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Trump's Economic, Tax & Spending Plans

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US trade wars unite long-standing foes and disunite old allies
RT


Published on Oct 26, 2018
#Japan's prime minister - Shinzo Abe - and the #China's premiere - have shaken hands and spoken about warmer #relations at their summit in Beijing. It's the first visit to the country by a Japanese leader for bilateral talks in nearly seven years
 

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Republicans Look to Safety Net Programs as Deficit Balloons

NYT
By JENNIFER STEINHAUER
22 mins ago


WASHINGTON — With the federal deficit growing and President Trump suddenly talking about another tax cut, the conversation in Washington has turned to the inevitable question of how — or whether — Congress will engage in any type of fiscal discipline.

Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader and Kentucky Republican, got people in Washington talking — and generated some new campaign ads from Democrats — when he suggested this month that changes to Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid were needed to tame the deficit.

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So what does that presage should Republicans maintain control of Congress?

More tax cuts, less safety net spending

This month, the Treasury Department recorded a $779 billion deficit for the 2018 fiscal year, stemming in large part from a sharp decline in corporate tax revenues after a $1.5 trillion tax cut last year. Since Republicans have historically made deficits a big talking point, Mr. McConnell was naturally asked what the heck he was going to do about it.

“It’s disappointing, but it’s not a Republican problem,” Mr. McConnell told Bloomberg News in an interview. “It’s a bipartisan problem: unwillingness to address the real drivers of the debt by doing anything to adjust those programs to the demographics of America in the future.”

That is code for wanting to tackle entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security, which Republicans say need to be reined in to address the ballooning federal deficit.

In the Capitol Hill language of indirection, Mr. McConnell’s response most likely served two purposes: to signal to his party’s base that, yes, deficits still make Republicans in Congress sad, but, no, the tax cuts are not to blame. President Trump has shown little interest in taking on the programs that are swelling as the baby boom ages — Social Security and Medicare — and Mr. McConnell further signaled inaction.

“There’s nothing on our agenda to do that unless we have an agreement with the Democrats that we can all sign on to,” he told reporters later.

Still, Mr. Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said in a recent interview that the administration had to be tougher on spending and would begin to consider “the larger entitlements” — Social Security and Medicare are the two biggest social insurance programs — “probably next year.”

Medicaid would be the likeliest target

Even if the Republicans maintain control of Congress, they are likely to lack the votes to make major overhauls to the big entitlement programs, especially without the president’s support. So they would have to turn to the budget process trick — most likely in the first half of 2019 — that allows the Senate to pass legislation with only 51 votes.

There are limits to that process, but Republicans’ myriad efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act provide a guide. The bill, which ultimately failed, would have turned Medicaid, the health care program for the poor, into block grants to the states while slowly rolling back its expansion under the Affordable Care Act and squeezing overall spending on the program.

“Last year when we were taking a run at repealing Obamacare, there was a very serious effort to reform Medicaid,” said Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania. “We got close to uniting Republican senators on the idea that not only do we need to change the architecture of the program but also long-term growth of the program.”

This would be their easiest play, especially if the Republican majority expands in the Senate.

“If Republicans keep the House, I have no doubt they will redouble their efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and slash funding,” said Representative Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, the highest-ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees the program, in an email. Indeed, if Republicans keep control of Congress, they might view this as a mandate from voters.

Social Security is probably, but not entirely, secure

Republicans have long toyed with the notion of allowing some private investments in Social Security, but there has been no serious legislative attempt since President George W. Bush was smacked down when he tried to change the program in 2005.

President Barack Obama offered some cuts in Social Security in exchange for new revenues in the “grand bargain” he pursued with the House speaker at the time, John Boehner, toward the end of both of their terms. But House Republicans rejected that notion, and it collapsed under the weight of partisan brawls.

Further, the retirement program is generally considered less of a threat to fiscal solvency than Medicare since its outlays are not expanding as fast as the health programs.

[Read more about campaign pledges regarding Social Security.]

And given the political polarization, Democrats and Republicans are unlikely to agree on a plan to overhaul the program, which would be necessary for any major changes.

Medicare tweaks are likely to be geared toward drug pricing

The Republican agenda still officially calls for turning Medicare into a voucherlike program that would give recipients a choice of whether to get subsidies to buy private insurance or maintain traditional coverage.

Again, Mr. Trump has made it clear that he does not want to make changes to this program for older Americans, though he has spoken frequently about trying to lower the costs of drugs in Medicare, including by increasing the government’s power to negotiate prices.

Well, congressional Republicans don’t want the government to negotiate drug prices — that’s an idea pushed by Democrats. Congress has already made modest moves on the drug-pricing front.

“The tax cuts kind of poisoned the well on this,” said Brian Riedl, a senior fellow in budget, tax and economics at the conservative Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. He noted: “It’s hard to cut taxes for corporations and then cut Medicare. The optics for that can be brutal.”

On Thursday, Mr. Trump released his latest drug-price ideas, which would essentially base the costs on those paid by other industrialized nations.

Democrats are seizing on the Republican threat to the safety net

“If Republicans retain the Senate, they will do everything they can to take away families’ health care and raise their costs,” Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader from New York, said in response to Mr. McConnell. “Americans should take Senator McConnell at his word.”

Right away, the comments became the subject of ads; Priorities USA Action, the largest Democratic Party “super PAC,” dumped an immediate $2 million into the effort, and others joined the fray.

[Video: A Democratic political action committee's video opposing the re-election of Senator Dean Heller, Republican of Nevada. Watch on YouTube.]

Expect to see more of this as Democrats try to turn their closing message before the midterm elections back to health care, as they had already been trying to do

But could Republicans use the farm bill to cut safety net programs?

Yes, Republicans are embracing legislative efforts that would allow states to employ work requirements to lower the food stamp rolls. They will get a lot of pushback from Democrats, whose votes they need to pass the bill.

So with a 60-vote threshold in the Senate and an almost certain shrunken majority in the House, Republicans will still find a somewhat steep hill to climb.

