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Tariffs on Turkey: Bad for the economy but damaging to a dangerous dictator

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Tariffs on Turkey Bad for the economy but damaging to a dangerous dictator

Say what you will about President Trump’s foreign and economic policies. Whether you support them or not, it’s hard to deny that they’ve made things much more interesting.

The latest move by the President to impose stiff tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum may seem in line with how he’s been treating the national and world economies recently, but more is at stake with this move than previous ones.

There are two factors at play that make this move different from previous tariffs. First, it is not purely economic but is a response to Turkey continuing to hold pastor Andrew Brunson for allegedly supporting the coup attempt of 2016. Second, the tariffs come at a time when Turkey’s currency, the lira, is in free fall.

It was already starting to show signs of failure when leaders from both countries pushed it even further down. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan added more challenges for the lira when he asked his people to convert their foreign currency and gold, a sign of trouble that will likely have the opposite effect.

Erdogan calls on Turks to convert hard currency, gold into lira

https://www.reuters.com/article/turkey-economy-currency-erdogan/erdogan-calls-on-turks-to-convert-hard-currency-gold-into-lira-idUSA4N1TM024Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday called on citizens to convert their hard currency and gold into lira, after the local currency tumbled to a record low this week, reflecting investor concern about a widening diplomatic rift with the United States.

Erdogan, in a speech in Ankara, also said Turkey was diverting to the Chinese market to overcome what he said were “subjective evaluations” from ratings agencies. Erdogan has repeatedly railed against credit raters, saying their downgrades of Turkey’s sovereign debt to “junk” status were politically motivated.

Seizing on the free fall, President Trump made matters worse for for the lira with the sanctions:

Trump authorizes doubling of metals tariffs on Turkey

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/10/trump.html“I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar! Aluminum will now be 20% and Steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!” Trump wrote.

Losses in the the Turkish lira deepened on Trump’s tweet, falling as much as 20 percent vs. the U.S. dollar in Friday trading.

Erdogan is now calling this an economic war with the United States and claims he will not back down. Meanwhile, the Euro and other currencies are also feeling the heat:

Euro tumbles as investors fear bank exposures to Turkey

https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-global-forex/euro-whacked-on-turkey-turmoil-as-investors-scramble-for-safety-idUSKBN1KV07M“You’ve had a fairly sharp move lower in the euro and it’s broken through key technical levels as well,” said Richard Franulovich, head of FX strategy at Westpac Banking Corp in New York.

The euro dropped below technical support at $1.15 to $1.1421, down 0.91 percent on the day and the lowest since July 2017. Against the yen, the euro slid 1 percent to 126.79 yen, a two-month low.

Now, the criticism and praise of President Trump’s moves will be debated for days, maybe weeks.

My Take

As I’ve stated on many occasions, I’m not a fan of tariffs. They are misunderstood by most, particularly the President, and no longer yield the results they did in previous centuries. From an economic perspective, I oppose this move.

The bigger picture is how this is being used as a pressure tactic against Turkey. Currently, I like it a lot. That opinion could change based on how things go, but moves like these that apply pressure against a dangerous dictator of the false ally that Turkey has become are welcome. It isn’t just about securing Brunson’s release, though that’s extremely important. Turkey is a rising power on every spectrum that is increasingly turning to Russia and China for help instead of their “friends” in NATO.

The strategic importance of Turkey as a hub that connects Europe, west Asia, and the Middle East cannot be understated. In an ideal situation, Turkey would still be a good ally as they once were. Erdogan has taken advantage of two past U.S. Presidents and seemed poised last year to start taking advantage of President Trump. That doesn’t seem to be happening anymore.

Is this the right way to handle Erdogan? Probably not. Whether it is or not will be revealed in coming weeks. One thing is certain: we’re seeing things being done from the White House that we’ve never seen before and may never see again. It’s troubling, but at least it’s entertaining.

