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: risks

Gov’t Collects Record $240 Billion in May; Still Runs $88 Billion Deficit

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, June 16, 2017:

English: Medicare and Medicaid as % GDP Explan...

Medicare and Medicaid as % GDP Explanation: Eventually, Medicare and Medicaid spending absorbs all federal tax revenue.

The U.S. Treasury announced on Thursday that the federal government collected more money in May than in any other month in history: $240.4 billion. In the same breath, it said that the government spent $328.8 billion, creating a deficit of $88.4 billion.

From a wage earner’s perspective, it meant that in May the average worker paid $1,572 in taxes but the government spent $2,149, making up the $577 difference by borrowing. Such deficit spending is making the S&P Global credit rating agency increasingly nervous.

Just a week earlier, the agency affirmed its best rating — A-1+ — for the government’s “short term” debt, which means, in its own parlance, that the federal government’s ability to pay its current bills is “strong.” But in the longer term, the agency is far less sanguine. While holding its current long-term rating at AA+ (one full notch below its best rating), it said it’s unable to give the United States its highest rating (AAA) because of “high general government debt, relatively short-term-oriented policymaking, and uncertainty about policy formulation” for the future. It explained what it meant about that “uncertainty”:

Some of the [Trump] Administration’s policy proposals appear at odds with policies of the traditional Republican leadership and historical base. That, coupled with lack of cohesion, not just across, but within parties, complicates the ability to effectively and proactively advance legislation in Congress, particularly on fiscal policy. Taken together, we don’t expect a meaningful expansion or reduction of the fiscal deficit over the forecast period.

And what does it say about what’s likely to happen over that “forecast period”?

The U.S.’s net general government debt burden (as a share of GDP) remains twice its 2007 level. While, in our view, debt to GDP should hold fairly steady over the next several years, we expect it to rise thereafter absent measures to raise additional revenue and/or cut nondiscretionary expenditures.

What does that phrase “next several years” mean? How much time before the government’s national debt explodes upward? Says S&P:

Although deficits have declined, net general government debt to GDP remains high at about 80% of GDP. Given our growth forecasts and our expectations that credit conditions will remain subdued, thus keeping real interest rates in check, we expect this ratio to hold fairly steady through 2020. At that point, it could deteriorate more sharply, partly as a result of demographic trends.

Translation: Deficit spending will remain “subdued” for three and a half years, and then Katy bar the door!

Here is where S&P bows out of the picture, giving way instead to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which completed the picture in its March report:

Federal debt held by the public, defined as the amount that the federal government borrows from financial markets, has ballooned over the last decade. In 2007, the year the recession began, debt held by the public represented 35 percent of GDP. Just five years later, federal debt held by the public has doubled to 70 percent and is projected to continue rising.

“Continue rising”? By how much? And by when? The CBO is blunt:

Debt has not seen a surge this large since the increase in federal spending during World War II, when debt exceeded 70 percent of GDP. The budget office projects that growing budget deficits will cause the debt to increase sharply over the next three decades, hitting 150 percent of GDP by 2047.

So, that ratio of government debt compared to the country’s economic ability to produce goods and services was 35 percent in 2007, is now 70 percent, and will soon be 150 percent.

And what’s the reason?

The majority of the rise in spending is largely the result of programs like Social Security and Medicare in addition to rising interest rates. For example, Social Security and major health care program spending represented 54 percent of all federal noninterest spending, an increase from the average of 37 percent it has been over the past 50 years.

It appears to be an unstoppable locomotive. Non-discretionary spending (spending already locked into place by past Congresses and fully expected to be received by its beneficiaries) is on autopilot. And interest rates now coming off historic lows are only going to increase those annual deficits into the future as far as the eye can see.