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http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/polit...ams-as-deficit-balloons/ar-BBOX4Ek?ocid=ientp
 

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Trump Asks Cabinet To Draw Up Trade Deal After Conversation With China's Xi: BBG


by Tyler Durden
Fri, 11/02/2018 - 05:45

Is a harmonious conclusion to the six-month-long US-China trade battle finally within reach? Or this just a ploy to push US stocks higher ahead of an election that will decide which party controls Congress for the balance of Trump's term?

That's the question that traders will be asking themselves as they try to suss out the implications of a Bloomberg report claiming that President Trump has asked his cabinet to begin drawing up the terms of a deal following a "long and very good" conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday - the first phone call between the leaders of the world's two largest economies in months. According to Bloomberg, Trump has asked key cabinet secretaries to have their staff draw up a draft deal that he hopes will signal an end to the trade conflict, BBG's anonymous sources said. What remains unclear is whether Trump will drop the list of demands that have reportedly been a sticking point in negotiations since the spring. Among those demands are that China scale back state support for its 'Made in China 2025' initiative, drop policies that support the siphoning of intellectual property from foreign companies and reduce the country's trade surplus with the US.



Predictably, the news ignited a torrid rally in Asian shares, with the Hang Seng Index rising 4.2%, the biggest gain since 2011, while the Shanghai Composite Index climbed 2.7% to cement its first four-day winning streak since February. The Chinese yuan, meanwhile, traded back below 6.9 to the dollar, while US stock futures moved higher, signaling that shares could be on their way to a fourth straight day of gains.




Analysts were split on their interpretation of the news. Some believed that the rash of downbeat forward guidance that helped trigger the 'Shocktober' market rout had finally inspired the president to try and quash the trade beef.

Tuuli McCully, head of Asia-Pacific economics at Scotiabank in Singapore, called the news "encouraging." It "likely reflects the fact that businesses in the U.S. are starting to feel the impact of the trade conflict through higher prices and squeezed margins," she said.​
Others insisted that the news was a ploy and that, if anything, deal talks remain in preliminary stages.

The telephone conversation on Thursday was Trump and Xi’s first publicly disclosed call in six months. Both sides reported that they had constructive discussions on North Korea and trade, with Chinese state media saying that Trump supported “frequent, direct communication” between the presidents and “joint efforts to prepare for” the planned meeting on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit, which is scheduled to take place from from Nov. 30 to Dec. 1.​
Sean George, Stockholm-based CIO at Strukturinvest, manager of the Hamiltonian Global Credit Opportunity fund, agreed that the rally sparked by the report would be a "short-term tactical play."

"For us at Hamiltonian, we view this as a short-term tactical trade. We are cognizant of the elections on Tuesday, and the cynic in me says maybe this is being done for votes."​
Another economist argued that both Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Trump could benefit from even the perception of a trade detente.

  • "October data confirmed China is slowing, and markets were searching for conviction on whether the government can engineer a soft landing given domestic and external stress," says Trinh Nguyen, senior economist in Hong Kong
  • "Since then, that fear has receded on conjecture that we may have a stronger policy signal from China to provide support for the economy, and today we have both Trump and the Chinese government signaling potential progress to ease trade tensions."
  • "At this critical juncture for both the US and China, there is an alignment in timing. For China, it is prioritizing stabilizing domestic sentiment, and for Trump we have Nov. 6 mid-term elections."
  • "Whether the positive words will culminate into actual action remains to be seen, but at the moment, the timing of a possible deal appears to be a great reprieve for not just the two largest economies but also global prospects and risk appetite."
Meanwhile, the South China Morning Post is reporting that the meeting between Trump and Xi on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, tentatively scheduled for Nov. 29, has been rescheduled and expanded into a "meeting plus dinner" on Dec. 1.

* * *

We now wait for Trump economic advisor Larry Kudlow to pour cold water on the report during a Friday morning interview.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018...-draw-trade-deal-after-conversation-chinas-xi
 

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New Email Raises Questions About Cost of F.B.I. Building Project

NYT
By THOMAS KAPLAN
1 hr ago


WASHINGTON — An email message released Friday shows the Trump administration bracing for scrutiny over the cost of its plan to build a new downtown headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Investigation instead of moving the agency to Maryland or Virginia.

The email raises questions about the White House’s explanation for President Trump’s desire to keep the F.B.I. in Washington. Last month, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said that Mr. Trump “wanted to save the government money.”

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The Trump administration has faced questions from congressional Democrats after it abandoned a long-discussed plan to build a campus for the F.B.I. in the Washington suburbs while turning over the bureau’s existing headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue for commercial development. In February, the administration presented lawmakers with a new plan: It would seek to demolish the existing headquarters, the J. Edgar Hoover Building, and rebuild on that site.

Mr. Trump has taken an unusual interest in the F.B.I. building, including taking part himself in at least one meeting about the headquarters project before the new plan was announced. The Hoover building is a block from the Trump International Hotel, and the plan to build a new F.B.I. headquarters on that site will keep the property out of the hands of a commercial developer.

The newly revealed email is from Feb. 13, the day after the Trump administration presented a Senate committee with its plan to keep the F.B.I. on Pennsylvania Avenue. Officials from the General Services Administration, which handles real estate for the federal government, testified later that week in front of a House subcommittee.

In the email, Andrew Abrams, an official at the White House Office of Management and Budget, provided what he described as “the hardest-hitting FBI HQ question we could come up with.”

The email said that the new plan “proposes a less secure facility” and “has a higher per seat cost.” It concludes with the question, “How is this a good deal for FBI or taxpayers?”

The email was released Friday by five House Democrats, including Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee. Last month, they released emails that shed light on Mr. Trump’s involvement in the F.B.I. project; in response, Ms. Sanders said that the president had wanted to save money.

On Friday, the lawmakers sent a letter to the White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, seeking documents regarding the F.B.I. project and taking issue with Ms. Sanders’s statement. In addition to Mr. Cummings, the letter was signed by Representatives Gerald E. Connolly of Virginia, Peter A. DeFazio of Oregon, Mike Quigley of Illinois and Dina Titus of Nevada.

“The White House should not be issuing false claims to justify or conceal President Trump’s conflicts of interest on this matter,” the lawmakers wrote.

