Troops to Eastern Europe

Senior US military leaders have proposed sending more forces into Europe on a rotating basis to build up the American presence and are stepping up training exercises to counter potential Russian interference with troop transfers in the event of a crisis with Moscow.

In particular, the proposed moves are into eastern Europe to serve as a more blatant deterrent to Russian President Vladimir Putin. General Mark Milley, US Army Chief of Staff said over the weekend

Aggression left unanswered is likely to lead to more aggression[.]

A Look at Dodd-Frank

Banks are having trouble peddling risky loans they’ve made in conjunction with the current (and dying down?) mergers and acquisition boom. These are loans made when one company buys another for their mutual benefit, and the buyer borrows some or most of the purchase price.

Here’s the kicker:

In past decades, banks sometimes held the loans until markets stabilized, but such warehousing became prohibitively expensive because of high capital charges required under the Dodd-Frank law that was passed in response to the 2008 financial crisis.

If it becomes too difficult or expensive to borrow—or to lend—to support a merger/acquisition, those deals won’t get done.

Because Power Addiction

The headline and sub-headline in the Wall Street Journal article pretty much tells the story.

China Delays Economic Liberalization

As Beijing debates how to quickly boost economy, it delays long-term plans to loosen financial grip

The men governing the PRC do not see the contradiction between their behavior and their actions.

China has taken new steps to slow plans that had been meant to loosen control over the financial system, adding to similar delaying moves since summer.

Democrats, Pseudo-Science, and our Economy

President Barack Obama stopped the Keystone XL pipeline (fortunately, it’s not permanent; a better informed President can undo this damage, but that’s for another post). Obama, supported by his Democrat confreres (though, as I said, it was his decision), offered these excuses for the stoppage:

the pipeline would create few jobs

Even taking that as accurate (thousands of jobs are not “few,” though), job creation in our present economy is not a thing to be dismissed as casually as this. Further, the John Kerry State Department’s analysis that the jobs created would amount to fewer than 0.1% of “the nation’s total employment” is fatuous on its face: other than Big Government, there are vanishingly few enterprises that don’t employ fewer than 0.1% of our nation’s total employment.

Because There Isn’t Enough Regulation

Nature abhors a vacuum, and so do Democrats. The vacuum Democrats abhor, though, isn’t a natural one, it’s manmade—gaps in regulation. Americans are just too stupid to manage our own lives, on our own, insist Democrats, and so Democrats demand to regulate our lives for us. For our own good, you see. And for the good of Democrats’ political power. Here are two examples.

In Houston, the Liberal city government didn’t think bathroom accommodations for those who can’t accept who they are should be a matter of negotiation between employer and employee or prospective employee.

Obamacare Revisited

I’ve written a bit about Obamacare and its front end, ObamaMart. I thought I’d revisit this with the new enrollment period just getting under way.

My test case was a 62-yr-old husband and his 61-yr-old wife in a Dallas suburb with a combined income of $83,000, not previously enrolled in an ObamaMart plan but now looking for a PPO because they like their doctor and don’t want to risk losing access to her. I just looked at the health plans; I eschewed dental. In looking at plans, ObamaMart offered to estimate my medical costs; I accepted the offer and took the middle road of a Medium (out of Low, Medium, High) level of medical expenses for both the husband and the wife.

The Obama Administration and Racism

[Ally Financial Inc] agreed to pay borrowers at least $80 million to settle allegations of racial or ethnic discrimination….

This is the settlement that Obama’s CFPB and DoJ browbeat Ally into accepting. There’s a catch, though:

the lender is prohibited by law from collecting data on the race or ethnicity of its borrowers.

But never mind. Obama and his Executive Branch minions cried racism, and so it must exist, regardless of actual data.

Unfortunately, though, Obama isn’t alone in this sorry charade. Ally management shares shame in this tragedy: they cravenly agreed to a penalty for something they didn’t do, or at least the government persecutors had no hope of demonstrating.

Debt Limits

The reason we need to raise the national debt limit is to be able to borrow to pay existing obligations. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s threats that he can’t won’t pay our veterans, soldiers, and retireds is nothing but politically motivated, dishonest foolishness. He can pay these; the tax revenues are plenty for that. What he won’t be able to pay are the payables to Federal contractors and a number of other bills. Those are legitimately owed, though, and they need to be paid.

There’s also plenty of money coming in to pay the interest on our national debt—so there’ll be no default, either. That’s just nonsense.

Minimum Wage Laws

Some empirical data are starting to accumulate. The following graphs are from AEIdeas. The first one shows the apparent impact of Seattle’s minimum wage law, which hiked the minimum to $15/hr, with the first increment to $11/hr taking effect last April. The graph shows restaurant employment in the Seattle Metropolitan Statistical Area and Washington other than the Seattle MSA from 2010 through Sept 2015.RestaurantJobs


European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has indicated that he intends to expand the EU’s version of quantitative easing as economic stimulus: he’s looking to increase the ECB’s bond-buying program and cut even further the ECB’s already negative deposit rate.

His rationale for this is to boost economic growth in the EU, a growth that has been stunted since the global Panic of 2008.

No, Mr Draghi, adding to a failed program won’t convert it to a success, it’ll compound the failure and make digging out from under it the more expensive.