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: Politics

“Modern Monetary Theory” Will Pay for AOC’s Green New Deal

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, February 18, 2019: 

Stephanie Kelton, professor of public policy and economics at Stony Brook University, served as an advisor to Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. She gave similar advice to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as she was preparing to be sworn in as a member of the House of Representatives: You can have it all!

Writing in the Huffington Post last November, Kelton said:

We have the outline of a plan. We need a mass mobilization of people and resources, something not unlike the U.S. involvement in World War II or the Apollo moon missions — but even bigger. We must transform our energy system, transportation, housing, agriculture and more.

 

What we don’t (yet) have is the final, vital ingredient — a critical mass of politicians prepared to unleash the enormous power of the public purse to save the planet.

To Kelton’s way of thinking, the only thing standing in the way of spending billions the government doesn’t have to solve problems many think don’t exist, is to change just how we think about the federal budget: “To save the planet and fix historical inequities … we must change the way we approach the federal budget. We must give up our obsession with trying to ‘pay for’ everything with new revenue or spending cuts.”

It starts with discarding that old canard about how inflation

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China Holds “Debt Renegotiation” Talks With Maduro’s Opponent

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, February 13, 2019:  

Publicly, Russia and China continue to support Venezuela’s embattled Marxist leader, Nicolás Maduro. But privately they are moving to cut their losses as his exit appears more likely and more imminent.

Right after President Trump announced White House support for Maduro’s opponent, Juan Guaidó, Russian President Vladimir Putin called Maduro to express his support. At the same time, Putin said that Trump’s “destructive external interference is a gross violation of the fundamental norms of international law.”

A few days,

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3D Gun Software Developer Sues New Jersey’s AG Over His Attack on Its First Amendment Rights

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, February 8, 2019:

Cody Wilson, the founder of Defense Distributed (which provides firearm-related software for 3D printers), was delighted when the Department of Justice relented last July in its attempt to shut him and his company down. Without fanfare the DOJ not only settled with Cody and his company, it agreed to pay a large part of his legal fees as well.

Cody celebrated and then put his people back to work on developing more software for firearms enthusiasts, saying: “I have developers for anything and everything, some of the best talent in the world.… It’s all ready to go. I have interested stakeholders [and] a large network [of supporters who] care about what I do.”

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal did not share in Cody’s victory. Instead he launched an attack on Wilson, his company, and the website that hosted his software. He frequently threatened Wilson publicly, declaring he would “come and get” him, and would “stop him” from exercising his newly resurrected First Amendment rights to freedom of speech over the Internet.

Grewal upped the ante on February 2 by sending this letter to Wilson’s company’s webhost Cloudfare:

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Cuomo the Politician Blames Trump for His State’s Financial Troubles

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, February 6, 2019: 

One skill Governor Andrew Cuomo has perfected is that of projection: placing the blame for his troubles onto his enemy. He did that on Monday when explaining that his state’s revenue shortfall of $2.8 billion was due to Trump’s tax reform:

There is no doubt that the budget we put forward [$175 billion for fiscal year 2019-20] is not supported by the revenues. It’s as serious as a heart attack….

 

SALT [which capped deductions for state income and local property taxes for the wealthy in Trump’s tax reform act] was an economic civil war. It literally restructured the economy to help red [Republican] states at the cost of blue [Democrat] states.

 

That’s exactly what it did. It was a diabolical, political maneuver.

Naturally New York State’s onerous taxes had nothing to do with it. Cuomo even said that what he did in extending the temporary “millionaires’ tax” following the financial crisis a decade ago was “the right thing” to do.

In other words Cuomo

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New York Governor Cuomo Blames Exodus of Wealthy on Trump

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, February 5, 2019: 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo blamed his state’s revenue shortfall of $2.8 billion on Donald Trump during a press conference on Monday, stating,

There is no doubt that the budget we put forward [$175 billion for fiscal year 2019-20] is not supported by the revenues. It’s as serious as a heart attack….

 

SALT [which capped deductions for state income and local property taxes for the wealthy in Trump’s tax reform act] was an economic civil war. It literally restructured the economy to help red [Republican] states at the cost of blue [Democrat] states.

 

That’s exactly what it did. It was a diabolical, political maneuver.

Cuomo could have accepted the blame for the state’s ongoing exodus (out-migration) of wealthy individuals by pinning the blame where it belonged: on his state’s increasingly unfavorable environment for them thanks to its high taxes. Instead, he said he did the right thing by extending the temporary “millionaires’ tax” levied following the financial crisis a decade ago, and signing into law a bill raising sales tax rates to 8.82 percent.