The White House was reviewing the letter from the lawmakers, a spokeswoman said on Friday.

The cost of the plan to build a new F.B.I. headquarters in downtown Washington, rather than in the suburbs, had previously been in dispute. The new downtown headquarters would house about 8,300 employees, while the planned suburban campus would have housed about 10,600 employees.

When the Trump administration presented its plan to the Senate this year, it listed a price tag of $3.3 billion, compared with $3.6 billion for the plan to build a suburban campus. A report released in August by the inspector general for the General Services Administration challenged that comparison, saying that the new plan would actually be more costly.

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http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/polit...of-fbi-building-project/ar-BBPhigO?ocid=ientp
 

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https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-stocks/two-years-in-trump-holds-stock-market-bragging-rights-idUSKCN1NB0GY?feedType=RSS&feedName=businessNews&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+reuters/businessNews+(Business+News)

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump has taken credit for the stock market’s gains during his nearly two years in the White House, and those claims are reasonable given the impact of tax cuts and pro-business policies on investor sentiment.

Still, other sectors that could have been expected to benefit strongly from a Trump presidency have lagged. Indeed, the individual stocks that have gained and lost the most during his reign have little discernable link to Trump’s presidency.

How the market shakes out in the final two years of Trump’s presidency will probably be influenced by Tuesday’s elections. Analysts expect pressure on stocks if Democrats gain control of the House of Representatives and a sharper downward reaction if they sweep the House and Senate.
 

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Nursing homes, sausage casings and VOTING machines: How shrewd businesswoman Ivanka successfully applied for 16 trademarks in China - just months after Trump accused them of election meddling

  • Ivanka Trump applied for the Chinese trademarks in 2016
  • She made Abigail Klem president of her IT Collection LLC in January 2017
  • POTUS adviser applied for more trademarks in 2017 after her father was sworn in
  • She then closed her US-based clothing company in July to focus on her duties in White House
  • Donald Trump accused China of meddling with elections in September at the UN
  • Ivanka got 16 trademarks approved last month for business in wedding dresses, shoes, jewelry, nursing homes, sausage casings and voting machines
  • The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics asks whether President Trump has made foreign policy decisions with China in the interest of his family businesses
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...closing-fashion-company-focus-Washington.html
 

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‘Legalized Bribery’ Continues Under Trump
RT America


Published on Nov 6, 2018
Before assuming the presidency, Donald Trump vowed to “drain the swamp” of corporate influence and address the “revolving door” between highly lucrative public and private sector jobs. But a new report from the Project on Government Oversight shows that has done very opposite. RT America’s Dan Cohen reports.
 

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Flipped House Complicates Trade Deals – Bart Chilton
RT America


Published on Nov 7, 2018
Former CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton, host of RT America’s “Boom Bust,” joins Scottie Nell Hughes to describe the impact of the 2018 midterms on the Trump Administration’s ongoing trade war with China and other negotiations. They also discuss Trump’s recent comments about Nancy Pelosi.
 

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Volvo Changing Production Plans Due to U.S.-China Tariff War

Motor Trend Staff
11 hrs ago


Just as production of the Volvo S60 sedan is launching at the $1.1 billion plantVolvo has built in Ridgeville, S.C., near Charleston, the Swedish automaker is making changes to what is built where because of the U.S. trade war with China.

Fewer, if any, S60 midsize sedans will be exported from South Carolina to China where they would be slapped with a 40-percent tariff. The S60 will still be exported to Europe and other markets.

The Swedish automaker—ironically owned by China's Geely Group—will look at whether it should change plans to make the U.S. the sole global source of the car. Volvo could continue to make the sedan in China where it makes a long-wheelbase version of the car for that market. And the automaker could add production of even more vehicles in China, rather than export them at a loss because of high levies in the wake of the trade war with the U.S.

Additionally, early next year Volvo will stop importing the new XC60 from China. The popular crossover for the U.S. market will come from Sweden, instead, said Anders Gustafsson, president and CEO of Volvo Car USA and senior vice president of Volvo Americas. He visited Detroit to speak to the Automotive Press Association.

And Volvo will import fewer S90 large sedans from China, reducing volume from about 10,000 a year for American consumers to 2,500-3,000, depending on demand, Gustafsson said.

In 2014 when Volvo decided to build its first U.S. plant in South Carolina, there was no whiff of an escalating tariff war. The business model was to build a plant capable of making at least two different models. Half the output would be for the domestic market and the other half would be for export around the world.

Gustafsson travelled to Charleston last week to see the first production S60 models come off the line, headed for dealerships. Capacity will slowly ramp up to about 50,000 S60s in the first year.

In 2022, Charleson will add production of the next-generation XC90 and employment will grow to 3,900 from 1,200.

The trade war could impact that as well.

"We might need to make the XC90 in another country too, if tariffs keep up," Gustafsson said. Volvo will export the XC90 from the U.S. to Europe and might decide to export some to China at a loss, or it might decide to build a plant in China.

Another trade issue to heed is the impact of the USMCA agreement that replaces NAFTA and calls for more locally sourced components. Gustafsson hinted that engine and/or battery production in North America might become necessary in the future to support and justify the big investment already made in the Charleston vehicle assembly plant

Uncertainty is difficult but Volvo has the structure and wherewithal to handle the changes it must make because of tariff and trade issues, Gustafsson said. "We'll go at this change not with a smile, but we know what we have to do."

More automotive news from MSN Autos | Research the Volvo S60 on MSN Autos

http://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/news...-to-us-china-tariff-war/ar-BBPuRb3?ocid=ientp
 

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Trade War: From Furniture to Food, Expect Price Hikes
RT America


Published on Nov 9, 2018
In the face of US threats over trade, China has begun export more products at an increased rate to trade partners like Brazil and India. The US should expect price increases in produce, computers, vacuum-cleaners and furniture. RT Americas’ Sara Montes de Oca reports on these developments as well as ominous recent advances in Chinese military technology.
 

