Category Archives: economic news

Biden energy policy undergoes big shift

It pains me to say this, but it appears that President Biden is flailing as he seeks to grapple with skyrocketing energy prices.

The president made a vigorous pledge during the 2020 campaign that there would “never” be drilling for oil on federal land were he elected to the nation’s highest office. I applauded the pledge when he made it.

Now he has changed his mind in a major fashion. The president now will allow that drilling to boost the supply of fossil fuel. He said times have changed since the 2020 campaign, requiring a pivot from that environmentally sound policy pronouncement.

The price of gasoline, diesel and other petroleum products has zoomed skyward, causing considerable pain at the pump for millions of Americans.

Still, Biden’s decision has angered environmental activists. I am not officially one of the “angry” Americans. I am just disappointed in the president’s policy reversal, which isn’t likely to have much of an impact on the price of fuel we are paying.

Joe Biden has sought to steer the nation toward a more renewable energy posture. Critics suggest any diminishing of the fossil fuel industry deprives Americans of jobs. What they ignore, though, is that green-energy job creation can help soften such job losses.

What’s more, efforts to rely more on alternatives to fossil fuels free the nation of any dependence on foreign sources of oil … while creating a cleaner environment that helps stem the damage caused by climate change.

President Biden is feeling the heat — no pun intended — from those who want relief from high fuel prices. If only he could stop flailing.

What else can we do?

President Biden is putting Vladimir Putin on notice: If the Russians deploy chemical weapons on Ukrainians fighting Russians in defense of their country, they will face “severe consequences.”

Now, I don’t expect the president to divulge what those consequences will entail before implementing them in the event the Russians resort to that hideous tactic. However, I am curious as to what precisely the United States can do to Russia that is more severe than what it has done already … short of launching a military counterattack.

Biden is adamant that U.S. forces will not engage Russians on the battlefield. So that’s not an option. At least that is my hope.

What’s next? What can we do? I am not in a position to speculate. Closing down our embassy in Moscow won’t amount to more than spitting into the wind. Kicking every Russian citizen out of this country won’t matter, either.

It appears to me that we already have levied severe consequences on Russia for its unprovoked aggression against a neighboring sovereign nation. Russian currency is worthless; Russians can’t export their oil to many nations that consume it; Russian assets are frozen around the world; Biden has delivered stern notice that an attack on any NATO nation will ignite a third world war.

I am not going to say that a chemical attack is coming simply because there is nothing else we can do to punish Putin and his thuggish partners in the Kremlin. I just hope that whatever President Biden has up his sleeve is going to matter and that Putin might be able to regret the next move he might want to take.

Drill, baby, drill

All this chatter about the impact of President Biden’s decision to ban Russian oil imports in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine misses an important point.

The price of crude has zoomed skyward. It is well north of $100 per barrel. The last time we saw this kind of price hike, the result was that American oil drillers uncapped their wells and got their pumpjacks fired up to start pulling the oil out of the ground.

Do you think it could happen again now that the Russians have launched a ground war in Europe and caused the world to react as it has done by essentially boycotting Russian petroleum products?

I can see it happening.

I spent many years in West Texas, and I can speak from experience about what I have witnessed during previous oil-price spikes. We would drive through the Permian Basin, or the South Plains east of Lubbock and we would witness those pumpjacks working relentlessly to pull oil out of the flat land. We saw much the same thing as we motored through the Oklahoma Panhandle.

Oil producers need little if any government incentive to realize when it’s profitable for them to get to work.

At these prices, they are able to make a healthy profit on delivering the goods.

Get set to pay … a lot!

I am swallowing hard as I ponder what I want to say about this, but … here goes. I am ready to pay a lot more for motor fuel if a U.S. ban on Russian oil can bring an end to the war in Ukraine.

President Biden is set to announce a total cutoff of crude oil from Russia. The announcement will come later today, just as the president comes to Fort Worth to talk about veterans’ issues.

Gosh, do you think he’ll field any questions about the Russian oil ban? More to the point, do you think he’ll answer them?

The POTUS has been getting plenty of pressure to “do more” to make the Russians come to what’s left of their senses. The dictator Vladimir Putin has launched a full-scale, unprovoked, bloody and senseless attack on a sovereign nation at Russia’s doorstep. Oil revenue is funding this invasion. The United States happens to be a prime consumer of Russian oil.

President Biden is about to tell the world that the nation he governs is no longer going to purchase that fossil fuel. The consequence undoubtedly will be a continued spike in the price of petroleum products.

I am prepared to pay it if it helps bring an end to the bloodshed.

Keep it in perspective

I couldn’t resist sharing this item that showed up on my social media feed this evening. I never really know who comes up with these gems; I do learn something from them.

My lesson here? It is that the pain, suffering, bloodshed, misery, anxiety, mourning and grief that Ukrainians are feeling at this moment put every little petty annoyance we might have in their proper place.

Gas prices going up? I don’t like it any more than the next person. However, it is good to keep some matters in context — such as what this message suggests we do.

More than 1 million Ukrainians reportedly have fled their country ahead of the Russian military onslaught initiated by the madman Vladimir Putin. Those who have stayed behind to fight the Russians are putting their lives in dire peril.

I won’t like paying more for the fuel that goes into my truck. However, I don’t believe I should bitch about it.

Will sanctions hurt Putin?

Jimmy Carter usually opposes U.S. imposition of sanctions on other nations, believing that such action hurts innocent citizens of the countries we intend to punish. With all due respect to the former president, I am going to wish that sanctions we deliver to Russia when that nation goes to war with Ukraine deliver maximum pain to the country, but more importantly to its leader.

