Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

LinkSwarm for May 15, 2015

Friday, May 15th, 2015

I knew if I was just lazy enough, I could get the Friday LinkSwarm back to Friday!

  • “If Baltimore wants to get its economic act together, it has to get something else right first: policing.”
  • What the left says is the same thing the 9/11 hijackers told the passengers: “Stay quiet and you’ll be OK.”
  • ObamaCare exchanges are melting down across America.
  • Coalition airstrikes against ISIS are increasingly targeting frontline fighting positions.
  • ISIS list of states to be attacked strangely doesn’t include Texas. Gee, I wonder why…
  • Is Hillary the new Bob Dole? Without, of course, the war service or dry wit…
  • Real editorial, or masterful New York Times trolling? “Let Syrians Settle Detroit”.
  • Mark Halperin asks Ted Cruz to play “Babalu.”
  • This is America: You can go to the bookstore and buy yourself copies of everything from The Basketball Diaries to The Motorcycle Diaries to The Turner Diaries.”
  • On the other hand, the DEA can just take your money without a trial.
  • Verizon buying AOL. Remember when AOL was important enough to merge with Time Warner as an equal?
  • I chuckled:

  • It’s not enough to believe in climate change, you must also abjure cost-benefit analysis of how to tackle it.
  • George Stephanopoulos: It’s conflict of interest all the way down. What, did you expect Renfeld to actually serve any other master? (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • “The vile dishonesty of the Democrat-Media Complex is exceeded only by the vile hypocrisy of the Democrat-Media Complex.”
  • Ben Carson gets to pandering early.
  • Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has said UT must turn over requested documents to its own regent Wallace Hall. So why haven’t they?
  • Bill to mandate E-verify for all Texas agencies moves forward.
  • Psychologist discusses porn and video game addition and a discussion of modern manhood’s discontents breaks out.
  • Seattle pizza shop closes due to minimum wage hike.
  • So former Smashing Pumpkins front man Billy Corgan is going to form a tranny wrestling league? The proposal seems as ill-conceived as his entire post-Melon Collie career…
  • Another Greece Update: Back to the Shell Game

    Friday, May 8th, 2015

    And the Greece shell game over implementing reform (or, since it’s Greece, “reform”) continues.

    Greece’s finance minister Yanis Varoufakis (who’s evidently still doing the negotiating, reports to the contrary notwithstanding) has handed the Eurocrats a proposal that doesn’t match what was discussed in negotiations. It’s like a cheap farce, or a con game to see how long they can keep string Europe along without actually agreeing to anything.

    Greece Syriza government has said to their creditors: Economic reality? We don’t need your stinking economic reality! “Greece defied its international creditors on Thursday, refusing to cut pensions or ease layoffs to meet their demands, dimming prospects of progress next week towards securing desperately needed financial aid.”

    Greece’s government also rehired public sector employees they previously laid off. What’s giving the engine a little more gas when you’re headed for the wall at full speed?

    Other Greek debt crisis tidbits:

  • Greece introduces mandatory surcharges on tax withdrawals above €1,000 Euros.
  • Plus an 18% hotel and restaurant tax. Extra bonus: It will hit some tourists who have already prepaid for vacations. “It’s catastrophic.”
  • Living life under the threat of default. “I’ve got a bad feeling we’re not going to get a good ending.”
  • European “Commission President Jean Claude Juncker said that if Greece left the single currency area, the ‘Anglo-Saxon world’ would try everything to break it up.” Hey Jean Claude: Reality is doing a great job breaking up the Eurozone all by itself, between its unsustainable welfare state, its aging population, and the insistence of Euroelites on cutting those filthy commoners from having any say in the matter. And as for the “Anglo-Saxon world” trying to break up the Eurozone, have you seen whose in charge of things these days?
  • Greece’s Blazing Saddles act is wearing thin. (I seem to remember having made this exact comparison before…)
  • LinkSwarm for May 5, 2015

    Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

    Happy Cinco de Mayo! My efforts to move the LinkSwarm back to it’s usual Friday position by posting early have failed, so I’m trying to get it there by letting it drift back one day later each time…

  • “Canadian Partnership Shielded Identities of Donors to Clinton Foundation.” Just in case you missed that. Because trying to keep up with all the sleazy bribery angles of the Clinton Foundation is like trying to drink from the firehose…
  • Speaking of which:

  • “Hillary may want to talk about inequality, but is there any better example of a couple who gorged at the trough of Wall Street and foreign autocrats, chose not to follow the rules, never could stop chasing more and more money and (in Hillary Clinton’s case) went to extraordinary lengths to destroy “personal” e-mails that might have pulled back the curtain on all that?” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Hillary hires Scott Hogan, an organizer of the failed “Everytown” gun-grabber astroturf to run her “Grassroots” campaign. Hopefully he’ll bring Hillary the same outstanding success he brought to gun control…
  • Russian stooges in Ukraine: “Soviet terror famine? No, that was all just a big misunderstanding!” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Islamic State murders 600 more Yezidis. (Hat tip: Jihad Watch.)
  • The Islamic State also claimed post facto credit for the Garland attack.
  • Speaking of which, here’s an interview with Bosch Fawstin, the winner of the Draw Mohammed contest. (Hat tip: Legal Insurrection.)
  • Emergency room visits up under ObamaCare.
  • Lefty lawyer Laurence Tribe calls Obama’s “force everyone to use green energy without congressional approval” plan unconstitutional. “After studying the only legal basis offered for the EPA’s proposed rule, I concluded that the agency is asserting executive power far beyond its lawful authority.”
  • Drug cartel violence heats up in Mexico: “Gunmen shot down a Mexican military helicopter Friday in the western state of Jalisco, killing three soldiers, and set fire to buses, blocked roads, and attacked banks and gas stations in a sharp escalation of violence against the government.” This is evidently the handiwork of the New Generation drug cartel.
  • Minimum wage hike hits San Francisco Comic Store.
  • When the Social Justice Warriors started attacking the company Protein World over their “Beach Ready” ad campaign, Protein World didn’t cave, they fought back. Result: They earned an additional $1 million in four days.
  • Not understanding that the Presidency is not an entry level job, and that the Republican field was already packed, Ben Carson joins the Presidential race.
  • Ditto Carly Fiorina, whose tenure as CEO of Hewlett-Packard was not an unqualified success, and whose 2010 California Senate race lost to Barbara Boxer by 16 points.
  • And evidently Mike Huckabee is going to run as well.
  • Texas Democrats are furious that a new ethics bill might keep them from scratching each other’s backs. (Hat tip: Push Junction.)
  • The Austin American Statesman is moving printing and packing operations to San Antonio and Houston, resulting in about a 100 jobs lost in Austin. Previously. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Social Justice Warriors can’t even win elections at UCLA.
  • Austin’s Highland Mall closed on April 30th.
  • Greece: Contagion Watch

    Monday, April 20th, 2015

    Amidst word that other European banks are urging Greek banks to dump Greek securities, and continued mutterings of Greek contingency plans to nationalize banks, Zero Hedge just tweeted this:

    Not seeing confirmation yet, but if true, those quiet bank runs in Greece are about to stop being quiet…

    Update: Here’s Zero Hedge’s post, citing an (unlinked) Bloomberg piece citing internal Greek decree, saying it’s the start of capital controls. If so, bank runs are all but assured…

    Update 2: Now seeing news reports saying that Greece is “The Greek government is forcing the country’s municipalities to transfer cash reserves to the Bank of Greece in a bid to shore up its short-term finances, according to officials…The decree on Monday mandates the transfer of cash that is not needed to cover spending in the next 15 days, as Athens continues negotiations with creditors to unlock bailout funds.”

    So, no forced bank funds transfers.

    Yet.