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French President Macron: I always prefer having direct discussion
CNN


Published on Nov 11, 2018
In an exclusive interview on "Fareed Zakaria GPS," French President Emmanuel Macron said he prefers "having direct discussion" rather than discussing diplomacy through tweets with President Donald Trump. His remarks came hours after Trump, who had just landed in Paris, used twitter to criticize Macron for proposing days earlier that more European military cooperation would be a good thing.
 

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Maersk CEO Says Data Shows `Ironic’ Twist in U.S. Trade War With China
November 14, 2018 by Bloomberg



Photo: By Corine van Kapel / Shutterstock

By Christian Wienberg (Bloomberg) — The man running the world’s largest container-shipping company says he has access to data that shows Donald Trump has so far failed to wean the U.S. off Chinese imports.

Soren Skou, the chief executive of A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, says Chinese exports to the U.S. actually grew 5-10 percent last quarter. Meanwhile, U.S. exports to China fell by 25-30 percent.

“It’s an ironic development,” Skou told reporters in Copenhagen on Wednesday. “But after Trump has turned up the volume, the U.S. has only increased their imports from China even more.”

Related: Maersk Warns Trade War to Hit Container Shipping

There are two reasons behind the development, Skou said.

Firstly, the U.S. economy is doing well so consumers there have more money to spend on imports, he said. Secondly, a lot of the really big U.S. companies are hoarding Chinese imports to buy as much as possible before tariffs kick in, he said.

“When we talk to our customers, we hear from many of them that they want to bring in a lot of goods before the end of the year,” Skou said.

Maersk transports about a fifth of the world’s seaborne manufactured goods, so the company is in a unique position to gauge changes in global trade flows. Given Maersk’s reliance on free trade, Skou hasn’t shied away from criticizing Trump’s tariffs in the past.

Read more: Tariffs Will Hurt U.S. Much More Than Rest of World, Maersk Says

Part of the problem is that Trump is fighting an “asymmetric” battle, because China has a lot more clout than the U.S. when it comes to telling corporations how to act, Skou said.

“Donald Trump can’t tell Nike, Walmart and The Home Depot that they can’t import from China,” he said. “So they will continue to import and will work on solutions and they may be hit a bit on their margins.”

“Meanwhile, the Chinese state-controlled companies don’t need many signals from Beijing to lower their imports from the U.S.,” Skou said.

The Maersk CEO also warned that China is having an easier time finding substitutes for U.S. products than the U.S. is in replacing Chinese imports.

“The large U.S. importers aren’t considering building new factories in the U.S.,” he said. “What they are considering is whether they can buy in Vietnam, Bangladesh or India.”

According to Skou, that should leave Trump with little choice but to strike a deal with China, which he says may come “within the next quarters.”

But even if there’s a trade deal between China and the U.S., Skou says Maersk will prepare for lower trans-pacific trade next year.

“There will be a price to pay for container lines in 2019,” he said. “What we plan for now, is that we have to take out a lot of capacity on trans-Pacific trade next year. There will be a high level of inventory build-up which needs to be brought down again and that will affect volumes.”

© 2018 Bloomberg L.P

https://gcaptain.com/maersk-ceo-says-data-shows-ironic-twist-in-u-s-trade-war-with-china/
 

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High Stakes, Entrenched Interests And The Trump Rollback Of Environmental Regulations


By Julie Appleby, Senior Correspondent at Kaiser Health News. Before joining KHN, Julie spent 10 years covering the health industry and policy at USA TODAY. She also worked at the San Francisco Chronicle, The Financial Times in London and the Contra Costa Times in Walnut Creek, California. She serves on the board of the Association of Health Care Journalists and has a Master of Public Health degree. Originally published at Kaiser Health NewsPosted on November 14, 2018 by Yves Smith

Since his days on the campaign trail, President Donald Trump has promised to roll back environmental regulations, boost the use of coal and pull out of the Paris climate agreement — and he’s moving toward doing all those things.

He has pushed ahead with such action even as a report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released in October concluded that without much stronger measures to reduce the use of fossil fuels, a warming planet will witness the spread of tropical diseases, water shortages and crop die-offs affecting millions of people.

Supporters of the administration’s changes — some of whom are skeptical of accepted science — say the administration’s moves will save money, produce jobs and give more power to states.

But critics say new strictures on scientific research and efforts to overturn standards for protecting air, water and worker safety could have long-term, widespread effects that would upend hard-won gains in environmental and public health.

The Trump administration’s many environmental proposals vary widely in target and reach.

For example, the administration has delayed the implementation and enforcement of many Obama-era rules, saying they need time to draw up new rules or study some that are already on the books. Industry generally agrees, arguing these rules are an overreach with negative financial consequences. Critics fear that the delays will undermine hard-fought public health protections.

Among such efforts:
  • The Environmental Protection Agency recently argued it needs until 2020 to decide on a controversial Obama-era directive expanding to smaller streams and waterways the types of wetlands protected by the federal Clean Water Act. That directive might mean fewer pollutants released into tributaries of larger waterways, from which millions of people get their drinking water. But the controversial rule has been fought by farming, mining and other industry groups that say it is too restrictive.
  • The EPA also sought to delay by nearly two years standards to protect workers and emergency responders at chemical plants, part of an Obama-era rule in response to a 2013 fire at a Texas fertilizer plant that killed 15 people. Industry says that the rule is costly and that providing information about chemical storage at plants could raise security concerns.
  • In March 2017, then-EPA chief Scott Pruitt rejected a petition filed in 2007 by environmental groups seeking to ban a commonly used pesticide, chlorpyrifos, which the groups say harms health, particularly citing developmental damage to children and fetuses. The agency said it needed more time to study the chemical.

All three of those delays were blocked by federal court judges, although the administration may decide to appeal, so final outcomes are unclear.
But one thing is clear: Everyone is likely to spend a lot of time in court.

“Folks are already lining up to challenge the Affordable Clean Energy rule, and that’s probably true for just about anything this administration does when it comes to environmental reform,” said Nicolas Loris, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

The clean energy rule, introduced in August, would replace a more stringent Obama-era rule for coal-burning power plants.

An EPA analysis said the proposed rule would reduce industry costs and create jobs.

The same analysis concluded, though, that the looser standards, which would supersede the never-implemented Obama-era regulation, would cause as many as 1,400 premature deaths and 15,000 new cases of upper respiratory problems annually by 2030.