In other words,

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Most of America’s Largest Cities Can’t Pay Their Bills, Says Truth in Accounting

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, February 1, 2019: 

The latest report from Truth in Accounting (TIA), a non-profit that peers behind the financial reports issued by the states and 75 of the largest cities in America, reveals that 63 of those cities don’t have enough money to pay their bills. Even if they liquidated every asset on their balance sheets, taxpayers in those cities would still have to ante up the difference. In some cases, those differences are into six and seven figures.

TIA then rates those cities on the basis of just how much taxpayers would owe if they tried to pay all of their bills. Out of the 75 cities reviewed, only 12 have enough on hand to pay all their bills.

There’s an interactive graph available to show the details, if one dares to know, behind TIA’s conclusions.

TIA also grades each city from A to F depending upon that “taxpayer burden.” There are no “A”s. There are only 12 “B”s. The rest are rated C to F.

TIA staffers really had to dig behind the public numbers in order to determine just how bad some of the financial conditions are. From the report:

At the end of the FY 2017, 63 cities did not have enough money to pay all of their bills. This means that to balance the budget, elected officials have not included the true costs of the government in their budget calculations and have pushed costs onto future taxpayers.

Two cities, Newark and Jersey City, were so far out of compliance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) in the reporting of their financial conditions that TIA was forced to add two other cities in their place to complete their study.

Added TIA:

Cities in general do not have enough money to pay their bills. Based on our analysis, the total unfunded debt among the 75 most populous cities amounts to nearly $330 billion. Most of this debt comes from unfunded retiree benefit promises, such as pension and retiree healthcare debt.

 

This year, pension debt accounts for $189.1 billion, and other post-employment benefits — mainly retiree healthcare liabilities — totaled $139.2 billion.

Many of the cities hide the reality from the public in order to make their financials look better:

One of the ways the cities help make their budgets look balanced is by shortchanging public pension funds….

 

Some elected officials have used portions of the money that is owed to pension funds to keep taxes low and pay for politically popular programs.… Instead of funding promised benefits now, they have been charged to future taxpayers.

 

Shifting the payment of employee benefits to future taxpayers allows the budget to appear balanced, while municipal debt is increasing.

TIA refers to those 12 cities with enough money to pay their bills as “Sunshine Cities” which, surprisingly, include two in California: Irvine and Fresno. On a per-taxpayer basis, Irvine has $4,400 surplus per taxpayer, while Fresno has a $2,500 surplus.

Not surprisingly, however, is that among the “Sinkhole Cities” where the taxpayer burden is overwhelming is California’s San Francisco, where that burden is $22,600.

TIA includes commentary on three of the worst “Sinkhole Cities”: San Francisco, Chicago, and, bringing up the rear, New York City.

San Francisco:

 

San Francisco remains one of the Bottom 5 Sinkhole Cities with a Taxpayer Burden of $22,600. However, this burden decreased by $4,900 compared to the previous year as unfunded pension debt declined by $592 million thanks to income earned on pension plan assets.

Chicago:

 

Chicago’s finances seemingly improved, but the city continues to have the second worst financial condition among the 75 most populous U.S. cities. A recent law that requires Chicago to increase its contributions to municipal pension plans led actuaries to raise the percentage rate used to determine the current value of promised benefits, which reduced the unfunded pension debt calculation by $7.8 billion.

Note: This is called “cooking the books,” a non-accounting term for fraudulent manipulation of numbers on paper to make things look better than they are.

New York City ranks dead last:

New York City again ranks last for fiscal health because of its massive and growing debts. The city’s finances continue to deteriorate as the amount of unfunded retiree health care promises balloons. NYC has set aside only $4.7 billion to fund the $100.6 billion of promised retiree health care benefits.

There are budgetary shenanigans even in Wyoming, which TIA rates as an “A” for the prudent handling of its finances. On the surface it shows a taxpayer “surplus” of $19,600, but in a footnote TIA writes, “The state is still hiding $564.3 million of its retiree health care debt. A new accounting standard will be implemented in the 2018 fiscal year which will require states to report this debt on the balance sheet.”

Caution is advised for those wanting to use TIA’s interactive map to learn how their city fares under TIA’s accounting microscope. Caution is also advised when considering Cory Booker’s announcement of his run for the presidency on Friday. He is the former mayor of Newark, New Jersey. Then again, if he wins, he’ll certainly feel right at home with how the federal government runs its own books.