The CBO is about as close as one can get to a truly non-partisan federal agency — one that has no partisan political agenda and is considered by many as the most reliable forecaster of future economic events. So it’s not only willing to cover, analyze, and present its findings candidly, it’s also willing to tell the truth. It asked, rhetorically, “What might the consequences be if current laws remain unchanged?” It answered:

Large and growing federal debt over the coming decades would hurt the economy and constrain future budget policy. The amount of debt that is projected under the extended baseline would reduce national saving and income in the long term; increase the government’s interest costs, putting more pressure on the rest of the budget; limit lawmakers’ ability to respond to unforeseen events; and increase the likelihood of a fiscal crisis, an occurrence in which investors become unwilling to finance a government’s borrowing unless they are compensated with very high interest rates.

Which brings one to the ultimate rhetorical question: What happens when even those “very high interest rates” aren’t enough to compensate those investors for the risks they are taking by loaning their money to a government that increasingly isn’t able to pay its bills and must continue to borrow increasingly massive amounts to cover its deficits? What happens next?

AG Sessions’ Strong Support of Local Police Misses Key Point

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, March 17, 2017:

Anti-ACLU-2

Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed a gathering of federal, state, and local law-enforcement officials in Richmond, Virginia, on Wednesday morning, announcing a new direction in law enforcement under the Trump administration. He stated: “[President] Trump issued a policy to [his] administration to reduce crime, and that’s what I take as my marching order.”

He decried the jump in violent crime and murders in major cities over the last two years, ending the long steady decline in those numbers nationally over the past several decades:

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Dakota Access Protesters Pollute the Environment They Claim to Cherish

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

English: Cannonball River, North Dakota

Cannonball River, North Dakota

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced last Friday that the site that protesters have occupied near the Dakota Access pipeline will be closed on February 22 to “prevent injuries and significant environmental damage in the likely event of flooding in this area. Without proper remediation, debris, trash and untreated waste will wash into the Cannonball River and Lake Oahe.”

The cleanup started a week ago,

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Despite Higher Bonds, Chicago Gun Violence Suspects Are Bonding Out Faster

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, January 27, 2017:  

The Chicago Tribune, in examining more than 67,000 criminal charges between 2012 and 2016, discovered that although bonds demanded by judges in Cook County have doubled for violent crime, the suspects are being freed twice as fast. Wrote the Tribune on Friday:

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Saudi Arabia to Sell $10 Billion in Bonds to Shore Up Its Finances

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

Coat of Arms of Saudi Arabia

Coat of Arms of Saudi Arabia

Oil ministers from Saudi Arabia have been traveling the world doing investment “roadshows” to promote their $10-billion bond offering that hits the markets this week. In so doing, they must disclose the risks investors could be taking, and then price the bonds according to those risks.

The Saudis appear to be paying the price for losing their bet about American oil producers. In November 2014 they made a massive wager that they could

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Will this Effort Finally Break Through the Clintons’ Teflon Coating?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, July 15, 2016:  

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)

The chemical name for Teflon is Polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE. For Hillary Clinton it’s called the Mainstream Media. They have the same properties: nothing can get through. Appropriately it is used not only to coat pans and other cookware but also as a “graft” material (pun intended) in surgical procedures to keep bacteria and other infectious agents from adhering.

Marsha Blackburn may have the solution (pun still intended):

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Elon Musk’s Conversion from Saint to Sinner

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, June 10, 2016:  

English: Tesla Roadster Sport 2.5, the fourth-...

Tesla Roadster Sport 2.5, the fourth-generation Roadster from electric carmaker Tesla Motors Inc.

Once upon a time Elon Musk said he believed in hard work, technology, and some breaks to gain success. He didn’t believe the U.S. government should provide subsidies to companies, and he believed that the free market would provide the “best solution” to such problems as pollution. At the time, Stanford University Professor Fred Turner called him out for being a hypocrite:

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Elon Musk: Once an Entrepreneur, Now a Crony Capitalist

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, June 9, 2016:  

In the early days, Elon Musk (shown above) made his fortune the usual way: by creating products and services that people could use, which they paid for using their own money, to improve their lives. Today, however, he has found a better way: using taxpayer guarantees to help fund his new ventures and reduce his risks while he enjoys the profits if they succeed.

