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

Category Archives: Economics

Jobs Reports Show the US Turning into a Part Time Worker Economy

When the two-part employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) was issued on Friday, the news was modestly positive: from its business “establishment” data it noted that employment increased by 162,000, a little less than expected but not far from the average of 175,000 new jobs a month that the economy has been generating for the last three months. The estimates for May and June were revised downward slightly but

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Atlanta Mayor’s Spat with Street Vendors Goes National

A conservative journalist writing in the Atlanta-Journal-Constitution on Saturday, October 26th, claimed that Atlanta’s mayor blatantly broke the law and when a court demanded he uphold the law instead, he refused. The issue went national when the spat was picked up by the Wall Street Journal on Monday, the day before Atlanta voters were to go to the polls to

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The story of “I, Coke”

Kevin Ashton is a very clever man. He loves to figure out how things work, and he makes a living explaining them to others. His article at medium.com is a take-off of “I, Pencil” written back in 1958 by Leonard Read, which became a best-seller.

Ashton says that a can of Coke costs about 50 cents. But how it got onto his grocery store’s shelf is impossibly complex. It starts with the aluminum can itself:

Each can originated in a small town of 4,000 people on the Murray River in Western Australia called Pinjarra. Pinjarra is the site of the world’s largest bauxite mine. Bauxite is surface mined — basically scraped and dug from the top of the ground.

The bauxite is crushed and washed with hot sodium hydroxide, which separates it into aluminum hydroxide and waste material called red mud. The aluminum hydroxide is cooled, then heated to over a thousand degrees celsius in a kiln, where it becomes aluminum oxide, or alumina.

The alumina is dissolved in a molten substance called cryolite, which is a rare mineral from Greenland, and turned into pure aluminum using electricity in a process called electrolysis.

The pure aluminum sinks to the bottom of the molten cryolite, is drained off and placed in a mold. It cools into the shape of a long cylindrical bar. The bar is transported west again, to the Port of Bunbury, and loaded onto a container ship bound for — in the case of Coke for sale in Los Angeles — Long Beach.

Let me interrupt here. How does this happen? More importantly, how could a government bureaucracy think it could do this better? Think of all the pieces and parts not only of materials but of the decisions that must be made, the discoveries that must be made and developed and refined, the connections that must be built, all to create an aluminum can. And do it at a cost that provides a profit to each provider along the way while producing an end product that’s cheap enough for the consumer to buy.

And Ashton hasn’t even gotten to what’s inside. It’s quite an adventure.

Here’s the secret sauce:

Coca-Cola is made from a syrup produced by the Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta. The main ingredient in the formula used in the United States is a type of sugar substitute called high-fructose corn syrup 55, so named because it is 55 per cent fructose or “fruit sugar”, and 42 per cent glucose or “simple sugar” — the same ratio of fructose to glucose as natural honey.

HFCS is made by grinding wet corn until it becomes cornstarch. The cornstarch is mixed with an enzyme secreted by a rod-shaped bacterium called Bacillus and an enzyme secreted by a mold called Aspergillus. This process creates the glucose. A third enzyme, also derived from bacteria, is then used to turn some of the glucose into fructose.

What incentive would drive anyone to develop such a process? Surely not good will, or altruism, or the prospect of fame or notoriety. I can think of only one: potential for profit.

Next: the coloring. I don’t want to know what this looks like without the coloring:

The second ingredient, caramel coloring, gives the drink its distinctive dark brown color. There are four types of caramel coloring — Coca Cola uses type E150d, which is made by heating sugars with sulfite and ammonia to create bitter brown liquid.

The syrup’s other principal ingredient is phosphoric acid, which adds acidity and is made by diluting burnt phosphorus (made by heating phosphate rock in an arc-furnace) and processing it to remove arsenic.

Thanks for removing the arsenic!

Then there’s the flavoring:

A much smaller proportion of the syrup is flavors. These include vanilla, which is the fruit of a Mexican orchid that has been dried and cured for around three months; cinnamon, the inner bark of a Sri Lankan tree; coca-leaf which comes from South America and is processed in a unique US government authorized factory in New Jersey to remove its addictive stimulant cocaine; and kola nut, a red nut found on a tree which grows in the African Rain Forest (this may be the origin of Coca-Cola’s distinctive red logo).

And then there’s the caffeine. Gotta have that!

The final ingredient is caffeine, a stimulating alkaloid that can be derived from the kola nut, coffee beans and other sources.

