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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.

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Democrats

Veronique de Rugy: Green New Deal would be hundreds of TRILLIONS of dollars in federal commitment

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Veronique de Rugy Green New Deal would be hundreds of TRILLIONS of dollars in federal commitment

If there’s a word that’s not necessarily negative one could use to describe the Green New Deal, it would be “ambitious.” The deal has so much wrapped into it that it’s hard to tell which components are designed to save the environment and which ones are intended to destroy the economy.

Estimates put costs for the “green side” of the resolution at somewhere between $12-$20 trillion. Then, there’s the Medicare-for-All component that is estimated at $32 trillion over a decade.

And that’s just the start.

This isn’t just a “green” deal. It’s a hodgepodge of policy proposals that include massively growing the welfare state, inserting government even more into the job markets, and a universal basic income that they refuse to actually call a universal basic income. The much-maligned FAQ that was posted and quickly removed from the website of sponsor Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) mentioned paying people who were unable or even “unwilling” to work.

“Even in the best case scenario where you substitute a UBI for all the other forms of welfare, it’s insane,” said Veronique de Rugy, Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, on ReasonTV.

But here’s the problem. The Green New Deal doesn’t substitute a universal basic income for other welfare programs. In the Green New Deal, the programs recommended are supposed to be additions, not substitutions.

“It’s a really hard system to support even in its ideal form,” de Rugy continued. “Then there’s this Green New Deal version which doesn’t even seem to entertain this notion of actually substituting for all the rest, so it’s on top of what we have now.”

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The real question we need to ask is whether or not the Democratic Party is actually going to support this. In its current form, the Green New Deal is a fantasy, and perhaps that’s what the more-sane Democrats are shooting for by supporting it. By giving it their attention now, they can work their way down to more reasonable proposals for everything from environmental protection to job creation programs to different versions of socialism.

In other words, they may be using the hyper-leftism of the Green New Deal as a gateway to get to the palatable leftism of what’s quickly becoming mainstream socialism.

The Green New Deal shouldn’t scare conservatives because it can’t happen. What should concern us is the end result negotiated down from this starting point. Given the GOP’s negotiating track record lately, we don’t know what we’re going to get when the Green New Deal is trimmed down to reality.

 


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Democrats

Even Drudge can’t deny the insane spending by Washington DC today

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Even Drudge cant deny the insane spending by Washington DC today

What did GOP control of the House, Senate, and White House do to spending and the national debt? Did Republicans demonstrate the fiscal responsibility that has been one of their alleged traits for decades? Did they match the spending under Presidents Bush and Obama, maintaining the status quo? No, and no. They looked at the spending and debt accumulation of the past and said, “Hold my beer.”

It’s not just the Republicans’ fault, but asking Democrats to stop them when they’re on a spending spree is like asking a bartender to stop serving alcohol. It just doesn’t feel right to them and the results of bipartisanship have been quite apparent, as my friend Daniel Horowitz noted on Conservative Review:

The bipartisan spending binge is now worse than under Bush and Obama

https://www.conservativereview.com/news/bipartisan-spending-binge-now-worse-bush-obama/It feels like it was yesterday when I was watching the news as a kid with my parents in 1995, listening to Newt Gingrich, during the infamous shutdown fight, warn about the dire consequences of crossing the $5 trillion debt milestone. It feels like it was yesterday when I was writing press releases for candidates in “the year of the Tea Party” on how Obama and the Pelosi Congress took the debt to $14 trillion in such a short period of time. Now, over eight years into varying degrees of GOP control of Congress and the White House, we have crossed the $22 trillion mark, expanding the debt more rapidly than at any time in our history. Whereas the debt exploded by $5 trillion during Bush’s eight-year tenure, a shocking figure at the time, it has now increased $8 trillion just since Republicans controlled the House in 2011 and by $4 trillion over the past four years, since they controlled at least two of the three political organs of government.

It has become so bad that even Matt Drudge, whose conservative news aggregator Drudge Report has been consistently defending President Trump since well before the 2016 election, is starting to ask questions.

Drudge Spending Binge

Washington DC has had a spending problem for a century. Republicans run on solving this problem during election time, but they’re acting like Democrats between elections. It’s time to let them know we’re watching and we’re not happy about it.

 


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Economy

Trump administration is optimistic about failing economic policies

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Trump administration is optimistic about failing economic policies

In an article I wrote last week following Trump’s campaign rally disguised as a State of the Union Address, I documented how his claim that his trade war and tax cuts had produced “the hottest economy in the world” were merely the rhetorical ramblings of a failed “Republican” running for re-election.

Trump’s trade war has created an economic hell that will take years to recover from, and his tax cuts have failed to provide tax relief for the middle class. In addition, when you throw Trump’s big-government spending into the mix, the federal deficit now exceeds $22 trillion.

The stock market fell late in 2018 and all gains made in the year were wiped out, a crash the administration blamed on Democrats and Fed Chairman Jerome Powell.

While the slide on Wall Street was dismissed as a market correction, recently released economic data from the Commerce Department shows that the overall economy ended the year much worse than the White House would have you believe.

U.S. retail sales recorded their biggest drop in more than nine years in December of 2018 as receipts fell 1.2 percent across the board. This is the largest decline in retail sales since Sept. 2009 when the economy was in a recession.

Trump brags about low unemployment numbers, but according to a Department of Labor report released yesterday, unemployment claims increased by 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 239,000 for the week ending Feb. 9th.

While it’s tempting for some to dismiss yesterday’s report as an anomaly, let’s take a look at the data from another angle.

The four-week moving average of claims — considered a better measure of labor market trends because it irons out week-to-week volatility — was 231,750, an increase of 6,750 from the previous week’s revised average. This is the highest level for this average since January 27, 2018 when it was 234,000. The previous week’s average was revised up by 250 from 224,750 to 225,000.

Of course, the administration famous for identifying unfavorable news as “fake” went right to work trying to spin these economic failures into policy victories.

Saying that he was still “optimistic” about the economy, White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow called the retail sales number a “glitch,” and he invited the feds to “step aside” while praising the president for “ending the war on business.” He then parroted SOTU talking points about how the overall economy was “very strong” despite these recent reports.

There are those who label me a pessimist because I refuse to whitewash the political graffiti of optimism Trump and the GOP spray paint on their crumbling wall of lies and broken promises, but in the words of C. Joybell C.: “Some people are optimists. Some people are pessimists. I’m just a realist who believes that some things are worth fighting for.”

Originally posted on StridentConservative.com.

 


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.

Follow the Strident Conservative on Twitter and Facebook.

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