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Trump's Economic, Tax & Spending Plans

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Chinese Oil Imports From Iran Surge As Beijing Shifts To Iran Tankers To Bypass Sanctions


by Tyler Durden
Mon, 08/20/2018 - 23:05


One month ago, when discussing the shift in Iran's oil customer base as a result of Trump's withdrawal from the 2015 Nuclear treaty and the potential blowback from China, we noted that in a harbinger of what's to come, an executive from China's Dongming Petrochemical Group, an independent refiner from Shandong province, said his refinery had already cancelled U.S. crude orders. "We expect the Chinese government to impose tariffs on (U.S.) crude," the unnamed executive said. "We will switch to either Middle East or West African supplies," he said. We also said that China may even replace most if not all American oil with crude from Iran: "Chinese importers are not going to be intimidated, or swayed by U.S. sanctions."

And sure enough, today Reuters reported that Chinese buyers of Iranian oil are starting to shift their cargoes to vessels owned by National Iranian Tanker Co (NITC) for nearly all of their imports to keep supply flowing amid the re-imposition of economic sanctions by the United States.

To safeguard their supplies, state oil trader Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp and Sinopec Group, Asia’s biggest refiner, have activated a clause in its long-term supply agreements with National Iranian Oil Corp (NIOC) that allows them to use NITC-operated tankers, according to four sources with direct knowledge of the matter.​

The expected shift demonstrates that China - Iran’s biggest oil customer with India and the EU in 2nd and 3rd spot - will keep buying Iranian crude despite the US sanctions .



It also means that NITC will be shipping the oil to Chinese shores direct, keeping its customers' information secret to avoid US retaliation although it would be pretty simple to track where the bulk of Iran's tanker fleet is going. It was the same tactic used by China before the sanctions on Iran were lifted in 2016.

According to the report, in July all 17 tankers chartered to carry oil from Iran to China are operated by NITC. In June, 8 of 19 vessels chartered were Chinese operated.

Furthermore, China appears to also be importing more product: in July, those tankers were loaded about 23.8 million barrels of crude oil and condensate destined for China, or about 767,000 barrels per day (bpd) a 20% surge from June, when the loadings were a more modest 19.8 million barrels, or 660,000 bpd. Both month were higher than China's 2017 numbers when it imported an average of 623,000 bpd from Iran.

With the new shipping arrangement, Iranian oil cargoes to China are expected to stay at recent levels through October, said Reuters sources.
However, there is a problem: insurers, which are mainly U.S. or European based, and which are complying with the US sanctions, have already begun winding down their Iranian business to comply with the sanctions. This is also why the price for the oil under the long-term deals was changed to a delivered ex-ship basis from the previous free-on-board terms, meaning that Iran will cover all the costs and risks of delivering the crude as well as handling the insurance, the sources said.

But, as Reuters notes, it was not immediately clear how Iran would provide insurance for the Chinese oil purchases, worth some $1.5 billion a month. Insurance usually includes cover for the oil cargoes, third-party liability and pollution.

“This is not the first time companies exercised the option... Whenever there is a need the buyers can use that,” said a Reuters source, a senior Beijing-based oil executive.

As for where Iran will get the money, it simply has no choice, unless it is willing to risk losing its biggest customer. This leaves another option: China may simply front the funding needs to Iran in the way it arranged oil deliveries from Venezuela: by arranging a vendor financing in which China gets a steep discount, or is paid in kind, which would mean that even more of Iran's oil production will be meant for China.

Finally, there is the question of how the US will respond when Beijing is once again openly flouting - as it did during the last Iran sanctions - Trump's threats to all Iranian oil customers, and whether China's oil imports from Iran will be a sensitive issue in the upcoming China-US trade talks.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018...-beijing-shifts-iran-tankers-bypass-sanctions
 

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Tariffs Likely to Hurt U.S. More Than Rest of World, Maersk CEO Says
August 19, 2018 by Bloomberg



Fotokon / Shutterstock.com

By Christian Wienberg (Bloomberg) — The U.S. economy will be hit many times harder than the rest of the world by an escalating global trade war, according the the chief executive officer of A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S.

Soren Skou, who runs the world’s biggest shipping company from Copenhagen, said the fallout of the current protectionist wave “could easily end up being bigger in the U.S.” Tariffs could slow global annual trade growth by 0.1 to 0.3 percent, though for the U.S. the effect could be “perhaps 3 or 4 percent,” he said at Maersk’s headquarters on Friday. “And that would definitely not be good.”

The company transports about 20 percent of the world’s seaborne consumer goods, putting it in a unique position to gauge the fallout of tariffs on trade flows. Maersk has in the past broken with its culture of steering clear of any political debate to criticize the trade policies of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Maersk focuses on trade flows between Europe and Asia and so far its industry hasn’t been directly hurt by tariffs. In fact, demand grew 4 percent in the second quarter. But Skou says that may change if the U.S. starts targeting consumer goods.

“The first thing the American importers would do if tariffs are put on Chinese consumer goods would be to buy in Vietnam, in Indonesia or elsewhere in Asia,” Skou said. “Big U.S. consumer brands like Nike produce in all of Asia, not just in one country, so there will be a substitution effect.”

The U.S. put duties on $34 billion of Chinese goods last month, citing unfair trade practices by the world’s second-biggest economy. The Trump administration has said it will impose tariffs on a further $16 billion on Aug. 23, and even signaled it won’t shy away from targeting the entire $500 billion in Chinese exports to the U.S.

“The other factor is that there’s a lot of stuff that’s now imported into the U.S. that just isn’t produced anywhere within the U.S.,” Skou said. “You can’t get Nike sneakers or iPhones that are produced in the U.S. So it will end up being pushed on to the consumer.”

© 2018 Bloomberg L.P

http://gcaptain.com/protectionist-wave-to-hurt-u-s-more-than-rest-of-world-maersk-ceo-says/
 

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Donald Trump’s America: What Americans Think About The State Of The Country | Morning Joe | MSNBC
MSNBC


Published on Aug 21, 2018
Monmouth University polling finds that only 35% of Americans think the country is on the right track and only 30% believe Trump hires the best people. Morning Joe breaks down the numbers and what it means for the midterm elections.
» Subscribe to MSNBC: http://on.msnbc.com/SubscribeTomsnbc
 

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Donald Trump’s America: What Americans Think About The State Of The Country | Morning Joe | MSNBC
MSNBC


Published on Aug 21, 2018
Monmouth University polling finds that only 35% of Americans think the country is on the right track and only 30% believe Trump hires the best people. Morning Joe breaks down the numbers and what it means for the midterm elections.
» Subscribe to MSNBC: http://on.msnbc.com/SubscribeTomsnbc
 

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U.S. Will Lose From Trade War as Flows Shift, Top Miner Says
August 21, 2018 by Bloomberg



OVKNHR / Shutterstock

By David Stringer and Rishaad Salamat (Bloomberg) — The U.S. risks losing out from its curbs on trade as rival nations including China will seek to do more business with each other, BHP Billiton Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Andrew Mackenzie warned as the head of the world’s largest miner stepped up his criticism of rising protectionism.

“There’s a lot of countries in the world that want to trade more with each other, now that it looks like the U.S. wants to trade less with them,” Mackenzie said in a Bloomberg Television interview, citing discussions with global trade ministers. “ China will absolutely look to walk in that area and look to find exports with other people,” he said after BHP reported earnings.

Related: Tariffs Likely to Hurt U.S. More Than Rest of World, Maersk CEO Says

With its global reach and stable of products from iron ore to copper and oil, BHP is well-positioned to assess the fallout from President Donald Trump’s push for protectionism and the responses from China and the European Union. In March, Mackenzie spoke out against metals tariffs, describing them as “bad for America and bad for the world.” In its latest outlook, the miner warned the curbs will slow global growth, boost prices and eventually prompt consumers to push back as they become aware of the “true economic costs.”

Increased protectionism will “have a dampening effect” on the global economy, though China is likely to mitigate some of the impact by stimulating domestic demand and encouraging its exporters, Mackenzie said on Tuesday.

BHP’s concerns reflect a groundswell of opposition among global business leaders against the curbs. This month, Soren Skou, who runs the world’s biggest shipping company, A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, warned the U.S. economy will be hit many times harder than the rest of the world by a global trade war.

BHP said growth will slow from 3.5 to 4 percent this year to 3.25 and 3.75 percent. “We have revised our near-term world growth mid-case downward,” said Huw McKay, vice president of market analysis and economics. “The downgrade reflects the negative impact of rising trade protection, which we expect will be partially offset by more expansionary domestic policy settings.”

Copper has taken a heavy hit from concerns about the trade war and risks to growth, with the metal sinking into a bear market. BHP said the metal — used to make pipes and wires — had been hurt as “investor appetite for pro–growth asset classes declined on the back of escalating trade tension.”

The miner also highlighted steel, saying U.S. users are paying more. “The response to, and impact of, higher steel tariffs in the United States is a source of uncertainty,” McKay said. “What is certain is that end–users in the U.S. are paying considerably more for their steel than end–users in other regions.”

In time, the miner said consumers may rally against the tariffs. “As the true economic costs of trade protection are progressively recognized by global consumers, we anticipate that a popular mandate for a more open international trading environment will eventually emerge,” McKay said.

© 2018 Bloomberg L.P

http://gcaptain.com/u-s-will-lose-from-trade-war-as-flows-shift-top-miner-says/
 

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Germany Calls For Global Payment System Independent Of The US


by Tyler Durden
Tue, 08/21/2018 - 16:25


In a stunning vote of "no confidence" in the US monopoly over global payment infrastructure, Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Maas called for the creation of a new payments system independent of the US that would allow Brussels to be independent in its financial operations from Washington and as a means of rescuing the nuclear deal between Iran and the west.

Writing in the German daily Handelsblatt, Maas said "Europe should not allow the US to act over our heads and at our expense. For that reason it’s essential that we strengthen European autonomy by establishing payment channels that are independent of the US, creating a European Monetary Fund and building up an independent Swift system," he wrote, cited by the FT.

Maas said it was vital for Europe to stick with the Iran deal. "Every day the agreement continues to exist is better than the highly explosive crisis that otherwise threatens the Middle East," he said, with the unspoken message was even clearer: Europe no longer wants to be a vassal state to US monopoly over global payments, and will now aggressively pursue its own "Swift" network that is not subservient to Washington's every whim.


German foreign minister Heiko Maas

Swift, a Belgium-based global payment network, enables financial institutions worldwide to send and receive information about financial transactions. The system’s management claims Swift is politically neutral and independent, although it has previously been used to block transactions and enforce US sanctions against various countries, most notably Iran. In 2012, the Danish newspaper Berlingske wrote that US authorities managed to seize money being transferred from a Danish businessman to a German bank for a batch of US-sanctioned Cuban cigars. The transaction was made in US dollars, which allowed Washington to block it.

According to Thorsten Benner, director of the Global Public Policy Institute, a Berlin-based think-tank, Maas’s intervention was the “strongest call yet for EU financial and monetary autonomy vis-à-vis US."

The German foreign minister’s article highlights the depth of the dilemma facing European politicians as they struggle to keep the Iran deal alive while coping with the fallout of US sanctions imposed by Mr Trump against companies doing business with Tehran.

Maas also called for the creation of a “balanced partnership” with the US in which the Europeans filled the gaps left where the US withdrew from the world. Europe must, he said, “form a counterweight when the US crosses red lines”.

As the FT adds, the EU has vowed to protect European businesses from punitive measures adopted by Washington, but that has failed to convince EU companies, who are more concerned about maintaining their access to the lucrative US market than in the more modest opportunities presented by Iran.

Last month Washington rebuffed a high-level European plea to exempt crucial industries from sanctions. Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, and Steven Mnuchin, Treasury secretary, formally rejected an appeal for carve-outs in finance, energy and healthcare made by ministers from Germany, France, the UK and the EU.​

Swift is also affected: unless it wins an exemption from sanctions, it will be required by the US to cut off targeted Iranian banks from its network by early November or face possible countermeasures against both its board members and the financial institutions that employ them. These could include asset freezes and US travel bans for the individuals, and restrictions on banks’ ability to do business in the US.

Maas’s stark warning against US domination of global payments comes with relations between Germany and the US in their worst state for decades. Mr Trump has chastised Berlin over its large trade surplus, its relatively low military spending and its support for Nord Stream 2, a new gas pipeline that will bring Russian gas directly to Germany.

Meanwhile, Berlin has looked on in dismay as Mr Trump has withdrawn the US from the Iran deal and the Paris climate treaty, imposed import tariffs on EU steel and aluminium and appeared to question America’s commitment to Nato.

In short: Europe has finally had enough and it plans on hitting back at Trump where it truly hurts: the money.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-08-21/germany-calls-global-payment-system-independent-us
 

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"No Further Talks Scheduled": China-U.S. Trade Negotiations A Complete Bust


by Tyler Durden
Fri, 08/24/2018 - 05:27


When reports emerged last week of a low-level Chinese delegation coming to meet with members of the Treasury department ahead of what the WSJ described would be a November trade summit in the US, stocks spiked and yields ran up (they have since tumbled with the 2s10s yield curve collapsing to just 20 basis points) on hopes that the long-running trade feud between the US and China may finally be coming to an end.

Skeptics laughed and said that after three rounds of failed trade talks, the fourth one would be no different.

