Central Banks, Interest Rates, and Fear

The Fed is looking to start raising its benchmark interest rates “real soon now.” This is expected to inject fear into investors used for so long to being coddled and protected from uncertainty by an interventionist central bank.

Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF,

warned Tuesday that markets could be heading for a repeat of the 2013 “taper tantrum,” in which stocks fell and interest rates rose around the world as the Fed considered winding down its “quantitative easing” bond-buying program.

She went on:

These Explain a Lot

Joseph Clancy, Secret Service Director, testified before a House Appropriations subcommittee, and this loose exchange between Clancy and Congressman Chris Stewart (R, UT) ensued:

Clancy: It’s going to take time to change maybe some of this culture. There’s no excuse for this information not to come up the chain. That’s going to take time because I’m going to have to build trust with our workforce. And the best way for me to work or earn that trust with our workforce is by my actions.

Of Course He Will

The National Labor Relations Board, the union arm of the Wagner Act, enacted a rule a few weeks ago that allows unions to hold organizing votes in non-union companies before company management has a chance to respond.

The Senate passed a resolution canceling the NLRB’s rule with a party line oriented vote. The House is taking up the bill and is expected to pass it as well, and with a party line oriented vote.

President Barack Obama, who succeeded in packing the NLRB for this sort of purpose, is expected to veto the resolution.

Nuclear Disarmament

Keith Payne, Director of the Graduate School of Defense and Strategic Studies at Missouri State University (oh yeah, also a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense), had some thoughts on this in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal earlier this week.

Read the whole thing; I just want to focus on one small remark.

Realists point out that foreign leaders base their decisions about nuclear weaponry largely on their perceived strategic needs, not in response to US disarmament.

More Competition Stifling

New tax transparency requirements between multinational corporations and European governments may be broadened further this year to encompass public disclosure of the companies’ tax arrangements in Europe.

… The bill, if approved by European governments, would oblige national tax authorities to inform each other and the commission about tax deals they agree with multinational corporations.

… Under the draft bill, which must be approved the 28 European Union governments, the disclosure of so-called tax rulings would happen every three months and would include deals going back 10 years.

Where’s the Fatwa?

The guy who sits in the Secretary of State’s chair, John Kerry, said [emphasis added],

Now I want to be very clear. Nothing in our deliberations is decided until everything is decided. And the purpose of these negotiations is not just to get any deal; it is to get the right deal. President Obama means it when he says, again and again, that Iran will not be permitted to get a nuclear weapon. As you all know, Iran says it doesn’t want a nuclear weapon, and that is a very welcome statement that the Supreme Leader has, in fact, incorporated into a fatwa. And we have great respect—great respect—for the religious importance of a fatwa. And what we are effectively trying to do is translate that into legal language, into everyday language within the framework of a negotiated agreement that everybody can understand, which requires everybody to have certain obligations and ultimately be able to guarantee that Iran’s program, its nuclear program, will be peaceful now and peaceful forever.

Obama Makes it Official

Laws don’t apply to him or his White House.

The White House, in a curiously timed move, is stripping a federal regulation that made a particular office subject to reporters’ records requests.

The rule change means the Freedom of Information Act will no longer apply to the White House Office of Administration. In turn, the policy will allow the Obama White House to reject records requests for that office, just as the last Bush White House did.

There’s that Democratic Morality, again. Someone else did it, therefor it’s OK to do it again.

Sit Down, and Shut Up

That’s President Barack Obama to Congress on his “negotiations” with Iran concerning the latter’s nuclear weapons program.

President Obama’s chief of staff Dennis McDonough told Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker in a letter that legislation sponsored by Corker would go beyond ensuring a role for Congress in a deal with Iran.

“Instead, the legislation would potentially prevent any deal from succeeding by suggesting that Congress must vote to ‘approve’ any deal,” McDonough said. He criticized a provision that would eliminate Obama’s authority to lift some sanctions on Iran as part of any agreement.

A Number of People Predicted This

The first stage of the Seattle-mandated $15/hr minimum wage, to $11/hr, takes effect next month, but already Seattle’s low wage workers are feeling the pain of their pay “raise.”

…the city is experiencing a rising trend in restaurant closures.

The closings have occurred across the city, from Grub in the upscale Queen Anne Hill neighborhood, to Little Uncle in gritty Pioneer Square, to the Boat Street Cafe on Western Avenue near the waterfront.

The shut-downs have idled dozens of low-wage workers, the very people advocates say the wage law is supposed to help. Instead of delivering the promised “living wage” of $15 an hour, economic realities created by the new law have dropped the hourly wage for these workers to zero.