Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

LinkSwarm for October 23, 2015

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

Another Friday, another LinkSwarm, heavy on Benghazi and Presidential race news:

  • Seven revelations from the Benghazi hearing.
  • You know who wasn’t happy about Hillary Clinton’s latest Benghazi testimony? The families of the Benghazi victims. Funny how that “absolute moral authority” the MSM bestowed on Cindy Sheehan doesn’t apply to families of the slain when they criticize Democrats…
  • China vs. the United States: a tale of two economies.
  • Longshot GOP Presidential contenders are running out of money. “Any burn rate over 100 percent is considered dangerous by campaign finance experts. Pataki’s was 226 percent, Graham 188, Paul 181, Jindal 144, Huckabee 110 and Santorum 101.”
  • Speaking of Presidential fundraising, here’s why Rick Perry had to drop out: “Perry spent more than a million dollars during the last reporting period – July through September – while raising only $252,000 in contributions. And the former Texas governor, who exited the race in mid-September, had only $45,000 cash on hand at the end.”
  • “When you vote in your first Presidential election, please remember which political party decided to make your lunchtimes a living Hell for a decade. Spoiler warning: it wasn’t the Republicans.”
  • Some people Hillary Clinton listed as endorsing Hillary Clinton have not, in fact, actually endorsed Hillary Clinton.
  • Ohio Senate race update: “Incumbent Rob Portman (R) raised almost eight million this year, with eleven million in the bank, while former governor Ted Strickland (D) raised about two and a half, with about a million and a half in the bank.”
  • Turkish opposition leader accuses Erdogan’s Islamist government of protecting the Islamic State.
  • Criticize Islam in your blog in Bangladesh? That’s an arresting.
  • Heh:

  • Alvin bond update: “Firm in cracked stadium debacle funds pro-bond propaganda.”
  • Texas Democratic trial lawyer Mikal Watts indicited over fraud related to the BP oil spill case.
  • Arthur Miller — Communist. (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Bernie Sanders is “paying” bloggers.
  • Emus on the loose in Round Rock.
  • TPPF: Why the Texas Model Supports Prosperity

    Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

    I could roll this up into the next California vs. Texas update, but I thought this Texas Public Policy Foundation paper by Vance Ginn on why Texas’ low tax, low regulation model generates prosperity was meaty enough to be worth a separate post.

    The Texas model has been touted as an approach to governance that other states and Washington, D.C. would be wise to follow. This approach promotes individual freedom through lower taxes and spending, less regulation, fewer frivolous lawsuits, and reduced federal government interference. Does this Texas restatement of the unalienable rights of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” actually promote freedom, prosperity, and jobs when compared to the largest states and U.S. averages?

    To answer this question, this paper (in most cases) compares various measures in California, Texas, New York, and Florida—the states with the largest populations and economic output—and U.S. averages during the last 15 years. Five fiscal measures of economic freedom and government intervention for these states show that Texas generally leads the pack as the most free with the least government intrusion. Eight measures of the labor market indicate that Texas provides the best opportunities to find a job. Five measures of income distribution and poverty show that Texas leads in most categories with a more equal income distribution and less poverty despite fewer redistributionary policies than these large states, particularly California and New York.

    Though a mere 15 pages, the paper offers up an in-depth survey of various economic metrics and studies, where Texas repeatedly comes out on top, and New York and California repeatedly come in last and second-to-last.

    A few more tidbits:

  • In a “Soft Tyranny Index” (measuring state government bureaucracy, state spending, income tax, and tax burden) “Texas ranks first with the least government intrusion, Florida 17th, California 49th, and New York 50th.”
  • “Texas outpaces the rest of the U.S. in nonfarm job creation since December 2007.”
  • “Texas’ distribution of income is more equal compared with other large states.”
  • Read the whole thing.

    LinkSwarm for October 9, 2015

    Friday, October 9th, 2015

    If you want to attend tomorrow’s blogshoot/meetup/tweetup, try to drop me a line (lawrenceperson at gmail dot com) so I’ll know how many will attend.

