Job Security

On the matter of competition and business imperatives, particularly involving big data, Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, had this to say at her speech to the Digital Life Design conference in Munich:

If a company’s use of data is so bad for competition that it outweighs the benefits, we may have to step in to restore a level playing field[.]

Continuing:

We continue to look carefully at this issue….

Never mind that they’ve found nothing:

this certainly doesn’t mean we never will[.]

There isn’t any wrong doing, but we’re going to keep looking for it, anyway. Because jobs. Because government bureaucrat jobs.

“Honest and Dishonest Socialism”

That’s the name of a recent Wall Street Journal piece. The article centers on Democratic Party Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s version of socialism, fueled with her dishonest ad hominem attacks on her primary rival for the Democratic Party nomination, and Democratic Party Presidential candidate and Senator (D, VT) Bernie Sanders, that rival, and his purer and more honest (and deliberately ad hominem-free) version of socialism. As the piece puts it,

The difference between Mr Sanders and Mrs Clinton is political character. He’s a sincere socialist who follows his principles, however unrealistic or calamitous, to their logical conclusions. Mrs Clinton will conceal her true ambitions if that’s what it takes to win, and she’ll drop on her opponents any political anvils that happen to be handy.

A Cost of Inexperience

What’s wrong with China’s stock market?

Just about everything, according to a statement from Xiao Gang [at the time, Chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission] delivered at a national meeting of Chinese securities officials….

In the statement, Mr Xiao defended his handling of successive market meltdowns, blaming the “abnormal volatility” on “an immature market, inexperienced investors, imperfect trading system, flawed market mechanisms and inappropriate supervision systems.”

He got that last part partially right—and only that much.

What’s wrong with the PRC’s stock market is inexperienced regulators and the idea that a functioning national economy can be managed—governed—from the center.

Thin Skins

A new dispute flared Thursday between the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders presidential campaigns: whether Mr Sanders broke his promise not to air TV attack ads.

At issue was a 30-second spot [“Two Visions”] the Sanders campaign will air in Iowa and New Hampshire suggesting that Mrs Clinton’s practice of taking campaign money from Wall Street undercuts her ability to police these firms.

The ad can be seen here.

That’s not an attack ad. That’s a contrast of policies.

Talk about fragile. Haven’t we had enough of that in the White House?

This Would Be Foolish

Don’t chase the market, guys.

financial markets are volatile and downward pressures on inflation are building. The employment picture gives officials an incentive to raise rates to prevent the US economy from overheating, but market instability and the inflation outlook provide reasons to hold off.

Market instability isn’t relevant to this. Further, rising interest rates are inherently inflationary—and the Fed has said for a long time that it wants a 2% inflation rate, which is substantially higher than what the current inflation rate has been for the last several years.

More Interference

The Obama administration is proposing to spend nearly $4 billion in a decade to accelerate the acceptance of driverless cars on US roads and curb traffic fatalities and travel delays.

No. The Congress needs to refuse to provide the funding for this.

Leave aside whether we want driverless cars on our roads. There’s an arguably positive role for government to actively support, even help fund, basic research. However, once the theory from such basic research has been developed sufficiently (a private enterprise-defined criterion), bringing any related concepts to market is purely an engineering matter and so must be solely a free market/producer/consumer decision. The work, then, should be funded only by private enterprise.

The EU and Taxes

Competition Commissioner [sic!] Margrethe Vestager called foul on a Belgian tax law the commission says unfairly saved 35 companies—most of them European—some €700 million ($763.3 million) in taxes since 2005. Belgium will now have to collect those taxes if it doesn’t appeal, or loses in court.

How terrible it is that a company should keep the money that belongs to its owners by following applicable sovereign law. For shame.

Here’s the thing, identified by the WSJ at the above link:

More Spending, More Foolishness

It’s a two-fer that only President Barack Obama could propose with a straight face.

The Obama administration is proposing to extend a financial sweetener the federal government offers states that expand their Medicaid programs, in a bid to persuade more to do so before the president leaves office.
White House officials said President Barack Obama will ask Congress to include three years of full federal funding of expansion for any state that extends eligibility for the program to most low-income residents. Officials said the proposal will be made in Mr Obama’s fiscal 2017 budget, to be released Feb 9.

Oil, the Saudis, and Iran

As global oil prices plunge to levels not seen in more than a decade—and Saudi Arabia and Iran threaten to further flood the market with cheap crude as part of their ongoing feud—the possibility of rock-bottom fuel prices appears to be a blessing for consumers.

What’s the downside of that? With our own restriction on exporting oil lifted, we’re also in a position to keep producing and keep selling. The low prices are good for American consumers; they’re an opportunity to expand our own market (the Saudis’ logic in maintaining production rates in the face of falling prices is sound), and thereby wean Europe off dependence on Russian oil exports; and low prices hurts…whom?

A Constitutional Proposal

Texas Governor Greg Abbott called for a constitutional convention, looking to revive support for an existing movement that seeks a constitutional convention. Abbott also offered a number of Amendments of his own that he’d like to see proposed at such a convention.

  • Prohibit Congress from regulating activity that occurs in one state
  • Require Congress to balance its budget.
  • Prohibit administrative agencies from creating law
  • Prohibit administrative agencies from pre-empting state law
  • Allow a two-thirds majority of the states of override a Supreme Court decision
  • Require a seven-justice super-majority vote for Supreme Court decisions that invalidate a democratically enacted law