The skeptics were right because after the conclusion on Thursday of the second day of the closely watched trade talks between the U.S. and China, there was "no major progress" according to Bloomberg, with the stage once again set for further escalation of the trade war between the US and China.

Worse, according to the Bloomberg source, not only are no further talks scheduled at this point but the Chinese officials have reportedly raised the possibility that no further negotiations could happen until after November’s mid-term elections in the U.S.

The White House issued a statement which said the countries “exchanged views on how to achieve fairness, balance, and reciprocity in the economic relationship, including by addressing structural issues in China” identified by the U.S. in an investigation into Chinese intellectual-property practices. The Chinese commerce ministry was even more terse, stating that two nations had "constructive, candid" communication, and will keep in touch about the next steps.

Translation: nobody was willing to compromise by even an inch.

Here's what happened according to the Bloomberg source: the U.S. Treasury presented a revised version of the "provocative" list of demands presented by the Trump administration when the two sides had their first high-level meetings in May. The Chinese delegation, meanwhile, showed no signs of bringing any significant compromises to the table this week

Even relative doves inside the Trump administration have begun pressing for China to make significant structural reforms by unwinding industrial subsidies and at least scaling back its "Made in China 2025" plan to lead the world in industries such as artificial intelligence and robotics.​
Yet the Chinese side has continued to offer only increased purchases of American commodities aimed at reducing the U.S. trade deficit, believing that is the best tactic to try and see off further U.S. tariffs, said the person familiar with the discussions.​
In other words, back to square one.

The lack of any progress is understandable: as we reported earlier, Trump is convinced he is winning the trade war by simply observing the level of the stock market and the bear market in Chinese stocks.




Meanwhile, for China "resistance" to Trump has become an issue of nationalistic pride with local media issuing increasingly more harsh and acerbic comments aimed at the White House; furthermore China may be observing the political fiascos engulfing the US president and may be growing more confident that it is only a matter of time before Trump is forced to fold. Beijing is also confident that after a humiliating - for Trump - midterm election outcome, the president will have no choice but to come to the negotiating table waving a white flag.

Whatever the case, the Chinese came, saw, and nothing happened.

The conclusion of the pointless two-day talks came just hours after Beijing and Washington rolled out their latest round of tit-for-tat tariffs on Thursday in which $16 billion in imports hit by each side took the total value of goods covered as a result of President Donald Trump’s trade war with China to $100 billion.

And with no progress on trade war negotiations, the Trump administration is now set to enact a far larger tranche of tariffs covering some 6,000 products from China with an annual import value of $200 billion that are expected to take effect as early as next month.

But while the US stock market has so far ignored the threat of a global economic slowdown as a result of relentless trade war escalation, this time it may be forced to pay attention:

That move and the anticipated retaliation from the Chinese would mark the largest escalation so far of the trade war between the two economies and take it into new territory in terms of both scale and by starting to hit American consumers more directly.​

Clearly oblivious of any downside risk from further escalation, Trump on Thursday highlighted new tougher restrictions aimed at Chinese investment in the U.S. at a White House event and said he was committed to continuing his trade fight against China.

"We can’t allow the things that were happening to happen,” Trump said during a meeting with legislators.

Pouring fuel on the fire, Trump further accused Beijing of engaging in currency manipulation, long one of the most sensitive points of friction between the two countries.

What are the immediate next steps?

According to Bloomberg, U.S. officials will next meet in Washington on Friday with delegations from the European Union and Japan "to discuss joint efforts to confront China at the World Trade Organization over its industrial subsidies and the conduct of its state-owned enterprises." How China will respond to the US trying to gang up on it is unclear, but it will hardly welcome the pivot.

But of greater concern for risk assets is that trade hawks including US trade rep Robert Lighthizer are eager to move forward with plans to impose tariffs on the additional $200 billion in Chinese imports: the goods to be covered in the next round of tariffs range from chemicals, raw materials and seafood to vacuums, bicycles and furniture. The U.S. could impose the duties after a comment period ends Sept. 6.

The next escalation round - which is now virtually assured - takes place even as US corporations are becoming increasingly vocal against the ongoing feud, amid concerns for their profitability: in hearings this week in Washington, U.S. companies and industry lobbyists have been offering their mostly negative feedback on the proposed additional duties of as much as 25 percent.

“This is a political game being played with my company as the game piece,” Ross Bishop, president of BrightLine Bags Inc., testified on Monday. The California-based company makes nylon gear bags for pilots and other customers, and Bishop pleaded with the trade panel to “help me keep my company alive.”​
All of that is irrelevant, however, as long as the US stock market keeps rising, which it will: recall that August is the peak month for buybacks...



... while Chinese stocks drop further into bear territory and the yuan resumes it slide to 7.00 and beyond: a number, which based on the latest price action - despite the recent interventions by the PBOC aimed at crippling the shorts - should be hit in very short notice.




https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018...led-china-us-trade-negotiations-complete-bust
 

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Like anything else I post take this fwiw and dyodd.

Defections From Pax Americana Coming Louder And Faster


by Tyler Durden
Fri, 08/24/2018 - 20:25

Authored by Tom Luongo via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

It seems everyday I wake up and see another instance of defections coming from US allies over the behavior of some corner of the Trump Administration.



Over the weekend Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte hit back strongly at US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Affairs Randall Schriver who told Duterte to “think very carefully” about acquiring a Russian submarine.

Now if you know anything about Duterte he rarely thinks very carefully before opening his mouth. And this time was no different. He rightly told Schriver publicly to get stuffed and make his case why the Philippines shouldn’t pursue its best interests.

Moreover, as always, Duterte invited Schriver to a face-to-face meeting over this.

The US is applying the same pressure to India over buying S-400 missile defense systems from Russia. Turkey’s troubles with the US are all over the news with Pastor Brunson the public reason but it is Turkey’s working closely with Russia on important energy projects like the massive Turkish Stream pipeline, nuclear power plants as well as committing India’s sin of choosing the S-400 over the US Patriot system.

A Patriot system, by the way, that has been proven in recent months by the Syrian Army to be very ineffective. Meanwhile Iran unveiled its first homegrown fighter jet in a clear act of independence which will not be tolerated.

What started as small moments of defiance a few years ago are turning into full-throated shouts of opposition as the US pushes its leverage in financial markets to step on the necks of anyone who doesn’t toe the line.

And Trump feeds off this by casting everyone as a leach who has been sucking off the US’s breast for decades. It doesn’t matter the issue, to Trump US economic fragility is a hammer and every trade and military partner a nail to be bashed over the head to pay their way.

What we are seeing is the culmination of a long-term plan by global elites to tighten the financial noose around the world through overlapping trade and tariff structures and weaponizing the dollar’s position at the center of global financial interdependence.

Trump is against that in principle, but not against the US maintaining as much of the empire as possible.

So, everyday another round of sanctions makes the case against continuing to do business with the US stronger. Everyday another global player speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and makes contingency plans for a world without the dollar at the center of it all.

The latest major one was with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. This meeting wasn’t expected to provide anything concrete, only vague assurances that projects like the Nordstream 2 pipeline goes through.

But, no breakthroughs on Crimea or Ukraine were expected nor delivered. It was, however, an opportunity for both Putin and Merkel to be humanized in the European media. Between Putin’s attending Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl’s wedding as well as the garden party photo op background for their talk, this meeting between them was a bit of a ‘charm tour’ to assist Merkel in the polls while expanding on Putin’s humanity post World Cup and Helsinki.

That said, however, the statement by Merkel’s Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, about the need for a new financial payment system which bypasses the US-dominated SWIFT system was the big bombshell.

Maas openly accused the US of weaponizing the dollar and disrupting the very foundations of global trade, which is correct, to achieve its goals of regime change in Turkey and Iran. Maas mainly tied this to Trump’s pulling out of the JCPOA but the reality is far bigger than this.

The Magnitsky Act and its progenitors around the world are a major evolution in the US’s ability to bring financial pain to anyone who it disapproves of. Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) laws also into this framework.

While KYC and AML laws can at least have the appearance of validity in attempting to stop illegal activity, targeted sanctioning is simply Orwellian.

It politicizes any and all economic activity the world over. Just look at the recent reasons for these sanctions – unproven allegations of chemical weapons usage and electioneering. Recent actions by the US have driven this point home to its ‘allies’ with stunning clarity.

Why do you think Putin brought up Bill Browder’s name at the Helsinki press conference? He knows that Browder’s story is a lie and it’s a lie that has been used as the foundation for the type of political repression we’re seeing today.

The US is blocking the simplest of transactions in the dollar now, claiming that any use of the dollar is a global privilege which it can revoke at a whim. Aside from the immorality of this, that somehow dollars you traded goods or services for on the open market are still somehow the property of the U.S to claw back whenever it is politically convenient, this undermines the validity of the dollar as a rational medium of exchange for trade.

This is why after the first round of sanctions over the reunification with Crimea Putin ordered the development of a national electronic payment system. He rightly understood that Russia needed a means by which to conduct business that was independent of US political meddling.

So, to me, if Heiko Maas is serious about the threat posed by continued use of the dollar in EU trade, he should look to Putin for guidance on building a system separate from SWIFT.

Moreover, Maas’ statement didn’t go out to the world without Merkel’s approval. This tells me that this was likely the major topic of conversation between her and Putin over the weekend. Because a payment system that skirts the dollar is one the US can’t control.

It took the Russians longer than they should have to develop MIR. Putin complained about how slow things went because too many within the Bank of Russia and the financial community could be thought of as fifth columnists for the West.

It’s also why development of the crypto-ruble and Russia’s policy on cryptocurrencies has been so slow. It took Putin publicly ordering the work done by a certain time to get these tasks completed. In the end, it shouldn’t take the EU long to spin up a SWIFT-compliant internal alternative. It is, after all, just code.

And that’s why so many of the US’s former satraps are now flexing their geopolitical muscle. The incentives aren’t there anymore to keep quiet and go along. Alternatives exist and will be utilized.

I don’t expect the EU brass to do much about this issue, the threat may be all that is needed to call Trump’s bluff. But, if in the near future you see an announcement of MIR being accepted somewhere in the EU don’t be surprised.

Because what used to be a node of political stability and investor comfort is now a tool of chaos and abuse. And abusing your customers is never a winning business model in the long run. Customers of the dollar will remind the US of that before this is over.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-08-24/defections-pax-americana-coming-louder-and-faster
 

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In victory for unions, judge overturns key parts of Trump executive orders

Washington Post
Lisa Rein
3 hrs ago

Unions representing federal workers on Saturday declared victory in what they have described as an assault by the Trump administration after a federal judge struck down key provisions of a set of executive orders aimed at making it easier to fire employees and weaken their representation.

The ruling, by U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson in Washington, was a setback to the White House’s efforts to rein in federal unions, which have retained significant power over working conditions even as private-sector unions are in decline.


“It’s a big win for us,” said David Borer, general counsel for the American Federation of Government Employees. With 750,000 members, the AFGE was the largest of about a dozen unions to sue the administration to block the new rules affecting 2.1 million civil servants.

The AFGE and the other plaintiffs plan to demand that the administration immediately reverse the new rules, which were issued just before Memorial Day and had begun to take effect in several agencies.

In a 122-page decision, Jackson — nominated to the bench by President Barack Obama in 2013 — took issue with key elements of each order and immediately barred the administration from enacting them.

“They’re going to have to unwind what they’ve already done,” Borer said.

The White House on Saturday referred questions to the Justice Department, which said in a statement that it is reviewing the decision and considering its next steps.

President Trump had sought with three executive orders to broaden his get-tough approach to a federal bureaucracy he has called unaccountable and wasteful.

The rules restricted the use of “official time” — on-duty time that union officials can spend representing their members in grievances and on other issues. The new rules limited the issues that could be bargained over in union negotiations. And they rolled back the rights of workers deemed to be poor performers to appeal disciplinary action against them.

When the White House announced the new rules, Andrew Bremberg, head of the president’s Domestic Policy Council, said the unions are major contributors to driving up costs and have paralyzed agencies’ efforts to discipline poor performers and make the government more accountable to taxpayers.

“These executive orders make it easier for agencies to remove poor-performing employees and ensure that taxpayer dollars are more efficiently used,” Bremberg said at the time. The president, he noted, called on Congress during his State of the Union address “to empower every Cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers and to remove those that undermine the public trust or fail the American people.”

But Jackson found that the president lacks the authority to impose many of the measures, which she said interfered with the right to good-faith collective bargaining that Congress laid out for civil servants in 1978.

In her decision, the judge wrote: “While . . . the President has the authority to issue executive orders that carry the force of law with respect to federal labor relations, no such orders can operate to eviscerate the right to bargain collectively as envisioned” in the federal labor-management relations statute.

Under the statute, she added, “the collective bargaining process is not a cutthroat death match.”

For decades, the unions, which are large donors to congressional Democrats, have had vast power in the federal workforce, with a voice in almost every workplace issue except pay, which is set by Congress.

The judge’s ruling could create chaos in many federal agencies, where the Trump administration had begun implementing the new rules, expelling union officials from dozens of offices where they had worked for years inside agencies and using the rules to restrict the workplace issues over which the unions could bargain.

The government had not historically charged the unions rent, but with the new rules, agencies began to demand such payments. The unions declined to pay and were in various stages of vacating the offices when the judge issued her order.

Many union representatives had been told to return to their old jobs as the administration began to limit official time — and at least one official has been served with notice of termination for refusing to do so, AFGE officials said.

