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: Surplus

Intel’s Announcement of New Arizona Plant Negates Trade Deficit Concerns

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

US-DeptOfCommerce-Seal

Brian Krzanich, head of Intel, probably didn’t know he was making the case for free trade, despite the fact that trade deficits happen, when he announced from the White House on Wednesday morning his company’s plans to build a new plant in Chandler, Arizona. In a microcosm, his announcement perfectly expressed just how free trade between nations and their citizens generally benefits everyone. Krzanich said his company was planning to build a $7 billion microchip plant in Chandler that would directly employ 3,000 people with “high-paying jobs,” and generate a total of 10,000 jobs when support services for those new jobs are factored in.

Krzanich said that most of Intel’s customers are overseas. Last year Intel’s gross revenues exceeded $10 billion, so, doing the math, it’s likely that Intel will sell $6 to 8 billion worth of chips to foreigners. That creates a trade “surplus” for the United States of between $6 and $8 billion. That will offset some of the trade “deficit” just announced by the Commerce Department the day before, of about $500 billion, an announcement that was met with much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth by economists claiming that that deficit put the United States at some type of unfair disadvantage to the rest of the world.

However, in the real world, trade deficits are not necessarily bad. When someone buys an automobile or a t-shirt or a cellphone, the money they spend winds up as revenues for manufacturers located overseas. Then those manufacturers have excess American dollars that are now available for investment. Many of those dollars get cycled back to the United States, either by buying U.S. goods and services, or U.S. treasuries, or real estate or businesses, which then generate more products to sell overseas.

In 2016, Americans bought from foreign countries $171 billion worth of automobiles, engines and auto parts, $94 billion worth of clothing, $80 billion of crude and refined oil products, $73 billion of cellphones and other household goods, $58 billion of pharmaceutical drugs, with the balance made up of telecommunications equipment, toys, games, sporting goods, televisions, and video games.

In return foreigners — individuals, companies and governments — bought from the United States $65 billion worth of civilian aircraft and engines, $86 billion on travel to the United States, $78 billion on “intellectual property rights” (mostly leases or patents that foreign companies pay to American companies), $70 billion on financial services, with the rest made up of soybeans, chemicals, and newsprint.

The difference is $502 billion. Americans spent $502 billion more abroad than foreigners bought from us. Is that a problem?

Not for companies such as Intel. Its highly regarded technology, in the form of microchips that outperform its competitors, is in great demand worldwide. Foreign companies will use some of those American dollars that Americans spent to buy them. Intel, for its part, will invest billions in new plants and in hiring new people, paying them good salaries, in order to supply that foreign demand. Intel certainly hopes that foreigners will continue to buy them in massive quantities so that it can continue to expand, build, and hire, and so forth.

As Dan Griswold, writing for Cato, put it: No one would do business with anyone else unless both were better off afterwards:

Nations do not trade with each other: people do. America’s trade deficit with the rest of the world is only the sum of the individual choices made by American citizens. Those choices, to buy an import or to sell an export, only take place if both parties to the transaction believe it will make them better off.

In this way, the “balance of trade,” is always positive.

However, Griswold is likely putting too kind a face on trade deficits, per se, for while free trade seems universally beneficial, the use of fiat money — money not backed by a valuable asset such as gold — in the process of trading could lead to hyperinflation in a country, causing widespread devastation. Whether one calls that a trade problem or a currency problem, it is still a problem inherent in trade, maybe especially for the United States. See the article “So I’m Told Trade Deficits Are Good.”

In general, though, if politicians made it even easier for companies here and abroad to do business, then everyone would be even better off, and concerns about trade “wars” and “tariffs” and “mercantilism” would fade back into the woodwork where they belong.

Trump, Nieto Agree to Dial Down Rhetoric Over Border Wall

English: CARTAGENA/COLOMBIA, 7 APRIL 2010 - En...

Enrique Peña Nieto

The flurry of tweets following President Trump’s signing of the Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements executive order last Wednesday resulted in the Washington Post describing “a deep rift” between the United States and Mexico, and Mexico’s former Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda labeling the situation a “crisis” that is “going to last a long time.” On Thursday, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto (shown) canceled a face-to-face meeting he was to have with President Trump this Tuesday after Trump suggested it would be better to cancel the meeting if Mexico refused to pay for the border wall Trump promised to build.

