Veronique de Rugy from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Mon, 22 Jul 2019 11:22:03 -0700 Veronique de Rugy from Creators Syndicate 59d36774ade7e2b368495d3dd298f34e Unemployment, Underemployment and the Comprehensive Jobless Rate for 07/18/2019 Thu, 18 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>When he testified before Congress last week, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell made an interesting comment: "We don't have any basis or any evidence for calling this a hot labor market." He added that "to call something hot, you need to see some heat." <span class="column--highlighted-text">Come again? The unemployment rate is 3.7%, and this is somehow a lukewarm market?</span></p> <p>An inability to perceive this alleged lukewarmness of the labor market may be explained by the fact that the main metrics we use to report the health of the labor market &#8212; this 3.7% unemployment rate &#8212; captures only one aspect of the employment story. <p>Updated: Thu Jul 18, 2019</p> e459e2829c65e4f25587859cea700340 The Global Trade War Comes Full Circle for 07/11/2019 Thu, 11 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>It has always puzzled me that anyone would believe that protecting the U.S. market with tariffs is a good idea. Yes, U.S. consumers might increase their demand for domestic goods because duties on imported foreign goods make them relatively more expensive. But these duties also create massive market distortions and malinvestments, which often backfire against the very industries that are ostensibly being protected.</p> <p>Case in point: the steel industry and Trump's steel tariffs. Back in March 2018, President Donald Trump announced that he would be imposing 25% tariffs on foreign steel. The idea was to make the price of foreign steel so expensive that domestic consumers of imported steel would start to consume more domestic steel. For those who defended the steel tariffs, it didn't seem to matter that at the time 70% of U.S. steel consumption was already domestically sourced. The president expected more, and the steel executives who disliked foreign competition cheered him along.<p>Updated: Thu Jul 11, 2019</p> 7633912075447bd8195a5bf909461aa3 How Not to Score a Goal in the Global Trade War for 07/04/2019 Thu, 04 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>President Donald Trump likes to keep score. Well, here's a score for him: America, zero; while the rest of the world keeps tallying up free trade points. That's right; while American consumers have been waiting for well over a year to see some resolution to the various trade disputes started by Trump, other countries have agreed to lower their tariffs against each other and signed free trade agreements with one another. Meanwhile, American consumers and exporters are drowning in a sea of high tariffs.</p> <p>Let's recap. For the last year and a half, the president has unilaterally imposed tariffs on, among other things, imports of steel, aluminum and hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese products. Many of these tariffs fall on intermediary goods that American and foreign companies use to produce things here in the United States. Despite being told by the administration that no one would dare retaliate against us, everyone has. Canada, Mexico, Japan, India, China and the European Union have all since then retaliated with their own duties against U.S. exports.<p>Updated: Thu Jul 04, 2019</p> 8cecba28fe95d9b0c19ef98aa5aae5cb Markets, Not Politicians, Control the Law of Supply and Demand for 06/27/2019 Thu, 27 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>When I was pregnant with my first child 16 years ago, I asked my doctor how much it would cost to pay for the birth out-of-pocket. He had no clue. The truth of the matter is that in most cases, neither doctors nor their patients have any idea what their treatments cost. That's because the health care market is not a real market. </p> <p>The prices that emerge in this "market" aren't the result of supply and demand, influenced by innovation and competition. Instead, they're the product of a bunch of legislators who want to create a system where anyone but the consumers pay the costs of health care. To achieve that goal, politicians distort the market process with regulations, restrictions and price controls. At the same time, they placate providers, doctors, hospitals and drugs manufacturers with goodies of their own to help providers swallow this command-and-control pill.<p>Updated: Thu Jun 27, 2019</p> 8748031309e42314eded933d9052c329 Central Planning Is Poisonous to Innovation for 06/20/2019 Thu, 20 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>"The more things change, the more they stay the same" is the best way to describe the lack of original thinking that is prevalent in politics. Take the recent resurgence of calls from politicians on both sides of the aisle to implement industrial policy.</p> <p>These calls are motivated to address the (mythical) decline in American manufacturing &#8212; and because other countries are doing it. These policies are tired, utterly uninspiring schemes that governments around the world have tried and, invariably, failed at.