“The judge rightly found that the president is not above the law and cannot, through these blatantly anti-union and anti-worker executive orders, eviscerate employee rights,” Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents 150,000 federal workers, said in a statement.

The orders had required federal agencies to reduce the time given to poor performers or employees found to be involved in misconduct to show improvement or fight their cases, cutting it from 120 days to 30 days. They also limited a worker’s route to appeal a poor performance evaluation.

Perhaps the most contentious provision was one limiting what union officials could do on behalf of their members while on the clock at their government jobs, which the White House and congressional Republicans have consistently derided as “taxpayer-funded union time.”

House Republicans have introduced numerous bills to eliminate what is called official time, but those efforts have failed to gain traction.

The unions defend official time as valuable time spent safeguarding their members against improper treatment by management.

One of the executive orders had capped official time at 25 percent of an employee’s time on the job.

Jackson, who was vetted as a possible replacement for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, agreed with most of the unions’ arguments, including that official time is a right protected by Congress.

“Congress undertook to guarantee federal employees the statutory right to engage in good-faith collective bargaining,” she wrote, saying that that right “safeguards the public interest.”

Jackson also struck down rules limiting the kinds of issues on which unions could negotiate in collective bargaining.

She left a few elements of the new rules in place. She upheld a provision giving an agency the ability to use its discretion in firing or disciplining an employee without having to go through a number of graduated, often-drawn-out steps.

The judge also upheld the right of agencies unilaterally to impose contracts if it is clear that the unions have delayed negotiations in bad faith.

A test case of management’s right to impose a contract without completing bargaining came in March, when the Education Department did so after a year of bitter negotiations fell apart.

Management and the union accused each other of refusing to come to the table. The agency announced an “agreement” it said reflected its final offer.

The union contends that it had not negotiated any provisions — and says the imposition of the contract was illegal. The AFGE filed an unfair-labor-practice complaint with the Federal Labor Relations Authority and was recently advised that mediators concluded that the agency had acted in bad faith and in violation of federal law.

But the White House has not nominated a general counsel to the small agency, blocking it from issuing a decision that would allow the violation to be formally charged and processed.

That case is just one of many actions left to be resolved after the judge’s ruling.

lisa.rein@washpost.com

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/in...-trump-executive-orders/ar-BBMqryZ?ocid=ientp
 

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Escobar: Sun Tzu And The Art Of Fighting A Trade War


by Tyler Durden
Sat, 08/25/2018 - 21:15


Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times,

It will be long, it will be nasty and Trump would be foolish to underestimate Xi and the resolve of China...



Imagine the Chinese leadership out of the public eye for nearly two weeks – virtually holed up, immersed in a secret debate. That is exactly what just happened at Beidaihe, the beach resort in eastern Hebei province.

While there might be James Bond-ish conspiracy theories out there for this annual ritual, there are no doubts about the key theme of discussions: The US-China trade war.

The second-largest world economy under President Xi Jinping is deep into the long march towards superpower status. The previous geopolitical and geoeconomic status quo is dead.

Xi has made it abundantly clear that for China to just become a “responsible stakeholder” in the post-Cold War US-controlled liberal international order is not enough.

It did not escape the notice of the senior leadership at Beidaihe of the change of direction by the US. President Donald Trump’s administration is taking a belligerent approach while the US National Security Strategy in December 2017 unmistakably labeled China a “revisionist power,” a strategic rival and for all practical purposes, from the Pentagon’s point of view, a top threat.

Instead, what the Beijing leadership identifies is what we could define, in Chinese culture terminology, as the “three threats.”

A threat to their foreign policy concept for the coming decades, such as the Belt and Road Initiative, and a threat to China’s own integration drive centered on the three strategic zones of the Greater Bay Area, the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei corridor and the Yangtze river delta. And, of course, a threat to the Chinese stock market.

State media is still grappling on how to deal with it. People’s Daily has, politely, defined the Trump administration’s strategy as “engagement plus containment.”

China Global Television Network (CGTN) has played the soft power card by addressing a sarcastic letter to Trump. The network thanked him for uniting the rest of the world while forcing China to make its economic environment more seductive to foreign investment. The CGTN video subsequently “disappeared” from YouTube and Twitter.

So, even as the leadership consensus may be this is all about containing China’s irresistible rise, and even considering the fog surrounding major Beijing decisions, it’s still possible to detect some fascinating nuances.

No mercy
For Trump, on the record, “trade wars are good and easy to win.” That reflects his fascination with the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) ethos. Trump, in this case, is The Undertaker bent on taking Xi to the woodshed. Xi is no more Mr. Nice Guy, Trump’s former “good friend.”

So, Xi cannot possibly believe that galvanizing the crowd like superhero The Rock will save the day. The WWE is not about “win-win” – that is for losers. Now, it is no holds barred. Trump accuses China of US election interference: “Fools that are so focused on looking only at Russia should start also looking in another direction, China.”

China’s military “adventurism” allows the Pentagon to come up with a Space Force. China is also barred from investing in US industries related to national security.

The US response to the reach of the Belt and Roaf Initiative is to invest in the fuzzy “Indo-Pacific” – by committing a paltry $113 million in energy, infrastructure, and digital commerce. “Made in China 2025” is qualified as an absolute threat to “America First.”

And China is increasingly depicted as “malign” – the buzzword of choice that makes Trump, in this case, fully aligned with the industrial-military-security-think tank complex.

So, how to fight a cage match with no referee? Enter Sun Tzu, China’s legendary military strategist who wrote The Art of War. The first rule is simple: “All warfare is based on deception.” As in Beijing gearing up to negotiate both as a partner and a threat.

‘Outside barbarians’
It will be long, it will be nasty, it will be protracted, going way beyond the talks this week in the US, which importantly do not feature Vice-President Wang “Firefighter” Qishan, a key player and Xi’s trusted consigliere. He is more useful coordinating long-term strategy in Beijing.



Here, a quick flashback to the British Empire is in order. In 1793, during the first diplomatic mission to Beijing, led by Lord Macartney and received by Emperor Qianlong, the Brits quickly identified how the teeming markets of China posed a “threat” to Europe and the contemporary world trade system.

China was self-sufficient at the time and exported to Europe goods such as silk, tea, textiles, porcelain. In fact, all the trimmings of the luxury market in a web of silk routes or an earlier version of the Belt and Road.

But what did they import? Not much, apart from Siberian furs, some exotic food and ingredients for traditional Chinese medicine. Here is Emperor Qianlong comments: “The Celestial Empire possesses all things in prolific abundance and lacks no product within its borders. There is, therefore, no need to import the manufactures of outside barbarians in exchange for our own products.”

We all know how that ended – gunboat diplomacy, the Opium Wars, Beijing being sacked in 1860, “unequal treaties” and the Chinese “century of humiliation.”

All that still features deeply in the Chinese collective unconscious as much as the real roots of the current trade war. Deng Xiaoping’s brilliant strategy was to open China’s special economic zones or SEZs as unbeatable, low-cost production bases for Western and Asian multinationals.

Deng offered the prime platform for the expansion of global capitalism. The inevitable consequence was a stampede of foreign direct investment (FDI), off-shoring and outsourcing.

Now, compare it with key data supplied by China’s General Administration and Customs. In the first six months of this year, no less than 41.58% of China’s exports to the rest of the world came from American, European and Asian multinationals.

There is no evidence corporate US – represented by multinational companies – is willing to sacrifice low production costs to “bring those jobs back.” Multinational companies also prize a devalued yuan because that keeps those low production costs down.

Additionally, any Trump attack on “Made in China 2025” does not alter the fact that the world’s second-largest economy is relentlessly climbing up the manufacturing ladder. Eventually, it will overtake the US in technological innovation.

As Zhigang Tao, director of the Institute for China and Global Development at Hong Kong University, pointed out, Beijing handed American capital the proverbial offer you can’t refuse – access to the Chinese market in exchange of technological transfer.

“[In fact,] this technology-for-market-access strategy has worked extremely well, as evidenced by China’s rise in key industries including high-speed rail, aviation, automobiles and wind turbines,” Tao said.

So, the next step should be an extension of the Tesla-in-Shanghai model.

Class struggle?
Seducing American capital to invest in China under more lenient rules may be only one aspect of a Sun Tzu maneuver for Beijing to defuse the trade war. Beidaihe certainly evaluated what might happen if this all goes wrong and becomes a hot trade war.

A Hurricane Tariff would have the potential to devastate China’s employment and financial landscape and provoke high inflation and even a recession. Xi cannot possibly risk losing his de facto power base, which is not the Chinese proletariat, but the rising middle class on a frenetic consumption and global tourism binge.

Add to that, the relentless working-class anger, already in full effect, according to the University of Utah’s Minqi Li. After all “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” is hardly Marx.

Proverbial Western myopia has been riffing about a China collapse for years. Yes, there is a possible debt bomb. Yes, China’s dependency on foreign sources of oil and gas is a recurrent nightmare. And yes, US-China relations are now unmistakably in Cold War territory, even without considering the South China Sea and Taiwan.

But underestimating a rising power capable of planning a concerted global strategy in detail up to 2049 is foolish. Xi and Trump will have the chance to have a serious face-off on Nov. 30 at the G20 summit in Argentina.

Trump may even bill it as a “win”, as in his summits with Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Sun Tzu, though, is waiting in the wings.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-08-25/escobar-sun-tzu-and-art-fighting-trade-war
 

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Could the China Trade Spat adversely affect Gold & Silver Prices?
Illuminati Silver


Published on Aug 26, 2018
http://illuminatisilver.com

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Could the China Trade Spat adversely affect Gold & Silver Prices?

Today is Sunday 26th August 2018 and we are very briefly covering the response by China against American Tariff’s and asking the question Could the China Trade Spat adversely affect Gold & Silver Prices?

. Last Thursday, the US imposed a second wave of tariffs on Chinese goods worth $16 bn and China responded immediately in kind. The result is that both sides are now imposing 25% tariffs on a total of $50bn worth of each other’s goods in other words a total of $100bn.

The US has since threatened a third round of tariffs on an additional $200bn of Chinese goods which could happen as early as September. President Trump also stated, that if necessary, he would place tariffs on $500bn worth of Chinese goods.

Our view put simply is that President Trump believes that as China exports more to the US than the US exports to China, then China will be more adversely affected by such measures.

This is a complex economic trade area with many factors affecting the outcome, which we shall discuss more within our Inner Sanctum when it is launched. However, one consequence of a poorer China whether through trade or currency devaluation will undoubtedly be a decline in its purchase of commodities, including gold and silver which will have a dampening affect on its price – but we are not at this stage yet.

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Gold and Silver weekly Update – w/e 17th August 2018
https://youtu.be/fANRkQGlcYo
 

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China’s Unipec to Resume U.S. Oil Purchases After Tariff Policy Change -Sources
August 24, 2018 by Reuters



tcly / Shutterstock




By Florence Tan and Meng Meng SINGAPORE/BEIJING, Aug 24 (Reuters) – China’s Unipec will resume purchases of U.S. crude oil in October after a two-month halt due to the trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies, three sources with knowledge of the matter said.

The decision to start buying crude oil again from the United States comes after Beijing earlier in August excluded it from its import tariff list.
A source with knowledge of the matter said Unipec will “buy some U.S. crude, loading in October, following the change in Beijing’s policy.”

“Unipec’s imports shrunk when China retaliated by putting crude oil on the tariff list but now it is coming back to normal business with import volumes recovering,” a second source said.

The sources spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to discuss commercial deals with media.

Unipec did not respond to a request for comment.

Unipec, the trading arm of Asia’s biggest refiner Sinopec and also one of the largest buyers of U.S. oil, stopped loading American crude in August and September after Beijing announced in June that it plans to impose a 25 percent tariff on crude oil imports from the United States.

Following lobbying by Sinopec, crude was dropped from China’s final tariff list earlier in August, allowing Unipec to resume importing U.S. oil, the sources said.

It was not clear how much U.S. oil Unipec would buy. U.S oil takes about 1-1/2 months to reach China, which means cargoes loaded in October would arrive in November or December.

It also was not clear, however, whether all of the U.S. crude bought by Sinopec would end up in China.

A third source said the October cargoes were meant for third-party trading, meaning they may be sold on and end up in other countries.

Before the trade dispute broke out, China overtook Canada as the largest importer of U.S. crude in the first five months this year, importing an average of nearly 350,000 barrels per day, data from U.S. Energy Information Administration showed.

The resumption of U.S. oil purchases may not last long, however.

U.S. and Chinese talks aimed at resolving the trade dispute ended on Thursday with no breakthrough, and both countries instead activated another round of tariffs on $16 billion worth of each other’s goods.

Many analysts expect U.S. crude to be hit with tariffs eventually should no solution be found.

(Reporting by Florence Tan in SINGAPORE and Meng Meng in BEIJING; Additional reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Henning Gloystein and Tom Hogue)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2018.

http://gcaptain.com/chinas-unipec-to-resume-u-s-oil-purchases-after-tariff-policy-change-sources/
 

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Trump plans morning announcement on trade after proclaiming 'big deal looking good with Mexico' as two countries move to NAFTA agreement - but they don't have Justin Trudeau on side

  • Trump tweeted Monday: 'A big deal looking good with Mexico!'
  • The president imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum which angered allies and raised pressure for a new deal
  • The Dow Jones Industrial average immediately jumped 200 points on the news
  • Trump plans an announcement Monday morning
  • Trump campaigned on tossing the existing NAFTA agreement and trying to negotiate a new one
  • Mexican source said a Monday announcement was near-certain
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...TA-agreement-close-item-pending-minister.html
 

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Trump announces separate U.S.-Mexico trade agreement, says Canada may join later


David Lynch, Damian Paletta
16 mins ago


President Trump announced Monday that the United States has reached agreement with Mexico on a new trade deal that he declared will not be called NAFTA -- a name he said has bad connotations.

