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: Free Market

More OPEC Bad News: Increases in World Oil Supplies Overwhelming Its Cuts

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, June 14, 2017:  

English: Map of OPEC countries. Dark green = m...

English: Map of OPEC countries. Dark green = member states, Light green = former member states. Light Grey = Prospective members.

In its regular monthly oil market report, the International Energy Agency (IEA) stated that the world’s supply of crude oil increased in April by 18 million barrels just when it was expected to decline. To add to OPEC’s woes —OPEC is unsuccessfully trying to reduce the world’s oil supplies by cutting production so as to raise oil prices enough to fund the countries’ welfare states —  the agency also said it expected U.S. producers to increase their production by 430,000 barrels a day this year over last year, and by 780,000 barrels a day in 2018. The agency added that even this might be too pessimistic: “Such is the dynamism of this extraordinary, very diverse industry it is possible that growth [in crude oil inventories] will be faster [than we estimate].”

Its report makes for sobering reading for OPEC’s 13 members and the other 10 nonmembers who extended a production cut agreement to March 2018:

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Trump, Mexico Settle Sugar Dispute Just in Time for NAFTA Renegotiations

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, June 7, 2017: 

The sugar settlement between the United States and Mexico, announced on Tuesday by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, sets the stage for the NAFTA “renegotiation” scheduled to begin in August. And the settlement is going to cost Americans more to satisfy their sweet tooths.

At bottom, it’s all about protecting an inefficient American industry from foreign competition. Sugar is an enormous industry, and economic and political interests want to keep protections in place in order to save it from foreign competition. On one side is Big Sugar:

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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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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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Ford CEO Suddenly Retires: Early Casualty of AV Revolution

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, May 22, 2017:

During a conference call that followed the official announcement on Monday that Ford’s CEO Mark Fields was going to retire — his position to be taken by the head of Ford’s autonomous vehicle division — the company’s executive chairman, Bill Ford, said, “This is a time of unprecedented change. And time of great change, in my mind, requires a transformational leader. And thankfully we have that in Jim.”

That would be James “Jim” Hackett, who

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Ruling for Big Taxi in Europe Could Spell End for Uber, Lyft, Airbnb

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, May 12, 2017:

In what could spell the end of Uber (and by inference other digital information providers such as Lyft and Airbnb) in Europe, an advisor to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has recommended that the court treat Uber as a “transportation service” and not a digital information service.

Advocate General Maciej Szpunar, a Polish lawyer, whose opinion carries such great weight among the 15 judges making up the ECJ that they usually follow it, said on Thursday: “The Uber electronic platform, whilst innovative, falls within the field of transport. Uber can thus be required to obtain the necessary licenses and authorizations under national law.”

Translation: Uber must now look and act like Big Taxi. Drivers cannot be “amateurs” but

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Uber Facing “Existential Threat” From AVs?

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, May 8, 2017:

When ride-sharing company Uber bought Otto, the company developing autonomous car driving software, last August, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said the purchase was “existential” to the company: “The world is going to go self-driving and autonomous … a million fewer people are going to die a year [worldwide]. Traffic in all cities will be gone. [There will be] significantly reduced pollution and trillions of hours will be given back to people — quality of life goes way up. Once you go, “All right, there’s a lot of upsides there” … If we weren’t part of the autonomy thing? Then the future passes us by.”

No less an authority than the Wall Street Journal agrees.

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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 Picks Neocon to Head Council of Economic Advisors

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, April 10, 2017:

President Donald Trump announced on Friday that he would nominate Kevin Hassett as chairman of his Council of Economic Advisors. Immediately, Glenn Hubbard, a neocon serving as a visiting scholar at the “conservative” American Enterprise Institute (AEI), piped up to laud Hassett’s nomination and Trump’s wisdom in selecting him for the position: “He’s not just a standard-issue really good economist, [Hassett is] someone who knows how policy works. The tax changes being considered are really aimed at boosting investment, so I think Kevin is exactly the right person.”

He’s the right person if Trump wants someone whose resumé includes stints at the

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Trump Stumbles Again: Appoints Interventionist to head his Council of Economic Advisors

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, April 10, 2017:

Cover of "DOW 36,000 : The New Strategy f...

One way to test a hypothesis is to apply it to the real world. Two renowned, highly-regarded, and elite-college trained economists did just that. In 1999 James Glassman, the founding executive director of the George W. Bush Institute (Harvard-trained with a BA in government), and Kevin Hassett, BA in Economics from Swarthmore and Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania, wrote Dow 36,000: The New Strategy for Profiting from the Coming Rise in the Stock Market. So sure were they about their prediction they went on the road to promote it, claiming that “stocks are now in the midst of a one-time-only rise to much higher ground – to the neighborhood of 36,000 on the Dow Jones Industrial Average.”