<p>Updated: Thu Jun 20, 2019</p> 0d2665795fcab98894121e8dea41bf3e Will the Real Tariff Man Please Stand Down? for 06/13/2019 Thu, 13 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The air always swirls with popular myths that, when repeated constantly, are taken by some to be indisputably true. One such myth today is that President Donald Trump is unique among presidents in standing up firmly to the Chinese and other foreigners to stop them from harming us economically with their import restrictions, export subsidies and illegal immigration. According to that theory, the tariffs he uses to counter these foreign practices are to our benefit. As such, we should purportedly welcome them with gratitude.</p> <p>Trump is indeed unique among modern presidents in his eagerness to use tariffs. But his vaunted "toughness" in using them is nothing for us Americans to applaud: We should instead condemn their use. Trump's so-called "standing up" to foreigners is more like stomping on Americans' freedom and prosperity.<p>Updated: Thu Jun 13, 2019</p> 08769e51f5e8f3e155b15b815e901f58 Numbers Betray Export-Import Bank Advocates for 06/06/2019 Thu, 06 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>It's amazing what can be done to a cause in a mere four years. Back in 2015, there was widespread agreement in Congress that the Export-Import Bank &#8212; the U.S. government's export credit agency &#8212; was nothing but a crony bank, mostly serving the greedy interests of Boeing and other large companies. As a result, Congress let the bank's charter expire. It was reauthorized a few months later but in a much-diminished form, operating at 15% capacity.</p> <p>Fast-forward to 2019. Today, Ex-Im Bank's full lending abilities are restored, and it's celebrated by some as a necessary source of job creation and economic growth. This change was particularly visible during a hearing this week before the House Committee on Financial Services called, "Promoting American Jobs: Reauthorization of the U.S Export-Import Bank."<p>Updated: Thu Jun 06, 2019</p> f2fc3e669a963d99e33d3627307dc9af Are Politicians Purveyors of Outrage? for 05/30/2019 Thu, 30 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>One of the many problems with politicians is that it seems like they're in the outrage business. Some act as if they won't be needed unless there is some extreme wrong or insufferable unfairness to address. That's how we end up with politicians fighting mostly imaginary battles, which they propose to address through great sound bites and bad policies.</p> <p>The latest case in point is presidential hopeful Kamala Harris' plan for "Holding Corporations Accountable for Pay Inequality in America."<p>Updated: Thu May 30, 2019</p> c749b010c7829cca50b3d19f8910d019 President's Immigration Plan Could Use Some Work for 05/23/2019 Thu, 23 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Last week, the Trump administration released the outline of an immigration plan meant to reshape how and which people are allowed into the United States. The plan would prioritize merit-based immigration and high-skilled labor over those who already have family here. Far from comprehensive or sufficient, it's a modest improvement over the administration's previous restrictive pushes.</p> <p>The plan's centerpiece is a shift toward a "merit" system very similar to those in place in Australia and Canada. The reform would boost skill-based immigration from 12% to 57%, while decreasing family-based and lottery-based immigration by 50%. This is great news for employers in the market for high-skilled workers. Indeed, the cap for H-1B visas (for temporary, skilled workers) and employment-based green cards has not increased for many years, while the U.S. workforce has grown by 38 million since these programs' inception.<p>Updated: Thu May 23, 2019</p> db1da0e0e01751fe934e2fb23a95ea52 It's Time for a Course Correction in the Trade War for 05/16/2019 Thu, 16 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>President Donald Trump and his supporters often tell us that he is fundamentally a free trader. The current trade war with China, they say, is simply the small price we must pay now for a world of much freer trade tomorrow, when all governments lower their trade barriers in fear of Trump's hard-bargaining techniques.</p> <p>Let's see what markets have to say about that. After the president tweeted a couple weeks ago that tariffs against China would go up within five days if Beijing didn't agree to his demands, markets dived. Stocks plunged once again on Friday morning, after the 25% tariff on $200 billion in Chinese exports to the United States became reality. Stock prices rose later that day after presidential tweets suggested that trade talks were going well. But the market took another hit on Monday after China announced retaliatory moves, including tariffs increased to as much as 25% on $60 billion of U.S. imports to China.