Now there is a guy I would not sell life insurance to.
Now there is a guy I would not sell life insurance to.
Once again, Richard Fernandez finds the essential point.
Russia isn’t governed well. But people don’t rise to power in Russia according to their skill at solving public policy issues. They climb a ladder by how well they can grip the rungs of guns, bribery and deceit. Putin’s “political socialization took place as vice mayor of St. Petersburg in the 1990s, where … one of his key roles was acting as a liaison between the political and criminal authorities. It was the Wild Wild East, a world where duplicity was the norm, rules are for sissies, and only might makes right. It was a world where informal networks ruled and you controlled people by corrupting them.”
Such jungles tend to evolve very capable predators.
Putin, in my opinion, has done a fairly good job with Russia given the serious problems they have as a nation.
Madison tried to warn us about the risk of corruption, or as he called it, “Faction.”
Complaints are everywhere heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and private faith, and of public and personal liberty, that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.
We now are at serious risk of electing the corrupt member of a cabal of self interested manipulators of the public interest for private gain.
This was posted on facebook as a comment to a WSJ piece on her campaign strategy.
Dick Morris, former political adviser to President Bill Clinton: If you happen to see the Bill Clinton five-minute TV ad for Hillary in which he introduces the commercial by saying he wants to share some things we may not know about Hillary’s background, beware as I was there for most of their presidency and know them better than just about anyone. I offer a few corrections:
Bill says: “In law school Hillary worked on legal services for the poor.”
Facts are: Hillary’s main extra-curricular activity in ‘Law School’ was helping the Black Panthers, on trial in Connecticut for torturing and killing a ‘Federal Agent.’ She went to Court every day as part of a Law student monitoring committee trying to spot civil rights violations and develop grounds for appeal.
Was this true ? Snopes has a sort of rebuttal.
Hillary Rodham (as she was known then) wasn’t a lawyer then, either: She was a Yale law student, and like many of her politically-minded fellow law students who saw the latest “trial of the century” taking place just outside the main gate of their school, she took advantage of an opportunity to be involved in the case in a minor, peripheral way by organizing other students to help the American Civil Liberties Union monitor the trials for civil rights violations. Her tangential participation in the trial in no way helped “free” Black Panthers tried for the murder of Alex Rackley
So the description credited to Morris is correct.
I have been ruminating about the Hillary case since the Bill and Loretta meeting at the Phoenix Airport last weekend.
What is going on ?
The meeting was a big secret and no reporters were supposed to be there. However, a local TV station was at the airport.
The temperature was 115 degrees. Bill Clinton was alleged to be playing golf but HE DID NOT DO SO. He was meeting with a donor.
Former President Clinton was visiting the Phoenix area and arrived to Sky Harbor Monday evening to depart.
Sources tell ABC15 Clinton was notified Lynch would be arriving at the airport soon and waited for her arrival.
Lynch was arriving in Phoenix for a planned visit as part of her national tour to promote community policing.
ABC15 asked Lynch about the meeting during her news conference at the Phoenix Police Department.
I did see President Clinton at the Phoenix airport as he was leaving and spoke to myself and my husband on the plane,” said Lynch.
She made some risible remark about discussing golf and grandchildren. She had no children, let alone grandchildren.
This story stinks to high heaven.
Then Comey had his short announcement. CNN, of course, loved it.
Comey last navigated politics this turbulent in 2004, when he was deputy attorney general and he was at the center of a dramatic showdown with the White House over a surveillance program ordered by President George W. Bush. Comey and other Justice Department and FBI officials threatened to resign in the dispute, and Comey, a Republican, emerged a hero to the political left.
This is a lie. Comey was hip deep in the controversies of the Bush Administration and not in an impartial way.
Barack Obama is fond of describing government this way.
As President Obama said the other day, those who start businesses succeed because of their individual initiative – their drive, hard work, and creativity. But there are critical actions we must take to support businesses and encourage new ones – that means we need the best infrastructure, a good education system, and affordable, domestic sources of clean energy. Those are investments we make not as individuals, but as Americans, and our nation benefits from them.
That was a reaction to Romney’s criticism of his silly comment.
I prefer the quote attributed to Washington.
