Sunday, January 29, 2017

Trump And International Trade

Trump And International Trade
    I’m carefully observing what Donald Trump is doing about his campaign promises to stop foreign trading partners from taking advantage of us. He seems to focus all his attention on China and Mexico. China is very wealthy and very powerful. If Trump increased import duties on Chinese goods to 45%, China would retaliate in many ways. Some 1,800,000 US jobs tied to trade with China might go. Supply lines for many products will be disrupted.
       Mexico is a different case. Trump is indignant over the $60-billion dollar trade deficit that we have with Mexico. He focuses on the Mexican auto manufacturing sector. Depending on who you talk to, Mexico has an auto manufacturing industry that is between #8 in the world and #4 in the world. Mexico produced some 2.9 million motor vehicles in 2015. 70% of these vehicles go to the USA (Roughly 2,030,000) In 2015 Mexico produced some $81.5 billion in auto parts. If we apply the same 70% ratio, we see auto parts exported to the US with a value of $56.7 billion. Trump wants to put a 30%+ import duty on these autos and parts. Effectively the Mexican auto industry could no longer sell in the US. They would not have another place where they could start selling all these vehicles and parts. Automobile manufacturing plants owned by the likes of General Motors, Nissan and Volkswagen would close. This would cause large write-offs and financial losses to these automobile companies. US investors in these automobile companies would lose large amounts of money. Some 1.1 million US jobs are tied to trade with Mexico. Many of these jobs would be lost.
      There would be one other unintended consequences. Suddenly, the US auto market would have some 2 million less vehicles to sell and some $56.7 billion auto parts less to sell. In economics, we have the law of supply and demand. Where demand is strong and supply drops, prices go up. It would take up to five years to build auto manufacturing plants in the US and auto parts manufacturing plants to make up for the lost Mexican imports. Estimates are that prices for autos and auto parts would go up as much as 25%.
     I have heard comments that Trump will also stop the flow of tequila, tomatoes, etc. I doubt that.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Huge Disparities In US Life Expectancy In Five Charts

The huge disparities in US life expectancy in five charts

Rise in health spending fails to deliver longevity increases seen in other countries
The life expectancy of Americans has failed to keep pace with the increases seen in many other developed countries, despite rapid increases in spending on healthcare.
The effect is so striking that versions of this chart have gained a lot of traction on the web and social media recently. And rightly so: it sheds light on how the US has taken a different path.
FT Data has been observing this pattern in the past few weeks, even scrutinising the impact of high of drug prices.
Yet looking at country averages, which are essential to make international comparisons, has the effect of omitting a big part of the US story. Inequality means that individuals in the US have very different experiences in terms of both longevity and spending on health.
For example, some groups in the US — the poor and middle-class women — have actually seen a decrease in life expectancy during the past three decades.
When it comes to spending on healthcare, it is a similar story.
There is enormous inequality in the US: the bottom 50 per cent accounts for less than 3 per cent of overall spending on healthcare. The highest spending 5 per cent account for half of all health spending.
Looking at these figures, it is maybe easy to see why life expectancy has risen for the richest but stalled for the poorest.
But should we even assume that increased spending on healthcare always leads to increased life expectancy?
In fact, life expectancy is also greatly affected by preventable circumstances such as obesity, smoking, blood pressure and elevated blood glucose levels.
Obesity is far more prevalent in the US than in other OECD countries. This factor alone goes a long way towards explaining why Americans’ life expectancy has not kept up with their neighbours in developing countries.
American men lose 4.9 years of their life and women lose 4.1 due to preventable risk factors, according to a 2010 study by the Harvard School of Public Health.
If each individual risk factor was mitigated, there would be striking potential gains in life expectancy according to the study.
A person’s ethnicity and where they live in the US is also a predictor of both life expectancy and how healthy a person is, the research suggests.
There are in fact “Eight Americas! according to a previous socio-demographic study at Harvard Universtiy. This highlights how misleading it can be to think of the US in terms of simple national averages.
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Friday, January 27, 2017