On another front, scientists are protesting new Trump administration policies they say would effectively curtail their ability to study the health effects of environmental exposures.

This spring, the EPA proposed a rule dubbed Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science, which would restrict the use of studies as the basis for advancing environmental regulations if researchers have not released all their raw data, potentially including medical records.

The Trump administration said this step would ensure that data and methods can be checked for accuracy, echoing a long-running argument from industry and some in Congress.

From scientists, though, reaction was immediate, widespread and negative. Hundreds of researchers and dozens of public health organizations said the proposal would quash important research into the effects of pollution and chemicals on health.

No longer would they be able to promise confidentiality of medical records to people who take part in research studies, which would have a chilling effect on their willingness to participate.

Many of the submitted comments noted that such a rule would undermine key studies that led to pollution laws and prevailing attitudes about the interaction of environmental and human health.

Case in point: the seminal 1993 “Six Cities” research by Harvard scientists linking air pollution to premature death.

That study did not disclose the identities of its 22,000 participants or their medical information.

Its findings led in 1997 to new restrictions under the Clean Air Act for fine particles, tiny pieces of soot, dust, carbon and other pollutants that get inhaled deep into the lungs, potentially causing asthma, lung cancer and other health conditions. By 2020, those rules are expected to have prevented more than 230,000 early deaths.

Scientists say the administration is handicapping their ability to do important research. The plan comes amid other efforts critics see as attacking science, such as removing information from government websites about climate change, restrictions on who can sit on EPA advisory boards and a proposal to more narrowly target safety reviews of chemicals.

“By attacking the science that talks about adverse effects on health,” the administration hopes to allow deregulation yet claim “they are not harming people,” said Francesca Dominici, a professor of biostatistics at the Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The range and scope of the proposed changes has brought praise from some in industry and agriculture for loosening restrictions and giving states more flexibility. But the changes frustrate public health and environmental health advocates.

“We would like to be moving forward rather than fighting these kind of rollbacks,” said Janice Nolen, assistant vice president for national policy at the American Lung Association.


This entry was posted in Banana republic, Commodities, Economic fundamentals, Energy markets, Environment, Free markets and their discontents, Global warming, Guest Post, Health care, Legal, Politics, Regulations and regulators on November 14, 2018 by Yves Smith.

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/201...trump-rollback-environmental-regulations.html
 

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'Duped,' 'tricked' and 'snookered': Oil analysts say Trump fooled Saudis into tanking crude prices


CNBC
2 hrs ago


Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia pulled off a challenging U-turn in global oil market policy, convincing a fractious group of two dozen nations to hike output and undercut the oil market rally that was filling their coffers.

The Saudis undertook this unpopular task at least in part to help its allies in the White House — and for its troubles, the kingdom was rewarded with a series of blistering tweets from President Donald Trump and the biggest pullback in oil prices since the historic downturn of 2014.

Oil market analysts say it now appears that Trump hoodwinked Saudi Arabia, fooling the U.S. ally into pushing the oil market into oversupply and sparking a roughly 25-percent drop in crude prices. That accomplished Trump's goal of driving down energy costs for Americans, but left oil-dependent nations like Saudi Arabia with the prospect of shrinking revenues.

The analysts say Trump essentially bamboozled the Saudis by threatening for months to implement sanctions against Iran so strictly, the Islamic Republic's exports would go into free fall. But when the administration's deadline for oil buyers to quit Iranian oil arrived on Nov. 4, Trump instead doled out six-month exemptions to some of the country's biggest customers.

"They got sort of tricked here," said John Kilduff, founding partner at energy hedge fund Again Capital. "The Russians and the Saudis in particular ramped up production, ramped up exports ahead of what was supposed to be severe sanctions on Iran, and when the administration gave the eight waivers to Iran's largest buyers, it undercut that whole equation."

"So now we've tripped into an oversupply situation almost overnight because of the severe reaction by Russia and the Saudis to cover for Iran losses, which never materialized."

To be sure, the sanctions have shrunk Iran's exports by about 1 million barrels per day. Few thought the Trump administration would actually achieve its stated goal of cutting its rival's shipments to zero.

But the sanctions, backed by the administration's hawkish rhetoric, cut Iran's exports more quickly than many anticipated. The market also expected another big drop after the Nov. 4 deadline passed. That fear fueled a rally that sent oil prices to four-year highs.

Over the last six weeks, that rally has unwound in spectacular fashion, with oil prices tumbling into a bear market. The pullback has several causes, including a weaker demand outlook for oil and a wider market sell-off, but analysts say OPEC's output hike earlier this year and the sanctions waivers play a major part in the oil price plunge.

"In early October there was this expectation that a lot of Iran's barrels were going to come off the market, and so essentially Saudi Arabia was duped into increasing production," said Matt Smith, head of commodities research at tanker-tracking firm ClipperData.

Smith says it's uncertain the situation has unfolded exactly as the Trump administration intended, but it has ultimately worked out in the president's favor — though potentially at a cost to U.S.-Saudi relations.

"They've really done a good job of decreasing that oil price, but it has been at the expense of some of those relations there, because surely the Saudis have got to be pretty unhappy with the way things have played out here."

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al Falih acknowledged this week that Iran's exports didn't fall as much as expected.

He also announced that Saudi Arabia will ship 500,000 fewer bpd in December and said OPEC and its allies may cut production by 1 million bpd next year. That decision could come in a few weeks when OPEC, Russia and other producers meet to review their current policy of easing output curbs that have been in place since last year.

Trump took to Twitter a few hours later, tweeting, "Hopefully, Saudi Arabia and OPEC will not be cutting oil production. Oil prices should be much lower based on supply!"

The president has previously used Twitter to blame OPEC for high oil prices and demand the group take action to cut costs. At the UN General Assembly this year, he told world leaders that OPEC is ripping them off.

Analysts say Falih's comments this week might have pushed oil prices higher, if not for Trump's tweet.

"I think the market is ignoring [the Saudis] because of Trump," said Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets. "I think if you didn't have the Trump tweet, there would not be this skepticism. Right now, there's a view that the Saudis will reverse course because of Trump. There's a sense that Trump really has them over a barrel at this point."

