Category Archives: deficit

Memo to The Donald: Cut Tariffs NOT Rates

trump tariff

So far, President Trump’s economic response to a potential coronavirus outbreak and a further stock market sell off has been expected – calls for more interest rate cuts and an additional round of monetary stimulus.  For the stock market, economy, and the virus itself, neither measure will have their desired effect and, in fact, may exacerbate things.

Further rate cuts and more money printing will not alleviate the situation since it has been the Federal Reserve’s recent “repo operations” which has pushed the market to its unsustainable highs.  For President Trump’s re-election hopes, the current “correction” better be short lived since he has repeatedly boasted about the stock market and has tied its success with the supposed health of the economy.  He will pay a political price if the market continues to tank and brings the economy down with it.

While President Trump and economic nationalists have bashed China for its trade practices, they are now going to see first hand how dependent the US and the West are on Chinese exports, as supply chains are disrupted over the coronavirus.

A Bloomberg article describes China’s weakest factory activity ever recorded:

The manufacturing purchasing managers’ index plunged to 35.7 in

February form 50 the previous month, according to data received by the

National bureau Statistics on Saturday, much lower than the median

estimate of economists.  Both were well below 50, which denotes

contraction.*

The expected reduction of Chinese goods will mean higher US domestic prices, however, the increase in prices can be offset somewhat not by rate cuts, but by tariff reductions, or, better still, elimination of duties on imports.  Increasing the money supply or cutting interest rates, which is what Trump, the market, and 95% of economists favor, will only mean higher prices for dwindling imports as greater amounts of money will chase fewer goods.

In the President’s comments on the coronavirus and the stock market plunge, he has repeatedly cited other nations’ (Japan, Germany) – lower interest rates as a policy that the Fed should pursue.  Apparently, the President is not aware that recent data out of Japan has shown that the economy shrank at an annualized rate of 6.3% for the fourth quarter of 2019 while the German economy only grew at 0.6% last year.**  Low rates have not helped either economy or anywhere else where they have been foolishly tried.

What President Trump, world policy makers, and central bankers do not understand, whether deliberately or from willful ignorance, is that the artificial suppression of interest rates and money printing does not lead to economic growth. Instead, prosperity can only come about by the arduous process of saving (abstention from consumption), which provides the means for capital formation, which leads to production.  Employment, wage growth, and income are also ultimately tied to savings.  For the creation of wealth, there is no way around this elementary economic principle – one that few profession economists comprehend.

For saving and investment to have their most efficacious impact and for individuals to engage in such sacrificial behavior, a sound monetary order must be in place.  Unfortunately, ever since the US went off the gold standard internationally in 1971, its monetary system has grown increasingly unstable.

If the Trump Administration would eliminate, or at least reduce significantly, tariffs, it would more than likely induce China to do the same.  The benefits of lower import prices for the millions of out of work Chinese due to the coronavirus shut downs would be a tremendous help and would also boost America’s export industries.  Such action would show to those who elected him that Donald Trump was not a typical politician, but one who thought outside the box.

While it did not cause the Great Depression, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930 contributed to its severity.  If the recent sell-off is indeed the beginning of the long anticipated bust, following a supposed decade long expansion, then policy makers should do all in their power to alleviate the coming suffering.  The reduction of tariffs not only on Chinese goods, but those the world over would be a step in the right direction.

Let us hope that someone will convince Donald Trump that tariff reduction and not rate cuts will help Americans better deal with the troublesome and potentially economic and socially devastating coronavirus.