Economy

Reminder: Tech Giants are not monopolies

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Reminder Tech Giants are not monopolies

There is a lot of disgust aimed towards tech giants such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter. And why not? These companies are large, incredibly biased, and quite powerful. Their reach is everywhere, striving towards omnipresence. Their influence can sway public opinion, as evident on issues such as Net Neutrality and to reach back for a more benign issue, SOPA 2014. Another concern is the pubic safety of personal information. Data breaches, hacks, and leaks are all significant risks. In China, Google has assisted the government with the surveillance of their people. And while public safety is an issue, the solution of regulating these large companies as monopolies is fraudulent in its premise. The enact anti-trust laws would ignore the simple fact: neither Google, Facebook, or Twitter are monopolies.

Antitrust

But denotation doesn’t stop individuals from advocating action. Kurt Schlicter of Townhall wrote a fiery piece advocating for serious regulation.

And what’s also scary is their willful manipulation of the algorithms that determine what can and cannot be said and read. If you don’t exist on Google, in many ways, you really don’t exist at all. Well, that’s intolerable. Our free society conducts its business on the Internet, and if one unaccountable, partisan group can decide what topics can and cannot be discussed, we no longer have a free society. We’d have a fascist one, and fascists are bad even if those fascists swill kombucha tea, bike to work at a Mountain View campus, and spew ridiculous mottos like “Don’t be evil.”

By definition, a monopoly is when a single firm has absolute market share. Yet the federal government has its own definition. And that definition is comprised in the form of antitrust laws. Ryan Cooper of The Week proposed:

It could be that careful anti-trust action could build a market with several search competitors, and thereby create some competition. But certainly all search platforms should be forced to follow something like a railroad’s common carriage rules, where websites are not allowed to be ranked according to how much they might profit the platform itself, and get fair access to search traffic.

This action would break Google apart into several companies and only enrich Google shareholders. The Google splinters would crush the actual competitors of Google rendering making this polygopoly a more clear monopoly for the shareholders than it was already before. Historically speaking, the Rockefellers gained an immense amount of wealth after Standard Oil broke apart. Again it must be said about how Coopers supposition is a flagrant misuse of antitrust law.

Suicidal?

Microsoft’s battle in the 1990s is a crowning misuse of antitrust law. Microsoft was found to be a monopoly because they put their own software, internet explorer, on their own operating system, Windows. What Microsoft did was clear business instinct. Yet the feds and several states wanted to split them up. Their plan ultimately failed but the precedent remains. In 1999, Milton Friedman referred to companies seeking to break up Microsoft as suicidal, seeking action that would one day be used against them.

“Under the circumstances, given that we do have antitrust laws, is it really in the self-interest of Silicon Valley to set the government on Microsoft? Your industry, the computer industry, moves so much more rapidly than the legal process, that by the time this suit is over, who knows what the shape of the industry will be. Never mind the fact that the human energy and the money that will be spent in hiring my fellow economists, as well as in other ways, would be much more productively employed in improving your products. It’s a waste! But beyond that, you will rue the day when you called in the government. From now on the computer industry, which has been very fortunate in that it has been relatively free of government intrusion, will experience a continuous increase in government regulation. Antitrust very quickly becomes regulation. Here again is a case that seems to me to illustrate the suicidal impulse of the business community.”

The USFL is another clear example where using antitrust was literally business suicide. The United States Football League launched in 1983 as a spring alternative to the NFL. Yet in their poor management, they moved to fall where the NFL had all of the TV contracts and sued the NFL for antitrust. In truth, their very existence disproved the notion that the NFL was a monopoly, also the existence of college football. The USFL invested everything into the antitrust suit and won $3 dollars($1 tripled).

