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Trump’s trade war, Harley-Davidson, and the coming depression

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After reaching record highs in January when the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act took effect, the DOW Jones Industrial Average has been on a downhill slide following Trump’s declaration of war against free trade.

Unfortunately, as we witnessed this past weekend, Trump isn’t showing any indication that he is prepared to “deal” in order to bring this self-inflicted war to an end. Instead, Trump threatened to level additional “tariffaxes” (H/T Shannon Joy for the cool new word) and “more” against any trading partner who dares to retaliate by leveling tariffs against the US.

Trump’s “Art of the Deal” approach to free trade is having an adverse effect on consumer prices. His first round of tariffs in January on solar panel and washing machine imports resulted in significant price increases. And Trump’s across-the-board tariffs on steel and aluminum in March are responsible for doubling the price of steel on US manufacturers and price-gouging by steel providers.

While the casualties in Trump’s trade war have been kind of “faceless” so far, that changed yesterday with the announcement by Harley-Davidson that the US motorcycle company would be moving more of its production outside of the US in response to Trump’s tariffs.

“To address the substantial cost of the tariff burden long-term, Harley Davidson will be implementing a plan to shift production of motorcycles for EU destinations from the US to its international facilities to avoid the tariff burden.”

Shortly after the November 2016 election, Federal Reserve officials expressed concern over Trump’s economic policies and how aggressive changes in the areas of taxes, spending, and trade could be come inflationary and cause interest rates to rise. With tariffs causing rising prices, and with the Federal Reserve raising interest rates, it would appear their concerns were justified.

Ever hear of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930? This law started out as a bill to raise tariffs on some agriculture products to protect farmers, but as big government is prone to do, it grew to protect a host of special interests affecting all sectors of the economy. By the time it reached President Hoover’s desk, Smoot-Hawley represented one of the largest tariff increases in history, and though they didn’t cause it, these tariffs are considered a contributing factor to the Great Depression.

By the way, Smoot-Hawley is an example of how tariffs are supposed to be created under the Constitution. Whether tariffs may be good or bad, they should originate in Congress and be signed into law, not arbitrarily imposed by the president.

Despite Trump’s sunny outlook about how trade wars are “good” and “easy to win,” could his “knee jerk impulses”—as the Senate Finance Committee recently described it—regarding tariffs be the final nail in the coffin that, when added to rising prices and rising interest rates, causes a recession or depression?

History isn’t on our side when it comes to answering that question.

Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.

 


David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.

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Economy

Why we won’t see Medicare-for-All legislation until after 2020

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Why we wont see Medicare-for-All legislation until after 2020

We won’t see Medicare-for-All legislation presented to the public or brought to the floor of the House for one politically expedient reason.

Here’s a spoiler for those who don’t want to read the whole thing. In its current state of ambiguity it’s growing more and more popular with the general public. Once the details are brought to light, even moderate Democrats will acknowledge it would implode the economy in a couple of years at best.

In a perfect world, all basic needs would be covered. Of course, that perfect world, often referred to as communism, could only work in the minds of fiction writers and hardcore leftists. In the real world, it’s not only impossible, but has proven to be counterproductive with its stated goals. This is a basic fact that has been demonstrated throughout modern history.

Facts don’t stop leftists. Anything that gets in the way of the leftist agenda or narrative is pushed aside in favor of new “facts.” My least favorite one that’s floating around lately is that socialized medicine has been a tremendous success in many nations around the world. This is questionable at best and when viewed on a longer scale than the last few years, it’s clearly impossible to sustain.

That’s the biggest problem with socialist ideas. They often DO work, but only until the money runs out. Leftists will say it’s unfair to point to Venezuela, a nation that should be the most prosperous in South America but that lies in economic ruins today. Any time Venezuela is brought up, proponents of socialism will say that they were practicing an invalid form of the failed political and economic system.

It’s through the pathways of reality surrounding socialism that Democrats do not want to travel. Not yet. They can’t risk heading into the 2020 elections allowing voters to have a clear understanding of what Medicare-for-All would mean to them. The more facts and figures are revealed about the proposals, the harder it will be to sell it to the people. Instead, they chant about Republicans not believing healthcare is a human right. Or something.

Take soon-to-be-Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example. For proposal for Medicare-for-All has a $32 trillion price tag over the next decade. Paying for it would require extreme tax increases, which is okay to most of her supporters. Why? Because the bulk of the cost would be paid by the “rich,” according to AOC. Or, as she puts it, “You just pay for it.”

