China has a limited number of weapons to use in a trade war with the US

Nightly Business Report has the story China has a limited number of weapons to use in a trade war with the US.

China is limited somewhat in the amount of retaliatory tariffs it can apply, simply because it doesn’t import nearly as much in American goods compared with what the U.S. takes of Chinese products. China imported just $129.9 billion from the U.S. in 2017, compared with $505.5 billion in exports, according to the Census Bureau.

I did a little Google search to find the WikiPedia article Foreign-exchange reserves of China.

In October 2016 China’s foreign exchange reserves totaled US$3.12 trillion, the lowest total since 2011, but remained higher than the foreign exchange reserves of any other nation.

The Chinese really need to be able to sell us the exports they send to the USA considering they are selling this stuff at a loss, and taking in our money that they have no use for.

One lesson here is don’t count on Nightly Business Report for information about investing, money, finance, or international trade.

Missing in Action: The Poor in America   Recently updated !

Naked Capitalism has the article Missing in Action: The Poor in America.

Imagine this: every year during the Great Recession of 2007-2009 there were nearly four million home foreclosures. In that period, with job losses mounting, nearly 15% of American households were categorized as “food insecure.” To many of those who weren’t foreclosed upon, who didn’t lose their jobs, who weren’t “food insecure,” to the pundits writing about that disaster and the politicians dealing with it, these were undoubtedly distant events. But not to me. For me, it was all up close and personal.

I did not experience this as I was growing up, but I did have friends who were lower down on the socio-economic ladder than my family was. As I grew into being an older teen, I do remember the worries I had of how I was ever going to keep myself in the lifestyle to which I had become accustomed.

I was never sure how my father managed to pay the medical bills for my mother and send two kids to college. As an adult, if I weren’t able to get and keep a good job, I feared what would happen to me.

Why China ‘holds all the aces’ in a full-blown US-China trade war

CNBC has the article Why China ‘holds all the aces’ in a full-blown US-China trade war.

Here is something that is news to me.

The current $370 billion deficit estimate does not account for value-added. When looking at the value-added content of Chinese exports, the U.S. deficit with China is actually only half of what it seems. And if we then add back the U.S. surplus in “invisibles” and how much money the United States brings back from investments in China, the U.S.–China deficit shrinks from 2 percent of U.S. GDP to 0.8 percent, a report from Oxford Economics revealed.

Here is the bottom line.

Above all else, the Trump–Xi trade shenanigans seem to underscore the different agendas at play here: one oriented toward political posturing and “winning” against a dubious scorecard, and the other focused on economic realities and a long-term development strategy. While the United States will undoubtedly declare victory, China seems to hold all the aces.

It seems like China is the adult in this game, and Trump is the childlike novice. For a country that claims to be a capitalist country, we don’t seem to really know how to play the capitalist game very well.

Capital’s Share of Income Is Way Higher than You Think

Evonomics has the article Capital’s Share of Income Is Way Higher than You Think. To save you the agony of reading what it isn’t, I’ll entice you with the excerpt that tells you what it is.

But over any longer period, household capital gains are very, very real income indeed. They deliver very real assets and net worth — wealth — onto household balance sheets, which individuals can easily swap for “cash” when they want to spend, in our liquid financial system. That’s what retirees with nest eggs do — swap their various assets for cash, and “spend down their assets.”

I have been waiting for a long time to read an analysis like this. As a retiree, living off the income from my investments, I have suspected that counting unrealized capital gains would change the picture just as thiss author has pointed out. From what I remember of the statistics I have read, there are are very few 10 year periods in the history of the USA stock market where you would have lost money in the market. I think the other statistic is that there are no periods of 20 years or more where you would have lost money. I presume this is talking about index type of investing, not speculation. In other words, if you have the staying power, you are almost guaranteed to make money in the stock market over a lifetime. Yes, past history is no guarantee of future performance. However the odds are in your favor unless this country does something unprecedentedly foolish. Some day it could happen. We seem to be on our way there lately.

Paul Jay on Trump’s Iran War Agenda and Liberals’ Korea Peace Panic

YouTube has the video Paul Jay on Trump’s Iran War Agenda and Liberals’ Korea Peace Panic.

