“It Depends on Uncle Sam”

Without more help from Washington, electric-vehicle sales will struggle to live up to the stock-market hype.

That Wall Street Journal lede pretty much tells the tale.

And this:

If the new technology is to live up to high investor expectations, the global record suggests that the US will need to embrace subsidies.

It depends on Uncle Sam. As long as electric vehicles get subsidies of any sort—either on the manufacturing end or to buyers of them on the other end—these battery cars can never be mainstream. As long as they’re getting any sort of subsidy, battery cars are tautologically unready for market.

Inflation Worries

Jason Furman, ex-President Barack Obama’s (D) Council of Economic Advisers Chairman, wrote about four things about which to worry regarding the current inflation increase and its durability. Three of them were reasonably accurate. He also predicted a Fed response.

First, the economy is beginning 2022 with much tighter labor markets than a year ago. …
Second, demand should remain above pre-pandemic trends, while supply will likely continue to lag behind. …
Third, consumers, businesses, forecasters and financial markets all expect near-term inflation to be about 1 to 3 percentage points higher than a year ago. …

More Chit-Chat

Cynically done chit-chat, too.

Biden-Harris says he’s going to distribute bunches more Wuhan Virus test kits to schools to keep them open.

The Biden administration plans to distribute millions of free Covid-19 tests to schools around the country, part of the federal government’s effort to keep schools open amid a surge in coronavirus cases caused by the Omicron variant.
Later this month, the administration will begin shipping five million rapid Covid-19 tests to K-12 schools each month, White House officials said.

That’s in contrast to this:

Widening Gyre of Hostages

In response to Lithuania’s effrontery in contradicting the People’s Republic of China by letting the Republic of China open a “representative office” in the capital city of Vilnius, the PRC not only is banning import into the PRC of Lithuanian products, it’s banning import of all products that contain Lithuanian components. As The Wall Street Journal dryly put it,

The effects are rippling across Europe.

And already Germany is intimating its desire for surrender, which should come as no surprise from a nation already openly obsequious before Russia:

The German-Baltic Chamber of Commerce has warned Vilnius that German subsidiaries are at risk.

Blame-shifting to Middlemen

Now Biden-Harris is throwing a billion dollars at the food supply chain problem, even as he’s blaming food supply chain middlemen for his supply problems.

This is just more blame-shifting by Biden-Harris.

Middlemen can, indeed, price gouge. So can end-sellers. So can original producers. However, in the vast main, middlemen drive prices lower: they insulate original producers from end sellers, giving those producers more flexibility in to whom to sell, the middlemen more choices to whom to sell, and they give end sellers more choices of from whom to buy. Competition among middlemen and on both sides of the middlemen drive prices down.

If It’s a Good Idea….

One sub-bill in the Progressive-Democrats’ reconciliation bill would have removed a loophole that lets foreign purchasers of US real estate dodge a tax that could reach 30% on the profits generated by those holdings.

The loophole works like this:

Instead of buying a building directly, a foreign investor creates a shell company in an offshore location like the Cayman Islands.
That shell company then lends money to a US entity called a blocker corporation, which in turn buys the building. Instead of paying any profits from the building directly to the foreign investor, the blocker corporation sends interest on its loan to the offshore shell company, which then passes it on to the foreign investor. By taking this detour, the foreign investor avoids the tax on foreign real-estate owners.

Student Loan Responsibility

Melissa Korn and Andrea Fuller wrote about student loan burdens in Sunday’s Wall Street Journal, using New York University as a worst-case illustration. Their subheadline made a good summary of their thesis.

By many measures, the elite Manhattan school is the worst or among the worst for leaving families and graduate students drowning in debt….

Another Reason

…to get Government—at the Federal and at the State level—out of the way of a free market for health care and for health care coverage, which must include price transparency if there’s to be true price and quality of product/service competition. This illustration is in Boston.

An Emergency Room visit to Massachusetts General Hospital for a particular problem covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts would cost the patient and his employer together nearly $950. In fairness to BCBSoM, some other providers of health coverage for the same problem at MassGen charge substantially the same total price. At Carney Hospital, just three miles away, though, the same problem with the same provider would be only a bit under $550—$400 less.

BDS Comes to the White House

Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions have come to the Biden-Harris Presidency.

The US has rejected a request from Israel to speed up the delivery of pre-ordered KC-46 refueling jets, amid escalating tensions between the country and neighboring Iran.

Those modern tankers would greatly extend the reach and endurance of Israel’s combat aircraft, a capability increasingly needed for Israel’s own defense as Iran progresses inexorably toward obtaining nuclear weapons.

The denial, though, is a measure of how desperate Biden-Harris is to get from the kiddie table to a nuclear weapons deal with Iran. He doesn’t want to risk offending Khamenei by facilitating Israel’s ability to defend itself.

Companies Tracking Customers

It turns out this isn’t limited to cookies through browsers and overt tracking software.

There’s another software package that businesses use to track their users activities. Log4j

is used on computer servers to keep records of users’ activities so they can be reviewed later by security or software development teams.

Businesses are secretly tracking our activities as we interact with them digitally, not just quietly through cookies and tracking tools. Maybe not only those teams, either. It wouldn’t surprise me if marketing teams were using our data, and if other teams were putting together packages of our data to peddle to other companies.