He goes on to show what happens next, and what happens after that, and after that, and after that. To an alien observer it looks like a miracle, or madness.

Ashton forgot to mention that the original formula for Coke contained cocaine. So today’s Coke isn’t quite like the original. But the miracle remains.

Boomers’ Social Security Checks Being Garnished for Unpaid Student Loans

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, December 20, 2016:  

Seal of the United States Department of Education

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued its report on student loan repayments on Tuesday, revealing that 114,000 Americans age 50 and over had their Social Security checks garnished (the GAO calls them “offsets”), including 38,000 over age 65. In total the government recovered $171 million from this group last year, putting many of them into poverty.

Under the law,

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Job Openings Highest Since 2000, Reflecting Robust Economy

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, May 8, 2018: 

The “Job Openings” report released Tuesday by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) was nothing short of remarkable: “On the last business day of March, the job openings level increased to a series high of 6.6 million. The series began in December 2000.” Translation: The U.S. economy, as measured by job growth, job openings, and unemployment numbers, is stronger now than at any time in the past 17 years.

Those job openings are in professional and business services, the segment of the economy that facilitates the rest of the economy through technology. Employers are also looking for construction workers (68,000 openings in March) and in transportation, warehousing, and utilities (37,000 openings in March).

Buried in the numbers is another astonishing fact:

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Regulators are now going after the Bitcoin

This article was first published at the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, November 20th, 2013:

 

Six federal agencies were invited to a Senate committee hearing on Monday to explain why each should be granted the privilege of regulating the Bitcoin. Four showed up:

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Economic Forecasters Miss Again as the Economy Leaves Them Behind

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, December 15, 2017:

Just how do economic forecasters justify their existence, and their paychecks? George Carlin found a way: he became a comedian. He said “the weather forecast for tonight: dark.”

Yogi Berra was already financially secure, so he could get away with this:

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U.S. Treasury to Offer Small Business Owners “Forgivable” Bridge Loans

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, March 23, 2020: 

In an interview with CNBC on Monday morning, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urged small business owners — the most important driver of job creation and economic growth in the U.S. economy — to keep paying their people even while their businesses are shut down: “If you’re a small business [owner], we ask that you not lay people off.”

The Federal Reserve is working closely with his agency to create a Main Street Business Lending Program that would give those owners an unsecured “bridge loan” to allow them to continue to pay their employees during the economic shutdown — a loan that would later on be forgiven once the threat of the virus has ended and their businesses have reopened.

The initial amount intended for the program is $300 billion — an enormous amount in absolute terms, but tiny in terms of the size of the U.S. economy. It could be, and likely will be, extended and expanded as officials such as Mnuchin begin to understand the damage the shutdown has already caused to the economy.

Thousands of small businesses are already on the brink of insolvency, with bankruptcy for many of them just around the corner.

The ripple effect of just one coffee shop shutting its doors is enormous.

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Job Growth in August Exceeds Forecasters’ Expectations, Raising Trump’s Reelection Chances

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, September 4, 2020:  

The recovery of the U.S. economy from the coronavirus pandemic shutdown continues to outpace forecasters’ expectations. On Friday the Labor Department reported that nonfarm payroll employment rose by 1.4 million in August, exceeding forecasters’ predictions of 1.2 million. In its separate household survey, the department reported that nearly 4 million people returned to work.

The increase in employment pushed the unemployment rate down from 10.2 percent last month to

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U.S. Economy’s Rebound Continues to Confound Forecasters

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, September 1, 2020: 

President Trump’s Chief Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow exulted over the U.S. economy’s recovery from the virus-inspired shutdown last Friday: “There’s a housing boom! There’s an auto boom! A manufacturing boom! A V-shaped recovery is pointing to better than 20 percent growth in the second half of this year!”

Data from various sources confirms Kudlow’s optimism: American consumers spent more than expected in July, with spending up by 1.9 percent. Forecasters were predicting 1.5 percent.

Personal income grew by 0.4 percent in July, surprising forecasters. U.S. manufacturers grew more than forecasters were expecting in July, with the manufacturing index published by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) rising to

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Survey: Most U.S. Companies Planning to Give Salary Increases and Bonuses Next Year

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, August 28, 2020: 

Workers at most of the nation’s employers can expect a three percent salary increase next year as the economy continue to improve, according to a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. companies.