Messages From Maduro’s Military Posturing

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, January 30, 2019:

The hosting of a parade of Russian military hardware in Caracas on Sunday by Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro delivered at least three messages: 1) I am in charge here; 2) With the help of my Russian, Chinese, and Cuban friends, that is; and 3) No tyranny remains in power very long unless it is maintained by force or the threat of force.

The show was enhanced with tank rounds being fired into a nearby hillside and by Maduro exclaiming, “Nobody respects the weak, cowards [or] traitors. In this world what’s respected is the brave, the courageous [and] power.” It was further enhanced with video of soldiers kneeling before the dictator and Maduro bellowing “Are you coup plotters?” and their response: “No!”

These messages were delivered after the defection of Colonel Jose Luis Silva, Maduro’s Washington attaché for the last five years. He told Reuters on Saturday that “the top brass of the military and the executive branch are holding the armed forces hostage. There are many, many, who are unhappy.”

And then he addressed them directly:

Enough! Leave aside the illegal control of our territory and the executive power. The leaders have become millionaires on the backs of the people. Captains, commanders: think about everyone who suffers. Don’t forget that your wives also can’t find milk for your children. Don’t forget that your mothers and fathers also can’t find pills for their [high blood] pressure.

 

Enough already! Let’s recognize the man who, under the law, is the true president of Venezuela, Juan Guaido.

The pressure on Maduro to step down continues to mount despite his claims that he has the unflinching and complete support of his military. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed a special session of the United Nations Security Council on Saturday where he described Maduro as part of an “illegitimate mafia state” and asking the members to join the United States in recognizing Guaido as the country’s only legitimate interim president. Pompeo minced no words: “Now it is time for every other nation to pick a side. No more delays, no more games. Either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you’re in league with Maduro and his mayhem.”

Pompeo denounced both China and Russia by name, accusing them of “propping up a failed regime in the hopes of recovering billions of dollars in ill-considered investments and assistance made over the years.”

President Trump’s recognition of Guaido has already been supported by many Latin American countries, including Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina. Following Pompeo’s demand, Britain, France, and Germany got in line as well.

Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, pushed back: [The] U.S. has now stated that all options are on the table which is … dangerous. If it evolves into something more military, that is even more regretful. We think it should be avoided at any cost.”

European Union members met Saturday to discuss the crisis after which they issued a statement that called for “the urgent holding of free, transparent and credible presidential elections.” The statement hinted that the EU could recognize Guaido if Maduro didn’t announce new elections promptly.

Guaido celebrated the developments, telling a rally in Caracas on Sunday, “We have the EU support. They took a firm step toward our fight for democracy.”

Students of history noted his use of the word “democracy” as a goal to be achieved rather than a danger to be avoided. Those same students wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Guaido has a long history of supporting the socialist impulse. He is a member of Venezuela’s Popular Will party, which is a full member of the Socialist International. That gaggle of left-wing political parties has as its goal the establishment of democratic socialism around the world.

Not surprisingly Guaido, in preparing to take Maduro’s place, is proposing to grant amnesty to Maduro as part of his transition to the presidency. This was noted by Rafael Valera, the communications director of the Venezuelan campaign group Rumbo Libertad:

Guaido is a member of the Socialist International.… Guaido’s Popular Will party has also supported dialogue with Maduro in the past and has called the Venezuelan population to participate in the rigged elections.

 

They are also proposing that dangerous Chavistas be part of the transition, continuing their systematic impunity. They want to pardon mercenaries, criminals, and prominent Chavistas like [former minister] Miguel Rodríguez Torres, [former state oil company head] Rafael Ramírez or [former prosecutor general] Luisa Ortega Díaz.

 

Guaidó’s party can tell us, by its background, that it doesn’t want to really tear the Communist system down but to give more life to it.

That’s the final lesson that Maduro’s posturing in Caracas on Sunday teaches: Socialism not only destroys the price system that allows a free market to operate, thus making way for government controls; it also destroys the culture of independence and morality that grows out of a free market. Guaido’s ascension to Venezuela’s presidency raises the question: How will a new suit occupying that office be any better than the old?

Ninth Circuit Could Lose Its Liberal Lustre Under Trump

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, January 21, 2019: 

President Donald Trump has the opportunity to turn the Ninth Circuit from blue to red before the end of his first term. In October, after months of fruitless negotiating with California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, the president finally gave up and nominated three conservative judges from the Federalist Society to fill three of the six vacancies on the court.