<p>Updated: Thu May 16, 2019</p> 87a93649f7cac8c71fdf5508ba48ff6f The Fed Is Not the Answer for Real-Time Payments for 05/09/2019 Thu, 09 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>There's an inherent conflict of interest that occurs when an agency serves as both a regulator and competitor. Unfortunately, that describes the present state of the Federal Reserve. But rather than reform the agency to eliminate sources of conflict, the Fed is proposing to expand its market activities by launching a real-time payments system to compete against the private sector.</p> <p>Anyone who has done any domestic banking is familiar with the need for faster clearing of interbank transfers. They're incredibly slow by digital age standards, sometimes taking several days to complete. It's even subpar by the standards of the European Union, the U.K., Mexico, Poland and South Africa, which have already developed (or are developing) real-time payments. <p>Updated: Thu May 09, 2019</p> 2ec6213ba4647fdfcc52889c3b40e8bc Once a Protectionist, Always a Protectionist for 05/02/2019 Thu, 02 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The United States has been plagued with uncertainty ever since President Donald Trump started his trade disputes with many of our trading partners. From steel and aluminum tariffs to renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and replacing it with the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), trade rules have been in flux, with U.S. consumers caught in the crossfire &#8212; and with no end in sight.</p> <p>This drama started in March 2018, when the Trump administration announced that it would impose 25% tariffs on steel and 10% tariffs on aluminum for imports from all countries that he deemed to be treating America unfairly. The duties were levied in the name of national security, even though they would actually punish many of our NATO allies. <span class="column--highlighted-text">At the time, the administration made no secret about the fact that it planned to use the tariffs as leverage to renegotiate the 25-year-old NAFTA with Canada and Mexico.</span><p>Updated: Thu May 02, 2019</p> ea6bba569cddec2b916256392a837aaa When Earth Day Predictions Go Predictably Wrong for 04/25/2019 Thu, 25 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>As activists around the world recently celebrated Earth Day with warnings about the awful state of our planet, now seems like the right time to share the good news that actually &#8212; contrary to countless dire predictions &#8212; we're not running out of resources. In fact, the late economist and scholar Julian Simon was right: People again and again have innovated "their way out of resource shortages."</p> <p>As Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute reminds us in an article about "18 spectacularly wrong predictions made around the time of first Earth Day in 1970," back in 1969, Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich wrote that "Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born." He added that by 1975, "some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions." In 1970, he revised his prediction for the worse to warn us, as Perry writes, that "between 1980 and 1989, some 4 billion people, including 65 million Americans, would perish in the 'Great Die-Off.'"<p>Updated: Thu Apr 25, 2019</p> 47d4ba72fc6e3a6c6eab27a767f14ff6 Bipartisan Support for Electric Vehicle Handouts Betrays Taxpayers for 04/18/2019 Thu, 18 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Excessive partisanship and endless acrimony are common complaints lodged against the political class. There's a lot to be said in favor of this narrative, but bipartisanship isn't always what it's cracked up to be, either. As evidence, consider the latest attempt to extend corporate handouts for electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers.</p> <p>The Driving America Forward Act was recently introduced to extend the existing EV tax credit well beyond its current limits. Unsurprisingly, its sponsors include both Michigan Senators, Democrats Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, as well as Republican Senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Susan Collins of Maine. A companion version was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Dan Kildee, also a Democrat from a district in Michigan.<p>Updated: Thu Apr 18, 2019</p> 1011a14f122681a024ef7e7e9476ee19 The New NAFTA Is Exporting the Same Old Bad Habits for 04/11/2019 Thu, 11 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Trade agreements have been greatly successful at lowering trade barriers around the world. But they're not without their flaws. Each agreement, in practice, tends to retain some counterproductive protectionist policies and may even export some bad policies. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), or "new NAFTA," is no different.</p> <p>As soon as President Donald Trump got into office, he threatened to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement. He imposed metal tariffs on steel and aluminum for the stated purpose of forcing Canada and Mexico to renegotiate the 25-year-old trade agreement. The result was the USMCA.