The survey by Willis Towers Watson, a global advisory company, said that three out of four of them will also be granting bonuses, averaging from six to 11 percent.

This is the topping on the cake of good news that continues to show that

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High-tax States Continue to Lose High-income Individuals

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, August 24, 2020: 

The latest edition of “Rich States, Poor States,” published by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), reported that once again New York and California are at or near the very bottom of the states based on the exodus of citizens seeking lower-tax environs. It’s as if the tax-and-spend politicians are unacquainted with Aesop’s Fable, “The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs.”

That’s especially true in California, where politicians have just put forth proposals for the nation’s very first “wealth tax” to be levied not on income, but on an individual’s total net worth, no matter where it is held.

As the summary of AB 2088, offered on August 13 by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, a Democrat from Oakland, says, the tax would be applied to the entire net worth of about 30,400 Californians, “raising approximately $7.5 billion annually. The tax takes into account all assets and liabilities held by an individual, globally, capturing the immense levels of accumulated wealth held by the top 0.1% or Californians.”

Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, another Democrat representing Los Angeles, presented Assembly Bill 1253, which would

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Stocks Hit New Highs on Tuesday, Marking Third-fastest Recovery Since 1929

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, August 19, 2020: 

Two of the three major market indexes closed at record highs on Tuesday, marking the end of the bear market and making it the third-fastest recovery since the Great Depression.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index lost 34 percent of its value between February 19 and March 23. Since then, it has gained it all back and now shows a gain for the year. That five-month recovery is the third-fastest since 1929.

The Nasdaq has also rebounded, setting new highs, while the Dow remains a scant five percent away from a full recovery from the COVID shutdown.

Tech stocks have driven the recovery, including GAFAM

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Trump Administration Opens ANWR for Oil, Gas Leasing; Green Groups to Challenge

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, August 18, 2020:  

Energy Secretary David Bernhardt signed a Record of Decision on Monday to open a tiny part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to leasing. Auctions could take place before the end of the year, said Bernhardt, adding, “Congress directed us to hold lease sales in the ANWR Coastal Plain, and we have taken a significant step in meeting our obligations by determining where and under what conditions the oil and gas development program will occur.”

Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy was pleased: “Today’s announcement marks a milestone in Alaska’s 40-year journey to responsibly develop our state and our nation’s new energy frontier.” Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski called it “a capstone moment in our decades-long push to allow for the responsible development of a small part of Alaska’s 1002 area.” Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan said, “Today, we are one step closer to securing a bright future for these Alaskans and their families.”

That “1002 Area” is indeed tiny: Just 2,000 acres would be developed out of the more than 19-million-acre ANWR on the North Slope of Alaska. Development of that area was approved as part of the Trump administration’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. It could eventually provide as much as 10 billion barrels of crude oil.

To put that into perspective, Saudi Arabia’s Aramco has proven reserves of

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Producer and Consumer Prices Jumped in July Much More Than Expected

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, August 12, 2020: 

Prices for goods and services at both the producer and the consumer levels jumped far above forecasts in July. The CPI jumped 0.6 percent (an annual rate of more than seven percent — double the rate economists had predicted and the biggest monthly jump since 1991), while the PPI clocked in at 0.8 percent (an annual rate of nearly 10 percent).

Are these harbingers of the coming tsunami of price increases based on the huge jump in the money supply reported by the Fed? Or are they just a blip on the screen, as Bloomberg’s Conor Sen suggested?

Sen tried to soothe concerns, writing that

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National Debt Projected to Hit $41 Trillion by 2030

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, August 12, 2020: 

If the Manhattan Institute is correct, the national debt will reach $41 trillion no later than 2030, less than 10 years from now. Their calculations take into account the budget deficits baked into the numbers before the COVID crisis hit, the stimulus packages initiated since, the impact of an aging demographic on Social Security and Medicare, falling tax revenues due to a smaller economy, and rising interest rates.

Said the institute:

Over the full decade, the coronavirus recession is expected to add nearly $8 trillion to the national debt, pushing the debt held by the public to $41 trillion within a decade, or 128% of the economy….

 

This gives lawmakers six years or less to avert a potential debt crisis in which rising debt and interest costs would overwhelm Washington’s ability to tax and borrow.

Two key questions arise:

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ADP’s Disappointing July Jobs Report Offset by June’s Upward Revision

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, August 5, 2020:  

ADP’s National Employment Report was a massive miss. Most private economists were expecting job growth in July to approach two million, as the economy continues to recover from the COVID shutdown. Instead, ADP reported just 167,000 new jobs were created in July.