Not only is the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals the largest in the country, covering nine states including Hawaii and Alaska, it is arguably the most liberal in its rulings. More than 80 percent of them, when reviewed by the Supreme Court, are reversed. Of its 29 judgeships, 16 were nominated by Democrat presidents, while only seven by Republicans.

But Trump has already filled two open slots,

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Bankers to Take Massive Haircut in Proposed Puerto Rican Bankruptcy Settlement

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, January 21, 2019:  

The judge sorting out the Puerto Rican bankruptcy got it right. Said Judge Laura Taylor Swain (appointed to the position by Chief Justice John Roberts back in 2017): “There is no decision that can perfectly reconcile all concerns.”

That’s an understatement. The primary revenue source to pay interest on Puerto Rico’s $74 billion in debt is the island’s sales tax. There are barely three million citizens living on the island, and almost 85 percent of them live in poverty. So the sales tax revenue stream comes primarily from tourists [Correction: most of the sales tax – 11.5 percent! – is borne by the locals]. It turns out that that revenue stream has been overcommitted, some of it illegally, in order to support the government’s profligate spending.

All Swain has to do is

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Investors Holding Puerto Rican Bonds Are About to Learn Important Lessons

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, January 21, 2019:

Bond investors trusting big dog Wall Street bankers like Goldman Sachs are about to learn (or relearn) at least two very important lessons: 1) don’t trust them; and 2) don’t assume the U.S. government will bail you out if things go south.

Like they are in Puerto Rico.

The island’s debt crisis dates back to 1973 when

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Opening Salvo Calling for Trump’s Impeachment Launched by The Atlantic

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, January 18, 2019:  

The Atlantic magazine launched the first official establishment impeachment broadside against the president on Thursday. Authored by the magazine’s political editor Yoni Appelbaum, the article charged that the president “has mounted a concerted challenge to the separation of powers, to the rule of law, and to the civil liberties enshrined in our founding documents. He has purposefully inflamed America’s divisions. He has set himself against the American idea, the principle that all of us — of every race, gender, and creed — are created equal.”

One might question Appelbaum’s understanding of those “founding documents,” but at least his magazine is consistent: It hates Donald Trump and wants him removed or so damaged politically that he cannot complete more of his agenda.

Back in 2016 the magazine, for only the third time in its 162-year history, endorsed a candidate (Hillary Clinton) for president. But it wasn’t an endorsement of Clinton so much as a repudiation of Trump:

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Maurice Strong’s History is the Kiss of Death in Proposed Takeover of a US Utility by a Canadian “Green Energy” Company

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, January 14, 2019:  

When the political activist group “Avista Customer Group” was explaining to its readers why it opposed the takeover of Avista Corporation, the largest energy supplier in the Pacific Northwest, by Hydro One, a Canadian utility, it included the following reason:

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Birchers, Activists Stop Canadian Takeover of U.S. Energy Company

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, January 14, 2019:  

In December, Washington State’s Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) denied approval of the proposed takeover of the Pacific Northwest’s largest energy company by a Toronto-based electric utility. It declared that Ontario’s Hydro One couldn’t be trusted to keep Avista’s customers from becoming political pawns in the climate-change game if the $6 billion merger were allowed to take place: “In the final analysis the Commission determines that the evidence demonstrates that Hydro One lacks sufficient independence from … its largest shareholder, the Province of Canada, to be a reasonable and appropriate merger partner for Avista.”

The back story is far more complex, but

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How Long Will Venezuela’s Maduro Stay in Power?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, January 11, 2019: 

Now that the Marxist president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, has inaugurated himself for a second six-year term, questions are being raised about how he managed to accomplish this while others are asking just how long he is likely to remain in power.

The New York Times asked “So How Did Maduro Secure a Second Term?” on Thursday and then answered its own question: through terror, violence, and military oppression. He long ago destroyed whatever was left of a free market economy through price controls, rationing, and currency destruction. Now he is focused on using all the tools at his disposal to remain in power.

That includes arrests and torture of suspected dissidents even in the military, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW):

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Rosenstein’s Reasons for Leaving Are Plausible but Incomplete

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, January 9, 2019: 

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that, based on information from a “person familiar with his thinking,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will shortly depart the Department of Justice, where he has served since 2017.

The Journal listed five reasons for his departure, each of them plausible, but leaving unreported a long list of real reasons.

