Another Refusal to Engage

…rather, another decision by the Progressive-Democrats in Congress to turn their backs and obstruct.  In follow-up to the March meeting between the Congressional Black Caucus and President Donald Trump, Trump invited the CBC to another meeting.  The CBC refused.

CBC Chairman Congressman Cedric Richmond (D, LA) wrote in a letter to Trump that proposals in the president’s budget would “not only devastate the communities that we represent, but also many of the communities that supported your candidacy.”

Medicaid-Receiving Companies Object to the Senate Bill

The Senate is proposing an overhaul of Obamacare and an improvement to the health coverage providing industry, and one of those improvements is a rollback of the Obamacare expansion of Medicaid and an eventual capping of Federal funds transfers to the States’ Medicaid programs.  There are objections to this.

The primary objections are from insurers and hospitals, et al., who get a significant fraction of their income from the guarantees of Medicaid payments; they don’t want to have to compete in the open market.  They prefer the supposed safety of that guaranteed income, paltry though it is, especially compared to the income available from a free market, and they don’t care what that “safety” costs those who must pay for it.

Obstructionism

…for the sake of obstructionism.  And now the Progressive-Democrats in the Senate are getting blatant about it.  They don’t want to help reform the health care coverage disaster of the last eight years, so to block Republican and Conservative efforts at reform, these Progressive-Democrats have decided to block everything in the Senate.  Here’s Senator Chris Murphy (D, CT) o the overall attitude:

What more could we do—hold Republican Senators by the arms to stop them from getting to the chamber?  I think we’ll use every tool at our disposal.

More on Foolish

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago President Charles Evans said Tuesday that the U.S. central bank can wait until the end of the year before making the decision to raise rates again, while adding it could start reducing the size of its balance sheet before that.

Indeed.  We could wait a decade, too.  Both delays are about equally foolish.

Increasing interest rates on debt, whether market rates of Federal Reserve benchmark rates, are inherently inflationary.  Thus: the Fed needs to set its rates to levels consistent with target inflation, and then sit down, and be quiet.

The Nub of the Thing

In a Deutsche Welle piece on the likelihood of Emmanuel Macron being able to reform French labor and pension law, is this statement by Julie Hamann, a political scientist with the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin.

The French have high expectations of the state, for it to fulfill its protective function with regard to social welfare.  As soon as reforms are announced that may lead to cuts in social services or labor market insecurity, this very quickly gives rise to very great and very emotional fears.

Another Example

…of the failure of government intervention in “green” energy.  And of the lack of understanding of the problem by the participants.  This four minute video via Deutsche Welle tells the tale.

A group of Spanish farmers, in order to “improve their pensions and to do something for the environment,” banded together to build a solar farm, Spain’s biggest cooperative solar park, an operation of solar cell collectors at roughly €90,000 per module.

The central takeaway:

[T]he modern facility is currently losing money because the conservative government has drastically cut the subsidies for solar power.

It’s About Time, Ollie

In a move met by applause from at least one congressman, the Energy Department announced a pilot program for research into domestic mining of rare earth elements.

Rare earths are minerals critical to computing technologies and to various military and civilian sensor technologies.  China currently dominates the production and market for these elements, with about 85% of the world’s production from its domestic mines.

Another major source for rare earths, not yet exploited, is the South China Sea floor.  Part of the purpose of the PRC’s seizure of the South China Sea and of its island-building and militarization of those constructs is to control access to those rare earths and to reserve them for itself.

Saudi Oil Embargo Against the US?

Saudi Arabia is cutting its oil exports to the US for the express purpose of directing our use of our own oil to Saudi purposes—to make us use up our existing “excess” supplies.

Saudi Arabia is slashing its US oil exports to a near three-decade low for this time of the year, intensifying its efforts to reduce a global supply glut that has been pummeling crude prices.

Not just the global gut—our supply in particular.  Saudi Arabian Oil Co is cutting its exports to the US to the lowest level since the late ’80s.  Saudi Aramco is cutting its exports to us to the lowest level since 2009, the end-game of the Panic of 2008.

The Fed and the Markets

The Federal Reserve’s interest-rate increases aren’t having the desired effect of cooling off Wall Street’s hot streak.

Well, NSS.  There’s a hint there.

The Fed needs to stop trying to manipulate the market and go back to doing its job, maintaining stable price levels (controlling inflation to low levels) and achieving full employment (whatever that means.  And, the latter is wholly dependent on the former and so need not be an independent goal, but that’s a different story).

Currency Valuations and Economic Growth

There’s an interesting piece in The Wall Street Journal that looks at the economic theory that suggests that a nation’s devaluing currency, by making its exports cheaper, would spur domestic production and so economic growth.  As the article says, Great Britain is offering a real-time experiment that tests that theory.

In that experiment, the pound has lost value in the exchange markets to a significant degree, but exports—and the British economy—have not expanded as much as was expected by some under the theory.  This “failure” of the theory is being blamed on globalization.  For example,