<p>Updated: Thu Apr 11, 2019</p> 4677ec6e1540ff2a36592da8c28f9928 Government-Mandated, Paid Leave Programs Proven Ineffective for 04/04/2019 Thu, 04 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>As the saying goes, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. This is a perfect way to describe the current effort by Democrats and some conservatives to implement a federal paid leave program. If the United States implements this policy, they believe Americans will not suffer the same negative consequences suffered in every country that has such a policy on its books.</p> <p>Last year, the conservative American Enterprise Institute released a joint report with the more progressive Brookings Institution titled "Paid Family and Medical Leave: An Issue Whose Time Has Come." While the authors disagree among themselves about the specifics of a federal program, they "unanimously agreed that some form of paid parental leave should be offered to help workers at the time of birth, adoption, or fostering of a child."<p>Updated: Thu Apr 04, 2019</p> 42cdd7af004090e59d49f31b248e659d Can Politicians Move on from the Mueller Report? for 03/28/2019 Thu, 28 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The filing of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on whether there was collusion between President Donald Trump and the Russians to interfere with the 2016 election should put an end to speculations, accusations and outrage. The report finds that there was no collusion. But long live speculations, accusations and outrage.</p> <p>As soon as Attorney General William Barr summed up the report for Congress, Trump administration allies started to call for the heads of those who had fed the rumor mill for months. On their end, the Democrats didn't wait long to warn the administration that this wasn't over and that they would continue investigating the president for alleged obstruction of justice. That's their prerogative, obviously.<p>Updated: Thu Mar 28, 2019</p> 6019c728e12af5d048c3d2decb9800cd Trump's Rose-Colored Forecasts Surprisingly Accurate -- for Now for 03/21/2019 Thu, 21 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Much of my time is spent criticizing politicians for misrepresenting the impact of their policies. So, for once, I'd actually like to note an area where the Trump White House has represented the impact of its policies more accurately, and even better, than any other administration: economic growth forecasts. It may not sound like much, and I'd rather they balance the budget, but that's a start.</p> <p>The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 requires that each administration report "the economic and programmatic assumptions" underlying a budget. The result is a database of every administration's growth forecasts released since 1975. Using this data, the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) just released a report showing that this administration "is the first on record to have experienced economic growth that meets or exceeds its own forecasts in each of its first two years in office."<p>Updated: Thu Mar 21, 2019</p> ad2baf168cec703fa79c267dcfe8847a Politics Trump Policy Once Again in Budget Debate for 03/14/2019 Thu, 14 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The Trump administration just delivered a massive budget to Congress. A look at the numbers and the talking points drafted to defend it confirms that budgets favor politics over policy. This also confirms that it really doesn't really matter who is in the White House. Big spenders will spend and then dissemble to cover up their fiscal irresponsibility.</p> <p>The fiscal year 2020 budget proposes spending $4.7 trillion. That's up from $4.5 trillion last year and $4.1 trillion in FY 2018. Meanwhile, assuming that the tax cuts set to expire in 2025 do not expire, tax revenue will grow to $3.6 trillion in FY 2020, up from $3.4 trillion last year and $3.3 trillion in FY 2018. Spending between FY 2020 and FY 2029 will grow by 40 percent, and thanks to projected GDP growth averaging 3 percent over the next decade, revenue may grow by 72 percent during that time.<p>Updated: Thu Mar 14, 2019</p> 1d1df23b24f6c2cf960dcc03fec47d47 Statewide Rent Control Laws Cannot Escape the Law of Supply and Demand for 03/07/2019 Thu, 07 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Last week, Oregon became the first state in the nation to adopt a mandatory statewide rent control policy. Yet, rent control never delivers on the promise that it will multiply the affordable housing in high-value markets to serve middle- and lower-class families. It also always has negative consequences, and this time will be no different.</p> <p>The new statewide law applies to landlords who have at least four units, one of which is at least 15 years old. It prohibits them from increasing rent more than 7 percent over inflation annually. The bill also prohibits no-cause evictions after the first year of residency, in addition to the protections against eviction already on the books.<p>Updated: Thu Mar 07, 2019</p>