On December 31, 1999 the Dow stood at 11,497. A little over three years later the Dow closed (on March 6, 2003) at 7,673, a drop of 3,823 points, costing those who bought the book and took their advice one-third of their investment.

But both persisted,

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Walmart vs. Amazon: Battle of the Behemoths

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, April 3, 2017:

English: Walmart Home Office, the headquarters...

Walmart Home Office, the headquarters of Wal-Mart – Bentonville, Arkansas

In one corner is Amazon, the book-seller that Jeff Bezos founded in 1994 that is now the most valuable retailer in the United States as measured by market cap: $425 billion as of March 31. In the other corner is Walmart, the world’s largest retailer when measured by revenue – $485 billion in 2016.

Amazon’s path to the finals is littered with the bodies of its former competitors, some still twitching but whose death is certain: Sears, J.C. Penney, Abercrombie & Fitch, Macy’s, and Target. Walmart is determined not to be carrion in this epic battle.

Accordingly, Walmart has made some serious moves by

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How Trump Can Accelerate the Failure of ObamaCare

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, March 27, 2017:

The seal of the United States Department of He...

With the withdrawal of a House bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare, Market Watch explored the options the Trump administration has to hasten the collapse of the ACA. ThinkProgress has reported that the process has already started.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, in announcing the withdrawal of the bill on Thursday,  said that ObamaCare would remain in place “for the foreseeable future.” He didn’t define that future.

The government healthcare plan is already fraying around its edges. Premiums are rising far beyond original estimates, partly due to the withdrawal of major health insurers UnitedHealth Group, Humana, and Aetna from offering coverages. And those remaining in the market have only until June 21 to submit their bids for offering coverages starting in November. But without certainty, a stable market and a broader pool made up more of healthy customers than those who are sick, those bids are almost certain to push premiums even higher.

Trump’s head of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tom Price, an opponent of the ACA, has already ordered the ending of the promotion of ObamaCare, which has caused a drop-off of enrollment of 400,000 compared to last year.

In addition,

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Cash-only Medical Care Benefits From IRS Non-enforcement of ObamaCare Mandate

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, March 27, 2017:

Exterior of the Internal Revenue Service offic...

Exterior of the Internal Revenue Service office in midtown New York. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Following the issuance of President Trump’s executive order in January in which he ordered the Health and Human Services Department to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement of [ObamaCare, or ACA] that would impose a financial burden on any State, or a cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on individuals, families…” the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) responded last month:

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ObamaCare is Imploding All by Itself

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, March 27, 2017:

The Physician

The best person to ask about ObamaCare is not the patient, but the doctor. He’s the one carrying the burden: trying to help his patients with one hand while trying to manage the requirements of the state with the other. One who knows is Jeffery Barke, M.D., a 54-year-old family practice physician in Newport Beach, California. He not only predicted the collapse of ObamaCare (ACA) but wrote that it was planned that way:

As ObamaCare’s troubles mount, I’ve heard my patients and my peers in healthcare ask: How could the law’s authors not have seen this coming?

 

For my part, I think a different question needs to be asked: What if they did? What if ObamaCare was purposely designed to fail?

 

Every day, it seems like there are a dozen new headlines about the crisis facing ObamaCare. Premiums are rising faster than ever. Meanwhile, health insurance companies are abandoning the law’s exchanges left and right, unable to compete in the top-down, regulation-driven environment created by the law. Less than three years into its implementation, the law has never looked so precarious.

He saw firsthand that ObamaCare never did what it was supposed to do:

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Austin Booted Uber and Lyft, Startups Struggle

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, March 24, 2017:

Every year the South by Southwest (SxSW) conference held in Austin, Texas, in March celebrates one or more high-tech “breakout” companies. In 2007 it was Twitter, in 2011 it was GroupMe, and in 2015 it was Meerkat.

This was supposed to be Fasten and RideAustin’s year, two of the local ride-sharing companies that had allegedly “filled the void” when city council member Ann Kitchen ran off Uber and Lyft last year.

Thousands of attendees flew in for the conference, and they needed a lift (or Lyft) but

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OPEC: A Lesson in Why Cartels Fail

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, March 15, 2017:

OPEC countries

OPEC countries

Every cartel comes together when individual members think they can obtain a greater economic benefit working together than they can alone. Every cartel breaks apart when members think they can do better alone. If a cartel is sanctioned by a government, it becomes a monopoly.