In simple terms, Elon Musk has become a welfare queen on steroids,

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Goldman Sachs’ Warning Dents Crude Oil Price

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, April 13, 2016:  

The price of crude oil, which reached $65 a barrel a year ago, fell below $30 in January with expectations that its decline wouldn’t end until it hit $20, or even lower. But hopeful optimists see light at the end of the tunnel — this coming from next Sunday’s OPEC meeting in Doha, Qatar (photo above) — where an agreement to freeze production at current levels will be on the table, bid crude higher in an almost straight line. On Tuesday NYMEX crude hit $42 a barrel, a 40-percent jump from January’s lows.

A note from Goldman Sachs on Tuesday provided a sobering view:

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Trump Close Enough to Win GOP Nomination?

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, March 10, 2016:

Donald Trump & Melania enter the Oscar De LA R...

Donald Trump & Melania enter the Oscar De LA Renta Fashion Show, New York

Less than a week before March 15, the date when GOP primaries will be held in five states, an analysis by the Washington Times puts Donald Trump within shouting distance of the GOP nomination for president at its national convention in Cleveland in July.

By next Tuesday evening 367 delegates from those states will have been awarded to their winners, with Donald Trump projected to take most of them, as four states are “winner-take-all” states,

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Aubrey McClendon Was the Original American Entrepreneur

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, March 4, 2016:  

News of Aubrey McClendon’s death in a fiery car crash on Tuesday morning in Oklahoma City staggered those who knew him. Chesapeake Energy, founded by McClendon and a partner in 1989, said “Chesapeake is deeply saddened by the news that we have heard today, and our thoughts and prayers are with the McClendon family during this difficult time.” His new company, American Energy Partners, founded the day after he was fired from Chesapeake in 2013, offered this:

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Chances for a Brokered GOP Convention Are Rising, Along With Risks

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

Seal of the RNC

Seal of the RNC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Heading into Super Tuesday, Donald Trump has 164 delegates, while in distant second and third places Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have just 34 and 32 delegates respectively. With Trump leading in polls in 12 of the 13 states holding either primaries or caucuses on Tuesday, the majority of the 664 delegates there could be added to Trump’s total, making him nearly unbeatable in his run for the GOP presidential nomination.

The problem is that Trump could win a majority of the delegates from here on out but

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Straight-line Thinking in a Curvilinear World: Natural Gas and Aubrey McClendon

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, February 10, 2016:  

Chesapeake Energy Capital Classic

It’s now apparent that Aubrey McClendon didn’t see the bumper sticker that appeared on cars following the last energy crash: “Please, God, give me one more boom and I promise not to screw it up.”

McClendon, along with a partner, $50,000, and 10 employees, started Chesapeake Energy in 1989. The company grew exponentially as the fracking revolution took off and up until recently the company employed 5,500 people and had annual revenues of $11 billion. Its stock (CHK) soared,

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Chesapeake Energy Claims It’s NOT Declaring Bankruptcy

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, February 9, 2016:  

On Monday, at 11:18 a.m., the second-largest natural gas company in the country issued this terse statement:

Kirkland & Ellis LLP has served as one of Chesapeake’s counsel since 2010 and continues to advise the company as it seeks to further strengthen its balance sheet following its recent debt exchange. Chesapeake currently has no plans to pursue bankruptcy and is aggressively seeking to maximize value for all shareholders.

Ominously, when Timothy Puko of the Wall Street Journal asked for clarification, he wrote “A Chesapeake spokesman declined to elaborate further.”

