But That’s The Point

Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General for the United States Department of Justice Antitrust Division, on the proposed mergers between Anthem Inc and Cigna Corp and between Aetna Inc and Humana Inc, called them “game-changers” and added that it was necessary for Government to interfere with the mergers

to make sure we aren’t making a mistake in which shareholders benefit and the consumers pay the cost.

It’s certainly true that consumers should be protected from fraudulent behaviors and from price gouging.  However, it is those consumers who, as customers, pay for the goods and services companies provide—which ultimately pays those shareholders, too—else the companies don’t survive, and the consumer/customer has no good or service available to buy.

At Least He’s Consistent

Recall that President Barack Obama (D) touts his Stimulus Bill, with its explosion in national debt (which is still growing these 7+ years later), as good for our economy.  That it’s an economy still mired, these 7+ years later, in a pseudo-recovery that’s the slowest since WWII and that has a smaller per centage of Americans in the labor force than at any time since the Jimmie Carter (D) years is lost on, or ignored by, him.

EU, Great Britain, and Taxes

Some…suggestions…from continental leaders regarding Great Britain’s departure from the EU and the Exchequer’s suggestions of British corporate tax rate reductions, via The Wall Street Journal:

  • German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble: we can’t have a “race to the bottom, now can we?”

Why not, I ask—what are you so terrified might result from letting those who earned the money keep more of it?

  • Pierre Moscovici, European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs: let’s not have any of this “exacerbated(?) fiscal competition between ourselves” nonsense.

The Other Supreme Court That’s in the Election Balance

This one is the National Labor Relations Board, a Democrat/union-dominated entity that is nearly the last word on what employers are allowed and required to do.

It’s the NLRB that threatened Boeing with labor unrest expensive lawsuits for its effrontery in wanting to build an aircraft manufacturing plant in the right-to-work state of South Carolina and forced Boeing to keep primary manufacturing in the union state of Washington.

It’s the NLRB that decided that franchise employees actually are jointly employed by the franchise—a McDonald’s burger joint, for instance—and the franchisor—McDonald’s corporate headquarters, for instance—a complete rewrite of the prior NLRB view of franchise employment.

Labor Costs Up, Prices Up

Starbucks is sharply raising its total compensation for its employees in the Seattle area.  Total compensation from wages and stock options is going up some 5% to 15%.  Carefully buried in the very last paragraph of The Seattle Times piece is this little nugget:

Last July, Starbucks raised its prices 3.5 times as much in Seattle as in the rest of the country.  It raised the price of its typical coffeeshop purchase across the U.S. by 1%, but in Seattle by 3.5%.

Hmm….

Economy and Integrity

The PRC is demonstrating the relationship between integrity and a centrally managed economy.

When China let Dongbei Special Steel Group default on a bond payment this spring, it was supposed to mark a new determination to allow long-coddled state industries to suffer the consequences of their bad decisions.

Three months later, the result has been…nothing. The ailing steel mill has missed five more payments on its $6 billion in debt, but has yet to formally file for the equivalent of bankruptcy protection, close unproductive units, or start a restructuring of its operations.

Need More Regulation

That’s the meme of Federal Reserve Board Governor Daniel Turillo, the Fed’s reputed point man for regulation.  Turillo is claiming that

the lessons of the 2008 financial crisis won’t be complete without better regulation of short-term funding both inside and outside the banking system.

Naturally, the regulatory point man is going to see everything as a regulatory need.

OK, since more regulations are the solution, here’s a suggestion.

How about some regulations prohibiting the Federal government and the Federal Reserve Bank from using credit and lending as social engineering tools?

That’s Our Client State

Leave them alone.  That’s the People’s Republic of China’s reaction to the US/Republic of Korea agreement to station an anti-missile defense system in the RoK, a setup explicitly designed for defense and deployed in response to northern Korea’s missile and nuclear warhead buildup.

PRC’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang:

We demand the US and South Korea change their attitude.  By agreeing with the US side to deploy this system, South Korea has gotten itself involved in a situation that damages the current balance on the peninsula.

Another IRS Assault

This time on private enterprise and a private economy company that’s nominally outside the scope of the government economy.

US tax officials sued Facebook Inc to force the company to hand over documents related a transfer of assets to Ireland in 2010, part of a yearslong investigation into whether some of those assets were undervalued “by billions of dollars.”

Because, of course, John Koskinen and his IRS minions know better how to value a private enterprise than does the private enterprise.

Alternatively, Koskinen has reason to believe the company has falsified its valuations, which raises the question: what’s your probable cause, Mr Koskinen?

Italy, EU, and Bank Bailouts

In a Wall Street Journal piece about Italy’s banks in general, are these two items that illustrate both the Nanny State nature of Italy and the cultural differences in attitudes toward personal responsibility among the various constituent nations of the EU.  The backdrop includes the EU’s rule, enacted in 2014, that requires banks across the EU that face bankruptcy to have the banks’ stakeholders (as the WSJ calls them)—shareholders, bond holders, and depositors (but only some of those last…)—to take the losses first and foremost.  The backdrop also includes the trouble Italy’s banks, in particular, are in: