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: GDP

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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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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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.

Pew Research: Gap Between Promises and Assets Widens for State Pensions

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, April 24, 2017:

A RETIRED COUPLE FROM CALIFORNIA STOP TO FISH ...

After reviewing the investment results for 230 public pension plans for the last two years, Pew reported last Thursday that, despite strong recent stock market performance, the gap between liabilities (promises) and assets for those plans widened by 17 percent, to $1.4 trillion. Put another way, those plans should have nearly $4 trillion in assets to enable them to keep their promises. The latest data shows them with just over $2.5 trillion instead.

Said Greg Mennis, director of the project,

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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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Harry Dent, Meet Chris Hamilton

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, March 29, 2017:

For years Harry Dent (shown) has attempted to turn his demographic analyses into investment advice, with middling performance. It seems that when his advice doesn’t turn out well, he writes another book.

Take, for example, his The Demographic Cliff: How to Survive and Prosper During the Great Deflation Ahead. He contends that the economy can be traced and tracked using the behavior of consumers as they grow, mature and age. Young people marry, have families, buy homes, automobiles, and gadgets. Their acquisitions peak at around age 45 or so, and then decline over time into retirement.

His “waves” are like seasons: 

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Wall Street Facing Headwinds as Boomers Forced to Liquidate Their IRAs, 401Ks

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, March 28, 2017:

New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street in New ...

Under the law those reaching age 70 and a half must start taking their “required minimum distributions” (RMDs) from their various tax-deferred accounts. These include IRAs, 401Ks, profit-sharing plans, and SEPs. The trouble is that there are so many of them, and they control so many assets, that their RMDs are going to put enormous pressure on the stock market, according to Chris Hamilton, writing at his Econimica blog.

The Baby Boom population cohort is nearly 80 million people, and those born in 1946 are now 71, with millions following right behind. The top one percent own or control about one-third of that cohort’s assets, while the top 10 percent own more than two-thirds, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The real question, according to Hamilton, is this:

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Samsung to Expand in United States, Bringing Back 500 Jobs From Mexico

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, March 8, 2017:

English: Samsung Logo Suomi: Samsungin logo

The South Korean behemoth maker of consumer electronics, semi-conductors, ships, and telecommunications equipment was reported by the Wall Street Journal (quoting unnamed inside sources) to be investing $300 million in facilities in South Carolina and simultaneously bringing 500 jobs back from Mexico to work there.

It’s a tentative decision, according to Samsung in a statement it made to the Journal, with the company noting that “this is a complex process that, like all strategic business decisions, will not be made final until it is determined through proper due diligence and planning that it is the best option for Samsung.”

In ordinary times such a modest investment, made under such indeterminate conditions with such disclaimers, would hardly rate a few column inches at the back of the business section. But these are hardly ordinary times,

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Crude Oil Shortage in Three Years?

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, March 7, 2017:

Worldwide demand for crude oil will exceed 100 million barrels per day (mbd) in two years, and exceed global supplies in three, according to the Paris-based intergovernmental group International Energy Agency (IEA). In its latest five-year forecast, Oil 2017, the agency says that demand growth will come primarily from developing countries such as India, while demand growth elsewhere, such as the United States, will be tepid at best. The only way the coming shortage can be overcome, said Dr. Fatih Birol, IEA’s executive director, is for massive new investments in exploration, discovery, and production to be made immediately:

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Former Reagan Economic Advisor Warns: Debt Ceiling “Hard Stop” for Economy

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

Cabinet - Class Photo, 1984: Front row: David ...

Cabinet – Class Photo, 1984: Front row: David Stockman, Director, Office of Management & Budget; Back row : Malcolm Baldrige, Secretary of Commerce; Samuel Pierce, Secretary of Housing & Urban Development

David Stockman, former President Ronald Reagan’s director of his Office of Management and Budget from 1981 to 1985, told Greg Hunter of USAWatchdog that March 15, two days after President Trump presents his budget to Congress, will be a “hard stop” for the economy:

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Is Obama Worst U.S. President?

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, January 20, 2017:

English: President Barack Obama's signature on...

President Barack Obama’s signature on the health insurance reform bill at the White House, March 23, 2010.