    Texas vs. California Update for March 26, 2015

    Thursday, March 26th, 2015

    Time for another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • Forget all those snide liberal cracks about Texas’ public education system, since we have some of the highest graduation rates in the country.

  • “San Bernardino has defaulted on nearly $10 million in payments on its privately placed pension bond debt since it declared bankruptcy in 2012.”

    The missed payments illustrate the trend among cities in bankruptcy to favor payments to pension funds over bondholder obligations, which has increased the hostility between creditors and municipalities.

    San Bernardino declared last year that it intends under its bankruptcy exit plan to fully pay Calpers, its biggest creditor and America’s largest public pension fund with assets of $300 billion.

    The city continues to pay its monthly dues to Calpers in full, but has paid nothing to its bondholders for nearly three years, according to the interest payment schedule on roughly $50 million of pension obligation bonds issued by San Bernardino in 2005.

    If you’re a bank, a retirement fund, or a hedge fund, why on earth would you buy California municipal debt when there are safer alternatives? (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ Doom roundup.)

  • So how’s that San Francisco minimum wage law working out? Exactly like everyone who understands economics expected. “Some restaurants and grocery stores in Oakland’s Chinatown have closed after the city’s minimum wage was raised. Other small businesses there are not sure they are going to survive, since many depend on a thin profit margin and a high volume of sales.” Plus this: “Low-income minorities are often hardest hit by the unemployment that follows in the wake of minimum wage laws. The last year when the black unemployment rate was lower than the white unemployment rate was 1930, the last year before there was a federal minimum wage law.”
  • California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office suggests phasing out state health care for workers entirely.
  • California is dead last in spending transparency among the 50 states, with an F rating and a piddling score of 34. Texas ranks 13th with an A- and a score of 91. (Hat tip: Cal Watchdog.)
  • “North Texas gained an average of 360 net people per day from July 2013 to July 2014, a testament to the job-creating machine in the Lone Star state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau…North Texas and Houston were the only metropolitan areas to add more than 100,000 people during that one-year period.”
  • Just because California has some of the highest taxes in the nation doesn’t mean that the state’s Democratic legislature doesn’t want to add still more.
  • Meanwhile, the Texas Senate just passed a $4.6 billion tax cut.
  • California is rolling out more subsidies for Hollywood.
  • The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power not only has the highest employe costs in the country, it also ranks last in customer satisfaction. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • While Texas is certainly in much better shape than California on public employee pensions, things here are not entirely cloudless either. “The Texas Employee Retirement System is reporting unfunded liability of $14.5 billion in 2014, compared with liability of just $6.3 billion in 2013. By comparison, all of the state government’s general obligation debt as of 2013 was $15.3 billion. The Texas Law Enforcement and Custodial Officer Supplemental Retirement Plan is reporting unfunded liability of $673.1 million in 2014, compared with $306.7 million in 2013.”
  • Unlike California, Texas looks to get ahead of the curve on pension concerns with House Bill 2608, which restores control of pension funds to the local level by eliminating legislative approval for pension changes. I”nstead of locking up significant benefits in state statute, HB 2608 would allow city pension systems, like the Houston Firefighters’ Relief & Retirement Fund, to solve pension problems at the local level by changing benefit structures, if they so chose.”
  • “Support for the “bullet train” is ebbing across California, except, perhaps, in the Governor’s mansion.”
  • California raisin packer West Coast Growers files for Chapter 11.
  • American Spectrum Realty, a real estate investment management company that operates self-storage facilities under the 1st American Storage brand, has somehow managed to file for bankruptcy in both California and Texas. I think it’s safe to say that financial shenanigans are involved…
  • Lawsuit over misappropriated funds in a Napa Valley winery leads to a murder/suicide. It’s one of those stories that sounds too strange not to link to…
  • Eurocrat Summarizes Greek Problem

    Monday, March 23rd, 2015

    Sure, Jose Manuel Barroso, the former president of the European Commission, is a self-interested Eurocrat, but here he provides a nicely concise statement of the obvious concerning Greece’s problems

    Greece’s problems can be laid at its own door and the country needs to provide a clear commitment to reform to reach an agreement with its creditors, Jose Manuel Barroso, the former president of the European Commission, told investors in Hong Kong.