    Now the LinkSwarm:

  • ObamaCare co-ops are going bankrupt.
  • Thanks to The Magic Power of Socialism™ and an estimated 800% inflation rate, Venezuela is now the most expensive place to live in the world, at least going by the official exchange rate. “Depending on which exchange rate you use, Venezuela can either be one of the cheapest countries in the world, or the most expensive.”
  • Democrats last year: “All those gun-toting white racist redneck freaks from Jesusland will be lining up to vote for Hillary!” Pollsters this year: Not so much.
  • Hillary Clinton now totally opposes the very Tran-Pacific Partnership she helped negotiate.
  • “Let’s take Malcolm Turnbull at his word that it’s only “a very very small percentage of violent extremist individuals”. What is the actual percentage? In the aforementioned Malmo, where up to a thousand mostly young male “refugees” arrive each day, suppose the “very very small percentage” is two per cent. That’s 20 brand new “violent extremists” per day. During the Northern Irish “Troubles”, MI5 estimated that there were no more than a hundred active members of the IRA at any one time – that’s to say, people actively involved in shooting and killing. So Malmo is taking in the equivalent of the entire IRA every week.”
  • How spree killers get their weapons. Or, once again, the New York Times twists facts to fit the narrative.
  • Speaking of the Times, this is what happens when the professional editors and proof-readers edit and proofread professional writers.
  • Wendy Davis thinks the reason she lost is she didn’t talk about abortion enough. Sure, Wendy, that’s it. Go with that… (Hat tip: Perry vs. World).
  • The Nairobi mall attack revisited. If this report is to be believed, armed civilians actually contained the threat, then army and security forces showed up and promptly managed to start shooting each other.
  • “In zombie world, the man who relies on the government for his safety will be zombie chow in short order…In zombieland, there are three kinds of people: those who know how to use guns, those who learn how to use guns, and zombies.”
  • Remembering the Yom Kippur War.
  • Welcome to Black Monday

    Monday, August 24th, 2015

    If you haven’t been checking your 401K recently, now may not be the day to do it, as markets are plunging around the globe.

    China’s Shanghai composite index had the largest one-day selloff since 2007.

    Japan’s Nikkei average fell 4.6%, the largest drop in two years.

    India’s Sensex dropped over 1,200 points, the biggest drop in seven years.

    And now everyone is nervously waiting for the NYSE to open…

    LinkSwarm for August 14, 2015

    Friday, August 14th, 2015

    Austin had a very, very wet spring, but August is shaping up in normal fashion: Bone dry and hot as hell. Try to keep cool and enjoy a Friday LinkSwarm:

  • “There is no real distinction between today’s Democrats and socialists.”
  • Democrats have an America problem.
  • The email scandal could very well sink Hillary:

    Politicized or not, the DOJ will be increasingly boxed in by the FBI and intelligence community investigations. Normally, when the intelligence community finds classified materials in unauthorized locations, it seeks felony prosecutions. Gen. David Petraeus was sunk for keeping his own personal calendars in an unlocked drawer at home. The calendars were deemed classified, even if they lacked an official stamp. President Clinton’s CIA Director, John Deutsch, lost his job and security clearance for using his portable computer at home. It had classified material on it. Those violations are trifling compared to Hillary Clinton’s exposure.