The miss, however, is likely to be offset when the Department of Labor reports on Friday, with expectations that it will show July job growth more in line with expectations of about two million.

ADP’s miss was also softened by its revision upward of June’s jobs numbers, from the 2.4 million new jobs it reported last month to 4.3 million as more accurate data became available.

Its miss is also counterbalanced by

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Republicans Registering Thousands More Voters Than Democrats in Battleground States

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, August 5, 2020: 

In a report released by the Trump Victory committee exclusively to Axios on Monday, Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC) said, “As enthusiasm for President Trump continues to grow, so does the Republican Party. Over 100,000 new voters are ready to cast their ballot for four more years of President Trump’s ‘Promises Made, Promises Kept’ agenda, and elect Republicans up and down the ballot on November 3rd.”

Despite the COVID shutdown, the report showed that those newly registered voters are more than double the number at the same stage of the election cycle in 2016.

The Democratic advantage in Pennsylvania has been lessened by 133,000 voters since 2016, and 87,000 voters in Florida. The Democrat’s net advantage in North Carolina, Arizona, and Iowa has also shrunk significantly.

This is more evidence of the president’s accelerating momentum as Election Day draws closer. On Monday, for example, a survey taken by Rasmussen Reports show that the president has the approval of more than half of likely voters in November, way ahead of the 44-percent approval rate of then-President Obama at the same time during his first term, August 3, 2012.

More revealing from the Rasmussen survey is that Trump has the approval of 30 percent of likely Democrat voters, 49 percent of likely Independent voters, and perhaps most importantly, 48 percent of likely Black voters. Among other “non-white” likely voters, Trump’s approval rate is 63 percent.

While these numbers may not translate directly into votes in November, it is one more indicator of Trump’s momentum.

As The New American reported last Friday,

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New Jersey Gym Owners Defy Court Order, Break Open Doors Shuttered by State

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Sunday, August 2, 2020: 

Following their arrest and release last Monday, Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti, the owners of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, New Jersey, were scolded by a spokesman for New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal:

After Atilis refused to comply with multiple citations and Superior Court orders, including a contempt-of-court order issued [the previous] Friday, today [Monday] law enforcement entered the premises to ensure closure and to abate public health risks.

 

As the attorney general previously said, the state wishes it had not come to this, but the gym refused to comply even with a contempt order.

Smith told the Washington Examiner that he and Trumbetti have been singled out by the governor:

We’re being targeted. It’s very clear that he’s on a mission to destroy our business because we dared to defy him.

 

There are plenty of other businesses that are open and operating just like we are [who are] defying the shutdown. But Governor Murphy has a personal vendetta against us, and it couldn’t be more clear than it is today….

 

We’re the only business in the state to be punished in a way that we have, including locking our doors and changing our locks on us, arresting us and boarding up our doors. So it’s very clear that he is on a mission to get us.

This triggered a response from the governor, who Tweeted on Friday: “We are not past COVID 19. I am not announcing any specific action today [against the owners], but consider this as being put on-notice: we will not tolerate these devil-may-care, nonchalant attitudes any more.”

After kicking in the plywood sheets that the sheriff’s office had installed, Smith took to Instagram not only to publish a video of the event but to respond to Murphy’s tweet:

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Media Say Economy Plunged in Second Quarter, Fail to Tell Whole Story

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, July 30, 2020:

The mainstream media, continuing its ongoing war against the Trump administration, celebrated the latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released on Thursday with headlines that shouted “titanic plunge,” “deepest recession in American history,” “tidal wave of damage,” “a collapse of breathtaking speed and severity,” “devastating,” and so forth.

The media seem to be taking their cue from the (allegedly fake) deleted Tweet from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.): “It’s vital that Governors maintain restrictions on businesses until after the November Elections because economic recovery will help Trump be re-elected. A few business closures or job losses is a small price to pay for be free from his presidency #KeepUsClosed.”

In our effort to provide balance, The New American continues to report on an economy that is recovering more rapidly than many observers predicted.

First, the BEA report is an “advance” report. A second estimate, ”based on more complete data,” will be released by the BEA on August 27, a month from now.

That “advance” report from the BEA was better than forecasters had predicted. Economists polled by MarketWatch estimated 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.
Copyright © 2020 Bob Adelmann