PRC Local Debt

The Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress imposed a 600 billion yuan limit on the direct debt local governments are allowed to run up this year, the official Xinhua News Agency said late Saturday. That would be on top of 15.4 trillion yuan on debt owed by local governments as of the end of 2014, Xinhua said.

That works out to about $2.5 trillion in total local debt across the country. There’s no word on how the NPC, or any other part of the central government, intends to enforce that limit. No more fudging the economic data by the locals, perhaps? That’s where it would have to begin. But then what? Fire the local government employees—or better, enroll them in one of Xi’s reeducation programs? Terminate local services? Raise taxes? Some more?

Much Ado about Nothing

Many traders reported difficulty buying and selling exchange-traded funds, a popular investment in which baskets of stocks and other assets are packaged to facilitate easy trading. Dozens of ETFs traded at sharp discounts to their net asset value—or their components’ worth—leading to outsize losses for investors who entered sell orders at the depth of the panic.

Products built to provide insurance for investors came up short. As a result of trading halts in futures tied to the S&P 500 index, it was difficult for investors to get consistent prices on contracts linked to them that offer insurance against S&P 500 declines.

EPA’s Orwellian Transparency

Congressman Lamar Smith (R, TX), Chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, is unhappy with the EPA’s decision to be unresponsive to Committee requests for information regarding the EPA-caused disaster in and downriver from a Colorado mine.

It is disappointing, but not surprising, that the EPA failed to meet the House Science Committee’s reasonable deadline in turning over documents pertaining to the Gold King Mine spill. These documents are essential to the Committee’s ongoing investigation and our upcoming hearing on Sept 9. But more importantly, this information matters to the many Americans directly affected in western states, who are still waiting for answers from the EPA.

Panicky Central Planners

…and maybe pundits, too.

For the Federal Reserve, the aftershocks threaten to set back its path to interest-rate normality yet again….

That’s how Alex Frangos and Justin Lahart opened their Wall Street Journal piece Monday, writing of the People’s Republic of China’s (second in a month) “market” meltdown last week and with it the demonstration by the PRC’s economic central planners and their panicky twitchings with interest rates, bank reserve requirements, market interventions, and the like that, once again, central planning cannot seriously impact economies for longer than the moment.

There’s a Hint Here

Boeing Co is scrambling to renegotiate an about $85 million satellite contract that became the first big casualty of the US Export-Import Bank’s loss of its operating charter due to congressional opposition.

Asia Broadcast Satellite last month terminated its order for a Boeing 702SP satellite, although the two say they are continuing to discuss the deal.

On the other hand,

SpaceX played down the threat, and said only two of the 50 launches in its current manifest were due to be backed by the bank.


Government Intervention

The Shanghai Composite Index closed [Wednesday] 1.2% higher, having earlier fallen as much as 5%. The turnaround came after a number of companies disclosed that state-backed companies were among their top shareholders….

Of course.

Still want to “invest” in the PRC?

The Fed’s Error

Many observers have called for the FOMC to tighten monetary policy by raising interest rates in the near term. But such a course would create profound economic risks for the US economy. Why would a near-term tightening of monetary policy be so problematic? Because given the prevailing economic conditions, higher interest rates would push the economy away from the FOMC’s economic goals, not toward them.

Blunder or Opportunity?

Russia has filed a claim for some 463,000 square miles of Arctic Sea “coastal” shelf, extending more than 350 nautical from Russia’s Arctic Sea shore. Russia intends to exploit the vast oil and natural gas deposits below the sea floor.

Senator Dan Sullivan (R, AK) thinks has demurred, thinking this in combination with Russian military force transfers into its northwest coupled with our own military drawdown is a “strategic blunder.”

Aside from Russia’s land claim and the military contrast not being particularly related to each other, Sullivan is badly overstating the implications of Russia’s seabed claim before the UN. In fact, this is a vast opportunity for us, did we have an administration astute enough to take advantage of it.

The FTC Misunderstands

The Federal Trade Commission in its 100-year history has never agreed on formal principles for policing companies engaged in “unfair” competition. That looks set to change.

Members of the FTC are close to a bipartisan agreement to lay out for the first time how the commission views its authority to bring cases against businesses it believes compete unfairly, according to people familiar with the deliberations.

Democrats and Planned Parenthood

The Senate failed a cloture vote on a bill related to one already passed by the House that would have diverted some $550 billion of American taxpayer money from Planned Parenthood and sent it, instead, to a number of other women’s health facilities around the country, facilities that don’t do abortions. The bill would have preserved access to health care for women who need it and don’t have, for instance, the economic resources to get it. As a result of the failure, the bill is near death—Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, KY) voted against it when it became clear it would fail; his vote means he can bring it up again this session. He and his fellow Republicans have said the question is far from dead.