The tempest died down immediately after President Trump and Mexican President Peña Nieto had a nice long chat by phone on Friday. Following that call — originally scheduled to for 10 minutes but lasting more than an hour — the White House said

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OPEC Claims That U.S. Shale Producers Won’t Threaten Its Efforts to Raise Crude Oil Prices

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, January 18, 2017:

English: Montage for the Davos article on Wiki...

Montage of Davos photographs

Speaking at the elites’ conference in Davos earlier this week, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, Khalid al-Falih, erred when he said that U.S. oil shale producers weren’t a threat to OPEC’s plans to raise crude oil prices by cutting its production. He said that U.S. oil producers “will find they need higher prices” because existing fields (Permian, Bakken, etc.) are being exhausted, and because the costs of lifting new production are going up, thanks to U.S. “inflation on [in] the cost of doing business.”

The minister then engaged in straight-line thinking in a variable world and predicted that

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Comeuppance in the Oil Patch

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, August 3, 2016:  

Looking down from Heaven, George Mitchell must be pleased with what’s going on below: oil inventories are growing to the point where offshore tankers and railroad tank cars are having to be used for storage, oil and gas prices are dropping along with the costs of all the other 6,000 consumer products made from petroleum, rig counts are increasing, production costs are dropping, and, best of all, OPEC’s influence is waning daily.

The Economist called Mitchell the father of fracking in its eulogy following his death in July, 2013. They referred to him as

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Latest CBO Report “Grim”; Offers No Solutions to National Debt

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, July 15, 2016:  

Ida May Fuller, the first recipient

Ida May Fuller, holding the first check from the Social Security Administration

On Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published its annual report on the country’s long-term budgetary and financial outlook. One need only to see the chart on Page One of the report to see why CBO’s Justin Bogle said the outlook was “grim”: It shows government spending growing so much more quickly than anticipated revenues that annual deficits will likely triple in the next 30 years, if not sooner. Bogle called this scenario unsustainable.

For the first time, the CBO built into its assumptions the projected impact of ObamaCare, the country’s declining birth rate, the explosion of Baby Boomers demanding benefits from Social Security and Medicare over that period, plus Boomers’ increasing life expectancies and the increasing costs of providing them healthcare along the way.

It also assumed that government debt will

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$60 Oil “Very Possible” Says Saudi Arabia’s New Oil Minister

This article was published by TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, June 3, 2016:  

On November 17, gas prices had dropped to $1.9...

On November 17, gas prices had dropped to $1.99 in Bakersfield, California, due to falling Oil prices

Following the OPEC meeting on Thursday, Saudi Arabia’s new oil minister, Khalid Al Falin, told CNN that $60 a barrel oil is “very possible” by the end of the year, with even higher prices expected next year. He said that supply and demand in the oil market have “converged” without the OPEC cartel needing to curtail supply. In short, OPEC is celebrating its strategy of letting the lowest oil prices seen in years weed out the weak and marginal players in the United States, resulting in cuts in production. As Qatar’s oil minister exulted at a press conference in Vienna following the meeting, “The worst is over for oil.”

Translation:

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A Unique Oil Man in a Tough Business

This article appeared in print in The New American magazine as well as online, on Thursday, March 17, 2016:  

It doesn’t take long to learn that KimRay, Inc., headquartered in Oklahoma City, is a different sort of oil company — a much different sort. Headed up by Tom Hill until his retirement last year (but who still serves as chairman), the company’s mission statement is simple: Take care of customers, take care of employees, and take care of stockholders. But it ends with this:

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Jawboning Higher Oil Prices

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, February 17, 2016:  

The art of jawboning has gotten such a bad reputation that even the Securities and Exchange Commission website decries it:

We deride “jawboning” as (a) government wagging a finger at business and labor to act with restraint, while government acts without restraint; or (b) government asking labor and business to do what is against their self-interest and in the public interest, which is usually ineffective, and when it works it rewards the greedy and penalizes the patriotic.

It used to work by issuing an implicit threat to accomplish a desired end. And on Tuesday, in the first few minutes of trading, traders of both stocks and oil bought the threat, causing prices to bounce higher at the open but then fade afterwards.