When actual math is applied, it becomes clear it would be impossible to stick even most of the price tag on the “rich,” but that’s based on our definitions. If her definition of “rich” means anyone making middle-class incomes or above, then she MIGHT be able to pay for it by more than doubling current taxes.

There’d be no fiscal repercussions from that, right.

It’s imperative for Democrats to keep details surrounding Medicare-for-All hidden. The surface notion is appealing to some. If the details were examined, their base support would fall off. I’ll invoke a leftist tactic by saying Medicare-for-All would literally kill people.

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Economy

To those who don’t care about the national debt, consider this

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To those who dont care about the national debt consider this

The national debt has been growing dramatically for decades. It’s so great that most Americans seem to dismiss it altogether; if we haven’t been harmed by it already, it obviously can’t hurt us, right? This sort of “head in the sand” thinking is why lawmakers refuse to tackle it. As long as the people don’t seem to care, why should they?

It’s time to care. It’s been time to care for a while but the collective ignoring of it has brought it to the level that now, in 2018, we are nearing the point of no return.

Why? Because the astronomical interest is now going to noticeably affect how the government operates. We’ve spent years pretending like the interest isn’t a big deal even though it was growing to unsustainable levels during the Clinton administration. Now, we’re seeing it reach levels that are tangible. Why? Because the cost to cover it is now great enough that other areas are going to need to be cut.

In 2017, the interest on our debt was $263 billion. That’s 6.6% of federal government spending. We’re on track to spend more on interest than Medicaid in 2020 and more on interest than defense by 2023. Let me repeat that:

By 2023, we will spend more in interest on the national debt than we spend on national defense.

Normally, we can take CBO predictions with a grain of salt because they’re usually off (see Obamacare predictions for CBO’s epic failures) but this one relies on simple math. Even in a humming economy with the best case scenarios in play, you can’t overcome interest without paying down the debt.

Neither Democrats nor Republicans have any intention of paying off the debt. This is why candidate Trump went from promising to pay off the national debt in eight years, then ten years, then paying part of it off, then finally proclaiming himself the “king of debt” – all within the period of one month on the campaign trail.

To get the national debt in line will require an ironclad commitment backed by irrevocable legislation that spans two- to four-decades. It means entitlement reform, budget limits, cutting entire agencies and possibly even departments, and commitments to rein in all forms of discretionary spending.

In other words, the only way to get the national debt to a manageable level – not even getting it to zero but somewhere much lower than it is – would require commitments by politicians that none of them are willing to make. Oh, there might be a couple of Senators and a handful of Congressmen who would embrace such measures, but even those ones won’t buck the system to the point that they’d push hard for it without a mandate by voters.

We are the only hope for the very near future. If Americans don’t care that our tax dollars are being used to pay interest on the mountainous debt that has been accumulated in recent years, let alone the debt that preceded it, then we shouldn’t expect politicians to care, either. This can has been kicked down the road for decades, but the road is coming to a very abrupt end soon. It’s beyond unsustainable. We’re on the verge of collapsing under the weight of our own mistakes.

As long as voters ignore the national debt, neither party will pay attention to it, either. We will drown in our own ignorance if we don’t act soon. In the past, they said the debt will affect our children and grandchildren. Now, the debt is starting to affect us.

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Economy

Pacific Rim summit highlights strained China-US relations

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Pacific Rim summit highlights strained China-US relations

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (AP) — A meeting of world leaders in Papua New Guinea has highlighted divisions between global powers the U.S. and China and a growing competition for influence in the usually neglected South Pacific.

The 21 nations at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Port Moresby struggled to bridge differences on issues such as trade protectionism and reforming the World Trade Organization, making it likely their final statement Sunday will be an anodyne document.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and China’s President Xi Jinping traded barbs in speeches on Saturday. Pence professed respect for Xi and China but also harshly criticized the world’s No. 2 economy for intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers and unfair trading practices.

In Port Moresby, the impact of China’s aid and loans is highly visible. But the U.S. and allies are countering with efforts to finance infrastructure in Papua New Guinea and other island states. The U.S. has also said it will be involved in ally Australia’s plan to develop a naval base with Papua New Guinea.

On Sunday, the U.S., New Zealand, Japan and Australia said they’d work with Papua New Guinea’s government to bring electricity to 70 percent of its people by 2030. Less than 20 percent have a reliable electricity supply.

“The commitment of the United States of America to this region of the world has never been stronger,” said Pence at a signing ceremony. A separate statement from his office said other countries are welcome to join the electrification initiative provided they support the U.S. vision of a free and open Pacific.

China, meanwhile, has promised $4 billion of finance to build the the first national road network in Papua New Guinea, among the least urbanised countries in the world.

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