Since 1960, OPEC has largely stayed together with the collusion of governments and Big Oil interests around the world. But the fracking revolution, operating in the free market, is blowing up the model. Specifically,

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ObamaCare Replacement Plan Introduced in Congress

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, February 16, 2017: 

Official portrait of United States Senator (R-KY).

Senator Rand Paul

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Representative Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) introduced their ObamaCare Replacement Act (ORA) on Wednesday. It would simultaneously repeal nearly all of ObamaCare’s most onerous demands and mandates while opening up the health-insurance market to individuals to purchase, or not to purchase, coverage. The bill, S.222, might more appropriately be named the “Health Insurance Freedom to Purchase Act,” putting the decision to buy, or not to buy, coverage back in the hands of individual citizens and taking it out of the hands of the federal government.

Senator Paul said,

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Bill to Repeal Obamacare Represents Major Paradigm Shift

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, February 17, 2017:

English: A Portrait of Thomas Jefferson as Sec...

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson said many things on which classical liberals and libertarians agree. The one most apropos to Obamacare is this: “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”

Anything that requires government force (or threat of) to gain compliance is, on its face, immoral. But Obamacare did something else: it was a deliberate forced attempt to shift personal responsibility for one’s health care from a citizen to his government. Jefferson had this to say about that:

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Jobs Report: Across-the-board Growth, Except for Government

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, February 3, 2017:

Friday’s jobs report from the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for January surprised on the upside in almost every category with job growth of 227,000 new jobs, beating economists’ predictions by more than 50,000. The report reflected numbers from the week before President Donald Trump was inaugurated, and showed growth in every major category, including manufacturing. On the flip side, government employment dropped by 10,000 jobs.

This is the best jobs report in the last four months, and exceeds 2016’s average monthly jobs growth of 187,000. Construction added 36,000 jobs, retail trade added 46,000 jobs, financial services grew by 32,000 jobs, professional and business services increased by 39,000 jobs, education and health services jumped by 24,000 jobs, leisure and hospitality added 34,000 jobs, and manufacturing added 5,000 jobs.

The job market was attractive enough to entice those not in the work force to begin to look for work once again, increasing the workforce participation rate. The labor force increased by 584,000 in January while wages continued to increase, rising 2.5 percent over the past year, and long-term unemployment dropped.

The report reflected a positive change, especially in manufacturing versus government. Over the last year the manufacturing sector lost 46,000 jobs while government employment under the Obama administration jumped by 162,000 jobs. Future reports from the BLS will confirm whether the January reversal has legs.

The January report is merely a snapshot of an economy in transition, which makes it difficult to draw long-term conclusions. Part of its rosy tone may reflect anticipation of the fulfillment of Trump’s promises, such as repealing ObamaCare, cutting taxes and regulations, and removing executive-order impediments that flowed from Obama’s pen especially as he was making his exit.

A broader picture suggests that, as good as the report is, the underlying economy is doing even better. Baby Boomers are exiting the jobs market and retiring at an estimated 10,000 every day. That’s nearly four million leaving the workforce every year. And it could continue for years as the Baby Boomer cohort exceeds 75 million.

There’s also the factor of robotics increasingly replacing jobs as cost-cutting continues to drive automation, along with the push from minimum-wage laws. And yet the jobs report reflected a growing economy that is able to overcome those negatives.

In addition, there is the difficulty of measuring exactly how many people are working and for whom. The Wall Street Journal raised the issue in its recent report “The End of Employees,” which said, “Never before have American companies tried so hard to employ so few people.” The problem, said the Journal, is that “no one knows how many Americans work as contractors, because they don’t fit neatly into the job categories tracked by government agencies [such as the BLS].”

For example, Southwest Airlines has about 53,000 real full-time, full-benefits employees, but another 10,000 outside employees. Google’s parent Alphabet uses contract staff from various outside staffing agencies such as Zenith Talent, Filter, and Adecco, running up an annual bill for those services in excess of $300 million. When Todd Gibbons, CEO of the Bank of New York, was quizzed on the matter, he responded, “It’s just too hard to tell exactly what’s going on with [our] head count and how people compute it and whether [we’ve] got contractors versus full-time employees.” If he doesn’t know how many people work for BNY, how would the BLS know?

What is clear is that January’s report, if it is sustained in the months ahead, reflects the new paradigm emanating from Washington: one of support and encouragement backed by real efforts to unleash the free market by removing some (many) of the impediments placed before it by previous administrations.

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