The threat was this, issued by the Russian Ministry of Energy following a brief meeting of worthies from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Venezuela:

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Want to Revive a State’s Economy? Put in Place the Florida Model

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, January 29, 2016:  

Rick Scott has always been an entrepreneur. While enrolled at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and working full-time at a local grocery store, Scott and his wife Ann bought two Kansas City donut shops. After getting his law degree, he went to work at a law firm specializing in the health care industry. In 1987, at age 34, he took all that they had in the bank and started Columbia Hospital Corporation. Two years later his company was merged with the Hospital Corporation of America to become Columbia/HCA.

In the next ten years it had grown to become

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Florida’s Economy Rebounds Thanks to Cuts in Taxes, Spending, Regulations

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, January 27, 2016:  

Almost immediately upon assuming Florida’s governorship in January, 2011, Rick Scott started cutting. He increased the state’s exemption level for corporate taxes from $25,000 to $50,000. He expanded the state sales tax exemption for manufacturing equipment. In 2013, he approved a three-year total exemption of that sales tax. In 2014, he pushed to raise the corporate tax exemption from $50,000 to $75,000. Last year he signed into law a $400 million cut in vehicle fees. In all, over the past five years he, with the help of a friendly legislature, has cut nearly 50 taxes.

Along the way

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Montana Is Second State to Slow Police Militarization

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, April 27, 2015:

Last Thursday Montana Governor Steve Bullock signed into law the strongest prohibition yet by any state against accepting “free” used military equipment from the federal government. A month ago New Jersey Chris Christie signed into law prohibiting such “free” used war materiel without express approval from the local governments involved. Montana’s new law outright prohibits any department in the state from receiving drones that are armored or weaponized (or both), military aircraft, grenades or grenade launchers, silencers and “militarized armored vehicles.”

In New Jersey the bill passed both houses unanimously; in Montana the House voted 79-20 in favor while the Senate voted 46-1 in favor. Under the new law police departments remain free to purchase such materiel, but

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The Freedom Fight’s First Premise Proven in New Jersey

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, March 25, 2015: 

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peal...

For decades it’s been an article of faith among those involved in the freedom fight that Jefferson was right: “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people [for] they are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”

The decision by New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie to sign a bill into law that prohibits the continued militarization of local police departments through free gifts of unneeded hardware from Iraq and Afghanistan unless approved by local authorities is simply the end result of years – no, decades – of efforts by many to educate citizens about the dangers such militarization is to their freedom. The fact that the bill passed both houses unanimously just made it easier for Christie to do so.

New Jersey is only the first. Even stronger bills are pending in

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N.J. First State to Ban Police Militarization Without Local OK

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, March 24, 2015:

Last week New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into a law a bill (passed unanimously by both houses) that made his state the first to require local approval before any local law-enforcement agency can accept military equipment from the U.S. government. It won’t be the last.

Even stronger bills banning the practice, under the so-called “1033 Program” of local law-enforcement agencies dealing directly with the Department of Defense for free military equipment, are pending in Montana, Massachusetts, and Minnesota.

It was touch and go in New Hampshire:

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Latest CBO Report shows Deficits Approaching $1 Trillion

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, February 4, 2015: 

English:

When the Congressional Budget Office issued its Budget and Economic Outlook 2015 to 2025 in January, few could be bothered to do a serious review of it as it seemed to contradict the present meme of the Goldilocks economy: job growth accelerating, interest rates low, consumer confidence improving, deficits shrinking, and so forth. Even those taking the time to look at it, scoffed at its conclusions. Said the CBO:

The federal budget deficit, which has fallen sharply during the past few years, is projected to hold steady relative to the size of the economy through 2018.

Beyond that point, however, the gap between spending and revenues is expected to grow, further increasing federal debt … which is already historically high.

The CBO explained why:

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Wisconsin Teachers Learning How to Live Free Again, Thanks to Act 10

This article was first published at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Thursday, September 19th, 2013:

Under Wisconsin’s Act 10, every union must be re-certified by its members each year – a freedom denied its members in the past. Once certified, a union was formerly permanent. With regard to teachers, it required dues to be deducted from their paychecks, it demanded negotiating rights on their behalf, it mandated where they could buy their health insurance, and so on.

