Much Ado

…is being made about the People’s Republic of China’s slowing economic growth rate.

The Chinese economy has suffered a loss of momentum in the second quarter, with the GDP falling to 6.2% from a 6.4% expansion in the first three months of the year, figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics showed on Monday.

This is the slowest growth rate in 27 years, goes the alarm.  That’s supposed to apply pressure to the PRC to start negotiating seriously with the US on trade.  In truth, it does add some pressure, but it’s necessary to keep in mind a couple of other things, too.

A Thought on Huawei

John Hemmings made some interesting and critical points about the “security” (my metaphoric quotes) of Huawei equipment.  In doing so, he cited a study by Finite State, a cyber-security organization that looks deeply into the Internet of Things and resulting vulnerabilities—an IoT of which Huawei is aiming to be a central part (as well as a central part of national communications and defense systems and of governments).  Finite State’s analysis investigated “more than 1.5 million files embedded in 9,936 firmware images supporting 558 different products within [Huawei’s] enterprise networking product lines.”

Hemmings’ points center on these:

A Continued Power Grab

The People’s Republic of China objects to the sale of defensive weapons to the Republic of China.

China will sanction US firms that participate in arms sales to Taiwan [The Wall Street Journal‘s conflation of the island with the nation that sits on the island], after Washington approved sales of $2.2 billion in tanks, missiles and related military hardware, Beijing said.

The PRC’s Foreign Ministry has justified the threat with this:

the arms sales “harmed China’s sovereignty and national security”

A Thought on Tariffs

The tariffs as used by President Donald Trump are viewed by many as having no impact on our overall trade deficit, and much is made of Trump’s disdain for trade deficits.

Thirty months into the Trump Presidency, the US economy continues to import more than it exports. This isn’t a problem, since the trade deficit is of no great consequence as an economic measure.  But in President Trump’s telling this is a clear and present danger….

Suppose something else, though.

Starbucks Fail

A Starbucks in Tempe, AZ, had one of its baristas ask five police officers who were having a pre-shift coffee either go sit somewhere else or leave altogether because one customer felt “threatened” over their being where the customer could see them.

In the hoo-raw ensuing, Starbucks spokesman Reggie Borges said

We have a deep respect for the Tempe Police and their service to the community.

That’s plainly not true. If Starbucks really cared, if it had any actual respect for the police—much less a shred of self-respect—it would have had a better-trained crew of baristas who wouldn’t knee-jerk insult cops over a snowflake’s made-up beef.

Is Renault a Useful Business Partner?

When Fiat-Chrysler offered a merger deal with Renault, Renault’s subordinated partner, Nissan, expressed reluctance unless its subordination to Renault could be revised upward at least somewhat so that it could have a greater voice in the resultant combined company.

Note, though, that the French government is a major shareholder of Renault, and the government has a virtually controlling number of seats on the Renault board: Nissan was—and is, given subsequent events—subordinate to the French government as much as it is to its nominal business…senior partner.

The French government interfered with the offer, and it dithered and stalled, and finally Fiat-Chrysler lost patience and withdrew its offer.

Only Part of the Story

New Hampshire publishes on a State Web site the prices charged by hospitals in the State, and President Donald Trump is working up an Executive Order that would, with some differences in breadth (including information on the prices negotiated with insurers), make the practice a nationwide one.

Price transparency is a Critical Item in controlling—bringing down—the cost of health care, but it’s only part of the story.  A measure of cost transparency would be useful, too, not only for the consumer, but for governments as they look for (non-subsidy, non-tax) ways to further price competition.

Tax and Spent Progressive-Democrats

In spades.  They’re in a race to bankrupt us.  Or, as The Wall Street Journal put it,

The Democratic presidential primary is turning into a bidding war.

Senator and Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren (D, MA) has broken out of the starting gate with an offer of forgiveness of $640 billion in student debt for our votes.

Senator and Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I, VT), though, has caught her at the first turn: he’s offering $1.6 trillion (yes, that’s with a ‘t’) in canceled student debt plus tuition-free “public” colleges.

Federal Government and Home Lending

Investors worry about the impact on home mortgage costs from the Trump administration’s efforts to reform Federal involvement in the business—for instance, cutting Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae loose from Federal controls and support.

The WSJ‘s subheadline of the article at the link sums up those investors’ worry:

[A]ny overhaul to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could reduce or eliminate the federal backstop

To which this investor—and home-owner and mortgage payer—says, “Yeah, and?”

There should be no Federal backstop at all, there should be no Federal involvement in this, or any other, industry at all.  Federal involvement only distorts the market, and Federal money, being the increased demand of additional and protected money, only drives up costs.

Not an Iron Curtain

But it is intended to be a chain-link fence.  It’s not intended to keep folks out, though, but like its Big Brother, it is intended to “encourage” folks to stay in.

Connecticut has expanded its mansion tax on homes.  Here’s how it works.  On sale, Connecticut taxmen will exact from the seller a 2.25% tax on the value of the sale that exceeds $2.5 million.  This is an increase from the already existing “conveyance tax” of 1.25%, but it adds a fillip: if the seller stays in the State for a suitably long time after the sale (“suitable” being defined by the State’s politicians), he’ll get the money back as a tax credit.  If he leaves Connecticut for greener and friendlier pastures too soon to suit those politicians, too bad—he loses those 2.25%.