    (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

  • Longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin may be joining her in the big house
  • Bernie Sanders up over Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire? #WhiteVotesMatter
  • Ohio Democrats continue their youth movement by recruiting 74-year old Ted Strickland for a Senate race.
  • Someone spilled millions of gallons of toxic waste into a river! Call the EPA! Oh wait, it was the EPA.
  • Islamic State executes 300 electoral civil servants in Iraq. Good thing we’ve got Nobel Prize winner Barack Obama sowing peace and stability to the Middle East rather than that warmongering bungler Bush… (Hat tip: Jihad Watch.)
  • So why did the Obama Administration pretend Taliban-head Mullah Omar was still alive when he’s probably been dead 2 years? (Hat tip: Prairie Pundit.)
  • And why is the Obama Administration siding with the terrorists and against the Americans who have already won legal judgments against them?
  • A whole bunch of gun myths debunked. (Hat tip: Borepatch.)
  • Just why did the University of Minnesota think it needed grenade launchers? (Hat tip: Say Uncle.)
  • China devalues the Yuan. This is Big Freaking News, but hard to conceptualize, since China’s economic statistics are have not even a nodding acquaintance with reality, and haven’t for at least a decade. So is China’s current bubble bad, or super mega world-shatterling bad?
  • Your guide to global black market pricing.
  • Islamic State Worse off than Greece?
  • Brazil: Super-Duper boned.
  • Great Cthulhu emerges as surprise front-runner in Labour leadership contest.”
  • Tianjin, China Blows Up Real Good.
  • Jihadis kill four, kidnap six from hotel in central Mali. That’s really going to crimp your vacation plans. (Hat tip: Jihad Watch.)
  • Cop-killing inmate dies in prison riot. Alas, my electron microscope is being recalibrated, so I won’t be able to find the proper sized violin to commemorate this sad occasion… (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Social Justice Warriors continue their war on comedy on campus.
  • Man arrested for shooting at police in Ferguson was completely unarmed. Except for his guns.
  • Cool World War II radio intercepts story, via Instapundit.
  • Florida Man has been busy.
  • Greece: Dispatches from the Boned

    Thursday, August 13th, 2015

    So I haven’t done a Greek update in a while, since after Greece caved into the inevitable (Newsflash: broke people generally do not have leverage over those lending them money), it was all over but the shouting. Now that Greece and its creditors supposedly have a third bailout deal inked, and Greece settles into its clearly defined misery, let’s take a look at exceptionally bankrupt Greece these days, shall we?

  • Via Zero Hedge comes former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis’ detailed review of the bailout agreement. It’s a mixture of self-serving lies (trying to distance his own Syriza party from the horrific economic mess they made acutely worse) and brutal truths (about just how screwed Greece is by the agreement).
  • Speaking of Varoufakis, it looks like he’s going to be up on hacking charges…for preparing emergency plans to float the drachma.
  • Oh: He also says the latest bailout deal won’t work. He’s not wrong…
  • Greece’s economy miraculously grew in the second quarter. But that was before the full effects of the crisis were reflected…
  • Greece’s tax revenues have collapsed.
  • Greece’s manufacturing sector fell off a cliff in July. Funny how that happens when your banks are closed and you can’t pay for goods.
  • Greece faces two years of recession. That part’s probably true. But that primary budget surplus? Yeah, not so much.
  • “Greece’s banks just made the mistake of being banks in Greece.”
  • After all that? Greece still isn’t fixed.
  • To add a cherry on top, Greece’s refugee crisis continues to grow. Because it’s still safer to live in bankrupt Greece than the Middle East…
  • Texas vs. California Update for August 5, 2015

    Thursday, August 6th, 2015

    Time for another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • Oakland’s monthly rent has doubled in the last five years, but the Oakland police are laying off people and no longer investigate property crimes. (As Zero Hedge notes, average rent is now more than it was in San Francisco in 2012.) How’s that Blue State model of high taxes, high public union salaries, and declining basic services working out for you California?
  • Controlling big budget government programs through ballot initiatives.
  • Only voters can stop California’s union pension crisis. “Government union bosses are desperate to protect their gravy train at taxpayers’ expense. That’s why they are spinning a web of lies about the [ballot initiative].”
  • “With CalPERS’ actuaries demanding a pension funding increase from $3.7 billion to $7.25 billion by 2020, the state must either cut payroll by 30 percent or find a massive new tax source, like overturning Prop. 13.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Visualizing California’s staggering pension hole. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Need to make up the funding shortfall for CalSTARS means cutting into actual teacher salaries.
  • Finally, California beats Texas in job creations. For one month. And by some 6,000 jobs.
  • The Green Behind California’s Greens: A handful of superrich donors have created the illusion of a grassroots environmental movement.”
  • Cloud Computer company LiveOps is moving from Redwood City, California to Cedar Park.

