More Government Interference

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is suing BP (of Gulf oil spill fame) for allegedly manipulating Texas energy markets seven years ago. There are two rationales for the case: one is the $48 million fine FERC hopes to collect on trades that produced the magnificent profit of $250 thousand—because, hey we want the money.

The other reason is the government’s use of the Panic of 2008 that began shortly thereafter as a handy excuse for increasing government regulation, ostensibly for “transparency” [emphasis added]

Another Misunderstanding

Paul De Grauwe, John Paulson Professor in European Political Economy at the London School of Economics and Political Science, was quoted in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal as saying

They in fact triggered the banking crisis. They’ve failed in their duty to ensure financial stability.

De Grauwe was asserting that the ECB’s decision to not increase the amount the central bank already had loaned to Greek banks for liquidity purposes was a mistake.

Regulatory Control and the Left

The Treasury Secretary’s Lawyer (who else?), Antonio Weiss, has a piece on The Wall Street Journal defending the Regulatory State’s control over our financial markets.

He opened it with a strawman.

Some say regulation has killed it, and the answer is to roll back financial reform.

A carefully unnamed “some” in his strawman. He’ll have to play with his dolly without this writer. There is, too, his false assumption in that claim: rolling back financial reform assumes there’s been reform to roll back. There certainly has been a potful of added regulation to our financial markets, all spurred by the Democrats’ Dodd-Frank bill. The bill that created a wholly unaccountable—not even through Congress’ control of purse strings—panel, the CFPB, that decides how financial institutions must behave, even to the point of deciding what business counts as a financial institution that must accept the panel’s decrees.

A Misunderstanding

Or a non sequitur. A recent Wall Street Journal editorial was headlined thusly: Should There Be a Tax on Soda and Other Sugary Drinks? The subhead had this: Supporters say it is an effective way to cut obesity. Critics say the health benefits are far less than claimed.

The piece then proceeded to a debate between Kelly Brownell, Dean and Robert L Flowers Professor of Public Policy at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, and William Shughart II, J Fish Smith Professor in Public Choice at Utah State University’s Jon M Huntsman School of Business, among other titles.

Some Economics Numbers

…from the Tax Foundation, via AEIdeas. First this graph (right-click on it to get a bigger, more readable version):TaxMap_100-Map

The figures are regional price parities of $100 for each of the 50 states, where the national average price is taken as 100. In other words, whereas on average across the whole country, $100 would buy $100 worth of goods, in California those $100 would buy only $89 and change, in Arkansas those $100 would buy a bit over $114 worth of the same goods. The bulk of the differences across the US was driven by relative housing costs: California’s housing, for instance, costs one-third more than the national average while Arkansas’ housing is one-third cheaper.

Welcome to the World at the Top

This Wall Street Journal article‘s subhead says it all; the article itself just fleshes out the theme.

The Continent’s most powerful country is grappling with its leadership role—and other nations are, too[.]

Welcome to our world. When you’re on top of the heap others are going to be…jealous.

Haters gonna hate.

Pick One

The PRC’s stock market, such as it is, is continuing to fall, despite the government’s best efforts to intervene. And intervene they must because, as AEI scholar Derek Scissors put it in an interview posted on AEIdeas,

The Chinese government is reacting as if stocks crashing when it doesn’t want them to crash is a personal affront….

Well, alrighty then. And so, of course,

Early Wednesday, the Chinese authorities rushed out another raft of emergency measures to halt what is turning into a crisis of confidence in leaders’ ability to steer the economy.

Another VA Failure

An ex-Army scout and Iraq War veteran tried at two separate Veterans Administration clinics to get treatment for his PTSD. Does he actually have PTSD? I’m spring-loaded to believe so, but I don’t know. And neither does this veteran, unless he’s been previously diagnosed. The problem is that he can’t get that treatment, or even a diagnosis and so effective treatment for what medical problem he might really have.

“The VA isn’t taking new patients.” He got that at both of the Georgia clinics he tried. If you follow the link to the video he recorded, the relevant action starts at around 6:45.

Justice Anthony Kennedy’s Free Speech

Not directly, because this Oregon law predates Kennedy’s Obergefell ruling, but this is the inevitable outcome of his ruling on free speech.

Aaron and Melissa Klein, bakers who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding, lost in an Oregon court and have been ordered to pay $135,000 in “emotional damages” to the couple for whom they refused the baking. Administrative Law Judge Alan McCullough, who found for the victimhood couple, ordered the fine, but nothing further.

People’s Republic of China’s Stock Market Drop

The PRC’s Shanghai Composite Index, which is an index of the stocks that trade on that country’s major stock exchange, the Shanghai Stock Exchange, has fallen by some 28% in the last week. This is the second time since 2007 that this index has fallen this far (in 2007 it dropped by roughly 2/3 over the course of 13 months beginning in October 2007). In response, the PRC has decided to close the market to IPOs until the central planners in Beijing decide conditions are suitable for IPOs.

This central planning foolishness got me wondering. How big a deal is the Shanghai Stock Exchange for the PRC’s economy?