First, said the Journal,

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Jon Caldera’s Noisy Defiance of Boulder’s Gun Ban is Costing Him

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, January 7, 2019: 

When the Boulder City Council unanimously passed a law banning possession of “assault” rifles, large magazines, and “bump stocks” last May, they likely knew it wouldn’t go down well with the pro-gun crowd. What they didn’t know was that they would be setting off a firestorm by pushing around the wrong guy: Jon Caldera.

As this writer noted here last month, Caldera, a popular radio show host and head of Denver’s Independence Institute, told the Boulder pols to take a hike:

My hometown of Boulder is about to define me as a criminal if I do not disarm or move.

 

Let this column [which appeared in the Denver Post] serve as public notice: I will not comply….

 

Let it be known, like those who refused to go to the back of the bus, I will not surrender or destroy my guns, nor will I place my name on the government watch list.

Since then a lot of water has passed under the bridge.

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Left Ramps Up Attacks on Lead Plaintiff in Lawsuit Against Boulder Gun Law

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, January 7, 2019:  

The day after Boulder enacted its anti-gun law in May banning “assault” rifles, large-capacity magazines and “bump stocks,” Jon Caldera joined with the Boulder (Colorado) Rifle Club, a member of the University of Colorado Shooting Team, and others to file suit against it.

The suit claimed the law violated numerous federal, state, and local laws, and for that Caldera and his school-age daughter are taking heat. Caldera said his daughter has been bullied at her school, “[You know,] the one with posters celebrating tolerance and diversity all over its walls.” Both teachers and students have “ganged up on her,” telling her that “her father is a murderer.”

Added Caldera:

I have a fifteen-year old daughter who’s already been bullied about this at school. She’s been yelled at; she’s been called a murderer.

 

My son has Down syndrome so he doesn’t understand this, but my daughter doesn’t want me to go to jail.

 

I’m concerned about the people I love being taunted because we’re a political minority.

The suit’s language was clear as well as combative:

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Fed Head Powell Admits He Has Accomplished His Purpose: Stopping Trump

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, January 4, 2019: 

If you stop Trump’s economy, you stop Trump. This is more and more clearly the policy of the Federal Reserve under its temporary head, Jerome Powell. Temporary because the Fed, now more than 100 years old, is the bastard child of the international banking establishment and its authority is granted only temporarily to its chairman.

The Fed’s job is to slow the Trump economy to the point where it becomes a liability for his reelection campaign in 2020 instead of an asset. How do we know this? In Powell’s Q and A following the announcement that the central bank was raising interest rates by another 25 basis points on December 19, he was asked a question about the “runoff” of bonds that it has been engaging in for months now, sucking capital out of the financial markets. Asked Heather Long of the Washington Post: “I’m wondering if the Fed has had any discussion of altering the course of the balance sheet normalization and if you could give us any thoughts on what might lead the FOMC to alter that balance sheet normalization in 2019?”

Responded Powell:

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Following Great Jobs Report, Fed Chair Says He’ll Be “Patient” Before Raising Rates Further

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, January 4, 2018: 

The jobs report issued by the Department of Labor on Friday was unequivocally positive. Every sector of the economy, save one, saw robust gains in employment, with 312,000 new jobs created in December beating forecasters’ predictions by 30,000 jobs. In addition, the DOL revised October’s and November’s numbers upward by 58,000 jobs. Even the rise in the unemployment rate from a record low of 3.7 percent to 3.9 percent was explained by the number of new people entering the job market.

The number of unemployed workers dropped by 300,000 over the last 12 months, while the labor participation rate jumped. Wages improved as well

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As Economy Slows, Bond Investors Say Fed Won’t Raise Rates

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, January 3, 2019:  

A month ago, bond investors were predicting that the Fed would be raising interest rates several times in 2019. As the economy is now clearly slowing, those same investors are predicting the Fed has now done its job and won’t be raising rates in the New Year. Said the Wall Street Journal:

Fed-funds futures, which investors use to bet on the direction of Fed policy, on Wednesday showed a 91% probability that the central bank’s policy makers will finish the year [2019] with interest rates at or below their current levels.

 

That is a reversal from early November, when futures prices indicated a 90% probability that rates would end 2019 higher than they are now.

The latest report from the Institute of Supply Management merely confirmed that slowing economy, with its manufacturing survey published on Thursday coming in below forecasters’ expectations (which were below October’s).

The New American has been tracking and noting the slowing of the U.S. economy that has been established policy at the Fed for many months now. In November we noted 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 © 2018 Bob Adelmann