An Inside Look at Venezuela’s Collapse

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, April 21, 2017: 

Português: Brasília - O chanceler da Venezuela...

Marxist Nicolas Maduro

Andres Malave grew up in Caracas until Chavez took over. Then he and his family were able to escape – barely – to the US. Wrote Malave, “It was a hard choice, but in hindsight, we were the lucky ones.”

Now he laments the blind eye many Americans turn towards the rioting, the deaths, the crime, the economic devastation, and the ravages of inflation that Venezuela is suffering:

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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.