    “Thanks to our low-tax, low-regulation environment that allows all businesses to thrive, the State of Texas has become the national leader for technology job creation, and we continue to attract tech companies from around the country and around the world,” [Governor Greg] Abbott said. “On behalf of the State of Texas, I am pleased to welcome LiveOps to the Lone Star State as the company seeks to transform cloud-based customer service. With their help, the State of Texas can, and will, continue to lead the nation in job creation within the technology sector.”

  • Bra-maker Fashion Forms is relocating from Ventura, California to Austin.
  • California-based Relativity Media files for bankruptcy. Forbidden Kingdom was pretty good. Skyline was a pile of crap…
  • Add California to the list of Democratic Party controlled polises trying to kill Uber.
  • The War on Photography continues apace in Northern California.
  • Facebook is opening a $1 billion data center in Ft. Worth This means they’ll be able to ignore your “Most Recent” setting and tag you in sunglasses spam ten times faster…
  • LinkSwarm for July 31, 2015

    Friday, July 31st, 2015

    Another month down! here’s one final LinkSwarm to finish off July:

  • “Donations to the Clinton Foundation by Swiss bank UBS increased tenfold after Hillary Clinton intervened to settle a dispute with the IRS early in her tenure as secretary of state, according to a published report.” What are the odds?
  • Hillary way, way, way underwater in swing states. (Hat tip: Moe Lane.)
  • Lot of Democrats listed among indicted congress critters. And the Kay Baily Hutchison indictment was bogus.
  • “Nineteen sixty-eight was the year normal Americans saw the Democrats for what they were, and that’s the danger for them in 2016 too – that normal Americans will be reminded about what a circus of welfare-chiseling, race-obsessed, work-averse, baby-shredding freaks the Democrat party is.”
  • Iran says it can ban U.S. arms inspections at will. Wow, that Iran deal just keeps getting better… (Hat tip: Jihad Watch.)
  • Speaking of that Iran deal, the Obama Administration is hiding documents from the public, even though they’re not classified.
  • And the International Atomic Energy Agency refuses to testify to the Senate on Iran, even in a classified setting. Golly, it’s almost like they’re trying to hide something… (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Michael Totten on Hanoi’s Capitalist Revolution. I dare say that Hanoi more capitalist (and hopeful) than Detroit these days…
  • Medicare/Medicaid: Driving us into bankruptcy for half a century.
  • And Social Security could be broke in 12 years.
  • Another day, another American murdered by an illegal alien.
  • More guns, less crime. (Hat tip: Adam Baldwin’s Twitter feed.)
  • “The fact is that there is no point in arguing with liberal gun-control advocates because their argument is never in good faith….The liberal anti-gun narrative is not aimed at creating the best public policy but at disarming citizens the liberal elite looks down upon – and for whom weapons represent their last-ditch ability to respond to liberal overreach.”
  • “Anti-bullying” school seminar is turned into gay sex demonstration.
  • Brazil joins the league of the boned.
  • The mystery of China’s capital outflows.
  • Dice to sell Slashdot. They managed to take a thriving community and managed to drive much of it away with a combination of poor UI design (Beta, anyone) and pro-social justice warrior posts.
  • How #GamerGate shattered shattered Gawker’s myth of invincibility. Turns out that insulting your readers on behalf of social justice warriors isn’t a sustainable business model. Who knew?
  • Even before the hack, Ashley Madison was a complete scam. (Hat tip: Borepatch.)
  • WTO Trade Agreement Reached on IT Products

    Monday, July 27th, 2015

    A new trade agreement was struck at the World Trade Organization.

    A new global trade agreement that eliminates tariffs on more than 200 kinds of IT products should result in lower prices to technology buyers around the world as it is implemented over the next three years.