Ricky Nelson - The Last Concert, 1985

Jack's Comments On The Television Series Hunted

Last night I watched some episodes of Hunted with Elena. For those of you not familiar with the show, 12 people in teams of two people each go on the run while being tracked by some of the best people hunters on planet earth. If you're able to elude your highly-professional hunters for 30 days, you get a $250,000 US prize.
Those of you who know me well know that i have decades of experience disappearing and evading capture. Here is how a professional evades capture as follows:
1) Cash is king. You need to keep several thousand in cash in your house or apartment where you can get it fast. All of your credit and debit cards are now worthless. The first time you use one of these, the authorities will know right where you are.
2) All of your electronic devices have to go including cell phones, lap tops, electronic watches, etc. Your car has to go.
3) When you make a phone call borrow someone else's phone of make a call from the old-fashioned pay phone.
4) You will have no further contact with friends and relatives.
5) "An airport is a police station." Stay out of all airports!
6) Ride on buses and old-fashioned taxis where you can pay cash.
7) You can either pitch a tent and hide in the country or make your way to another country not likely to send you back to the USA.
8) While on the run do not confide in anyone. In fact keep a very low profile and try to be invisible.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

California vs Trump: La Resistance Could Fall Victim To La Recession

California vs. Trump: La Résistance Could Fall Victim to La Récession

AMERICA IS A meta-democracy, made up of 50 partially contained sub-republics. California is the most populous, prosperous, and—in the face of the Trump administration’s hard-right policies—prone to protest.
Yesterday, in his State of the State address, Governor Jerry Brown emphasized those first two points (“This is California, we are the sixth most powerful economy in the world, one eighth of Americans live here”), before laying into his promise to defend the state’s protective immigration laws, expansive health care coverage, and globally-renowned climate change regulations from Trump’s anti-all-of-the-above agenda. But, the state’s budget—in many ways, its engine for defiance—is pretty reliant on money from gallows-bound programs like the Affordable Care Act. Also, as Brown himself frequently points out, California’s fortunes are closely tied to the stock market. La résistance could fall victim to la récession.
California has some pretty ambitious laws. It gives undocumented immigrants drivers licenses, and lets them attend public universities. It provides millions of people with health care. And it has some of the most ambitious climate regulations on the planet—including a plan to cut 40 percent of its emissions by 2030.
Policies cost money. And, even though California rakes in more dollars than any other state in the nation, its economy is among the most vulnerable. The state collects 75 percent of its income from taxes. Most of this comes from rich people—California’s progressive tax structure means the more you make, the more you pay. Functionally, this links California’s budget to the stock market, because rich people tend to own businesses and stock, rather than earn fixed wages. “This means California’s economy is sort of on a yo-yo diet,” says Bill Whalen, a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. That, in combination with a 1970s-era law that effectively froze property taxes (leaving the state to fill the budget gaps for local governments), leaves the state particularly open to economic downturns.
And that’s just a broad recession. California has other, more specific market vulnerabilities—like its vaunted tech industry. California gets a swipe off the top of any company that goes public. A burst bubble would blow a hole in the budget. And the Trump administration’s moves aren’t helping. “The Trans Pacific Partnership, which has just been scuttled, is an example of where California likely stood to economically benefit,” says Chris Hoene, executive director of the California Budget and Policy Center, an independent analysis organization. Governor Brown isn’t blind to this. He’s proposed an $8 billion “rainy day” fund to pad the budget in case of the unexpected.
Then, of course, there’s the expected: cuts from the federal government. “For example, California received $17 billion to cover the California Health Care Exchange and its expansion of MediCal because of the Affordable Care Act,” says Hoene. “Because the scale of the Affordable Care Act is so large, any potential effort from state leaders to make up ground from losing federal dollars will constrain what they can do in other service areas.” In past economic downturns, California has cut funding to public universities, which means higher tuitions and fewer professors.
Congressional Republicans have already taken the first steps to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, but still haven’t shown any signs of a plan to replace it, as promised. That’s not to say it won’t happen. “Inland central California is full of Republican voters,” says Whalen. “Kevin McCarthy, the House Majority Leader, is also from this area.” Some of these voting districts have as many as 40 percent of the population. The question, to Whalen, isn’t whether the Republicans will replace the ACA, it is whether the replacement comes after a significant—and costly—lag.