If one asks Joe Hoft, a corporate executive with a Fortune 300 company based in Hong Kong about President Obama’s economic policies during his eight years as president, he will note that Obama “currently ranks as the fourth worst president on record in GDP growth.” At just 1.45 percent average annual GDP growth over those eight years, only Herbert Hoover (minus 5.65 percent), Andrew Johnson (minus .7 percent) and Theodore Roosevelt (1.4 percent) have worse records. However, “Barack Obama will be the only U.S. president in history who did not deliver a single year of 3.0 or better percent growth.”

Hoft will remind us that

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Will Mick Mulvaney Pull Trump’s Financial Fat Out of the Fire?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, December 19, 2016:  

English: Official portrait of US Rep. Mick Mul...

Michael “Mick” Mulvaney (shown) rode the Tea Party wave in 2010 into Congress, replacing a 14-term Democrat from South Carolina’s 5th District. He has been handily reelected ever since. He took his oath of office seriously, saying in 2010 that “If political reporters want to know what drives the Tea Partiers, it is their belief in the Constitution. That’s what has always driven me in politics and will guide me in Congress.”

He remained as true to his word as any of those riding the same wave,

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The Tax Foundation’s Big Surprise: Trump’s Tax Plan is Better Than Hillary’s!

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, October 21, 2016:  

English: The standard Laffer Curve

The standard Laffer Curve

The Tax Foundation, founded nearly 80 years ago, considers itself non-partisan, guided by what it calls “the principles of sound tax policy, simplicity, transparency, neutrality, stability, no retroactivity, broad [tax] bases and low [tax] rates.” It has steadfastly opposed tax increases of any kind: income, corporate, or excise. Especially annoying are tax “preferences” (i.e., subsidies) for the housing industry and tax credits for certain constituencies (which the Foundation calls “picking winners and losers”).

So it’s no surprise that in its study of Trump’s and Clinton’s so-called “tax plans” the Foundation concluded that Trump’s was vastly superior to Hillary’s:

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Tax Foundation Rates Tax Plans of Trump and Clinton: Trump’s Plan Wins

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, October 20, 2016:

Tax Foundation

Tax Foundation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Analysis by the Tax Foundation of all that is currently known about the tax plans proposed by presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton concludes that, if enacted, Clinton’s plan would expand government at the expense of a shrinking economy. On the other hand, Trump’s plan would grow the economy, shrink government’s revenues, raise wages, and expand employment.

But it’s not tax “reform,” claims the study’s author, Kyle Pomerleau,

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China’s Third-quarter GDP Numbers Draw Skepticism

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, October 19, 2016: 

National emblem of the People's Republic of China

Last Sunday the Wall Street Journal said it expected China’s third-quarter GDP numbers, to be released on Wednesday, “to show the [Chinese] economy grew by at least 6.7%, on pace with the first and second quarters.” Lo and behold, when those numbers were released by Chinese officials on Wednesday, they were exactly 6.7 percent, which were exactly the same as in the first and second quarters. That is the first time since 1992 that any country’s economy grew at exactly the same rate for three consecutive quarters.

This didn’t matter to much of the national media, which reported the numbers as legitimate and then added commentary and color to bolster their reports. For example,

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Hanjin Bankruptcy: a Harbinger for the Global Economy?

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, September 8, 2016:  

English: A Delmas operated Container ship NICO...

South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping was the world’s seventh-largest container shipping company, moving (until last week) 100 million tons of cargo on its 200 cargo ships from manufacturers to retailers across the globe. Last week, following years of losses as the global economy has slowed, Hanjin declared bankruptcy. That move stranded 90 of those ships as off-loading companies refused to unload them over concerns that they wouldn’t be paid.

Even an offer of $90 million from what’s left of Hanjin (including $36 million from the personal assets of its chairman) fell far short of the necessary $543 million estimated to unload all of its ships that are now circling ports around the world.

Concerns are mounting that

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The Coming Puerto Rican Bailout

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, August 29, 2016:  

On or before September 1, President Obama will complete the eight appointments to the oversight board created when he signed PROMESA (Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act) into law on June 30. Those already on the board include Republican Senators Orrin Hatch and Marco Rubio, Democrat Senator Bill Nelson and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez.

In theory the board will have the power to override the island’s government, delay litigation, fire government workers, and “suggest” other ways the island can begin to recover from its present economic implosion. It has been described as a “de facto” Chapter 9 bankruptcy. In practice it is likely that,

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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.