A Simple Solution to the US-PRC Trade Dispute?

More like a simplistic one.  Martin Feldstein, ex-Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Ronald Reagan, has one, summarized by the headline and subhead in his Wall Street Journal op-ed:

How to Make Trade Peace With China
A mutual promise to abide by the WTO’s intellectual property rules would solve much of the problem.

Feldstein is…naive. By his own acknowledgment later in his piece, the PRC routinely violates WTO rules–and international court rulings, lately seen by the PRC’s refusal to abide by a Hague ruling against them regarding the Spratly Islands. The PRC will promise to abide by the WTO’s intellectual property rules?

Government Surveillance by Regulation

Loosely related to a nearby post, now it seems the government is getting worried about the size of the “private” capital market, where folks can place investments in enterprises, particularly startups, without having to go through the public—stock—markets and government regulations that are broadly extensive and deeply intrusive.

The boom is transforming how companies grow, concentrating investing in fewer hands and raising concerns about oversight

The linked-to article’s subhead lays out the whole misunderstanding. Government doesn’t need to be in the business of regulating every little thing we do.  We can manage our investments just fine without Government’s “help.”  And we can suffer our own outcomes if we choose badly or fortune moves against us despite our otherwise correct decisions.

Standards and Markets

The EPA has decided to revisit, revise, and lower fuel efficiency standards for cars sold in the US for the model years 2022-2025.  The Obama administration EPA had mandated that overall fleet fuel efficiency—averaged across all models of cars built by a manufacturer—be raised to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 from 35.5 miles per gallon in 2016.  This would have represented a greater than 50% increase in fuel efficiency in just 10 short years.

Environmentalists are up in arms over the move.  Fred Krupp, Environmental Defense Fund President:

Readiness Capability

There’s a dismaying graph in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal that illustrates the combat readiness of several of NATO nations’ forces.

In essence,

If Europe came into conflict with Russia, only several thousand of the more than one million troops in its armies would be ready for rapid deployment, military planners fear.

Plans to correct this (using the term loosely) don’t come close to the capability regularly exercised during the Cold War, when the US planned for moving 10 divisions into Europe within 10 days.  Current planning goal is to feed dribs and drabs into the furnace.

The Fed and Inflation

There was a Letter to the Editor in a recent Wall Street Journal that talked about a “half-truth” that inflation is “always” a result of rapid economic growth and low unemployment.

The Fed’s obsession with its arbitrary 2% inflation target compels them to argue that higher inflation is desirable because it is always linked to stronger economic growth. The governors simply ignore evidence to the contrary, such as in 2017 when, after the first quarter, growth accelerated and unemployment fell, yet inflation rates declined.

Idiocy in the Nanny State

Starting in May, the Food and Drug Administration will require chains like Applebee’s and TGI Fridays to list calories next to all their menu items. That includes alcohol.

Because we need to know that stuff.  Or so says Government.  And of course, we’ll pay for that knowledge in higher prices for our drinks, because generating and posting that information—and defending against lawsuits over trivial errors in the postings—doesn’t come free.

Never mind that most of us don’t care.  Nana Government knows better.

Credit Reports and Tax Liens

The thee major credit reporting firms, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, are moving to eliminate records of tax liens from their credit data and credit reports.

The three companies, which provide vital, behind-the-scenes services in consumer credit, have been grappling with class-action lawsuits over their handling of consumers’ tax liens and judgment information.

This is a mistake.  The right answer is to defend, actively, those suits that are wrong, rather than to surrender to the extortion of lawfare, and to correct the mishandlings of the tax liens in their data and reports.

The Anti-Competitive EU

Now the European Commission wants to tax “behemoth” digitally-oriented multinational companies for doing business within the EU.  The only companies that fit the EC’s definition of behemoth—large firms with annual worldwide revenue above €750 million ($922 million) and annual taxable EU revenues above €50 million ($61.5 million)—are American companies like Alphabet through its Google subsidiary, Apple, and Amazon.com.

That taxable EU revenue is key here.

The EU says these firms have exploited loopholes in tax laws and managed to lower their tax bills by shifting profits to low-tax jurisdictions within the EU such as Ireland and Luxembourg.

Teachers Pensions and Misapprehensions

State-funded teachers pensions are in peril around the nation from a combination of State governments over-promising, union demands and refusals to recognize economic realities, and those economic realities.  Kentucky provides an example of that, without going into the relative impacts of those three factors to the overall outcome, and of a critical misapprehension.

Kentucky has more than 175,000 active and inactive or retired teachers in the State’s teacher retirement program, and it has a $14.5 billion funding deficit—more than $85,000 per teacher.  The State was able to cover 88% of its agreed contribution to its program in 2007 and now can only cover 56%.  In response, Governor Matt Bevin (R) has proposed

A Fiduciary Rule

The Obama Labor Department, under the suzerainty of Tom Perez who is now the Progressive-Democratic National Committee Chairman, enacted a rule that allowed individuals to hale into court principals of employer or union retirement plans for the crime of charging commissions for their actions.  The rule also redefined “investment advice fiduciaries” to include broker-dealers and financial-insurance agents whose activities are limited to selling financial products.

The 5th Circuit struck the rule as illegal.  That’s good news for all of us.

However.

The Trump Labor Department has said it won’t enforce the rule and is working with the SEC on a new one….