*China Posts Weakest Factory Activity on Record,” Bloomberg News, 29 February 2020.  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-02-29/china-feb-manufacturing-pmi-at-35-7-est-45-0

**Megumi Fujikawa, “Japan’s Economy Shrinks Faster Than Expected.”  Market Watch.  16 February 2020.  https://www.marketwatch.com/story/japans-economy-shrinks-faster-than-expected-2020-02-16;  “German Economy Stagnates as Eurozone Growth Hits Seven-Year-Low,”  The Guardian,  14 February 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/business/live/2020/feb/14/german-economy-stagnates-growth-eurozone-gdp-business-live

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

https://antoniusaquinas.com

Pope Francis the Taxman

Bergoglio Marxist

 

On the heels of calling for a Marxist economic conference this coming March (“Economy of Francesco”), Jorge Bergoglio (a.k.a. “Pope Francis”) has once again opined on financial matters.  The purported head of the Catholic Church has now designated “tax cuts” as sinful behavior on a par, apparently, with stealing, lying, and adultery:

Today’s structures of sin include repeated tax cuts for the richest people,

often justified in the name of investment and development.*

Bergoglio did not mention what category of sin advocacy for tax cuts falls under – venial or mortal.  Maybe the details of how such a policy ranks in offending Divine Justice will be hammered out at the upcoming Economy of Francesco Commie confab!

In Bergoglio’s collectivist mind, those who try and keep their wealth from the ravenous demands of the State are somehow denying the poor their just due:

Every year hundreds of billions of dollars, which should be paid in taxes to

fund health care and education accumulate in tax haven accounts, thus

impeding the possibility of the dignified and sustained development of all

social agents.

What Bergoglio and his fellow socialists do not understand is that tax cuts lead to economic growth, whether they are for higher or lower income groups.  The less wealth that the State confiscates, the more is available to be used for saving and investment – two keys to economic growth.  The rich do not horde their money but expand and create businesses which leads to more and better paying jobs for lower income groups who supposedly Bergoglio wants to help.

The poor will only be uplifted by greater production where more goods and services are available at lower prices.  Redistribution of income via taxation does not create new wealth, but simply transfers existing wealth from the productive class.  Moreover, taxation has the deleterious effect of making individuals produce less since their efforts are siphoned off at the point of a gun.  More taxation means less production and, thus, less and more expensive goods for the poor.

Of course, this is basic economic theory that any sane person can understand unless one has matriculated to a Western university or college or pays attention to economic ignoramuses like Jorge Bergoglio!

Bergoglio’s constant attention to the plight of the poor along with other social issues (“climate change,” the environment, immigration) does not align with the vision that the Entity, which created the office that Bergoglio currently holds, had in mind.  On at least two occasions, He counseled His followers to focus their attention on spreading the “good news” instead of earthly concerns:

For the poor you have always with you:  but me you have not always.  [Mt. 26:11]

 

Let the dead bury their dead, but go thou, and preach the kingdom of

God.  [Lk. 9: 60]

While the Church has always sought to protect and help the poor, widows, orphans, and the downtrodden, its primary mission is to preach the Gospel.  Since the time of the Second Vatican Anti-Council, 1962-65, and especially during the “reign” of Pope Francis, evangelization has been condemned and, like tax cuts, is now considered sinful activity.

Bergoglio’s criticism of tax reduction is, no doubt, aimed at the Trump Administration’s plan for an additional round of tax cuts.  Tax reduction, however, without cuts in government spending will further explode budget deficits which are now even beyond sustainable.

Without corresponding spending reduction, tax cuts will mean that the Federal Reserve will have to make up for the short fall with further money printing.  One cannot have Big Government and tax cuts simultaneously.  The inevitable monetary crisis will, unfortunately, be blamed on tax cuts and will play into the hands of Bergoglio and his fellow travelers.

That Bergoglio spends most of his time as a social justice warrior instead of the supposed “vicar of Christ” on earth shows the state of the modern Church.  Worse, when he does speak on matters of faith, his words and actions are riddled with heresy.

For all those concerned, it is best that “Pope Francis” should be ignored not only for the falsehoods he spreads about Christianity, but also as a social theorist.  His pronouncements on the latter will only lead to further impoverishment of the poor and the rest of society while inciting class conflict between those who seek to keep their wealth and those who want to confiscate more of it.