“It’s a big day for trade. It’s a big day for our country,” Trump told reporters gathered in the Oval Office to watch him speak by phone with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Trump said he would see if Canada could be part of the deal, but that a separate deal with Canada was possible. That would amount to the biggest change yet in U.S. trade policy under the Trump administration if Trump rips up the North American Free Trade Agreement and replaces it with a bilateral deal with Mexico.

Trump referred to the possible new deal as the United States-México trade agreement.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland is expected to arrive in Washington later Monday or Tuesday morning. The aim had been to have a “handshake deal” among the three countries for a new free trade agreement by the close of business Friday, an official familiar with the talks said.

A spokesman for Freeland said Canada was “encouraged by the continued optimism shown by our negotiating partners" but made clear that a final agreement would require careful review and more discussions.

“We will only sign a new NAFTA that is good for Canada and good for the middle class,” the spokesman said. “Canada’s signature is required.”
If Canada doesn’t sign off, it is unclear what Trump might do, as he has threatened to try to cancel the entire trade pact.

But if Canada does agree to a new deal, it would allow Trump to officially notify Congress that a deal had been reached, starting a 90-day clock under the rules governing the American president’s trade negotiating authority and allowing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to sign the deal before his successor, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, takes office Dec. 1.

López Obrador has been supportive of the negotiations but would be likely to seek changes if the treaty is not completed before he assumes the presidency. His concerns about cementing Mexico’s energy privatization in a new NAFTA were among the final sticking points in the talks.
With only five days remaining for the United States and Canada to iron out their differences, negotiators realize they have exhausted all their wiggle room. “Realistically, it’s certainly tight,” the official said.

Larry Herman, a Toronto trade lawyer and former Canadian trade negotiator, said Canada has “every right” to examine the details of what was agreed to between Mexico and the United States and will then decide how to proceed.

“I think it’s appalling that Canada has been kept at arm’s length from these talks over the past number of weeks,” Herman said.

While Herman said he would expect Canada to resume participation in the talks, “there’s no way a NAFTA agreement can be ready for signature by the end of this month. It’s not going to happen.”

White House officials had insisted that the new NAFTA deal would have to expire after five years, a sunset demand that both Canada and Mexico had rejected in recent weeks. It could not be learned whether Trump administration officials had backed down from this demand or whether it would be part of the final discussions.

Trump has made renegotiating NAFTA a centerpiece of his economic and foreign policy agenda, arguing that the aging trade deal disadvantages American workers by luring U.S. jobs and companies overseas.

This approach has alarmed many Republicans, who support NAFTA’s free trade roots and worried about how Trump’s approach would impact farmers. But Democrats have mostly been split, as some agreed with Trump’s focus on manufacturing jobs but others worried about Trump’s take-it-or-leave-it negotiating style.

Even if Trump cuts a final deal with Mexico and Canada, Congress will likely have to vote to approve any changes.

In an effort to force both Mexico and Canada to agree to a new deal, Trump has imposed tariffs on all steel and aluminum imports from their countries and suggested that he would waive these tariffs only if they make concessions as part of a new trade deal.

Talks have dragged on for months, at times becoming quite personal, particularly when Trump hurled a series of insults at Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, leading many to believe that a deal would ultimately prove out of reach.

But it was Mexico that offered Trump the best opening in recent weeks.

In recent days, U.S. and Mexican diplomats reached agreement on key elements of a new treaty, including an increase in the percentage of each car -- to 75 percent from the current 62.5 percent -- that must be made in North America to qualify for duty-free treatment.

The two sides agreed to a provision that would require a significant portion of each vehicle to be made in high-wage factories, a measure aimed at discouraging factory jobs from leaving the United States for Mexico.

Negotiators also resolved a dispute over how to treat cars and trucks produced in Mexican plants that do not comply with the new treaty’s content rules. American companies importing those vehicles will pay a 2.5 percent tariff.

“What most of us are focused on now is: what happens next?” said Dan Ujczo, a trade attorney with Dickinson Wright.

Having resolved their major sticking points with Mexico, the Trump administration is now expected to press Canada to accept quickly the consensus terms. But Trudeau, whom Trump criticized in harsh terms following the Group of Seven summit in Quebec in June, does not want to be viewed at home as conceding to the unpopular American president.

“Can we actually get a deal done with Canada when they’re negotiating with a gun to their head and a ticking clock?” Ujczo said. “Canada’s got some choices to make.”

Trump has been critical of Canada’s dairy management system, which restricts imports of poultry, eggs and dairy products to provide Canadian farmers high prices.

Another long-standing point of contention was the U.S. demand that the treaty sunset every five years unless explicitly reauthorized by the three governments. Business leaders complain such language would make it too difficult to plan future investments.

“The competitiveness of North America will be diminished if companies fear the rules are at risk of constant change,” the Information Technology Industry Council said Friday. “These potential provisions risk jeopardizing the incentives for businesses to innovate, invest, hire, and produce across North America.”

The NAFTA renegotiation has been a rocky one. The president over the past year repeatedly lambasted the original 1994 treaty, calling it a “bad joke” and blaming it for the loss of millions of American factory jobs.

One year ago, U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer kicked off the negotiations by calling for a major overhaul of trade rules to take account of nearly a quarter-century of economic changes and to rectify the imbalance in trade between the United States and its southern neighbor.

Trump, he said, was “not interested in a mere tweaking of a few provisions.”

Though trade deals are complex affairs that typically require years of glacial bargaining, administration officials initially hoped to finish the job by the end of 2017. They failed to meet that ambitious timetable and also blew through revised deadlines for the end of March and late May.

This time, the deadline may be real, given a congressional requirement for 90 days notice of an impending trade deal. If the administration doesn’t formally notify Congress that it has reached agreement with both Canada and Mexico by the end of August, Peña Nieto, the outgoing Mexican president, will not be able to sign it.

Negotiators want to get a deal wrapped up before López Obrador, who might demand additional changes, takes office.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world...s-canada-may-join-later/ar-BBMvtCS?ocid=ientp
 

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Trump reveals a deal has been reached with Mexico, calling it 'a big day for trade' as he puts President Peña Nieto on Oval Office speakerphone - and says it won't be called NAFTA because the name has a 'bad connotation' as a 'rip-off' for the US

  • Trump tweeted Monday: 'A big deal looking good with Mexico!'
  • The president imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum which angered allies and raised pressure for a new deal
  • The Dow Jones Industrial average immediately jumped 200 points on the news
  • Trump campaigned on tossing the existing NAFTA agreement and trying to negotiate a new one
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...TA-agreement-close-item-pending-minister.html
 

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"Canada Just Got Played": How Mexico Stabbed Canada In The Back
https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-08-27/how-mexico-just-stabbed-canada-back

...Mexico just stabbed Canada in the back in order to get a deal with the US on preferential terms to Canada, just as Trump desired, and in vivid demonstration of applied game theory in practice...
In short... another bunch of fools who underestimated the master of the art of the deals just got played to their own detriment.
 

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Trump’s Promises to ‘Forgotten Man’ Undercut by Wage Stagnation

Bloomberg
Toluse Olorunnipa and Shobhana Chandra
6 hrs ago



President Donald Trump heads into a midterm referendum on his presidency showing no real progress on a core promise: to raise the wages of America’s “forgotten man and woman.”

Once the impact of inflation is included, ordinary Americans’ hourly earnings are lower than they were a year ago.

Real wages have remained mostly stagnant despite an expanding economy, record stock prices, soaring corporate profits and a giant deficit-fueled stimulus from Trump’s tax cuts that took effect Jan. 1. The Trump administration claimed its policies would immediately boost wages, with its tax overhaul ultimately increasing average pay by $4,000 to $9,000.

That hasn’t happened. And though Trump regularly boasts of the economy’s performance, many Americans don’t feel they’re sharing in the gains -- a risk for Republicans as they seek to defend their House and Senate majorities in November elections.

Related video: Is roaring US economy a mirage? (provided by CNBC)

A majority of voters believes their personal financial situation has remained the same or gotten worse over the past two years, said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll.

“When you look at that backbone of the country -- the middle class -- people think that there’s stagnancy and not much has happened for them,” although “things might be marginally better nationwide,” he said. “That could be a problem in the midterms for a lot of people. At least some people believe that promises were not fulfilled.”

Inflation-adjusted hourly wages dropped 0.2 percent in July from a year earlier, their worst reading since 2012, according to the Labor Department, amid faster price gains. They’ve grown at an average 0.3 percent annual pace under Trump, compared with 1.1 percent during Barack Obama’s second term. Trump’s escalating tariff disputes risk eroding buying power further by driving up prices.

At the same time, many Americans received a boost in take-home pay from the tax cuts, though some ended up paying more in taxes. About 65 percent of taxpayers will receive a tax cut in 2018, averaging $2,200 from the new law’s individual provisions, while 6 percent will receive an increase of about $2,800, according to estimates from the Tax Policy Center in March.


© Bloomberg U.S. workers' paychecks hurt by weak wage growth and rising inflation

As a candidate, Trump excoriated his predecessor for slow growth in American workers’ incomes.

“Household incomes are over $4,000 less today than they were 16 years ago,” he said during a campaign rally in Pensacola, Florida, in September 2016. “We’ll get your salaries and your wages up, up, up.”

Workers are still waiting. By a margin of 58 percent to 38 percent, U.S. voters believe the Trump administration isn’t doing enough to help middle-class Americans, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Aug. 14.

The White House didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Before the tax bill passed, White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett said he expected reducing corporate taxes would spark “an immediate jump in wage growth.”

Speaking to Fox Business Network this month, Hassett said those higher wages will come with time, citing the low unemployment rate, growth in capital spending and rising productivity.

“That stuff, historically, helps blue-collar workers,” he said.

President’s Claims
Trump has been telling voters that wages already are rising at historic rates, though economic data don’t show it. In various recent speeches, he has falsely claimed that wages are going up for the first time in 18 years, 19 years, 20 years, 21 years and 22 years.

“We have so many jobs now coming in, but they’re raising wages,” Trump said last month at a roundtable event in Iowa. “The first time that’s happened in 19 years, where wages are going up.”

Average hourly earnings, not accounting for inflation, rose 2.7 percent in July from a year earlier, the same pace as the month before Trump’s election. They’ve been rising at an average 2.2 percent pace since the recession ended in mid-2009.

Trump’s claim is also belied by other measures of wages often used by economists, including the employment cost index and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s wage-growth tracker.

Tepid wage growth throughout the current economic expansion also bedeviled the Obama administration and remains one of the biggest challenges even with unemployment near the lowest level since 1969. On top of that, workers are failing to reap benefits of legislation cutting corporate taxes, an outcome predicted by some economists before Congress passed the law in December.

Read more: Quicktake Q&A on why wages are stuck in neutral

“It was our expectation that the major elements of the tax plan likely wouldn’t trickle down into stronger wages for the average worker,” said Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist at Barclays Plc. “It was more likely to go as returns to shareholders.”


© Bloomberg U.S. workers' share of income near record low even in strong economy

Companies in the S&P 500 index are set to authorize $1 trillion in stock buybacks in 2018, a record and a 46 percent jump from last year, according to an estimate this month from Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Only 37 percent of Americans approve of the tax package, compared to 45 percent who disapprove, according to a Monmouth University poll released Aug. 20. Such unpopularity is hampering Republicans who had hoped the law would give them a boost in midterm elections.

One in four Americans don’t think they’re “at least doing OK” financially, and more than one in five respondents said they were unable to pay the current month’s bills in full, according to the results of a late 2017 Fed survey released in May.

“People that depend on wages -- and that’s essentially almost everyone except higher-income or higher-wealth individuals -- are not seeing as much benefit from this economy,” said Gregory Daco, head of U.S. macroeconomics at Oxford Economics in New York. “People at the lower end of the income spectrum are actually more constrained.”

--With assistance from Alexis Leondis.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/mark...rcut-by-wage-stagnation/ar-BBMxEAd?ocid=ientp
 

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When It Comes To Mexico, Does President Donald Trump Have A Deal? | Morning Joe | MSNBC
MSNBC



Published on Aug 28, 2018
The U.S. and Mexico struck a trade deal designed to supplant the North American Free Trade Agreement, President Donald Trump said in the Oval Office Monday. The Morning Joe panel discusses Trump's remarks.
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Canada responds to US, Mexico trade deal
Fox Business



Published on Aug 27, 2018
FBN's Susan Li on Canada's statement responding to the new U.S. trade deal with Mexico.
 

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Trump tax cuts were supposed to depress housing prices. They haven't.

NYT
JIM TANKERSLEY
18 hrs ago


WASHINGTON — It wasn’t supposed to take long for the Trump tax cuts to hobble housing prices, particularly in the high-tax, high-cost metro areas where the new law was poised to rip federal incentives to buy new homes.

