Category Archives: economic news

SPR shouldn’t be used to control oil prices

A bomber detonates an explosion at a Saudi Arabian oil refinery, shutting down a big part of the Saudi petroleum production capacity.

Oil prices spike around the world, including the United States, which I thought had achieved a level of “energy independence,” that it wasn’t dependent on Saudi oil to keep our motor vehicles running.

What does Donald Trump say in response? He has authorized dipping into the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help shore up fossil fuel supply and, thus, seek to tamp down an expected spike in oil prices.

That’s the wrong use of the SPR, Mr. President. It’s been done before. Other presidents have sought to use the SPR in this fashion. I have been critical of this tactic in the past.

The SPR was created to help the United States avoid the kind of fossil fuel emergency that erupted in the wake of the Arab oil embargo in the early 1970s. The SPR comprises huge underground storage capacity along the Gulf Coast; the oil is stored under so-called “salt domes.”

Its mission is to act as a hedge against actual fossil fuel emergencies.

As near as I can tell, the United States will not run out of oil. Our nation’s gasoline pumps are not in danger of running dry. There won’t be interminable lines as gas pumps, which is what happened in 1973.

The president need not siphon fuel from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Think again, Mr. President.

This is how you convert a warehouse

WENATCHEE, Wash. — The building pictured with this blog post used to be a warehouse. It contained items to be shipped somewhere else.

Then it was emptied out. It sat vacant for about a year, maybe two … according to what I understand.

Then a wealthy resident of this central Washington community ponied up a couple of million bucks to get started on a repurposing of the former warehouse.

This is what they produced. A sign out front hails it as a “Public Market”; the sign mimics the one along Pike Street in downtown Seattle, the district that features the salmon flung around the “flying fish” market.

They don’t toss salmon at the Wenatchee market, but they do sell a mean cup of mocha, along with sandwiches; they have a deli in there; there’s a brew pub, a Mexican food joint, crafts and assorted other attractions.

They even use the rail line that runs through the building when they want to play host to musical entertainment acts; they wheel the bandstands in on the tracks, clear out the kiosks to create a dance floor and then put it all back together when the evening is over.

The indoor mall that once was a warehouse sits on the Columbia River that winds through this part of the state.

I fell in love with the place.

Communities all over the country are converting warehouses in warehouse districts into places just like this. They also include loft apartments and assorted other uses.

When I see examples of this kind of urban planning, I am filled with hope that our mid-sized and larger cities are not necessarily doomed to rot their way into oblivion.

Sure, it’s nice to have wealthy residents willing to invest in their cities’ future. All cities should be home to someone like that … shouldn’t they?

Trump adds a reason to pi** me off, imagine that

As if Donald John “Comedian in Chief” Trump needed to provide another reason for me to detest his presence in the White House …

He posted a moronic Twitter message today that poked fun at the Dow Jones average plummeting more than 600 points. He made some schoolboy crack about it crashing because Seth Moulton reportedly was dropping out of the Democratic Party primary presidential race.

Meantime, a lot of Americans’ were watching their retirement accounts evaporate a little at a time. Or, in some case, a lot at a time.

The real reason the market tanked was because the president is playing this ridiculous game of tariff chicken with the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese are threatening reprisals against the United States.

All the while, Donald Trump is screwing around with people’s livelihoods, their retirement income, their nest eggs, the money they hope to make their so-called “golden years” as, um, golden as possible.

Then he makes lame, sophomoric jokes about it.

Detestable.

Bill Maher is a not-too-funny comic, not a member of the media

I posited a notion in an earlier blog post today that Donald Trump’s assertion that the media are trying to destroy the economy is a typically absurd effort to avoid taking any responsibility for the economic woe his own policies might bring to American.

Then a post from a couple of days ago came to my attention. It’s of Bill Maher saying he wishes the economy tanks so that Donald Trump is denied re-election next year.

Is there a parallel here? I don’t see it.