The kingdom is in a precarious position after a Saudi prosecutor acknowledged that government agents killed journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi in a Turkish consulate last month, following earlier denials by the state.

Gary Ross, CEO at Black Gold Investors, believes the cartel will ultimately agree to cut output when it meets with Russia and other producers next month. However, in his view it may be too little too late.

"They're pretty much snookered by Trump," Ross said. "I mean, Trump led them to believe that the Iranian exports would be zero. It turned out they're going to be 1.2 to 1.5 million barrels a day, way higher than people thought."

"Broadly speaking, it's an oversupply story, and I think they will cut back, but they're not likely to cut back enough to drive prices back up to anything like $80 Brent," he told CNBC. "I think we're going to be in a $60 to $70 Brent market for some time."

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/mark...to-tanking-crude-prices/ar-BBPJq5j?ocid=ientp
 

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Trump's landmark trade deal with Canada and Mexico is suddenly in trouble

Business Insider
Bob Bryan
6 hrs ago


  • The highlight of President Donald Trump's trade policy has been the new trade deal with Mexico and Canada - the USMCA.
  • The deal must still be approved by Congress.
  • Democrats are generally more skeptical of free trade deals.
  • They now control the House following the midterms and could vote to reject the deal without some important changes.
  • Additionally, some conservative GOP members have raised concerns about provisions in the USMCA that strengthen workplace protections for LGBT workers.
The biggest success of President Donald Trump's prolonged trade battles has come in the form of a revised trade deal with Canada and Mexico.

But recent statements from key members of Congress have potentially thrown the future of that deal in question.

Creeping doubt from leading Democrats and a group of conservative House members have created fresh concern that the the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which was agreed to by the three member countries on September 30, will be able to pass Congress without some significant changes.

Th USMCA, which is primarily an update of the existing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), would make adjustments to rules on cars, dairy, and other goods flowing between the US, Canada, and Mexico.

But some of the smaller details in the agreement could also cause it to hit some snags.

Democratic pushback
The USMCA always faced the headwind that it was moving forward at a heightened period of political uncertainty, such as the presidential changeover in Mexico and the midterm elections in the US.

Before it comes into effect, each country's legislature must pass the USMCA:

  • In the US, Trump renegotiated NAFTA under what is known as Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA.
  • Under TPA, only a majority of lawmakers need to vote for the USMCA to pass.
  • But required waiting periods with TPA mean a vote will likely not come until the next Congress is seated in January.
  • So Democrats will have a chance to leave their mark on Trump's agreement, since the president will need to win over at least a handful to pass the deal.

Democrats in general are more skeptical of free trade agreements than their GOP counterparts. The original NAFTA was passed with mostly Republican votes despite being agreed to under President Bill Clinton. Former President Barack Obama, meanwhile, needed extensive GOP support to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Despite not being able to make large changes to the text - that would require Trump to reopen negotiations with Mexico and Canada - legislation can help determine the level of enforcement of certain parts of the USMCA.

Rep. Bill Pascrell, who could lead the critical House Ways and Means Committee next year, told Bloomberg that the USMCA can't pass as is. He said there needs "to be not only changes in the legislation but more enforcement" in the deal to get enough Democrats on board.

Other Democrats have also expressed misgivings. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, considered the frontrunner to be the next House speaker, has called for strengthening the pro-labor and environmental aspects of the deal by making them legally enforceable, instead of just guidelines.

"Most important of all are the enforcement provisions in terms of labor and the environment," Pelosi told The New York Times. "Enforcement, enforcement, enforcement."

But amid the early wobbles, most analysts expect the deal to eventually get done. If Democrats don't agree to the deal, Trump could threaten to pull the US out of NAFTA entirely - which would be an economic disaster - and Democrats don't have an alternate track to take.

"We believe that will happen early next year as we don't believe Democrats will derail the USMCA without a viable alternative just to deprive Trump of a 'win,'" Nancy Vanden Houten, senior economist at Oxford Economics, wrote in a post-midterm note to clients.

Conservative pushback
Given Democrats' hesitation, Trump needs near-unanimous support from his own party to ensure the USMCA's passage.

On that front, a small clause in the deal could actually cause a revolt among the GOP.

Forty conservative House members sent a letter to Trump on Friday expressing displeasure with a provision in the USMCA that requires member countries to beef up workplace protections for LGBT people.

The House members argue that the deal could force the US to make significant changes to labor laws to make sexual orientation and gender identity a protected class - or risk getting kicked out of the economically critical deal.

"A trade agreement is no place for the adoption of social policy," the letter said. "It is especially inappropriate and insulting to our sovereignty to needlessly submit to social policies which the United States Congress had so far explicitly refused to accept."

Losing 40 GOP members in the House would require more than 50 Democrats to flip and support the deal for it to pass, which is highly unlikely.

But making any such changes would be difficult. The deal text is set to be signed at the G20 summit on November 30, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is unlikely to accept any side deals to allow the US to ease up the protections.

But without those changes, conservatives say the deal could be in trouble.

"This is language that is going to cause a lot of people to reconsider their support of the trade agreement, and to the point that it may endanger the passage of the trade agreement unless something is done," GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn told Politico on Friday.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/mark...-is-suddenly-in-trouble/ar-BBPPINm?ocid=ientp
 

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Is Trump country really better off under Trump? No. It’s falling further behind.


Washington Post
Anthony W. Orlando
3 hrs ago


Two years have passed since Donald Trump made his famous campaign promise in disaffected regions across the country: “We are going to start winning again!” For many voters who felt that they had lost ground in recent decades, the candidate argued, a vote for him would be rewarded with renewed prosperity and prominence.

It was a classic campaign promise, overly ambitious and cleverly vague. What exactly did “winning” mean? Certainly, many reporters believed voters perceived the promise as an economic one. So let’s measure the promise’s success that way. How have Trump voters fared economically, compared with Hillary Clinton voters?

Not noticeably better, according to the data. By most measures, my latest research shows, Trump counties — and especially counties with higher proportions of Trump voters — continue to fall farther behind the rest of the country economically. The story of our economy, like the story of our politics, continues to be a story of division and divergence.