Nearly nine months later, those warnings have not materialized. While the nation’s housing market is showing signs of weakness on several fronts — particularly in new-home construction — prices across the country are continuing to climb. That’s true even in the million-dollar-plus markets of California and Washington, D.C., which appeared most at risk for a hit when the bill was pending.

Economists see only faint effects from the new law so far in housing data. They’re small, and they’re contained to a few high-priced, highly taxed ZIP codes, largely in blue states.

They’re nothing close to the carnage that real estate groups warned about when the law was under debate last fall.

“We thought that there would be some impact,” Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, said this spring, “but the market is saying, so far, there is not an impact.”

Other clouds are looming, however, and policymakers are beginning to worry about the health of the housing market nationwide. Minutes from the Federal Reserve meeting that ended on Aug. 1 cited the risk of a “significant weakening in the housing sector” in the months to come. Fed officials noted that residential investment had declined this year, and that the issuance of new building permits had fallen. They reported that residential construction activity appeared “to have softened somewhat,” for reasons that could include rising mortgage rates, scarcity of available lots in certain cities and price pressures on homebuilders attributed to rising labor costs and recently imposed tariffs on building materials.

But they did not raise similar alarms about falling home values — or about the impact of the tax cuts on the housing markets.
Related video: Toll Brothers hikes sales forecasts (provided by Reuters)

Because it doubles the size of the standard deduction that most taxpayers take — and reduces the incentives for Americans to claim itemized deductions — the new tax law will reduce the number of Americans who claim the mortgage interest deduction on their income taxes. It dilutes the value of the mortgage deduction for some new, high-end buyers by limiting the tax break for interest paid to a mortgage debt of $500,000 or less. The new law also caps at $10,000 the amount of state and local taxes, including property taxes, that homeowners can deduct from their federal taxes.

“The direct result of these changes,” the National Association of Realtors told members of Congress in a letter in November, “would be a plunge in home values across America in excess of 10 percent, and likely more in higher cost areas.”

See if you can spot that plunge in the data:

The median American home sold for nearly 6 percent more in June than it did a year ago, according to data from the online real estate firm Zillow — the same rate as the increase from June 2016 to June 2017. The strength has continued even though the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates steadily for the past year, which also dampens prices by pushing up the cost to borrow for home buyers.

Homebuyers don’t seem worried about the new law
Last fall, as the tax overhaul package sped through Congress, Anslie Stokes started fielding questions from nervous home buyers, who were hearing warnings that the bill would crimp the government’s incentives for homeownership and upend housing markets.

Ms. Stokes, a Realtor who runs the Stokes Group at McEnearney Associates in the Washington, D.C., area, noticed at the time what she calls a “pause” in buyer activity. But soon after Mr. Trump signed the law in December, buying activity picked right back up again in the wealthy neighborhoods of the District of Columbia and the high-end suburbs of Maryland.

“We haven’t seen buyers lower their price point” as a result of the tax law, Ms. Stokes said. “All buyers are aware of it, and they’re factoring it in. But they’re not changing what they want to do.”

That’s true even though the tax law has unquestionably diminished the value of several federal subsidies for homeowners. It limits deductions for state and local taxes, including property taxes, to $10,000 per household, which hurts owners of expensive homes in high-tax states. It lowers the cap on the mortgage interest deduction, which raises housing prices by allowing homeowners to write off the interest payments from their loans, to $750,000 for new loans, down from $1 million. Existing loans are grandfathered under the old cap.

The law also dilutes the value of the mortgage deduction by doubling the standard deduction for all taxpayers, to $24,000 for couples and $12,000 for individuals. That increase is expected to reduce dramatically the number of taxpayers who claim itemized deductions. The congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimated earlier this year that about 14 million American tax filers will claim the mortgage deduction this year, for a total value of about $25 billion. That’s down from 32 million filers, and a total value of nearly $60 billion, in 2017.

Only SALT is dragging on home prices — and not by much
The limitation on deductions for state and local tax, or SALT for short, appears to be the only change having much impact on the market, according to a detailed analysis of housing markets across the country from economists at Zillow.

The analysis looked at the pace of housing value appreciation in local markets across the country, before and after the new law took effect. It isolated changes in those rates, over time, when controlling for several factors: the share of residents who itemize their deductions, who claim the mortgage deduction, or claim the SALT deduction.

The first two had no effect on whether home values increased faster or slower in an area after the law took effect. But starting with the date for May, the Zillow team began to see a significant, but small, change based on the use of the state and local tax deduction. In the top 10 percent of areas that make use of the SALT deduction, growth in home values have slowed by about 0.6 percentage points since the law took effect. At the median, growth has slowed by about 0.3 percentage points. The bottom 10 percent haven’t seen any slowdown.

Zillow researchers say the Boston metro area illustrates the point. It straddles state lines, with one state (Massachusetts) featuring higher state income taxes that drive more residents to claim the SALT deduction. After the law passed, ZIP codes in the Boston area saw a 0.6 percentage point slowdown in home appreciation on the Massachusetts side — and a 0.1 percent acceleration on the New Hampshire side.

The effect there is “not huge, it’s small,” said Aaron Terrazas, senior economist at Zillow. Home sellers in areas with high use of the SALT deduction are not, in general, losing money from the law, he said. “They’re giving up hypothetical money that otherwise they would have had.”

There are, of course, markets across the country where housing prices have actually fallen in the past year. One of them is notably high-priced: New York City. Prices in Manhattan fell 1.1 percent from a year earlier in June, the online real estate firm StreetEasy reports. But economists say tax policy isn’t driving the trend — it’s good old fashioned supply and demand.

“In April, May and June, we had a flood of new homes hit the market,” said Grant Long, a senior economist at StreetEasy. “It’s really hard to say why that is.”

On the flip side is San Jose, Calif.: Its prices continue to skyrocket, even though Silicon Valley residents are heavy users of the SALT deduction.

Some benefits from tax reform may be offsetting the drags
Experts say several forces are helping to counteract the diminished federal home-buying subsidies. Across the country, a growing economy has finally begun to entice millennials into the buying market, after years of waiting for their finances to recover from recession. Direct savings that workers are realizing from the new law’s cuts in individual tax rates could be helping, too.

Unlike in New York City, the supply of homes on the market — both newly built, and existing homes put up for sale — is falling for the nation as a whole, which also lifts prices. That tight supply is partially the result of a decade of caution in the home building industry following the housing crisis. It also stems from strict local curbs on new housing development, particularly in “hot” metro areas such as Denver, Los Angeles and Washington.

Trump administration officials say the lack of a discernible crimp on housing prices proves the administration’s predictions that income gains spurred by the tax cuts could cancel out what the White House Council of Economic Advisers predicted would be a “modest” impact from lowering the mortgage interest deduction cap.

“There are a whole bunch of people who swallowed the ‘tax cuts aren’t going to stimulate much’ story,” said Kevin Hassett, the council’s director. “But if you’re getting a lot of income growth, the income growth increases the demand for housing, and the mortgage interest deduction reduces it. And the effects offset.”

Economists caution that the changes might have a larger effect in an economy where housing inventory is more plentiful, or where income growth is slower and consumers worry more about tax preferences when making buying decisions.

A dent on prices “will show up over time,” Mr. Yun said. “But when is that time? Will it take one year? Two years? Three years? That is the question.”

Correction: August 28, 2018
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: An earlier version of this article understated the number of tax filers who claimed the mortgage interest deduction last year and the number expected to claim it this year. About 14 million are expected to claim it this year versus about 32 million last year, not 14,000 this year versus 32,000 last year.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/real...sing-prices-they-havent/ar-BBMwVkc?ocid=ientp
 

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EU Willing To Scrap Car Tariffs In US Trade Deal: Politico


by Tyler Durden
Thu, 08/30/2018 - 07:20

Trump's hard ball negotiating tactics appear to be bearing some fruit, with Politico reporting that Brussels is willing to scrap tariffs on all industrial products, including cars, in trade talks with the United States, EU trade chief Cecilia Malmström said Thursday.

"We said that we are ready from the EU side to go to zero tariffs on all industrial goods, of course if the U.S. does the same, so it would be on a reciprocal basis,” Malmström told the European Parliament’s trade committee. Sending the ball in the Trump's court, she said that "we are willing to bring down even our car tariffs down to zero … if the U.S. does the same,” adding that “it would be good for us economically, and for them."


European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom

While the EU’s car tariff of 10% is higher than the general U.S. auto tariff of 2.5%, America imposes a 25% duty on light trucks and pick-ups.

The European gambit may be a non-starter, as during a first meeting in Washington last week, an EU proposal for including cars in the discussions was rejected by the U.S. Brussels and Washington are holding preparatory trade talks to define the scope of a potential future agreement.

Malmström’s comment goes beyond what was agreed in July in the joint statement between European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and U.S. President Donald Trump, which only mentioned eliminating tariffs, non-tariff barriers and subsidies for “non-auto industrial goods.”

Malmström insisted that the discussions were not about “restarting TTIP” but aiming for “a more limited trade agreement.”

“Agriculture would not be in the agreement, nor public procurement as it looks to today,” she said.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-08-30/eu-willing-scrap-car-tariffs-us-trade-deal-politico
 

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Trump's Environmental Regulation Roll-backs Alarm Activists
VOA News



Published on Aug 30, 2018
President Donald Trump has followed through on pledges to roll-back Obama-era rules that tightened restrictions on greenhouse gases, promising the moves would lead to more American jobs and economic growth. Trump's proposal includes loosening restrictions to the American Clean Cars Standards and the Clean Power Plan. White House Correspondent Patsy Widakuswara has more.
Originally published at - https://www.voanews.com/a/trump-s-env...
 

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Trump cancels pay raise federal workers were due in January

AP
1 hr ago


WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump informed Congress on Thursday that he is canceling pay raises due in January for most civilian federal employees, citing budget constraints. But the workers still could see a slightly smaller boost in their pay under a proposal lawmakers are considering.

Trump said he was axing a 2.1 percent across-the-board raise for most workers as well as locality pay increases averaging 25.7 percent and costing $25 billion.

"We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases," said Trump. The president last year signed a package of tax cuts that is forecast to expand the deficit by about $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

Trump cited the "significant" cost of employing federal workers as justification for denying the pay increases, and called for federal worker pay to be based on performance and structured toward recruiting, retaining and rewarding "high-performing Federal employees and those with critical skill sets."

His announcement came as the country heads into the Labor Day holiday weekend.

The Democratic Party immediately criticized the announcement, citing the tax cuts Trump signed into law last December. The law provided steep tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans, and more modest reductions for middle- and low-income individuals and families.

"Trump has delivered yet another slap in the face to American workers," said Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez.

Under the law, the 2.1 percent raise takes effect automatically unless the president and Congress act to change it. Congress is currently debating a proposal for a slightly lower, 1.9 percent across-the-board raise to be included in a government funding bill that would require Trump's signature to keep most government functions operating past September.

Unions representing the 2 million-member federal workforce urged Congress to pass the 1.9 percent pay raise.

"President Trump's plan to freeze wages for these patriotic workers next year ignores the fact that they are worse off today financially than they were at the start of the decade," said J. David Cox Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents some 700,000 federal workers.

"They have already endured years of little to no increases and their paychecks cannot stretch any further as education, health care costs, gas and other goods continue to get more expensive," added Tim Reardon, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union.

Cox said federal worker pay and benefits have been cut by more than $200 billion since 2011, and workers are currently earning 5 percent less than they did at the start of the decade.

In July, the Trump administration sharply revised upward its deficit estimates compared to the estimates in the budget proposal it sent Congress in February. The worsening deficit reflects the impact of the $1.5 trillion, 10-year tax cut, as well as increased spending for the military and domestic programs that Congress approved earlier this year.

The administration's July budget update projected a deficit of $890 million for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, up from the February estimate of $873 billion. The $890 billion deficit projection represents a 34 percent increase from the $666 billion deficit the government recorded in 2017.

For 2019, the administration is projecting the deficit will once again top $1 trillion and stay at that level for the next three years.

The only other period when the federal government ran deficits above $1 trillion was the four years from 2009 through 2012, when the government used tax cuts and increased spending to combat the 2008 fiscal crisis and the worst economic downturn since the 1930s.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who represents many federal workers, blamed what he said was Trump's mismanagement of federal government.
"His tax bill exploded the deficit, and now he is trying to balance the budget on the backs of federal workers," Connolly said.

AP Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger and Associated Press writers Matthew Daly and Zeke Miller contributed to this report.

___

Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap


http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/polit...ers-were-due-in-january/ar-BBMFjf2?ocid=ientp
 

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Donald Trump CANCELS January pay raises for 2.1million federal employees claiming the increase would be 'inappropriate'

  • Trump announced he's canceling January 2019 pay raises for federal employees
  • He announced pay freeze in letter to Congress sent on Thursday
  • He says the 2.1 per cent across-the-board increase would add billions to deficit
  • He added locality pay raises would already add $25billion to federal deficit
  • He cited Title 5 of the US Code of Laws which allows such decisions in 'national emergency or serious economic conditions' that affect 'the general welfare'
  • Under the Trump administration the federal deficit has skyrocketed and is expected to reach $1trillion by next year as a result of his mammoth tax breaks
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6115669/Trump-cancels-pay-raise-federal-workers-January.html
 

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Trump Orders Pay-Freeze For All Non-Military Federal Employees In 2019


by Tyler Durden
Thu, 08/30/2018 - 16:33


Government Worker wages rose just over 2% in the last year (while private sector workers saw wages rise over 5%), but President Trump has "determined that for 2019, both across-the-board pay increases and locality pay increases will be set at zero," for non-military federal employees.