But when the teachers themselves were asked if they wanted to stick with their union, they said

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Social Security Trustees Celebrate: Trust Funds won’t be Broke for Years

With Friday’s announcement by the Trustees of the Social Security Administration that “reserves are still growing and will continue to do so through [the year] 2020,” it didn’t take long for groups like Strengthen Social Security (SSS) to chortle that not only is Social Security “fully affordable and structurally sound, [but it] will

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Social Security to Run Out of Money Much Sooner Than Estimated

The latest report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) about the inevitable insolvency of Social Security is discouraging enough without checking the CBO’s assumptions. A closer look at the report and those assumptions reveals a

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Don’t Tax Me; Don’t Tax Thee; Tax That Fellow Behind the Tree!

Tax

Tax (Photo credit: Tax Credits)

So said Russell Long, the Senator from Louisiana who served 39 years and whom the Wall Street Journal once called “the fourth branch of government,” so great was his influence. He got it right. The citizens are so dependent upon their government goodies that the entire discussion in Washington over the fiscal cliff is about increasing taxes and not cutting spending. The writer at Marketwatch.com got it exactly right:

As lawmakers negotiate to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, the combination of tax increases and spending cuts that are due to take place on Jan.1, 2013, the silence on spending cuts is deafening. (my emphasis)

Some Republicans have tried, by outlining various cuts in spending that would bring the budget back to 2008 levels. But no one is listening:

House Republicans, both in the budget committee and in the Republican Study Committee, have outlined potential cuts that will bring spending back down to 2008 pre-recession levels. However, all Washington negotiators can do is talk about raising taxes, or not, and how much revenue can come from limiting deductions on one hand and economic growth on the other.

She says that Washington considers spending cuts as “poisonous.” We’ve heard this before. Cuts to Social Security was considered for years to be the third rail in politics: touch it and you die. George Bush trotted out a plan to modify Social Security with private accounts. Remember them? Didn’t think so. Down the memory hole.

Biden can’t believe the Republicans even want to

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Three State Studies Confirm Freedom Works Best

North Dakota state quarter

North Dakota state quarter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Each year 247 Wall St. publishes the results of its survey of all 50 states and then ranks them from top to bottom – from “best run” to “worst run.” CNBC does the same only with a more concentrated focus on the business environment in each state, and then ranks the states on their overall “measure of competitiveness.” The Mercatus Center at George Mason University looks at all 50 states from the perspective of individual freedom and then ranks the states based on its Index of Personal and Economic Freedom.

The parallels and correlations between economic and business performance and personal freedom are clear and persuasive: when state governments stay within their limits of protecting lives and enforcing contracts, the states thrive. And vice versa. North Dakota and California are examples sufficient to prove the point.

247 Wall St. admits that measuring the effectiveness of how a state government manages its affairs and allows the free market to operate is

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The Fiscal Cliff: What Really Needs to Be Done

Piggy Bank

(Photo credit: Images_of_Money)

Now that the national elections are history, attention in Washington is firmly focused on the “fiscal cliff”: the day of reckoning created by the congress during the budget ceiling debate in the summer of 2011. When the Super Committee failed in its mandate to create a plan to address the deficits and the national debt, the result was the misnamed Budget Control Act of 2011 which, in current parlance, kicked the can to December 31, 2012. All that act did was to raise the debt limit immediately by $400 billion, thus averting a government shutdown, while allowing further increases in the debt limit without another congressional confrontation with the White House. The tradeoff was the promise of spending cuts in the future.

That future is now.

If nothing is done, and the economy runs off the so-called fiscal cliff, the impact will be a combination of $7 trillion worth of tax increases and spending cuts over the next decade.

There will be automatic spending cuts of $120 billion annually in both defense and non-defense spending, there will be increases in income and capital gains tax rates, the reestablishment of the so-called “death tax” (the estate tax), 27 million households will now be subject to the “wealth tax” under the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), while those enjoying the payroll tax “holiday” will see their Social Security withholding taxes return to the 6.2% rate from the current temporary 4.2% rate. There would be the confluence of another flurry of other tax increases and spending cuts as well, including 27% cuts to Medicare providers and at least four other tax increases imbedded in Obamacare.

According to the Heritage Foundation, the fiscal cliff will cost families making $70,000 a year more than

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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.