Subscribe to the Post Most newsletter: Today’s most popular stories on The Washington Post

Trump’s America vs. Clinton’s America
It is no secret that the country is as geographically fractured as it is economically unequal. In fact, the two trends are intertwined. In separate studies, economists Rebecca Diamond and Peter Ganong and Daniel Shoag revealed a widening gap in incomes, skills and wages between low-income and high-income regions, beginning around 1980. After decades of converging, in other words, our cities and states have been growing apart. The wider the income gap grows between the regions, they show, the harder it becomes for those in service and even blue-collar jobs to afford to live in high-income, high-rent places with high-quality amenities such as clean air, good schools, low crime, strong job markets, transportation infrastructure and retail stores.

Driven out of thriving communities by those rents, people who were just getting by are surrounded by others who were also struggling, in areas that the better-off had fled. That leaves a skimpy tax base, shrunken opportunities and economic segregation.

Thus, we increasingly live in two Americas, and we vote accordingly.

Consider the stark differences in basic measures of local economic performance — employment and housing prices — between counties where the majority of votes were cast for Donald Trump and counties where the majority voted for Hillary Clinton. The average Clinton county employs seven to eight times as many workers as the average Trump county, with nearly double the market value per single-family home. In part, this difference reflects the higher population density of the urban areas, which voted disproportionately for Clinton. But as my analysis shows, it has been growing over time, as the Clinton counties outperform their Trump counterparts.

Post-election, the more things change, the more they stay the same?
After November 2016, many Trump supporters told reporters that they expected this gap to narrow. In essence, they were hoping to see faster job growth — and income growth, which would drive up housing prices — to catch up to the rest of the country.

Looking at 13 months of data since the election, we can see that that hasn’t happened. The average Trump county added 1.13 percent more jobs, while the average Clinton county added 0.49 percent. These increases are quite small, especially considering that significantly fewer jobs existed in Trump counties to begin with.

Housing prices tell a similar story, with even more data stretching into 2018. Regardless of how I compare the counties, Clinton supporters consistently come out on top. Even though their housing prices started significantly higher than their counterparts in Trump counties, their value increases even faster after November 2016.

The major shortcoming of this comparison is that it fails to account for pre-election trends. Maybe the Trump counties aren’t growing faster than the Clinton counties, but at least they are improving relative to their previous performance? Maybe they’re bending their trend closer to the trend of the Clinton counties, even if they’re not overtaking them?

Not at all, it turns out. Using a standard statistical technique called “difference-in-differences,” I estimate the difference between Trump and Clinton counties before and after the election and show whether the difference … differs. In other words, I look at whether the economic performance gap narrows. The answer: No. Statistically, there appears to be no significant improvement in job growth. The gap in housing price growth actually widens. In fact, the larger the Trump electorate and the larger the degree of Trump support, the worse the county’s economic performance.

Finally, you might wonder whether it’s fair to lump all Trump voters together. Many of them would have voted Republican regardless of the nominee. Perhaps it makes more sense to focus on the voters who switched to Donald Trump after voting for Barack Obama in 2012. Arguably, these voters were wooed specifically by the candidate’s promise to “start winning again.”

Even among these counties, however, there does not appear to be any improvement. Their performance is statistically indistinguishable from the performance of their fellow Obama counties that stuck with the Democrats in 2016.

What can we expect for the next two years?
The two Americas remain as economically divided after the midterm election as they did after the presidential election two years ago. We do not know, however, whether these different economic directions will now begin to converge. Two years is a very short time in which to reverse macroeconomic trends. It is still possible that Trump counties will be rewarded in the long run. For that reason, I will be updating these estimates throughout the coming years.

Let me acknowledge that it’s possible that these comparisons don’t account for differences between voters within counties — or what statisticians call the “ecological fallacy.” Perhaps Trump voters are experiencing stronger economic growth than their neighbors, even if their counties are underperforming the nation. Perhaps future data will allow us to make this person-to-person comparison within counties.

Until then, these preliminary findings reveal the economic state of our nation remains much as it did before Trump’s election: divided as much by economics as it is by politics.

Anthony W. Orlando (@AnthonyWOrlando) is assistant professor of finance, real estate and law at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and faculty affiliate of the Bedrosian Center on Governance and the Public Enterprise at the University of Southern California.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/polit...-falling-further-behind/ar-BBPPurF?ocid=ientp
 

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Is Trump country really better off under Trump? No. It’s falling further behind.


Washington Post
Consider the source, Search. Do you really think Wash Post is unbiased?


they show, the harder it becomes for those in service and even blue-collar jobs to afford to live in high-income, high-rent places
So they want us to believe that service/blue collar workers should be able to afford everything that those in higher paying jobs can afford? Is that how it's ever worked? Have poor people ever lived in rich neighborhoods?
...or is this a veiled way of promoting socialism? Ie: that everyone should be equal in outcome, no matter their choices in life?
 

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Consider the source, Search. Do you really think Wash Post is unbiased?
No...……...of course not. Need content for the thread. lol
 

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Need more unbiased content for the thread. A quick scrolling through shows a predominant negative spin on virtually all of it.
You're 100% correct. That will be corrected. Thanks for the input. Heading out for a bit. EYD.
 

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Consider the source, Search. Do you really think Wash Post is unbiased?


So they want us to believe that service/blue collar workers should be able to afford everything that those in higher paying jobs can afford? Is that how it's ever worked? Have poor people ever lived in rich neighborhoods?
...or is this a veiled way of promoting socialism? Ie: that everyone should be equal in outcome, no matter their choices in life?
Maybe not by choice but by other circumstances.

https://www.goldismoney2.com/threads/the-suddenly-poor-life-millions-will-lose-their-pensions.95295/
 

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Those aren't the people being referred to in the article. They were trying to say that service industry jobs and blue collar jobs should pay enough to live in high dollar 'hoods.

WaPo-- the harder it becomes for those in service and even blue-collar jobs to afford to live in high-income, high-rent places

My question is, have those working lower paying jobs ever been able to afford living in high income, high rent areas? I do not believe so, but the WaPo thinks they should be able to.
 