Trump made the announcement in a letter released by the White House on Thursday to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, citing the need to “maintain efforts to put our Nation on a sustainable fiscal course.”

Well, that will hold inflation down? Weaken the dollar?




However, as Bloomberg notes, Congress can still raise federal workers’ pay in spending legislation. The Senate has already approved a 1.9% pay increase for next year but the House would still need to approve it. The House version of the legislation doesn’t include a raise. The two bills must now be reconciled.

The president’s move could have ripple effects in the Nov. 6 congressional elections for members of his party in competitive House districts with large numbers of federal employees. Just south of Washington, those areas include Representative Barbara Comstock in northern Virginia and Representative Scott Taylor in Virginia Beach.

Had Trump not acted by Friday, federal workers would have received an automatic across-the-board pay increase of 2.1 percent and locality pay increases averaging 25.7 percent under the 1990 Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act, according to the letter.​
That said, no president including Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have let the full locality pay increases take effect under the law. Last year, Trump lowered an automatic 1.9 percent across-the-board increase under the law to 1.4 percent and an automatic 26.2 percent average increase in locality pay to a 0.5 percent average increase.

President Trump explains in a letter to Congress - using "emergency" policies, put in place in case of "serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare.":

Dear Mr. Speaker:​
I am transmitting an alternative plan for pay adjustments for civilian Federal employees covered by the General Schedule and certain other pay systems in January 2019.
Title 5, United States Code, authorizes me to implement alternative plans for pay adjustments for civilian Federal employees covered by the General Schedule and certain other pay systems if, because of “national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare,” I view the increases that would otherwise take effect as inappropriate.​

Under current law, locality pay increases averaging 25.70 percent, costing $25 billion, would go into effect in January 2019, in addition to a 2.1 percent across-the-board increase for the base General Schedule.​

We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases. Accordingly, I have determined that it is appropriate to exercise my authority to set alternative across-the-board and locality pay adjustments for 2019 pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 5303(b) and 5304a.​

Specifically, I have determined that for 2019, both across-the-board pay increases and locality pay increases will be set at zero. These alternative pay plan decisions will not materially affect our ability to attract and retain a well-qualified Federal workforce.​

As noted in my Budget for Fiscal Year 2019, the cost of employing the Federal workforce is significant. In light of our Nation's fiscal situation, Federal employee pay must be performance-based, and aligned strategically toward recruiting, retaining, and rewarding high-performing Federal employees and those with critical skill sets. Across-the-board pay increases and locality pay increases, in particular, have long-term fixed costs, yet fail to address existing pay disparities or target mission critical recruitment and retention goals.​

The adjustments described above shall take effect on the first day of the first applicable pay period beginning on or after January 1, 2019.​

Sincerely,​
DONALD J. TRUMP​

All of which seems less than reflective of what is supposedly a sustainable 4.2% growth economy?

J. David Cox, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest union representing federal workers, blasted Trump’s pay freeze and urged the House to pass the 1.9 percent pay increase approved by the Senate.

“President Trump’s plan to freeze wages for these patriotic workers next year ignores the fact that they are worse off today financially than they were at the start of the decade,” Cox said in a statement. “Federal employees have had their pay and benefits cut by over $200 billion since 2011, and they are earning nearly 5 percent less today than they did at the start of the decade.”​

Democrat Gerry Connolly, who represents thousands of federal workers in his northern Virginia district, also criticized Trump’s decision.

“His tax bill exploded the deficit, and now he is trying to balance the budget on the backs of federal workers,” Connolly said in a statement. “I will not accept President Trump’s mismanagement of the federal government as fait accompli.”

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018...reeze-all-non-military-federal-employees-2019
 

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Trump freezes federal pay raises citing 'serious economic conditions'
Fox Business


Published on Aug 31, 2018
Rep. Roger Marshall, (R-Kansas), on President Trump canceling pay raises for federal employees, the Trump administration's efforts to renegotiate U.S. trade deals, government spending.
 

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What Trump's executive order on retirement security means for you
Fox Business


Published on Aug 31, 2018
'Everyday Millionaires' author Chris Hogan on President Trump's executive order to boost retirement savings, efforts to get young people to start their retirement plan early and tackling credit card debt.
 

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AP Fact Check: Trump's week of fiction: trade, Google, polls

AP
15 mins ago


WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is playing loose with the facts in his exuberance to push through a trade agreement with Mexico.

He insists the deal reached this past week between the United States and Mexico to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement is "one of the largest trade deals" ever. It's not.

And in an effort to pressure Canada to join the reimagined trading bloc, or dismiss Canada as irrelevant if it doesn't, Trump also wrongly suggests that Mexico is a bigger and more important trading partner.

The trade comments came in a week of outright fiction in which Trump also kept asserting that Mexico will pay for his long-promised wall along the southwest border despite Mexico's statements to the contrary; falsely accused Google of shunning his State of the Union address while promoting Barack Obama's; and cited high poll ratings for himself that don't appear to exist.

A sampling of the claims and the reality behind them:

TRADE
TRUMP:
"This is one of the largest trade deals ever made. Maybe the largest trade deal ever made." — phone call Monday with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

THE FACTS: Not even close. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, negotiated by the Obama administration, included the three NAFTA partners — United States, Canada and Mexico — plus Japan and eight other Pacific Rim countries. Trump withdrew the United States from the pact in his third day in office.

Even the TPP shrinks in comparison to Uruguay Round of trade negotiations. Concluded in 1994, the round created the World Trade Organization and was signed by 123 countries. The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston found the following year that the WTO's initial membership accounted for more than 90 percent of global economic output.
___

TRUMP: "We made the deal with Mexico. And I think it's a very — deal. We're starting negotiations with Canada, pretty much immediately ... It's going to be a — it's a smaller segment, as you know. Mexico is a very large trading partner." — phone call Monday with Peña Nieto.

THE FACTS: Trump appears to be suggesting that Mexico is a bigger U.S. trading partner than Canada. That's not the case. America's two-way trade — exports plus imports — came to $680 billion with Canada last year. That's compared with $622 billion with Mexico.
___

TRUMP: "I smile at Senators and others talking about how good free trade is for the U.S. What they don't say is that we lose Jobs and over 800 Billion Dollars a year on really dumb Trade Deals ... and these same countries Tariff us to death." — tweet Tuesday.

THE FACTS: The $800 billion is a reference to America's trade deficit last year. But Trump exaggerates the size of the gap between what the U.S. sells and what it buys from the rest of the world. The trade deficit in goods and services came to $552 billion in 2017. The United States ran an $807 billion deficit in goods such as cars and machinery. But Trump ignored America's $255 billion surplus in services such as education and finance.

Mainstream economists also take issue with Trump's assertion that trade deficits amount to a loss for the United States. The money didn't just vanish. In exchange for what they spent on imports, Americans got the benefit of owning everything from made-in-China iPhones to French wine.
___

BORDER WALL
TRUMP:
"The wall will be paid for very easily by Mexico. It will ultimately be paid for by Mexico." — remarks Tuesday.

THE FACTS: Not according to Mexico. Immediately after Trump's remarks, Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray tweeted to stress, once again, that his country won't foot the bill for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Videgaray wrote that his country has been "absolutely clear" that Mexico "will NEVER pay for a wall."
___

GOOGLE
VIDEO TWEETED BY TRUMP:
"For years, Google promoted President Obama's State of the Union on its homepage. When President Trump took office, Google stopped." — tweet Wednesday.

THE FACTS: The video is incorrect as to Trump.

There's no dispute that Google promoted Obama's State of the Union speeches from 2012 to 2016, according to webpages captured by the Wayback Machine, an internet archive site.

In a statement, Google said it has not historically promoted "the first address to Congress by a new president, which is technically not a State of the Union address," so it didn't do so in either 2009, when Obama first took office, or 2017, Trump's first year as president.

For 2018, several web pages captured by the Wayback Machine show the Google homepage advertising a livestream of Trump's speech with the words: "Live! Watch President Trump's State of the Union address on YouTube."

The archive site shows the webpages in Greenwich Mean Time, which is several hours ahead of the Eastern time zone in the U.S. That means the relevant images of the Google homepage promoting Trump's prime-time Washington speech on Jan. 30 are dated one day later, on Jan. 31, Mark Graham, director of the Wayback Machine archive site, told The Associated Press.
___

RUSSIA INVESTIGATION

TRUMP: "What's going on at @CNN is happening, to different degrees, at other networks - with @NBCNews being the worst ... When Lester Holt got caught fudging my tape on Russia, they were hurt badly!" — tweet Thursday.

THE FACTS: There is no evidence of the NBC interview having been "fudged" or doctored in any way, and the White House didn't respond to requests regarding what Trump was referring to. NBC declined to comment.

In the interview, Trump referred in part to "this Russia thing" as a consideration in his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey. Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating possible obstruction of justice in the Russia probe.

It's possible Trump is frustrated that other comments from the same interview may have received less attention.

Minutes after he acknowledged that "this Russia thing" was on his mind when he fired Comey, Trump also acknowledged that he knew the decision to terminate him might actually prolong the investigation. In fact it did, with Mueller investigating the firing for potential obstruction of justice.

His lawyers and other supporters have contended that that sentiment is actually helpful for the president, suggesting he couldn't have been trying to obstruct the investigation by doing something that he knew would actually draw it out longer.
___

CLINTON EMAILS
TRUMP:
"Report just out: 'China hacked Hillary Clinton's private Email Server.'" — tweet Tuesday.

TRUMP: "Hillary Clinton's Emails, many of which are Classified Information, got hacked by China. Next move better be by the FBI & DOJ or, after all of their other missteps (Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Page, Ohr, FISA, Dirty Dossier etc.), their credibility will be forever gone!" — tweet Wednesday.

THE FACTS: Trump's own law enforcement agencies dispute that.

Trump appears to be citing a story by the right-leaning Daily Caller publication, which reported that a Chinese-owned company in the Washington, D.C., area hacked Clinton's email server.

But FBI and Justice Department officials have said publicly that there was no evidence Clinton's server was hacked by a foreign power.

A June report from the Justice Department's inspector general on the FBI's handling of the Clinton investigation said FBI specialists did not find evidence that the server had been hacked, with one forensics agent saying he felt "fairly confident that there wasn't an intrusion."

An FBI official said Wednesday after the Daily Caller story and Trump's tweet that the "FBI has not found any evidence the servers were compromised."
___

POLL RATINGS
TRUMP:
"Over 90% approval rating for your all time favorite (I hope) President within the Republican Party and 52% overall. This despite all of the made up stories by the Fake News Media trying endlessly to make me look as bad and evil as possible. Look at the real villains please!" — tweet Sunday.

THE FACTS: He's wrong in regard to polls citing his overall job ratings.

The Associated Press couldn't find any evidence of a recent poll that put Trump's approval at 52 percent, and the White House and his re-election campaign didn't respond to requests for specifics.

Polls are a snapshot of public opinion at the moment they are taken. Job approval can — and has in recent history — vary during a president's term.

Since his inauguration, however, Trump's job approval has been remarkably consistent, in the high 30s and low 40s, in polls from various media organizations and other pollsters.

The latest AP-NORC poll, taken this month, finds Trump's approval among American adults at 38 percent. Some other recent polls measure his approval in the low- to mid-40s.

On his level of support among Republicans, Trump is correct that they broadly approve of his work as president. In the same AP-NORC poll that found 38 percent of adults approving of the president, 76 percent of Republicans and those who lean toward the GOP said they approved of Trump. Some polls have put that level of support as high as 90 percent.

Associated Press writers Eric Tucker, Jill Colvin and Hannah Fingerhut contributed to this report.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/polit...tion-trade-google-polls/ar-BBMJuZU?ocid=ientp
 

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Luongo: Trump Doesn't Want Peace With The EU


by Tyler Durden
Sat, 09/01/2018 - 12:01


Authored by Tom Luongo,

Donald Trump is on a mission. His goal? Destroy the post-WWII institutional order that has outlived its usefulness.



And there have been a number of major moves that fundamentally tear at the fabric of that order. In a span of a day we’ve had the following things occur in quick succession.

  • French President Emmanuel Macron holds a press conference calling for a new “strategic relationship with Russia and Turkey.”
  • At the same time he softened the EU’s stance on Russia’s reunification with Crimea, saying Russian – EU relations needed “to be brought up to date.”
  • On the trade and tariff war with Trump, Germany called Trump’s bluff about free trade on cars by offering to scrap all import tariffs on theirs in exchange for the U.S. lifting them on light trucks and pickups, which Trump promptly rejected.
  • Trump then called the EU “Worse than China” and threatened to pull the U.S. out of the World Trade Organization.
  • Ayatollah Khamenei put pressure on the EU to stand up to Trump over the JCPOA, clearly threatening a return of their nuclear program.

Just last week German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, clearly frustrated with Trump’s endless dollar belligerence called for the EU to develop, like Russia and China, it’s own electronic interbank payment system to skirt U.S. sanctions.

So in one week we’ve had the Germans threaten SWIFT, the French question the validity of NATO and Trump threaten to leave the WTO.

All against the backdrop of the end of the Syrian Civil War and the potential withdrawal of U.S. troops from there while the Taliban arrive in Moscow to discuss peace terms with the Afghan government.