If all of this sounds like California is a suckling to the nanny state, listen closely: California historically gives more than it gets from the federal government. The state might be vulnerable to recessions or federal meddling, but, as Governor Brown put it during his State of the State, “When California hurts, America hurts.” Ouch.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Mary Tyler Moore Dies At Age 80

Get Ready For Martial Law In South Chicago

President Trump on Monday at the White House. On Tuesday night, he posted a message on Twitter that said he would “send in the Feds” if Chicago did not work to quell violence there. CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times
President Trump threatened federal intervention in Chicago on Tuesday night if the city does not do more to address violent crime, resurfacing a criticism he made during the presidential campaign.
“If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!” he said on Twitter just before 9:30 p.m.
The tweet came after the evening broadcast on Fox News of “The O’Reilly Factor,” which featured a segment in which the host, Bill O’Reilly, explored whether and how the federal government could intervene in combating violent crime by having federal authorities prosecute some cases or calling in the National Guard.
Both the segment and Mr. Trump’s tweet appeared to draw from an article published on Monday in The Chicago Tribune that stated that there had been more shootings and homicides so far this year than by the same time last year. The Tribune reported that as of early Monday, “at least 228 people had been shot in Chicago so far this year, a 5.5 percent increase from the 216 shot in the same period time last year.” It also reported that there had been at least 42 homicides in the city, an increase of 23.5 percent from the 34 homicides during the same period in 2016.
Asked to respond to Mr. Trump’s tweet, a spokesman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that the mayor had spoken, several times, on how the federal government could help address the city’s violence — and had done so earlier Tuesday evening on a local TV news program.
Eddie Johnson, Chicago’s police superintendent, issued a statement: “As the mayor said just a few hours ago, the Chicago Police Department is more than willing to work with the federal government to build on our partnerships with D.O.J., F.B.I., D.E.A. and A.T.F. and boost federal prosecution rates for gun crimes in Chicago.”
On Tuesday night, a Chicago police spokesman cited statistics that differed from those noted by Mr. Trump and The Tribune. So far in 2017, the spokesman said, 234 people have been shot, 38 of them fatally. That compares to 227 people shot during the same period in the start of 2016, 33 of whom died, he said. It was unclear why the number of homicides cited by Mr. Trump, The Tribune and Mr. O’Reilly — 42 — varied from that noted by the Chicago police.
The “O’Reilly Factor” segment featured a clip of Mr. Trump at the Republican National Convention last summer speaking of killings in Chicago and promising that “the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon — and I mean very soon — come to an end.”
In his inauguration speech last Friday, Mr. Trump said that “this American carnage stops right here, and stops right now.”
In a tweet this month, Mr. Trump cited Chicago’s high homicide rate before urging Mr. Emanuel to ask for federal assistance if he needs it.
Chicago has been pummeled by grim news. The city saw at least 762 homicides in 2016, the worst death toll in two decades and more bloodshed than the nation’s two larger cities, Los Angeles and New York, combined. And the uptick in violence comes even as Chicago has grappled with strained relations between its police force and its residents, particularly African-Americans. This month, the Department of Justice issued a stinging report that described failures throughout the Police Department, including rampant use of excessive force, especially against African-Americans and Latinos.
The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, the civil rights leader who has been outspoken about the need to stop the violence, seemed critical of Mr. Trump’s tweet and responded with his own: “We need a plan, not a threat. We need jobs, not jails.” He later added: “A good analysis precedes the prognosis.”
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