Because One Size Fits All

This time it’s the trivium of expiration dates on the food we buy in our grocery stores.

That can of soup in your pantry says “Best by June 2018.” The cereal box on the shelf above it says “Use by October 2016.” The salsa in your fridge says “Sell by June 6, 2016.”  And the quart of milk next to it simply says “May 22, 2016.”

Among the dates found on labels across the US are “production” or “pack” dates of manufacture, “sell by” dates, “best if used by” dates, “use by” dates, “freeze by” dates and even “enjoy by” dates.

Greece and Loans

There is a kerfuffle going on just now among Greece, the IMF, Germany—mostly between Germany and the IMF.  The IMF wants to freeze interest rates on Greece’s loans for the next 30-40 years—so that Greece can pay up.  Germany is demurring from this, saying that’s not paying, that’s just delaying things.  Of course, the IMF is saying this about other nations’ loans; the IMF isn’t a current participant in them.

But there’s a misunderstanding at the center of the kerfuffle, and it has nothing to do with fixed interest rates or their duration.

A Good Reason to Leave

The International Monetary Fund said a British vote to leave the European Union could have significant and negative effects on the UK economy, the latest contribution by an international institution to the fierce debate over Britain’s future in Europe.

If the IMF thinks it’s a bad idea, it’s probably a pretty good idea.

More seriously, the IMF is making its assessment on this basis:

…a vote in the June 23 referendum to leave the EU could “precipitate a protracted period of heightened uncertainty, leading to financial market volatility and a hit to output.”

British Sovereignty and British Exit from the EU

Chatham House, The Royal Institute of International Affairs, has a paper out claiming that Great Britain’s perceived need to go out from the EU in order to preserve its sovereignty is “misguided.”

It’s possible to see the misguided perception of Chatham House from the Executive Summary of its paper.

  • The question of sovereignty lies at the heart of the UK’s upcoming EU referendum. …
  • This ignores the fact that successive British governments have chosen to pool aspects of the country’s sovereign power in the EU in order to achieve national objectives that they could not have achieved on their own, such as creating the single market, enlarging the EU, constraining Iran’s nuclear programme, and helping to design an ambitious EU climate change strategy.

FDA and Funding

Moves in Congress to link billions of dollars in new medical research funding to revised standards for drug and medical-device approvals are troubling some public-health experts, who say the combination makes it too easy for lawmakers to support lower patient-safety standards.

This is a cynical distortion of the situation.  With the FDA’s suppression of Sarepta, a drug that has helped—a lot—boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and that, so far, has shown no deleterious side effects standing as a shining example, of course it’s necessary for Congress to exercise its power and authority of the purse string to bring an out of control, scleroticlly bureaucratic agency to heel.

National Security and Economic Relations with the PRC

The Fiscal Times had a thought.

There is an emerging danger that rivalry for strategic influence in the western Pacific will damage trade and investment relations.

As if this is a bad thing.  “rivalry for strategic influence in the Western Pacific” is a euphemism for the PRC’s seizure and occupation of the South China Sea and the islands in it, and the PRC’s terraforming of many of those islands and subsequent construction of military bases on them.

A Good Thing about Price Wars

…on the geopolitical stage.  Dan Strumpf and Jenny Hsu talked about a broader question in their piece in The Wall Street Journal; I want to focus on one aspect of it.

Stiffening competition from countries such as Russia and Iran is threatening Saudi Arabia’s longtime hold over markets including China, Japan, and India.

Ballistic Missile Defense—Who Needs It?

No one, according to George Friedman in Geopolitical Futures.  The US has installed and brought on line a ballistic missile defense system site in Romania, but Friedman evidently misunderstands the purpose and the need.

The system is designed to block one or a few (the precise number is likely unknown) missiles targeted toward a large area.  This would be ineffective against Russia, should it wish to launch a nuclear strike against Europe, because the system would be easily saturated by a relatively small number of missiles….

Wealth Redistribution

Now it’s threatening to spread to our education institutions.

Lawmakers have a new solution for the high cost of college: make the wealthiest universities pay for it.

Of course.  Because competition among colleges to bring down costs, or reducing Federal funding for them under [pick an excuse] programs to reduce the non-student population money available to drive up costs just can’t be done.  Too many special interests would be perturbed by such a thing.

Elite US schools have grown richer since the 2008 financial crisis by investing their endowment money in everything from California vineyards to Chinese startups.  State and federal policy makers now want to tax those profits….

An Arms Race

And we should welcome it.

Russia is creating three new divisions to counter the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s planned expansion along its eastern flank, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday, in a move that comes amid rising tensions in the region.

Moscow has threatened it will respond to NATO plans to boost its troops’ presence along its border with Russia.  Western officials said last week the alliance will send four battalions—about 4,000 troops—to Poland and the ex-Soviet Baltic countries.

These three divisions are being created, in part, by adding men and equipment, and they’re being created, in part, by reassigning men and equipment from existing units.  It’s the latter that’s instructive.