A Foreign Policy Fallout

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced Tuesday that the biggest military contract in Australia’s history, a $40 billion tender to build 12 submarines, will go to a French naval contractor.  That’s a defeat for Japan’s bid, and with it a lost opportunity to deepen cooperation among the leading Pacific democracies facing China’s rising military.

For all of Turnbull’s rationalizations, this was a major factor in rejecting the Japanese offer:

The most significant influence may have been China, Australia’s largest trading partner, which openly campaigned against Japan’s bid. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned his Australian counterpart in February to remember World War II….

A New Form of Government Subsidy

And so a new form of market distortion by government.

Consumer-goods giant Unilever NV was set to raise money in bond markets Monday that will cost them almost nothing, in the latest sign of how the European Central Bank’s stimulus measures are slashing funding costs across the continent.

On the other hand, there’s this example of an impediment to private enterprise borrowing:

In one tranche of a €1.5 billion ($1.68 billion) deal, the Anglo-Dutch company was set to sell €300 million of debt maturing in 2020 with a coupon of 0%, potentially offering investors a yield of just 0.06%, according to deal guidance released Monday by underwriting banks.

Minimum Wage Revisited

Kevin Williamson, at National Review, had a thought that’s only now percolating to the surface of thinking Americans and that still is avoided by the American Left.

Properly understood, raising the minimum wage—and having a minimum wage at all—is camouflage, something to talk about and fight about while we’re not talking about and fighting about the more important underlying issue.  Declaring that all American workers shall be paid at least $15 an hour is not the same as ensuring that all American workers produce $15 an hour worth of value, and, eventually, the disconnect between those two considerations must make itself felt.

Saviors

Don Boudreaux, at Cafe Hayek, had some thoughts on this sort of folk.  Here’s one:

Saviors need victims who need saving.  And if such victims are not real and readily available, the saviors conjure them up by convincing themselves that this or that group of people are helpless victims eager to be raised from the muck of their misfortunes by the saviors.  Sometimes the saviors convince even the groups they seek to save that they—the members of these groups—are indeed mired in a muck from which they can be extracted only by the saviors.

Another Intrusive Government Regulation

US regulators proposed requiring the nation’s largest banks and financial firms to hold back executives’ bonus pay for four years, extending by a year the common industry practice on Wall Street incentive payouts.

The plan would also require a minimum period of seven years for the biggest firms to “claw back” bonuses if it turns out an executive’s actions hurt the institution.

In a free market economy—that is to say, a healthy economy—this would be a business decision, validated or rejected by that business’ owners and its marketplace customers.  However, in this Progressive-Democrat Party administration, this is a Government Decision, made by Government Know Betters, because those actually participating in an economy, with their own money on the line, can’t possibly understand the situation.

Who Enrolls in Obamacare?

What’s the effect of that on costs under Obamacare?  The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association rudely conducted a study of the matter, and they found

  • New enrollees in individual health plans in 2014 and 2015 had higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, depression, coronary artery disease, HIV and Hepatitis C than those enrolled before ObamaCare.
  • New enrollees received significantly more medical care, on average, than those with individual or employer-based plans.
  • New enrollees had more inpatient admissions, outpatient visits, prescriptions filled and emergency room visits.

A State Appeals Court Missed the Point

Recall the California case, Vergara v California, in which nine students and the nonprofit advocacy group Students Matter, sued the State of California, arguing that the State’s tenure laws and its firing and layoff policies made it too hard to fire bad teachers, thereby denying students a decent education.  At trial, the students won, and the laws were struck as unconstitutional.  Naturally, teachers unions—California Teachers Association and California Federation of Teachers—anxious to protect its tenure perks, appealed.

Last Thursday, a State appellate court

said the plaintiffs had not successfully proven that some students were indeed getting an inferior education because of job protection provisions.

A Presumption of Guilt

The White House’s Office of Management and Budget earlier this week accepted for final review a rule that would force banks to identify the owners of companies behind shadowy financial transactions, such as the firms revealed in the Panama Papers scandal or the ones used to buy real estate.  It would close a loophole that critics say allows criminal money into the US financial system.

Never mind that the vast majority of the Panama Papers’ shell companies are entirely legitimate.  Never mind that, in a free country, there has to be probable cause driven by a presumption of innocence to go looking for “criminal money,” not just a government man’s idle suspicion, or a dislike for a person or an entity, or a liking for fishing expeditions.

Anti-Competitive G-20

And, yes, that includes an anti-competitive Democratic Party administration representing the US in this group of twenty.

G-20 finance officials called on the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to report by July countries and jurisdictions that haven’t signed up to new international standards on tax transparency and information sharing.

“Defensive measures will be considered by G-20 members against non-cooperative jurisdictions,” the officials said in their statement after two days of meetings in Washington.

Wrong answer, guys.  Your threats just expose your own dishonesty.

A Timid Administration

Saudi Arabia has told the Obama administration and members of Congress that it will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American assets held by the kingdom if Congress passes a bill that would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible in American courts for any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

And in response, President Barack Obama (D) once again bowed to Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, who personally delivered the threat, and virtually to King Salman bin Abdulaziz.  Obama then responded to the Saudi threat, meekly.  He