 

*https://www.teaparty.org/tax-the-rich-pope-francis-calls-for-global-wealth-redistribution-427517/

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

https://antoniusaquinas.com

 

Debt, Death, and the US Empire

Deep State Operative John Bolton

In a talk which garnered little attention, one of the Deep State’s prime operatives, National Security Advisor John Bolton, cautioned of the enormous and escalating US debt.  Speaking before the Alexander Hamilton Society, Bolton warned that current US debt levels and public obligations posed an “economic threat” to the nation’s security:

It is a fact that when your national debt gets to the level ours is, that it constitutes an economic threat to the society.  And that kind of threat ultimately has a national security consequence for it.*

What was most surprising about Bolton’s talk was that there has been little reaction to it from the financial press, the markets themselves, or political commentators. While the equity markets have been in the midst of a sell off, it has not been due (as of yet) to US deficits, currently in excess of $1trillion annually.  Instead, the slide has been the result of fears over increase in interest rates and the continued trade tensions with China.

While Bolton’s warning about the debt is self-serving, it is accurate in the sense that the US Empire which, in part, he directs is ultimately dependent on the strength of the economy.  “National security” is not threatened by a debt crisis which would mean a compromised dollar, but such an event would limit what the US could do globally.  Real national security is defense of the homeland and border control – non intervention abroad. 

War mongers like Bolton are fearful that a debt crisis would necessitate a decline in US power overseas.  America is fast approaching what took place with the British Empire after its insane involvement in the two World Wars and its own creation of a domestic welfare state which exhausted the nation and led to the displacement of the British pound as the “world’s reserve currency.” 

The US-led wars in the Middle East have been estimated by a recent Brown University study to have cost in the neighborhood of $4 trillion.** Despite this squandering of national treasure and candidate Trump calling the Iraq War a “disaster,” as president, Trump increased “defense” spending for FY 2019 to $716 billion.***

US Military Bases Around the World

Profligate US spending and debt creation has, no doubt, been noticed by those outside of the Empire.  It is probably why Russian President Vladimir Putin has been so hesitant to take any serious action against the numerous provocations that the US has taken around the globe and against Russian interests directly.  The wily Putin probably figures that an implosion of US financial markets would eventually limit America’s ability to foment mayhem and havoc internationally. 

The Trump Administration’s latest bellicose act, engineered by – you guessed it – John Bolton, has been the withdrawal from the intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty (INF). The treaty, signed in 1987, was a landmark achievement of the Reagan Administration which de-escalated tensions between the two super powers and kept a lid on a costly arms buildup that neither can afford. 

The next financial downturn will certainly dwarf the 2008 crisis, the latter of which nearly brought down the entire financial system.  The next one will be far worse and will last considerably longer since nothing has been resolved from the first crisis.  The only thing that has occurred has been the creation of more debt, not only in the US, but by all Western nation states.

Under current ideological conditions, a change in US foreign policy to non-intervention is unlikely. Public opinion is decidedly pro-military after years of indoctrination and propaganda by the press, government, academia, and the media.  It will take a fall in America’s economic power, specifically the loss of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, which will ultimately bring down the empire that has neocons like John Bolton concerned.

Unfortunately, until that time, the US will continue its rampaging ways.  The day of reckoning, however, appears to be fast approaching and instead of a defeat on the field of battle, the US Empire will collapse under a mountain of debt.  It would be more than fitting that such a scenario should play itself out which would thus begin the very necessary retribution process that may, at least in a small sense, compensate those who have suffered and died from America’s murderous foreign policy.

*Tyler Durden, “John Bolton Warns National Debt Is An ‘Economic Threat’ To The US Security.”  Zero Hedge.  01 November 2018.    

**Jason Ditz, “Study: US Wars Cost $4 Trillion, Killed 259,000.”  Antiwar.  29 June 2019.

Military Benefits, “2019 Defense Budget Signed byTrump.”  Military Benefits. September, 2018. 