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My question is, have those working lower paying jobs ever been able to afford living in high income, high rent areas? I do not believe so, but the WaPo thinks they should be able to.

You can't be serious with that comment. Of course they could afford a middle class lifestyle once upon a time.

In the 1950s, 60s and 70s aguy could finish high school and go to work in a factory pretty much immediately.

The blue collar factory job would be enough to afford owning a house, a car and putting the kids through school.

Then the factory jobs got offshored to Mexico/China/Bangladesh. And the few factory jobs that remained took pay cuts and wage freezes.

Then to further fuck the peasants, something called "Tier 2 workers" were created.

Now instead of being paid what the full time employees get, the "Tier 2 workers" only get about 60% of the full time employees get.

Wages for blue collar factory jobs HAVE NOT increased anywhere even remotely close to the increase in day to day living costs such as food or home prices.
 

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You can't be serious with that comment. Of course they could afford a middle class lifestyle once upon a time.

In the 1950s, 60s and 70s aguy could finish high school and go to work in a factory pretty much immediately.
So those factory jobs were the absolute lowest paying jobs at the time? Ie: the equivalent to someone working a fast food job today? That's the comparison I was making for today's fast food min wage worker who thinks he should be paid $15/hour.
 

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Wages for blue collar factory jobs HAVE NOT increased anywhere even remotely close to the increase in day to day living costs such as food or home prices.
In some cases they've decreased. A lot of companies used the turn down in 2008 / 2009 as an excuse to screw workers.

While the workers got screwed the people behind it were rewarded with bail outs.
 

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Wages for blue collar factory jobs HAVE NOT increased anywhere even remotely close to the increase in day to day living costs such as food or home prices.
In some cases they've decreased. A lot of companies used the turn down in 2008 / 2009 as an excuse to screw workers.
It comes down to supply and demand. If there's more demand for jobs than there are jobs available, of course the price of labor will also go down. Why would it go up in those conditions?

Do either of you willingly pay more for something that you know you can get for less?
....and as long as there is more workers than jobs, wages will never go up. Which is why we don't really need millions of new immigrants. All they do is provide even more downward pressure on wages.
 

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Trump warns General Motors he'll cut ALL its government subsidies in retaliation for closing U.S. auto plants and tweets: 'This is the THANKS we get!'

  • GM announced the closure of five plants on Monday, eliminating 14,700 jobs
  • Company will close two plants in Detroit and one each in Ohio and Canada
  • According to GM, the plan will help save the company $6 billion by 2020
  • Trump blew up at the news that Ohioans will lose jobs
  • Midwest state is critical to his re-election; he plans to run on economic record
  • GM is shutting down plant there as it phases out poorly selling Chevy Cruzs
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...ral-Motors-hell-cut-government-subsidies.html
 

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Our area had a large work force of mill rats from paper makers and GE. People had pensions and good benefits. There is nothing in the way if job security.
 

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I had a good laugh at GM shutting down three plants in the US plus another on in Canada.

Who in fuck do they suppose is going to be able to afford to buy their product now?

Once upon a time GM had hundreds of thousands of auto workers in North America. Now those people are working for $10/hr at Walmart.

Domestic auto sales are being artificially propped up by sub prime auto loans. Once that avenue is exhausted, those $30k and $40k sales are going to evaporate.
 

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Trump Advisors "Not Happy" With President's Aggressive Trade Threats: Politico


by Tyler Durden
Tue, 11/27/2018 - 22:50


Since the US-China trade war broke out this spring, Larry Kudlow and Steven Mnuchin have repeatedly tried to arrange senior-level trade talks with their Chinese counterparts, only to be frustrated or sabotaged by President Trump.

So when the two officials tasked with managing the detente read the transcript of a WSJ interview with Trump where their boss once again resorted to making provocative threats just four days before the beginning of the G-20 summit, where Trump is expected to meet with Chinese President Xi Jingping, we could imagine them being (understandably) miffed.



With equity futures on track to open lower as investors worry that Trump's bellicose trade talk might anger Xi, several senior Trump administration officials reportedly told Politico that they're "not happy with the nature of Trump's comments." Speaking "anonymously," the officials - we have a few guesses as to their identities - told Politico that they are worried Trump's comments might make reaching a deal with Xi - or at least a "pathway" to future talks - difficult, if not impossible.

MM hears that some of Trump's top advisers were not at all happy with the bellicose nature of the president's comments to the Wall Street Journal on China tariffs, fearing they could make the high-stakes meetings with Xi even more difficult.​
During the interview, Trump said he had no plans to cancel the next stage of tariffs on Chinese imports (tariffs on roughly $200 billion of Chinese goods are set to rise to 25% from 10% early next year), and added that he wouldn't hesitate to slap tariffs on the other $267 billion in imports that haven't already been targeted. Even Apple products and other consumer electronics would not be spared, Trump said.

If Apple wants to avoid the tariffs, it can build factories in the US. Since May, the US has slapped tariffs on some $250 billion on Chinese goods, while China has retaliated with tariffs on $60 billion of American products, including foodstuffs like soybeans, which have hammered US farmers.



But whoever went squawking to Politico has apparently forgotten that this isn't the first time Trump has made a threat like this. Hard-line rhetoric has become a staple of Trump's negotiating strategy, as one Credit Suisse analyst told Bloomberg.

"This is largely a negotiation tactic," said Tao Dong, vice chairman for Greater China at Credit Suisse Private Banking in Hong Kong. "Putting high stakes pressure on to the other side seems to be a consistent pattern from the Trump administration."
China almost certainly recognizes this. And given their willingness to engage in the talks to begin this, it's likely that they've already accepted that Trump will from time to time make these types of public threats. And as China has repeatedly rebuffed US demands to agree to a deal 'framework' that would involve China lowering subsidies for tech firms and end its IP theft, in addition to lowering its trade surplus with the US, Xi will likely arrive at the meeting with his own hard-line stance.

As investors have probably ascertained from the first five months of the trade war, the "talks" between the US and China will probably come down to who blink first.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018...appy-trumps-aggressive-trade-threats-politico