Maher is a comic and sometime-political commentator who’s got a talk show that I never watch, although I’ve heard Maher’s shtick over the years. I don’t think he’s very funny. His “comedy” occasionally crosses a line or two of good taste and decorum.

I am perplexed enough to ask: Is this guy a member of the media? I suppose one could suggest so, given that he at times appears on left-leaning cable commentary shows to offer his world view on this or that issue. However, his media role is at best something that occurs on its fringe.

If you’re interested, you can see how The Hill reported Maher’s rantings here.

I’ll stand by my earlier post that the president is wrong to blame the media for conspiring to tank the economy. He is trying to divert attention from his policies that threaten to undermine the “greatest economy” in human history.

Plus, the media are for-profit businesses that would suffer mightily with the loss of ad revenue if the economy heads straight into the crapper.

Do the media intend to cut their own throats by seeking to destroy the only thing that Donald Trump could say has earned him a second term in office? I don’t believe so.

No, Mr. POTUS, economy doesn’t hinge on your re-election

Mr. President, you need to stop the braggadocio. As in right now!

I know you don’t heed this advice, but I have to get it off my chest.

You have declared that the fate and future of our nation’s economic well-being depends on your re-election. I read where you tweeted some nonsense about how the market will crash in unprecedented ways if you lose the election next year.

C’mon! Knock it off! If the economy craters it will do so on the basis of a lot of factors that have nothing to do with your re-election. It might have everything to do with the idiotic policies you seek to enact. Starting with those tariffs on imported goods from Mexico.

Your delusion is sounding more like desperation, if you want my humble view of it.

You’ve boasted about having that “big brain,” about how you know the “best words,” how you cut the “best deals,” how you surround yourself with the “best people” and how you are a “stable genius” who attended the “best schools” in human history.

If you were as great and glorious as you say you are, why do so many of us out here — even in Flyover Country — want to see you walk out of the Oval Office for the final time?

Yeah, I know. You have your supporters. God bless ’em. They see things differently than I do, or the way most Americans apparently do.

Just cool it with the bragging and self-aggrandizement. You work for us, Mr. President. Let us decide how you are doing. I am one of your bosses who wants you replaced.

Tariffs punish U.S. consumers, won’t curb migration

Do I have this straight?

Donald Trump wants to impose tariffs on goods coming to the United States from Mexico until our southern neighbor ends illegal immigration from Mexico into the United States.

Is that what he wants to do?

Well, why is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, other business groups friendly to Republican politicians (such as the president), and GOP politicians (such as U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas) so angry with Trump over the tariff threat?

Earth to POTUS: Tariffs don’t punish the countries that send goods into this country; they punish U.S. consumers who will pay more for those goods to cover the cost of the tariff.

The stock market took a header today. My retirement fund — not to mention the funds of millions of other Americans — also took a hit. Will it come back? I certainly hope so.

This tariff notion once again flies in the face of whatever passes for economic policy that emanates from the White House.

Donald Trump is conflating immigration policy with economic policy. He is seeking to damage one of this nation’s pre-eminent trading partners. Mexico clearly doesn’t want the tariff imposed, particularly since Mexico, the United States and Canada are supposedly set to agree to a new “free trade agreement” among the three nations.

It’s called the United States/Mexico/Canada Agreement, aka USMCA. It replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump called one of the worst trade deals in human history … or words to that effect.

How in the world does this tariff play in the context of the pending USMCA?

My view? It doesn’t play well at all!

Meanwhile, U.S. consumers are going to be the primary victims of yet another scatter-shot presidential economic policy.

This is not how you “put America first,” Mr. President.

How does POTUS pull this one off?

“Here’s a guy who’s managed to rack up a $2 trillion deficit at a moment of full employment in the country. It is almost impossible to do that.”

Perhaps you have heard of the fellow who made that observation. He is U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, who — by the way — is one of the seemingly hundreds of Democrats running for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination.

He calls Donald Trump the “most fiscally irresponsible” president in decades. Bennet does raise a fascinating point.

