Desperation

With his legacy mostly erased, and more of it on the way after the current temporary interruption—an outcome ex-President Barack Obama (D) will thank us for in the fullness of time and his clearer understanding—Obama is desperate to preserve such of it as he can with his revisionist history.

Former President Barack Obama on Tuesday took credit for the boom in US oil and gas production, saying, “That was me, people.”

Of course, it was.  His sequestration of Federal lands and offshore fields from oil and gas exploration with his slow-walking of the necessary permits were instrumental in triggering the boom.

Paying for Groceries

A farm bill is wending its way through Congress, finally, as the House and Senate have agreed to a common version.  What’s in this version?  Good question.

Lawmakers for months have been deeply divided over the farm bill, which funds crop insurance and farm subsidies, as well as programs to help low-income people pay for groceries.

But these…lawmakers…won’t talk publicly about the details of their compromise.

“We Need to Decide”

So says President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China.

Speaking in Spain while enroute to the G-20 conference in Argentina, Xi said

I think we are at a crossroads. In economic terms we need to decide if we are going to follow the economic globalization and free market or if we are going to choose unilateralism and protectionism.

Foreign Aid to Whom?

The United Nations’ Central Emergency Response Fund has, with Venezuelan President Nicolas Madura’s permission (recipient nations’ permissions are required for CERF funds release), sent $9.2 million in emergency humanitarian aid to…someone…in Venezuela.  The money is intended to mitigate Venezuela’s medicine and food shortage crisis which stems from the Venezuelan government’s failure to perform.

In addition, the UN’s International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) is expanding its aid for Venezuela.  UNICEF already has delivered…to someone…nearly 130 tons of medicine, health, and nutrition supplies for 350,000 women and children just since August.

The UN has not said to whom it sent these goodies, only for whom they’re intended.

Russia and Ukraine

Over the weekend, Russia has decided to block Ukraine’s access to the Sea of Azov from the Black Sea; it’s placed a cargo ship under the Kerch Strait Bridge, which Russia completed earlier this year to give it direct land access from Russia to Russian-occupied Crimea, and Russia has military helicopters orbiting above the bridge.  The Kerch Strait is a bit under 2,000 feet wide where the bridge sits.

A Judge’s Ruling on Female Genital Mutilation

Charges related to female genital mutilation were dismissed last week against Detroit doctor Jumana Nagarwala, who has a history of performing such “surgeries.”  Federal District Judge Bernard Friedman, of the Eastern District of Michigan, ruled that Congress had overstepped its authority in passing a law banning this FGM.

Sadly, the judge was right.  That law, passed in 1996, was done under our Constitution’s Commerce Clause, which authorizes Congress to regulate interstate commerce (along with trade with foreign nations and with the Indian Tribes).

However, Friedman wrote,

Volatility in the Market

Some folks worry about the return of turbulence—their term—to stock market pricing.

Market turbulence is leading some investors to call on the Federal Reserve to halt its campaign of interest rate increases….

No need.  The Fed needs to get its benchmark rates back to levels historically consistent with its goal of 2% inflation instead of its heretofore artificially suppressed rates.  It’s getting close, but the Fed isn’t there yet—it has a couple-three more rate increases yet to go.

EU Counterproductive Meddling

Italy is standing tall on its budget for the next fiscal year, despite the European Union’s disapproval of it.

The EU Commission has again rejected Italy’s proposed budget on Wednesday, paving the way for financial sanctions to be applied in the next few months.

The specific bone of contention centers, mostly, on projected budget deficits as a per cent of GDP.  The Italian budget deficit works out to 2.4% of GDP, the Italians say, which is well within the 3.0% EU limit; however, the EU Knows Better: the Commission claims the deficit will exceed 3.0% by 2020.  Whom to believe….

There Goes the Neighborhood

The EU has decided to put a lid on the cost of phone calls.

The European Parliament has approved new telecommunications rules that will cap prices of intra-EU phone calls….

And those Parliamentarians are proud of themselves for this.  MEP Constanze Krehl, who speaks for the German Social Democratic Party on matters related to telecommunications:

It was high time to cap the sometimes outrageous prices for international calls in the EU[.]

Just like rent controls, though, this will serve only to stifle maintenance and improvement.  Quality will lag and eventually go outright downhill as the cost of providing the service eats more and more into the revenue—now maxed out—gained from providing it.

No Nation is an Island

That’s the concern of The Wall Street Journal in one of its Thursday editorials.

President Trump’s biggest achievement has been the revival of faster US economic growth, but past performance is no guarantee of future results. The White House should be worried about growing economic strains in the rest of the world, and policy makers need to prepare. The US is not an island.

The WSJ went on to note that the Germany economy shrank 0.2% in the last quarter, the Japanese economy shrank by 0.3% in the same quarter, and the PRC’s economy “only” grew by 6.5% year-on-year in the same quarter.  The WSJ particularly worried about the German auto industry.