Russian strongman Vladimir Putin today announced he recognizes two Ukrainian provinces as being “independent.” The decision prompted President Biden to levy limited sanctions involving those breakaway provinces. There will be more — much more — to come the moment Putin orders the tanks and troops to march in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine.

Biden is caught in a bit of a bind. There can be no way on Earth he can send U.S. troops into battle with the Russians, even though he has dispatched several thousand American forces to eastern Europe. The only option we have is to levy severe and punishing sanctions on Russia, which Biden pledges to do.

What do those sanctions look like? I suppose it would involve freezing of Russian assets in banks around the world, presuming President Biden has enlisted the support of our worldwide allies. They should involve the freezing of Putin’s personal assets. There well could be suspension of oil and natural gas shipments to western Europe from Russia, which would take a huge bite out of Russia’s third-world economy. There needs to be a suspension of technology exports to Russia from this country and from the European Union.

Will any of this dissuade Putin from carrying out his ambition to bring Ukraine back under Russian control? Probably not. He just needs to pay dearly for his adventurism.

Bill Gates: medical expert?

Bill Gates made zillions of dollars marketing a computer company he co-founded in the Seattle area. He’s a genius at selling his product, as his standing among the world’s richest people will attest.

However, even Bill Gates might be a bit out of his league when he starts offering medical prognostications, such as predicting that the coronavirus pandemic is going to erupt again.

Dial it back, Bill.

CNBC reports: Speaking to CNBC’s Hadley Gamble at Germany’s annual Munich Security Conference, Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said that a potential new pandemic would likely stem from a different pathogen to that of the coronavirus family.

How does “Dr.” Gates know this? I don’t know. I am sure he’s talked to some medical pros about this, so now he’s throwing himself in front of a bold prediction.

I am not going to react dramatically and directly to a medical diagnosis offered by a computer marketing genius. I believe Bill Gates ought to stick with what he knows. OK? Now, sit down, Bill, and count your money.

Mr. POTUS, tell Putin …

Joe Biden doesn’t need little ol’ me to give him advice as he talks to Vlad Putin, but I will offer it anyway and will make sure I send it to the appropriate place where someone on his staff might see it.

Mr. President, you need to remind Putin — as if he needs reminding — that he presides over a country with a third-rate economy. It is not a First World economic system. It is Third World at best, relying on oil and natural gas to keep it fueled.

Tell your colleague, Mr. President, that economic sanctions of the type we are able to level on Russia will bring great pain to himself and to the people he governs. We can cut off the oil and natural gas shipments to western Europe, which you have threatened to do if he invades Ukraine. We can freeze Russian monetary assets in banks in this country and we can persuade our NATO allies to do the same.

Also, the president ought to remind Putin of the terrible military cost his armed forces will suffer if they take on Ukrainian forces. Ukraine is not defenseless against the Russians. The Russians can win a ground war if they launch a full-scale invasion, but it will come at considerable cost.

And if Putin is interested in gathering up what’s left of Ukraine and annexing it into the Russian federation, he will do inherit a population that hates his ever-lovin’ guts.

The cost of an invasion — no matter its scale — is too great for the Russians to bear. Putin knows this. He just needs a not-so-gentle reminder from the leader of the world’s remaining military superpower.

POTUSes can’t always control inflation

Presidents never deserve all the credit they take for economic growth, nor do they deserve all the blame for when economic conditions head south. Thus, Joe Biden doesn’t deserve to be pilloried for the inflation that is ravaging our economy; for that matter, neither did Donald Trump deserve it when he was in office.

President Biden’s poll numbers continue to sag partly — or perhaps largely — because of inflationary pressure being felt in millions of American homes. Sure, there are other factors contributing to Biden’s falling poll numbers.

How can a president control some issues, such as the “supply chain” matter that has affected the economy in light of the coronavirus pandemic? I have no answer to that one, but it doesn’t seem to matter to Americans who today are blaming Joe Biden for all the fiscal ailments they are feeling.

I want to be clear: I have been highly critical of Donald Trump’s initial response to the pandemic, but my criticism of the former president had nothing to do with the economic pressure that mounted prior to the 2020 presidential election. Therefore, while presidents can take some credit for economic success and must accept some blame for economic failure, some matters are beyond even their control.

President Biden promises that inflation will relent by the end of this year. I hope he is right … although I do wonder if he has the power to make such a pledge.

Morning in America dawns again

Ronald W. Reagan campaigned for re-election in 1984 as president on the theme that it was “morning in America.” By golly, it worked as President Reagan steamrolled to a smashing landslide victory, winning 49 states and rolling up an Electoral College margin of 525 to 13.

Well, guess what, ladies and gentlemen. I believe it’s “morning in America” is dawning yet again in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Economic reports show that the Gross Domestic Product grew at a rate not seen since 1984. Unemployment is now down to 3.9%, which is about where it was prior to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. More jobs have been added to non-farm payrolls at any time in the first year of a presidency, which is something that Joe Biden has been proclaiming for a good while.

What does this mean for the president? It means he has some grist on which to build a campaign in advance of this year’s midterm election, which will be a setup for the 2024 presidential campaign.

I am aware of the hurdles that remain. We need to rein in inflation; the Federal Reserve Board is poised to do that by increasing interest rates this year. There are some foreign-policy issues with which to deal, such as Russia and Ukraine, China’s bellicosity and threats against Taiwan, the ongoing Middle East tensions. Of course, we also have climate change … and the pandemic.

Economically, it is morning once again across the land.

The president needs to be careful to avoid hogging more credit than he deserves. I have noted for longer than I can remember that POTUSes don’t deserve all the blame nor do they deserve all the credit for swings in the economy.

The good and the bad, though, occur on their watch. Thus, they become the hero or the zero, depending on which way the economy is tracking.