“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence,—it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant, and a fearful master; never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.”
Now, we see a new imposition.
The Department of Labor says its so-called fiduciary rule will make financial advisers act in the best interests of clients. What Labor doesn’t say is that the rule carries such enormous potential legal liability and demands such a high standard of care that many advisers will shun non-affluent accounts. Middle-income investors may be forced to look elsewhere for financial advice even as Team Obama is enabling a raft of new government-run competitors for retirement savings. This is no coincidence.
Labor’s new rule will start biting in January as the President is leaving office. Under the rule, financial firms advising workers moving money out of company 401(k) plans into Individual Retirement Accounts will have to follow the new higher standards. But Labor has already proposed waivers from the federal Erisa law so new state-run retirement plans don’t have the same regulatory burden as private employers do.
State run retirement plans. What could go wrong ? Well, we saw one version in Cyprus in 2013.
European leaders reached an agreement with Cyprus early on Monday morning that closes down the island’s second-largest bank and inflicts huge losses on wealthy savers.
Those with deposits of less than €100,000 (£85,000) will be spared, but those with more than €100,000 – many of them Russian – will lose billions of euros under draconian terms aimed at preventing the Mediterranean tax haven becoming the first country forced out of the single currency.
The deal is expected to wreak lasting damage on the Cypriot economy, which has grown reliant on offshore banking and Russian money. Analysts said Cyprus could see its economy contract by 10% or more in the years ahead.
Well, those Russian oligarchs deserved it. Maybe American companies attempting “inversion” deserve it too.
CEOs have learned to keep mum in the Obama era, lest their companies be punished like J.P. Morgan after Jamie Dimon criticized some parts of Dodd-Frank. So it’s worth noting the candid reaction after a new Treasury rule scuttled the merger between Pfizer Inc. and Allergan PLC.
The companies ended their $150 billion tie-up after Treasury Secretary Jack Lew issued new rules that made it harder for companies like Pfizer to move to Ireland to legally lower their taxes. Pfizer will have to pay Allergan a breakup fee of $150 million, though Allergan shares are still down more than $10 billion since the Treasury ambush.
I am not a slavish advocate of corporate tax avoidance but we are in an era of confiscation.
“If the rules can be changed arbitrarily and applied retroactively, how can any U.S. company engage in the long-term investment planning necessary to compete,” Mr. Read writes. “The new ‘rules’ show that there are no set rules. Political dogma is the only rule.”
He’s right, as every CEO we know will admit privately. This politicization has spread across most of the economy during the Obama years, as regulators rewrite longstanding interpretations of longstanding laws in order to achieve the policy goals they can’t or won’t negotiate with Congress. Telecoms, consumer finance, for-profit education, carbon energy, auto lending, auto-fuel economy, truck emissions, home mortgages, health care and so much more.
Now, they want everypne to “invest” in state run “retirement programs.” CalPERS has not distinguished itself, except perhaps in corruption.
After spending years dogged by unpaid debts, California labor leader Charles Valdes filed for bankruptcy in the 1990s—twice. At the same time, he held one of the most influential positions in the American financial system: chair of the investment committee for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, or CalPERS, the nation’s largest pension fund for government workers. Valdes left the board in 2010 and now faces scrutiny for accepting gifts from another former board member, Alfred Villalobos—who, the state alleges, spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to influence how the fund invested its assets. Questioned by investigators about his dealings with Villalobos, Valdes invoked the Fifth Amendment 126 times.
Well, it is California where Hispanics, especially illegals, run the state.
Last month the board of California’s new “Secure Choice” retirement plan wrote to state legislators about their “exciting win” in Washington. They reported that employers enrolling workers in the new government-run plan “would have no liability or fiduciary duty for the plan.” Score! The California bureaucrats added that “we have been given the green light to auto-enroll workers into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).”
What could go wrong ?
Trump has, famously, gone after China on its trade policy.
In January 2000, President Bill Clinton boldly promised China’s inclusion in the World Trade Organization (WTO) “is a good deal for America. Our products will gain better access to China’s market, and every sector from agriculture, to telecommunications, to automobiles. But China gains no new market access to the United States.” None of what President Clinton promised came true. Since China joined the WTO, Americans have witnessed the closure of more than 50,000 factories and the loss of tens of millions of jobs. It was not a good deal for America then and it’s a bad deal now. It is a typical example of how politicians in Washington have failed our country.