    The tentative deal, struck on Friday at a World Trade Organization meeting in Geneva, affects a wide variety of products ranging from smartphones, routers, and ink cartridges to video game consoles and telecommunications satellites. It covers US$1.3 trillion worth of global trade, about 7 percent of total trade today.

    This is one of those pieces of Snooze Inducing News that could very well turn out to be A Great Big Hairy Deal. Free trade is a win-win for the nations involved, so this could potentially help alleviate the real nasty recession that’s careening down the pike at us.

    A complete list of the products covered range from the excessively specific to the frustratingly general (“memories”). But a whole lot of them look related to semiconductors and semiconductor manufacturing equipment, an industry that American and Japanese companies dominate. (Almost makes me wish I hadn’t sold all my Applied Materials stock. Almost.)

    (Hat tip: Slashdot.)

    What It’s Like To Be an Honest Taxpayer in Greece

    Friday, July 10th, 2015

    I came across this comment from a Slashdot thread on programmers leaving Greece (usual online source caveats apply), and thought it was meaty enough to be worth excerpting and highlighting on its own:

    Let me tell you what happens when you’re 100% legal and declare everything up to the last penny you get as a software developer. In 2012 I had 100,000 Euros income paid 86,000 Euros spent on taxes (income tax with surprisingly different brackets than last year, “temporary” property tax, “temporary special contribution” 4% on the total turnover, mandatory social security, 55% of your current income tax as downpayment for next year). The year before I made 74,000 Euros and paid “only” 50,000 or thereabouts. In return I got: no schools, no roads, no pension, more taxes, more family members depending on me to live. The more you work the less you make (unless you have an ever-shrinking business). Crazy? That’s the Greek tax brackets for you.

    Meanwhile: I have to pay for my own hospital plan because in case I get sick I have to notify the public insurance carrier 15 days in advance of emergency surgery (no kidding!) or 3-4 months before booking an appointment with a doctor. I have to get an additional, expensive pension plan on top of the 350 Euros per month I am currently paying as mandatory social security because there will be no money when I’m 67 years old or have worked 40+ years to get the minimum pension of 700 Euros (nominal; actual payment after taxes and mandatory social security is around 480 Euros). I also need to set aside money to get the kids I’m planning on having to a private school because there are no teachers (not even substitutes) half of the time in the public schools.

    If you are wondering why people tax evade you have to first ask the questions: 1. how much does the state take in taxes and 2. what does the state offer for the money it takes from its citizens? If the answers are “most of your money” and “not that much at all” respectively it doesn’t take a genius to see why you get an endemic tax evasion for free.

    Anyway. After three years of battling the system I gave up and moved away. My last tax filing in Greece was 2014 for my income in 2013. I am owed a 13,000 Euro tax return since August 10th, 2014. Of course it’s NOT credited. And we’re talking about money I have paid as a tax downpayment to the state since August 2013. They hold my money hostage for 2 years and they won’t give it to me. Also, don’t make the mistake of asking whether there’s an interest rate for those two years. Don’t be silly. There’s not! Adding insult to injury I’m still a Greek tax citizen which means I get to pay taxes for the dividends I’m paid from my company abroad. Don’t be ridiculous, of course they are NOT offset by the money the Greek state owes me! I have so far paid another 40+ thousand Euro taxes in these two years where the Greek state owes me the 13,000 Euro tax return.

    I understand all this sounds alien to you. Why so much taxation, why no services in return, why the state isn’t punctual in paying back. Beats me, brothers and sisters. I have concluded that one must be outright insane to try and do business if they’re born in Greece.

    And here you have the endpoint of the cradle-to-grave welfare state: benefits are theoretically generous for those on the dole (though good luck navigating the maze of inefficient, corrupt bureaucracy to collect them), while taxes are prohibitively high for those actually work for a living.

    This is why implementing fake austerity through higher taxes never works: It drives out the productive, the social compact is irreparably broken, and those living off the state’s largess feel no qualms about wringing every last possible penny from it.