    “The Greek people went through extremely difficult moments, hardship. But these difficulties of Greece were not provoked by Europe,” Barroso said in an address at the Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference in Hong Kong.

    “It was provoked by the irresponsible behavior of the Greek government.”

    “The situation of Greece is the result of unsustainable debt that was created by the Greek government, mismanagement of their public finances, huge problems with tax evasion and tax fraud [and] problems of the administration,” he said, noting that the country had also misled the European Union by filing false figures on its economy.

    A nice statement of the problem. To which I can only add: And Greece continues to compound the problem, because it refuses to reduce government spending to match receipts. And it refuses to do because it’s welfare state is unsustainable.

    All this talk of bailouts, relief, reparations, agreements and grexits is just filigree on the essential problem: Greece’s government spends more money than it takes in and refuses to change its ways.

    Greece: Turning and Turning in a Narrowing Gyre

    Thursday, March 19th, 2015

    It appears we may finally be reaching the endgame of the endgame on Greece.

    Greece is suffering a bank run and owes just over $2 billion in debt payments due Friday, but shows no signs of having the money or meeting the Troika’s conditions for obtaining more. Quite the opposite. Greece’s left-wing Syriza government is increasingly acting like an erratic heroin addict refusing to check into rehab and howling through the streets at night in search of an angry fix, heedless that there’s an arrest warrant out in his name.

    “The International Monetary Fund, one of Greece’s main three creditors, was reported to have called Greece ‘the most unhelpful client’ the Fund has dealt with in their 70-year history.”

    “During the teleconference, the Greek representative said his government wasn’t prepared to talk about the country’s finances with technical experts and instead wanted European Union leaders to discuss the issue at a summit in Brussels, one of the European officials said.”

    I’m sure telling your bank that you’re “not prepared to discuss my finances” when asking for your fifth bridge loan would go over really well.

    Also this: “There was a general feeling that the Greek side is completely out of touch with reality.”

    You think? How about the fact that Greek parliament just passed a raft of anti-austerity spending measure, which is rather like a man with stage 4 lung cancer lighting up a couple of stogies in route to the operating room.

    Some are wondering if Syriza wants to see Greece kicked out of the Euro.

    EU institutions seem far more ready for what lies ahead. “The European Central Bank (ECB) is preparing for a possible Greek exit from the euro zone.” Conversely, EU insiders have also floated the idea of imposing capital controls to prevent Greece from leaving the euro.

    And the one person whose opinion matters the most? “German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that Greece has no choice but to carry out economic reforms if it wants to receive more financial aid, dashing any hopes Athens might have had for a softening in Berlin’s stance.”

    Carrying out real reforms (like stop spending more money than the government takes in) is what Greece in general, and Syriza in specific, has steadfastly refused to do. And the reason they refused is that the European cradle-to-grave welfare state has become more sacred to voters than the capitalist economics and fiscal discipline necessary to support it.

    This is not a recipe for happiness.

    There’s a chance that all of this is posturing on both sides, and that a kabuki compromise involving small reforms in exchange for still more loan extensions may yet kick the can a few more feet down the road. But there is every sign that EU institutions have finally tired of Greece’s show, and are willing to see the final curtain drop. And the Greeks are about to learn that the vengeance of the gods of the copybook headings cannot be delayed indefinitely…

    Greece Snarls At The Hand That Feeds It

    Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

    Angela Merkel tamped down a party revolt to extend the Greek bailout terms by four months. And her reward for extending that lifeline? Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reviving demands that Germany pay World War II reparations to Greece.