Is it just me or are things about to look very different very soon.

If we take Trump at his word then we were supposed to believe Trump wanted peace and free trade with the EU. In this case his word was this tweet from July 24th where he said:

The European Union is coming to Washington tomorrow to negotiate a deal on Trade. I have an idea for them. Both the U.S. and the E.U. drop all Tariffs, Barriers and Subsidies! That would finally be called Free Market and Fair Trade! Hope they do it, we are ready – but they won’t!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2018

Oops, Donald. They were. And as I said above, his big bluff on this was called. Trump doesn’t want free trade with Germany. He rejected the offer to scrap all automobile tariffs because “their consumer culture doesn’t buy our cars.”

Yes, because our cars suck, frankly. And they’ve sucked for a long time. And you can’t mandate they buy them.

But, I digress.

This sequence of events highlights exactly what I said about Trump last week, that he is purposefully driving a wedge between Europe and the U.S. to end NATO, among other things.

By driving a wedge between Germany and the U.S. over NATO and attacking the foundations of the German economy Trump is ensuring the current rapprochement between Germany and Russia?​
Merkel, for her part, has been so terminally weakened by her immigration policy and strong-armed approach to dissent that this whirlwind weekender by Putin was as much for her benefit, politically, as his.​
The implication being that if Merkel wants to stay in power with her weakening coalition and poll numbers it’s time for her to reverse course. And if that means cozying up to Russia then so be it.​
Merkel will continue to talk a good game about Crimea and Ukraine while Putin will speak directly to the German people about ending the humanitarian crisis in Syria as a proxy for ending the threat of further immigration.​

He knows most of the people who are behind the opposition to his Presidency are the same people driving the globalist bus, those I call The Davos Crowd.

He knows that Merkel and Macron both work for them. And The Davos Crowd are hell-bent on destroying the multiplicity of cultures that make Europe what it is.

So, Trump doesn’t want a solution to this trade spat. He wants to inflict maximum pain on them to force a radical realignment while extricating the U.S. from subsidizing their march towards centralized tyranny from Brussels.

At the same time this gives Macron and Merkel all the breathing room they need to patch things up with Russia while the Brits fume over not being able to destroy both Trump and Putin, since MI6 and the British Deep State are the ones doing the dirty work to undermine Trump and Putin at every turn.

Macron’s statement about Crimea was the first made by a major European leader that didn’t explicitly mention the Minsk II agreement as a prerequisite for normalizing relations with Russia.

Trump has pushed the EU into a corner, essentially saying, if you want to choose Russia, China and Iran over us, you’ll do so without our money and our banks.

Trump has all the subtlety of a wolverine in rut, but he’s pretty clear about what his intentions are if you are listening.


* * *
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https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-09-01/luongo-trump-doesnt-want-peace-eu
 

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Trump signals that he might be considering a row back on federal worker pay freeze

  • President Trump was slammed by lawmakers from both parties after he canceled a scheduled 2.1 pay increase for federal workers
  • But he retweeted a tweet from Virginia Senate candidate Corey Stewart, who wrote Trump 'can fix this, and I trust that he will'
  • Stewart is one of Trump's most loyal allies; the president has endorsed his bid
  • Trump also said on Friday he'd spend Labor Day weekend studying the issue
  • Congress can still pass a raise for federal employees
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...onsidering-row-federal-worker-pay-freeze.html
 

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Trump’s NAFTA Deal Simply Can’t Solve America’s Manufacturing Problems

Posted on September 1, 2018 by Lambert Strether

Lambert: This is an important post, especially as it pertains to our implicit and unacknowledged industrial policy, militarization.

By Marshall Auerback, a market analyst and Research Associate at the Levy Institute. Cross-posted from Alternet.

President Trump and his Mexican counterpart, Enrique Peña Nieto, recently announced resolution of major sticking points that have held up the overall renegotiation of the NAFTA Treaty (or whatever new name Trump confers on the expected trilateral agreement). At first glance, there are some marginal improvements on the existing treaty, especially in terms of higher local content sourcing, and the theoretic redirection of more “high wage” jobs back to the U.S.

These benefits are more apparent than real. The new and improved NAFTA deal won’t mean much, even if Canada ultimately signs on. The deal represents reshuffling a few deck chairs on the Titanic, which constitutes American manufacturing in the 21st century: a sector that has been decimated by policies of globalization and offshoring.

Additionally, what has remained onshore is now affected adversely to an increasing degree by the Pentagon. The experience of companies that have become largely reliant on military-based demand is that they gradually lose the ability to compete in global markets.

As early as the 1980s, this insight was presciently confirmed by the late scholar Seymour Melman. Melman was one of the first to state the perhaps not-so-obvious fact that the huge amount of Department of Defense (DoD) Research and Development (R&D) pumped into the economy has actually stifled American civilian industry innovation and competitiveness, most notably in the very manufacturing sector that Trump is seeking to revitalize with these “reformed” trade deals.

The three biggest reasons are:

1. The huge diversion of national R&D investment into grossly overpriced and mostly unjustifiable DoD R&D programs has tremendously misallocated a large proportion America’s finest engineering talent toward unproductive pursuits (e.g., the tactical fighter fiascos, such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that, among myriad other deficiencies, cannot fly within 25 miles of a thunderstorm; producing legacy systems that reflect outdated Cold War defense programs to deal with a massive national power, as opposed to combatting 21st-century terrorist counterinsurgencies). Indicative of this waste, former congressional aide Mike Lofgren quotes aUniversity of Massachusetts study, illustrating that comparable civilian expenditures “would produce anywhere from 35 percent to 138 percent more jobs than spending the same amount on DoD [projects].” The NAFTA reforms won’t change any of that.

2. By extension, the wasteful, cost-is-irrelevant habits of mind inculcated into otherwise competent engineers by lavish DoD cost-plus contracting have ruined these engineers for innovation in competitive, cost-is-crucial civilian industries.

3. The ludicrously bureaucratized management systems (systems analysis, systems engineering, five-year planning and on and on through a forest of acronyms) that DoD has so heavily propagandized and forced on contractors has, in symbiosis with the Harvard Business School/Wall Street mega-corporate managerial mindset, thoroughly wrecked efficient management of most sectors of American industry.

Let’s drill down to the details of the pact, notably automobiles, which have comprised a big part of NAFTA. Under the new deal, 25 percent of auto content can be produced elsewhere than North America, a reduction from 37.5 percent that could be produced outside before, because of the multinational nature of every major automobile manufacturer. Twenty-five percent is still a very large percentage of the high-end auto content, much of which is already manufactured in Europe—especially expensive parts like engines and transmissions, especially for non-U.S. manufacturers, that won’t be much affected by this deal.

Additionally, much of the non–North American auto content that can be or is being manufactured in Europe is the high end of the value-added chain. Certainly the workers producing the engines and transmissions have higher-than-$16-per-hour wage rates, which are trumpeted in the new agreement as a proof that more “good jobs for working people” are being re-established by virtue of this deal. Since when is $16 per hour a Trumpian boon for U.S. auto workers? Objectively, $16 is only 27 percent above the 2018 Federal Poverty Threshold for a family with two kids; even worse, $16 is only 54 percent of today’s actual average hourly pay ($29.60) in U.S. automobile manufacturing, according to 2018 BLS numbers.

But beyond cars, here’s the real problem: Although the ostensible goal of all of Trump’s trade negotiations is to revitalize American manufacturing, the truth is that U.S. manufacturing basically suffered a catastrophic setback when China entered the World Trade Organization (WTO) back in 2001. Along with liberalized capital flows, the extensive resort to “offshoring” of manufacturing to China has sapped the American manufacturing capabilities, as well as engendering a skills shortage. This includes (to quote a recent Harvard Business Review study co-authored by Professors Gary Pisano and Willy Shih):

“[the] tool and die makers, maintenance technicians, operators capable of working with highly sophisticated computer-controlled equipment, skilled welders, and even production engineers [all of whom] are in short supply.​
“The reasons for such shortages are easy to understand. As manufacturing plants closed or scaled back, many people in those occupations moved on to other things or retired. Seeing fewer job prospects down the road, young people opted for other careers.​
And many community and vocational schools, starved of students, scaled back their technical programs.”​
The one ready source of demand for U.S.-manufactured goods is the military. High-tech enthusiasts like to claim that the U.S. Defense Department had a crucial role in creating Silicon Valley. The truth is far more nuanced. Silicon Valley grew like a weed with essentially no Department of Defense investment; in fact, until quite recently, most successful Silicon Valley enterprises avoided DoD contracts like the plague.​
A bit of history: the transistor was invented by entirely private-funded research at Bell Labs in 1947. Next, the first integrated circuit patent was filed by Werner Jacobi, a Siemens commercial engineer in 1949 for application to hearing aids. The next advance, the idea of a silicon substrate, was patented in 1952 as a cheaper way of using transistors by Geoffrey Dummer, a reliability engineer working at a British government radar lab; for all of the talk of the defense establishment’s role in developing high tech, ironically the British military showed no interest and Dummer couldn’t secure the funding support to produce a working prototype. In 1958, Jack Kilby, a newbie at Texas Instruments (which had developed the first transistor radio as a commercial product in 1954) came up with the idea of multiple transistors on a germanium substrate. Almost simultaneously, in 1960, Robert Noyce at FairchildElectronics patented a cheaper solution, a new approach to the silicon substrate, and implemented working prototypes. Both men envisioned mainly civilian applications (Kilby soon designed the first integrated circuit pocket calculator, a commercial success).​
It is true that the first customers for both the Noyce and Kilby chips were the U.S. Air Force’s B-70 and Minuteman I projects, which gave rise to the idea that the Pentagon played the key role in developing U.S. high-tech manufacturing, although it is worth noting that the electronics on both projects proved to be failures. Both companies soon developed major commercial applications for their integrated circuit innovations, Texas Instruments with considerably more success than Fairchild.​
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (aka “DARPA”) is generally credited with inventing the internet. That’s overblown. In fact, civilian computer science labs in the U.S., UK and France developed the idea of wide area networks in the 1950s. In the early ’60s, DARPA started funding ARPANET design concepts to connect DoD laboratories and research facilities, initially without the idea of packet switching. Donald Davies at the UK’s National Physics Lab first demonstrated practical packet switching in 1967 and had a full inter-lab network going by 1969. The first two nodes of the ARPANET were demonstrated in 1969 using a primitive centralized architecture and the Davies packet switching approach. In 1973, DARPA’s Cerf and Kahn borrowed the idea of decentralized nodes from the French CYCLADES networking system, but this wasn’t fully implemented as the TCP/IP protocol on the ARPANET until 1983. In 1985, the civilian National Science Foundation started funding the NSFNET, based on the ARPANET’s TCP/IP protocol, for a much larger network of universities, supercomputer labs and research facilities. NSFNET started operations with a much larger backbone than ARPANET in 1986 (ARPANET itself was decommissioned in 1990) and started accepting limited commercial service providers in 1988, and, with further expansion and much-needed protocol upgrades, NSFNET morphed into the internet in 1995, at which time the NSFNET backbone was decommissioned.​
Today, of course, the DoD is showering the largest Silicon Valley companies with multi-billions and begging them to help U.S. military out of the hopeless mess it has made of its metastasizing computer, communications and software systems. Needless to say, if this DoD money becomes a significant portion of the income stream of Google, Microsoft, Apple, etc., it is safe to predict their decay and destruction at the hands of new innovators unencumbered by DoD funding, much as occurred with aviation companies such as Lockheed. NAFTA’s reforms won’t change that reality.​
As a result of the militarization of what’s left of U.S. manufacturing, along with the enlargement of the trans-Pacific supply chains with China (brought about through decades of offshoring), a mere tweak of the “new NAFTA” is unlikely to achieve Trump’s objective of revitalizing America’s industrial commons. With China’s entry into the WTO, it is possible that the U.S. manufacturing has hit a “point of no return,” which mitigates the utility of regional trade deals, as a means of reorienting the multinational production networks in a way that produces high-quality, high-paying jobs for American workers.​
Offshoring and the increasing militarization of the American economy, then, have rendered reforms of the kind introduced by NAFTA almost moot. When it becomes more profitable to move factories overseas, or when it becomes more profitable, more quickly, to focus on finance instead of manufacturing, then your average red-blooded capitalist is going to happily engage in the deconstruction of the manufacturing sector (most, if not all, outsourced factories are profitable, just not as profitable as they might be in China or, for that matter, Mexico). The spoils in a market go to the fastest and strongest, and profits from finance, measured in nanoseconds, are gained more quickly than profits from factories, whose time frame is measured in years. Add to that the desire to weaken unions and the championing of an overvalued dollar by the financial industry, and you have a perfect storm of national decline and growing economic inequality.​
Seen in this broader context, the new NAFTA-that’s-not-called-NAFTA is a nothing-burger. The much-trumpeted reforms give crumbs to U.S. labor, in contrast to the clear-cut bonanza granted to corporate America under the GOP’s new tax “reform” legislation. Hardly a great source of celebration as we approach the Labor Day weekend. In fact, by the time the big bucks corporate lawyer-lobbyists for other mega corporations have slipped in their little wording refinements exempting hundreds of billions of special interest dollars, the new NAFTA-that’s-not-called-NAFTA will most likely include an equal screwing for textile, steel, energy sector, chemical, and other U.S. industry workers, and anything else that is left of the civilian economy.​
This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.
This entry was posted in Guest Post on September 1, 2018 by Lambert Strether.​


https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/201...nt-solve-americas-manufacturing-problems.html
 

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Washington's War On Canada's Health Plan


by Tyler Durden
Mon, 09/03/2018 - 23:30


Authored by James Petras via Unz.com,

Introduction
Republicans and Democrats are befuddled by President Trump’s attacks on Canada and Prime Minister Trudeau; his repudiation of NAFTA; the bilateral agreement with Mexico; tariffs, trade quotas and threats of trade constraints of billions more to come.