The company has been in survival mode since

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Puerto Rico Stiffs Bond Investors on Monday

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, January 4, 2015:  

Coat of Arms of Puertor Rico

Coat of Arms of Puertor Rico

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Like a Zombie, the Export-Import Bank is Threatening to Come Back to Life

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, September 9, 2015:  

The movie White Zombie, a horror film in 1932 starring Bela Lugosi, featured zombies as mindless, unthinking henchmen under the spell of an evil magician. The Export-Import Bank doesn’t quite fit the definition, but it’s close.

Crafted by socialists surrounding FDR in 1934 and given life by an executive order, Ex-Im was granted permanent status as an agency in 1945. It has been repeatedly, endlessly, mindlessly resurrected almost 20 times since then, until the end of June.

Since then pressure has been building among its crony beneficiaries

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Shell Gets Final Approval to Drill in the Arctic Ocean

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, August 18, 2015: 

Shell Oil Company

On Monday the U.S. Department of the Interior issued a final approval to allow Royal Dutch Shell to start drilling an exploratory oil well in the Chukchi Sea, northwest of Alaska. Though the Department of the Interior is headed up by Sally Jewell, who was handpicked by the Obama administration for her background not only as the former CEO of REI, a Seattle-based outdoor equipment retailer, but as a die-hard Democrat contributor, the announcement nevertheless enraged environmentalists who remember both the Valdez oil spill and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout.

The last time Shell drilled in the Arctic Ocean was 1991, and environmentalists have been keeping the pressure on succeeding administrations to make it the only time. In 2008, however,

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Chinese Plunge Protection Team Failing to Stem Stock Market Declines

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, July 30, 2015:  

A historical chart of the Shanghai (SSE) Compo...

A graph of the Shanghai Index showing the first bubble in 2006-2008

In the last 30 minutes of trading on Wednesday, the Shanghai Composite Index jumped more than three percent, while the smaller Shenzhen Composite (equivalent to the U.S. Nasdaq index) leaped more than four percent. That this was the result of actions taken by China’s unofficial “plunge protection team” was obvious to Jacky Zhang, an analyst at BOC International: “Clearly it is government intervention again.”

China’s plunge protection team (PPT), equivalent to the U.S. stock market’s “Working Group on Financial Markets” set up under President Reagan following Black Monday in October 1987, has moved heaven and earth to keep its stock markets from collapsing. The team, made up of China’s Securities Finance Corporation and the China Securities Regulatory Commission, along with top officials from the country’s 21 largest brokerages and the Chinese central bank, has implemented an entire panoply of measures to stem the tide, including:

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Do Negative Interest Rates Portend a Negative Economy?

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, May 4, 2015:

Last Thursday the London Daily Telegraph’s assistant editor, Jeremy Warner, reported an astonishing statistic: Almost a third of all government debt in the eurozone is paying negative interest rates. That’s more than $2 trillion in government bonds, and, it appears, investors are happy that they aren’t paying even more.

Fifty percent of French bonds now trade with a negative yield, while 70 percent of Germany’s bonds trade at a negative yield. More remarkably, in Spain, which was on the verge of insolvency just a few years ago, 17 percent of its government bonds now trade with a negative yield.

This is counterintuitive, which explains why Keynesians, those who believe that “demand” in an economy can be artificially increased by manipulating taxes and the money supply, have no explanation for it. In theory,

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Huge Ex-Im Bank Loan Defaults Imperiling Bank’s Reauthorization

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, March 26, 2015: 

Seal of the Export-Import Bank of the United S...

Seal of the Export-Import Bank of the United States

On January 21, NewSat, a private satellite communications company headquartered in Australia, defaulted on a $21 million payment to its primary satellite provider, Lockheed Martin. That default is triggering an avalanche of defaults that could sink not only NewSat but also very likely the bank that guaranteed the loans financing the deal, the Export-Import Bank, whose charter is up for renewal on June 30.

The Ex-Im Bank has touted its ability and willingness to provide financing for American companies seeking to do business abroad but which couldn’t arrange financing the regular way: through private banking channels. According to the bank’s charter,

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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.