    Before Syriza came to power, the rest of the EU and the Troika seemed content to play along with the Greece farce (extending further loans in exchange for yet more empty promises of reform) at least a little while longer. However, Syriza’s virulently anti-EU and anti-Germany rhetoric seem to have finally exhausted their patience with the show. It seems even Europeans have limits to the abuse they’re willing to take from perpetual welfare recipients. It’s bad enough to underwrite a freeloader, but evidently having to put up with constant insults from them was too much.

    At this point, everyone knows Greece will neither reform nor pay back their debts to the Troika (or anyone else). That’s why Europe has finally started taking a real hard line with them, insisting on inspectors on the ground to see reforms are actually implemented.

    Either Tsipras has severely overplayed his hand (quite possible), or he is deliberately preparing to use Germany as the theoretical scapegoat for exiting the Euro.

    To say that Tsipras and Syriza has no plan B to escape the crisis is misleading, since their cunning “insult our creditors into giving us more money” doesn’t even count as a plan A.

    A bailout from Russia? It’s not like Putin is rolling in dough following a fall in oil prices and his continuing isolation over his invasion of Ukraine. Let Putin subsidize Greece all he wants. (And I doubt a Greek navel base would give him any advantage over what he has in Sevastopol.)

    Greece could have avoided all this many years ago if their government had just stopped spending more money than they took in. Given their addiction to a bloated welfare state, this is the one thing they have proven singularly unwilling to do.

    I doubt Syriza has thought through just how nasty a divorce from the Eurozone might turn out. Never mind asking they repay their debts, I’m thinking a complete halt to all bank transfers between the Eurozone and Greece, and international foreign exchanges refusing to list a newly floated drachma. People hate having their welfare benefits cut, but they really, really hate being unable to buy food…

    Greece has finally reached the stage of socialism where they’re run out of other people’s money, and the results are not going to be pretty.

    Experience is a dear teacher, but fools will learn from no other…

    LinkSwarm for February 6, 2015

    Friday, February 6th, 2015

    I’ve got a cold and my dog had major dental surgery yesterday, so pardon me if I seem out of it.

  • Democratic Party makes it clear they expect reporters to be good little lapdogs, going so far as to escort them to the restroom to keep them from talking to congressmen.
  • Muslim attack in the Philippines kills 49.
  • London Mayor “Boris Johnson says [jihadists] watch pornography and masturbate excessively.” (Hat tip: Legal Insurrection.)
  • Entire Rotherham City Council resigns. Not enough Many should be in prison.
  • ISIS is big on book burning.
  • Guy builds real Nine Inch Nailgun. Because #Merica:

  • When the CEO of your startup gets convicted on child pornography charges, there’s a good chance you’re not IPO-bound.
  • Minimum wage hike kills San Francisco independent science fiction bookstore Borderland Books. I’ve bought books from Alan before, so I have a personal connection here.
  • Is that a Batmobile in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?
  • Venezuelans Now So Screwed They Can’t Afford to Get Screwed

    Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

    Thanks to the Magic Power of #Socialism™, in Venezuela a 36-pack of condoms now costs as much as an iPhone:

    Venezuelans who already must line up for hours to buy chicken, sugar, medicines and other basic products in short supply now face a new indignity: Condoms are hard to find and nearly impossible to afford….

    On the auction website MercadoLibre, used by Venezuelans to obtain scarce goods, a 36-pack of Trojans sells for 4,760 bolivars ($755 at the official exchange rate), close to the country’s minimum monthly wage of 5,600 bolivars.

    It take a special kind of socialist magic to make your people too poor to have sex.

    In other Venezuela news:

  • The Maduro government has seized a supermarket chain. I’m sure that will do wonders to make more basic goods available to people.
  • They’re also arrested pharmacy owners for “conspiring” to create long lines out their stores. Maybe Maduro thinks business owners can conjure hard currency out of their own asses.
  • Interview with opposition leader Henrique Capriles.
  • One wonders if The Road to Serfdom or Economics in One lesson have ever been translated into Spanish…