The economy continues to rock along. Joblessness is down to 3.6 percent, the lowest rate in 50 years. The private sector keeps adding jobs at a robust rate, adding 263,000 more of them in April. That’s a solid performance, which the president is fond of touting. He should. The numbers are great!

How does the president manage, though, to preside over a federal budget deficit that is skyrocketing into the trillion-dollar stratosphere? I am not an economist, but I always thought that full employment — which is close to where we stand at the moment — is supposed to generate enough tax revenue to keep the government flush with money. That ain’t happenin’, man!

Dang! So the president will campaign on The Economy. What about that budget deficit, Mr. President? Doesn’t that matter any longer to any of those who comprise the president’s “base”?

Hah! Who am I kidding? Of course it doesn’t!

Here’s a thought: Share the economic glory

Democrats running for president say that Donald Trump doesn’t deserve credit for the current boom in the nation’s economy.

They drape the credit over the shoulders of Trump’s immediate presidential predecessor, Barack H. Obama. They say President Obama’s policies are responsible for the continuing job growth, the diminishing unemployment rolls, the increase in the Gross Domestic Product, the increase in wages and salaries.

So, there you go.

Oops. Not so fast!

Hey, don’t misunderstand me on this matter. Donald Trump doesn’t deserve nearly all the credit he keeps taking. However, he does deserve credit at least for not botching the progress that was well under way when he took office in January 2017.

I resist granting him all that credit mainly because I want him out of office. I want him defeated in the 2020 election and I do not want him to ride behind the wave created by the good economic news that keeps coming his way.

However, the ongoing good news is occurring on the current president’s watch.

However, I cannot yet fathom why this president cannot give any credit to anyone else for the success he enjoys in the moment. That refusal to offer a positive nod to President Obama’s economic policies perhaps is fueling Democratic politicians’ current anger with the current president.

Hey, we’re heading into an election year. Thus, one man’s economic miracle is another man’s economic disaster. Donald Trump plays that game better than most.

Jobs report looks stellar; now, hands off the Fed, Mr. POTUS

Donald Trump has reason to smile this morning.

The U.S. Labor Department reports that the private sector added 263,000 jobs in April; the unemployment rate fell to a 49-year low of 3.6 percent.

This is the same Labor Department that Trump once disparaged as cooking the books when Barack Obama was president, when the Obama administration was presiding over similarly stellar job increases monthly.

The other guy’s success was a fabrication, said Trump. Not now. It’s all real now that Trump is in the saddle.

Hey, that’s all fine. He was wrong then to criticize the Labor figures when President Obama was in office. He is right now to hail them. It’s good news, Mr. President. Just say how much you appreciate everyone’s hard work and get on with “making America great again.”

One more thing, Mr. President. You should stop monkeying around with trying to seat lackeys and sycophants on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Stop trying to coerce Fed Chairman Jerome Powell into doing your bidding. The Fed is an independent agency charged with helping managing the economy.

The job figures indicate to me that the Fed is doing a damn good job.

Leave the Fed alone, Mr. President!

Second hack bows out of Fed job hunt

Donald Trump sought to seat two partisan hacks on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

One of them, Herman “9-9-9” Cain pulled out. The Godfather’s Pizza mogul faced questions and allegations concerning sexual harassment. Never mind that he had next to zero knowledge of what the Fed actually does. He’s out!

Now we hear that Stephen Moore, another Fed critic, has pulled his name out of consideration. Moore writes occasionally for the Wall Street Journal, appears on Fox News Channel and bashes the Fed whenever someone prompts him to do so.

Moore also has spoken badly about the role of women in the workplace.

Donald Trump finds these individuals in search of individuals who would enable him to politicize the Fed, which historically a decidedly non-partisan organization. It helps set economic policy without regard to any loyalty to the president who appoints the Board of Governors.

The president keeps yapping about how many highly qualified individuals are lining up to work in the federal government while he is on the watch. Herman Cain and Stephen Moore didn’t fit the bill.

Get busy, Mr. President, and present those individuals you keep saying are out there.