Many are the experts, political leaders and media commentators who have offered a variety of explanations. The most frequent explanation is that the White House is pursuing a nationalist – protectionist policy to weaken and dominate Canada and to increase the US competitive position.



The problem with that argument is that for the better part of a century Canada has followed US imperialism in global and regional wars and interventions on four continents – even where Ottawa has paid a high military, financial, political and human cost. Canada has always been considered a bulwark of the US led NATO alliance, a reliable trading partner and staunch defender of cross border controls.

Trump critics attribute his hostility to his unruly, impulsive and unstable temperament which blocks him from an understanding the ongoing historical legacy. Paramount long-term links are sacrificed for short-term economic gains according to some academics.

Most senior diplomats, accustomed to friendly negotiations, have privately expressed objections to Trump’s ultimatums and his effort to brow-beat Canada into submission, believing that a few genial tweaks over a re-packaged NAFTA would secure Canadian compliance and submission.

Yet Trump refuses to accept Canada’s partial submission to a modified NAFTA. Apparently, Trump is after long-term, large scale changes which will have a major political, economic and social impact on the US competitive position in the world economy.

Trump’s War Against Canada’s National Health and Education Programs
The US economic elite and workers spend hundreds of billions of dollars in a failed private health system. Canada’s capitulation to Trump’s conditions for a bilateral trade agreement will eventually shift the burden of healthcare from a low cost universal public program to the high cost exclusionary private sector - reducing the competitiveness of Canada’s economy especially its exports.

Trump is neither a demagogue nor an irrational nationalist. He has succeeded in changing Mexico’s trade terms in favor of the US economy, increased the share of US exports and retained a dominant role in setting the terms for re-negotiating agreements. Trump aims for the same result with Canada.

He sizes up Trudeau as an easy mark-‘very dishonest and weak’. The Saudi Arabian reprisals over a human rights issue caused Trudeau to retract. Trump’s on and off the record remarks are intended to humiliate Trudeau and force him to plea for mercy. Trump’s disparaging remarks of Prime Minister Trudeau ,presiding at the 2018 G-7 meeting in Quebec Canada—accusing Canada of ‘robbing the [US] piggy bank’- and his unilateral slapping of tariffs– went uncontested.

Trump’s aggressive posture is directed at eliminating those features of Canadian society and economy which are appealing for US working families. Trump’s strategy is to lower Canada’s competitiveness not raise US living standards. US prescription drugs are 60% higher than Canada; the US private health bureaucracy costs the economy five times more than Canada’s public health administration.

Conclusion
Trump’s trade rules are intended to pressure Canada to lose competitiveness and reduce its attractiveness to the US public. If he succeeds Trump will reduce pressure from the ‘single payer’ majority and gain support from US exporters to Canada.

In sum, from a US capitalist perspective, Trump is using his political bullying to increase profits and exports markets.

The vast majority of Canadians back their public administered and financed health system. They will resist any effort to reduce it via incremented ‘rulings’ by bilateral US-Mexican-Canadian bodies. They will realize that the deck is loaded in Trump’s favor. If Canada is to retain what remains of its welfare state it will have to break with its dependence on Washington – including its support for overseas wars, trade sanctions and Washington’s drive for world domination. A new political leadership in the fashion of Tommy Douglas will need to replace Justin Trudeau. The question is where will it come from?

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-09-03/washingtons-war-canadas-health-plan
 

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Trump’s Trade War Causing Allies to Ditch the US Dollar
RT America


Published on Sep 4, 2018
This week, a number of US allies are opting to distance themselves from the u-s dollar when conducting global trade. This, in response to the various trade wars and sanctions implemented by the trump administration. RT America’s Manila Chan reports.
 

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Trump Defies Republicans And Democrats With Shutdown Threats


by Tyler Durden
Wed, 09/05/2018 - 10:04


With the end of the federal government's fiscal year looming, President Trump is once again wielding threats of a "good" government shutdown as a cudgel to batter intransigent Democrats and Republicans who are standing in the way of his plans to build his promised wall along the US's southern border.

Of course, this isn't the first time Trump has threatened a shutdown - and at this point in the game, with the outrageous allegation from Bob Woodward's tell-all vying for dominance in the news cycle and Trump's trade war contributing to the stress in emerging markets - the president might view a shutdown fight as an advantageous distraction ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm vote.



But there's also reason to believe the president could be sincere about this threat. After all, even his Republican allies in Congress have done seemingly everything in their power to avoid the issue of funding for the border wall.

Here's Bloomberg:

"On the wall, the House spending panel has backed spending $5 billion next year while the Senate has backed $1.6 billion. The House proposal, worked out in talks with the White House budget office, falls short of the total $23 billion Trump has sought."

While Congressional leaders have been lobbying Trump for months to pass a half-dozen or so spending bills before the Oct. 1 deadline, immigration hardliners in the West Wing have been encouraging Trump to stand his ground, according to Politico. The reasoning, according to the hardliners, is that funding for the wall will be effectively dead in the water if Democrats wrestle back control of Congress after the midterms - so why not press the advantage now?

For months, GOP leaders have been laying the groundwork to avoid a shutdown on Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year and just five weeks before Election Day. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and even Vice President Mike Pence are already quietly lobbying Trump to postpone a shutdown fight over his border wall with Mexico until after the election, Hill and Trump administration sources say.​
But any carefully laid plans could be for naught, as Trump receives contradictory advice from rival factions in the West Wing. Some White House officials are confident that Trump will sign spending bills keeping the government open.​
A smaller subset of immigration hard-liners inside the White House, however, are encouraging Trump to fight on the border wall issue now, while Republicans still control Congress. These officials think the House majority is already gone — and they have encouraged Trump to hold the line for his border wall and secure a win while he can, according to multiple sources on Capitol Hill and in the administration.​
Trump, along with Republican congressional leaders, is trying to set up a meeting with the Democrats next week to try and hash out some of these issues. But it's unclear how successful that might be. According to Politico, forcing a shut down would "almost certainly" cost Republicans their majority in the House. However, that analysis is based on the polling data - and as we learned in 2016, polls are sometimes wrong.

But a shutdown now would almost certainly cost Republicans their House majority. Democrats are currently favored to win the lower chamber. And GOP lawmakers are already being dragged down by Trump’s abysmal approval ratings and the criminal cases involving Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen. There’s a sense that a shutdown would be the final nail in the coffin for House Republicans.​
"A shutdown’s not good for anybody, whether Republicans or Democrats," Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said. "I want to do everything I can to avoid a shutdown."

Given Trump's unpredictability GOP leaders have been preparing for the worst-case scenario: That Trump puts his foot down and insists on the shutdown. If he does, lawmakers will have little recourse - unless they could muster the votes to override a presidential veto.

Finally we note that the spread between pre-fiscal-year-end and post-fiscal-year-end Treasury Bill yields is spiking signaling the market is starting to price in some anxiety across that crucial dateline...


https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-09-05/trump-defies-republicans-and-democrats-shutdown-threats
 

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Trump to Preside Over U.N. Security Council, Prompting Anxiety All Around


By MARK LANDLER and MAGGIE HABERMAN
6 hrs ago

WASHINGTON — Three weeks from now, in New York, President Trump will find himself in the setting he most relishes: seated at the head of a polished table, calling on those seated around him, rewarding those he likes and cutting off those who displease him.

It is not a revival of “The Apprentice,” or even a meeting of his cabinet. Mr. Trump will be presiding at the United Nations Security Council, a rotating role that falls to the United States this month. His star turn is prompting anxiety among people, inside and outside the administration, who worry that the president will bring reality-TV antics to the world stage.

Exercising the prerogative of the chairman, Mr. Trump plans to focus on Iran and its malign activity around the Middle East. European diplomats said they fear that this will only underscore the disunity of the West, given the unpopularity of Mr. Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal.

Already, the president’s choice of subject has drawn objections from Russia, which said the focus of the meeting should be entirely on the nuclear deal and Mr. Trump’s exit from it, and Iran, which accused Mr. Trump of abusing his leadership of the council to vilify a single country.

The resistance is not limited to foreigners. At the State Department, the National Security Council and the American mission to the United Nations, there are privately voiced qualms about Mr. Trump leading a discussion on a complex, divisive subject with foreign leaders who were fiercely opposed to his handling of the nuclear deal.

American officials are discussing whether to reframe the session on the broader region or a different theme to reduce the risk of things going awry, though it is unclear whether the president will be receptive.

By all accounts, Mr. Trump is excited about presiding over the most exclusive club devoted to world peace and security. And he appears equally ready to shake up the customs of that club, where the last time an American leader presided — Barack Obama in 2014 — he chose a theme that the other members could readily embrace: combating foreign terrorist fighters.

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, accused Mr. Trump on Wednesday of using the session to “blame Iran for horrors US & clients have unleashed across” the Middle East. He noted that the only Security Council resolution currently in force on Iran is the nuclear deal.

Under the rules of the Security Council, Mr. Zarif or even Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, is entitled to a seat at the meeting and to be called on by Mr. Trump. Administration officials said they believed it was unlikely that Mr. Rouhani would turn up, though he is scheduled to attend the General Assembly, which meets at the same time.

Even if he did come, officials said Mr. Trump might leave the meeting before it was Iran’s turn to speak. It would be called on only after all 15 members of the Security Council had spoken, a process that could take half a day. If Mr. Trump left early, he would most likely hand over his seat to the American ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Ms. Haley acknowledged that some council members would find Iran an “uncomfortable” subject. But, she said, “I personally think that when we talk about things that are uncomfortable in the Security Council, good things happen.”

“President Trump is very adamant that we have to start making sure that Iran is falling in line with international order,” Ms. Haley added. “And we continue to see them engage in things that are not helpful, whether it’s in Lebanon, whether it’s in Yemen, whether we’re looking at Syria.”

That is one of the primary arguments for Mr. Trump’s decision to focus on Iran, other American officials said. The furor over the nuclear deal, they said, had crowded out discussion of Iran’s other activities.

The United States is warning allies, for example, that Iranian missiles pose a threat to civilian aircraft in the Persian Gulf. But particularly among Europeans, officials said, those dangers often get subsumed in the continuing discussion of why Mr. Trump abandoned the deal.

Some officials played down the risks of Mr. Trump’s appearance. Diplomatic protocol almost guarantees that the meeting will be a series of canned speeches rather than a freewheeling debate, in which Mr. Trump could either be rattled or be seen as bullying other leaders.

In any event, Mr. Trump has shown himself to be gleefully unconcerned with bruising feelings.

In his first visit to the General Assembly last year, he declared, “I will always put America first, just like you, as the leaders of your countries, will always and should always put your countries first” — a call for sovereignty at odds with the mission of the United Nations as a body created to deal collectively with problems that transcend borders.

He referred to the country of one African leader as “Nambia,” prompting questions about whether he had conflated Namibia with Gambia or Zambia (the White House later clarified that he meant Namibia). From the rostrum of the General Assembly, he said of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission.”

Mr. Trump returns to the United Nations after having launched an audacious diplomatic overture to Mr. Kim. While in New York, Ms. Haley said, he planned to meet President Moon Jae-in of South Korea to discuss the nuclear negotiations, which have stalled in recent weeks.

Mr. Trump can also claim progress in his efforts to isolate Iran, however unpopular they have been. The country’s currency, the rial, plummeted to record lows this week amid fears that the sanctions Mr. Trump is reimposing will cripple its oil exports and broader economy.

Beyond faulting Iran’s behavior, though, it is not clear what Mr. Trump hopes to accomplish when he sits at the horseshoe-shaped table in the Security Council’s chamber. With so much resistance to his Iran policy from Russia, China and other veto-wielding members, there is no prospect of winning support for any kind of resolution.

When Mr. Obama first led a council meeting in 2009, the United States won passage of a resolution that promised tougher scrutiny of countries that proliferated nuclear weapons. Days later, the White House revealed intelligence showing that Iran had built a secret uranium enrichment facility in a mountain near the holy city of Qum.

In 2014, with the Islamic State terrorizing Iraq and Syria, Mr. Obama pushed a resolution in the council to crack down on the financing, and movement of people signing up to fight for foreign terrorist organizations.

While an American-led military campaign largely vanquished the Islamic State, Mr. Obama’s 2009 nonproliferation resolution did nothing to prevent North Korea from making new nuclear bombs, although he did negotiate the deal that blocked Iran’s ability to do so.

For Mr. Trump, marshaling global support against Iran seems less of a priority in New York than defiantly advancing his own get-tough policy. Aides said the decision to focus on Iran was very much the president’s — and no one actively pushed back on it, whatever their qualms.

For a president who hushed dissent in his reality-TV days with a simple “You’re fired,” the question is, how will he react if the would-be apprentices from Iran and Russia refuse to go quietly?

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world...ting-anxiety-all-around/ar-BBMYddA?ocid=ientp