There is an interesting analysis of China’s stumbling economy in the Observer today.
Here is a top ten guide for the perplexed.
Central Planning: Central planning, central planning. The history of the abject failure the Soviet Union’s five-year plans should tell you everything. Command and control economies that report to one man (in a nation of 1.3 billion people) are doomed from the start. Top down economic decisions often look bold and start out highly stimulative, but then degenerate into inefficiency, waste, politics and fraud.
Political Corruption: As the command and control economy generates liquidity, the demand and direction of the distributed capital becomes a political tussle. Decisions on how much steel, cement, coal, glass solar panels, high speed trains and shopping malls—in short everything—are not done in China as a cost benefit analysis by risk capital, a job difficult enough in itself. (Witness the capitalist economies’ booms and busts.) In China, this liquidity was allocated by political muscle, massive bribery and kickbacks, rather than economic justifications.
Basic Gangsterism: Counterfeiting, knockoffs, copyright infringement, theft of intellectual property – these were a part of the booster rockets of China’s economic rise. It was all supposed to go away after China joined the WTO in 2001. It didn’t. It just became more institutionalized. Foreign companies needed Chinese “partners” in auto production, healthcare and technology. These “partners” crippled the potential productivity of the investments and led to frequent disputes and even more corruption… as in the GlaxoSmithKline scandals.
There are a total of nine reasons, many addressed in Trump’s piece above.
Now, the economy of China may be in free fall.
Chinese central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan has accused “speculative forces” of targeting the country’s currency, the yuan.
He said there was no reason for the yuan to keep depreciating in value and that China would not let international speculators dominate market sentiment.
Mr Zhou’s remarks come as Chinese markets prepare to reopen on Monday after a week-long New Year holiday.
Efforts to defend the yuan have eroded China’s foreign currency reserves.
Another reason quoted by the Observer is something I have previously posted on.
Jack Lew, speaking at the Brookings Institution in July, confidently assured that Americans were immune from weakening markets in China.
“I will say that China’s markets still are pretty much separated from world markets,” the secretary of Treasury, said. “They’re, obviously, moving towards being more integrated, but right now they’re not.”
I guess that statement is “inoperative” right now.
What actually happened is that China’s stock market began as a Potemkin project to assure the world of Beijing’s strength. Chinese investors knew the government would be propping up a mere facade; that the worse China’s economy got, the more the Communist Party would paint the facade. Harlan writes:
Let’s take a moment to state clearly that the stock market and the “real economy,” particularly in China, don’t always dance together. Until 2013, China’s major indexes were among the poorest-performing — which made almost as little sense as what happened next.
China is not a “transparent economy.”
Reckless Gamblers: How did China’s debt-to-GDP ratio go to 240% from 160% in nine years? How are nonperforming bank loans (if honestly tallied) hovering around 20 percent? There is a recklessness in early stage wealth. It happened in England in the 18th century as exemplified by the South Sea’s fraud and a hundred frauds like it. The recent Sino-Soviet forest stock fraud is an exact mirror. Rapid wealth produces intoxicated investors prone to scams. Remember how the Earl of Grantham in Downton Abby invested a fortune in a fraudulent American railroad. I wonder if there is a Chinese translation of Trollope’s “The Way We Live Now”?
China has a small very rich segment of their people who are giddy with riches. They have been foolish with their investments.
China became a binge investor in absurd countries and silly projects. As if to poke the U.S (its largest single-country trading partner) in the eye, China sidled up to Venezuela of all places. Instead of buying oil on the open market, they went deep into infrastructure projects, loans and even endorsed the psychotic foreign policy rantings of Hugo Chavez. No rational government, unless intoxicated by its economic prowess, would do that. The China Syndrome was also applied to Sudan, Zambia, Angola and Nigeria. Look at the bankrupt failed resort in the Bahamas, Baha Mar, if you want to see what “binge capital” looks like.
Trump may be correct but it may not matter.