Competition

Google/ Alphabet

Search Engine, adsales, appstore, Youtube, email, consumer electronics, operating systems, big data, web browser, programs, social network etc.
  • Verizon (Yahoo, AOL) – failed internet giant, search engine, adsales, email
  • Apple – fellow tech giant, consumer electronics, app store, operating system
  • Microsoft – operating systems, direct competitor to Google’s word processing platform, web browser(sort of), app store, search engine
  • DuckDuckGo – private search engine
  • Opera – web browser, free VPN/ adblock
  • Brave – web browser with adblock
  • Netflix – content streaming platform
  • Hulu – Content streaming platform
  • TV – not a company but a replacement for Youtube
  • Yelp – review website

Facebook

Social networks, text app for europeans,
  • Twitter – microblogging platform
  • Minds – social network
  • Snapchat – picture messaging, social network
  • Craigslist – localized ad sales
  • Reddit – online community based on interest
  • Myspace – Technically still a thing, rebranded as a music page
  • Codias – political social network

Twitter

Microblogging platform
  • WordPress – webhosting, blogging platform
  • Gab – Turkish microblogging platform
  • Steemit – cryptocurrency social network for original content creators
  • Kialo – social media platform for civil debate
  • Micgoat – video/blogging platform for debate

Conclusion

As you can see, Google is so large and expansive, they cannot be considered a monopoly, for their is competition every industry they are in. Their most serious competitors are other tech giants, like Microsoft and Apple. Facebook has numerous competitors as does Twitter. Just because their competition lacks prominence, doesn’t mean there is a monopoly.

The titans of tech are not monopolies, nor should we want them treated as such. Treating Facebook as a monopoly would create at least three large companies. And these newly divided large companies would eventually merge together and crush the alternative social platforms that currently exist. Rather these platforms would benefit from these companies remaining large and having bad PR. These companies will create innovations and capitalize on their fall should they end up like Yahoo or Kodak.

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Economy

Mimi Walters says CA rail is the epitome of taxpayer waste

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Mimi Walters says CA rail is the epitome of taxpayer waste

The idea was doomed from the start, at least to those who understood the magnitude of the project California Democrats were pushing. A nice-to-have it like California’s high-speed rail is only nice to have when it doesn’t cost billions of dollars in a state that has trouble keeping to its budget.

Representative Mimi Walters (D-CA) from Orange County understands this all too well. As one of the few Republican representatives in the leftist state, it’s up to her and other fiscally responsible representatives to make Sacramento listen to reason.

In the quote, she was referencing a LA Times article that further criticized the project. When the LA Times points outs waste coming from Sacramento, you know it must be bad.

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Economy

GE Appliances CEO Kevin Nolan credits tax cuts for more investments, jobs

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GE Appliances CEO Kevin Nolan credits tax cuts for more investments jobs

GE Appliances is poised to invest another $200 million into domestic manufacturing, creating hundreds of jobs and helping to boost Kentucky’s economy. This is the latest in a string of expansion investments that the company needs in order to meet increased demand.

CEO Kevin Nolan credits tax cuts for the recent major investments. It isn’t just that demand is higher because more people are working and keeping what they bring home. The corporate tax cuts that Democrats have been trying to paint as cronyism for the greedy business elite are playing a big role in U.S. companies expanding their operations and increasing the workforce.

The changes in rates and favorable tax treatment of investments in machinery and equipment play a big role in our expansion plans.

Citing Tax Reform, GE Appliances Launches $200M Investment in U.S. Manufacturing, Adding 400 Jobs

https://www.shopfloor.org/2018/10/citing-tax-reform-ge-appliances-announces-200-million-investment-u-s-manufacturing/“GE Appliances has long been an exemplary corporate partner for Louisville and the Commonwealth,” Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin said. “This iconic company has employed many thousands of Kentuckians for generations, and we are grateful for their most recent investment in the Bluegrass State. As GE Appliances continues to adapt to a changing marketplace, we are confident that they will remain a perfect fit right here in Kentucky—America’s center for engineering and manufacturing excellence.”

Appliance Park, GE Appliance’s headquarters, is a 900-acre facility that’s home to five manufacturing plants, a technology and engineering center, industrial design and the largest warehouse in its distribution network. The company started manufacturing operations there in 1953. The complex generates an annual Kentucky economic impact of $4.6 billion annually and employs more than 6,000 workers.

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