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

https://antoniusaquinas.com

Only Economic Collapse Will Bring Down the American Empire

trump syria

The Bomber-in-Chief announces air attacks on Syria

Despite the vehement pleas and letter-writing campaigns by a significant portion of his political base including notable media personalities such as Tucker Carlson against military action in Syria, President Trump committed what looks like political suicide by ordering air strikes on Friday evening.  The bombing, thankfully, appeared to have been thwarted by Syrian air defenses, nor, as of this date, has the insane American, British and French action led to a wider conflagration.

As of yet, no doubt due to Divine Intervention, WWIII has not erupted and although the ramifications of the attack will reverberate for weeks to come, what is clear is that President Trump is now firmly in the clutches of the neocons, Israel, and the American Deep State, all of who are the direct beneficiaries of the wanton attack on the Assad regime.

A good portion of Trump’s base is rightfully enraged by the action, which will dash any hope of it coming to his aid if future impeachment proceedings are commenced over the Mueller investigation.  Many of Trump’s supporters have been seething ever since he signed off on the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending package in March and his continued failure to start construction on a border wall.

Talk about shooting one’s self in the foot!

Whether President Trump survives until 2020 or is replaced in the interim by neocon Mike Pence, American foreign policy will, in all likelihood, continue its bellicose ways.  Ever since WWI, which the current Bomber-in-Chief mentioned in his address announcing the air strikes, America has been an interventionist, destructive, and murderous empire.

The reason for this is that the nation’s ideology had changed where it had once  trumpeted the ideas of non-intervention and peace (except, of course, for the people of the South during their heroic attempt at independence) to those that glorified empire and war, largely based on the British model which, ironically, was the system that America seceded from in 1776.  By the time of WWI (actually the disgraceful Spanish-American War), the ideals of non-intervention, peace, free trade, and hard money had been gradually replaced by those of empire, central banking, war, and debt.

Until there is a change in ideology, it is unlikely that the US will refrain from its interventionist foreign policy.  And, typically, social change comes after men’s minds have been convinced of a different paradigm which, of course, does not happen overnight.

Like the British Empire before it, the only way the US will stop its murderous ways will be from economic collapse or a severe financial panic which threatens or ends the US dollar’s status as the world reserve currency.

Candidate Trump may have been the last hope of an American Firster who had the wherewithal to attain the Presidency.  Although not an ideologue, Trump spoke of getting along with Russia, disengaging from the Middle East, and backing out of, or making NATO members pay for their own “defense.”  These qualities faded once elected and the ominous talk about scuttling the Iranian arms deal and spending more on the military were pushed ahead.

After WWII, Britain had simply exhausted itself with its insane participation in the world wars and could no longer maintain its empire.  Britain’s ideology did not change, but reality stepped in: it simply did not have the capacity (wealth) to fund a world-wide empire. It had squandered its resources and men on the battlefields of Europe.

  Winston Churchill destroyer of the British Empire

The US is headed in the same direction, which is what both Russia and China are counting on.  Its crushing debt burden, costly wars, and out-of-control spending are sapping its productive capacity, which the military industrial complex taps to sustain itself.

The US’ enemies have based their strategies on this.  In reference to the US’ involvement in the Afghanistan quagmire, Osama bin Laden reportedly said:

We, alongside the mujahideen, bled Russia for 10

years, until it went bankrupt and was forced to

withdraw in defeat . . . So we are continuing this

policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy.*

  Osama Bin Laden

The question that remains is when will a collapse occur or at least another crisis like in 2008 take place?  The warning signs abound.  The most pressing is the exploding US deficit which has soared in March to $209 billion. In 2007, the entire deficit for the year was less than $200 billion!

The collapse of the US economy is unavoidable, however, it is not “if” but “when.”  For world peace, it had better be sooner than later.

*Brian Whitaker, “Al-Qaida is Bleeding US to Bankruptcy, Bin Laden Claims.”  The Guardian, 3 November 2004. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/nov/03/usa.alqaida

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

https://antoniusaquinas.com