Paul Jay, Senior Editor of the The Real News, says that Trump’s North Korea diplomacy overshadows both his administration’s war-mongering on Iran and Koreans’ decisive efforts to make peace. Jay also discusses the partisan liberal angst over the prospect of reducing the U.S. military presence on the Korean peninsula

Paul Jay describes a complicated web, but one that is decidedly believable. We people play a dangerous game when we focus Liberal panic on North Korea, while ignoring the real objectives of the Trump camp. The people who still think that Rachel Maddow is not a tool of the military/industrial complex may be the most easily duped.

Homelessness in Amazon’s Home Town   Recently updated !

A recent posting by Bob Massie had me looking into this issue. (Bob Massie is a candidate for Governor of Massachusetts).

Shame on Amazon for refusing to give back to the city and community that has provided it an educated workforce, clean roads and a public transit infrastructure for their employees to get to and from work for years. This is corporate bullying at its worst, and we can’t allow this to happen in Boston if Amazon chooses to locate HQ2 there.

Massie linked to the NPR article Seattle Repeals Tax On Big Business After Opposition From Amazon, Starbucks.

Critics of the tax reportedly saw the city’s homeless problem growing, despite large amounts of spending by the city already. Seattle spent $68 million on fighting homelessness in 2017, according to The Associated Press.

If having all these huge corporations in Seattle were so good for the economy, then why would Seattle be having an expanding homeless problem despite putting money into solving the problem? Perhaps raising the minimum wage for low income people made them homeless. Or might the gentrification of Seattle have made low income people homeless?

You might find it interesting to read the Washington (D. C.) Post article. The Washington Post is owned by Jeff Bezos who also owns much of Amazon. The article is Seattle council votes to repeal tax to help homeless amid opposition from Amazon, other businesses.

The Seattle area has the third-largest homeless population in the country, according to federal statistics.
The number of homeless people in the county surrounding Seattle has jumped by 4 percent, to 12,112, according to a Seattle Times report from May, while housing prices in the city have continued to soar. The city declared a state of emergency over its homeless population in 2015.

Here are 7 pages of listings on articles about the Seattle homeless crisis published in the Seattle Times.

The Committee To End Homelessness in Seattle has the article Causes of Homelessness.

The average rent plus utilities for a two-bedroom unit in King County is $975; in Seattle it is $1,120 and in Bellevue it is $1,502 and in south King County it is $855. A worker must earn over $17-21 per hour to afford this housing, making it out of reach for many of the areas working poor families. A Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipient receiving $603 per month can afford monthly rent of less than $200, yet the average rate for a one-bedroom unit is $812 in King County. In a two-week period in April 2008, the Seattle Housing Authority received nearly 12,000 applications for their Section 8 Housing Voucher wait list.

This may be a little overstating the costs because it uses average costs instead of median cost or minimum cost.

Here is another issue mentioned in the report.

Legal barriers can lead to homelessness or the inability to secure permanent housing. Prior felony convictions, outstanding warrants, and lack of proper documentation are barriers to accessing many subsidized housing programs, which are key supports for low-income persons. Vagrancy ordinances create legal problems for homeless persons. In addition to personal legal barriers, land use and zoning regulations and community opposition can be significant barriers to affordable and supportive housing development.

Can you imagine a vagrancy regulation meant to solve a symptom of homelessness actually causes more homelessness? I can believe that people who don’t think these things through can demand such “cures”.

Another way to look at this is to consider The Tragedy Of The Commons described in the WikiPedia article.

The tragedy of the commons is a term used in social science to describe a situation in a shared-resource system where individual users acting independently according to their own self-interest behave contrary to the common good of all users by depleting or spoiling that resource through their collective action. The concept and phrase originated in an essay written in 1833 by the British economist William Forster Lloyd, who used a hypothetical example of the effects of unregulated grazing on common land (also known as a “common”) in the British Isles. The concept became widely known over a century later due to an article written by the American ecologist and philosopher Garrett Hardin in 1968. In this modern economic context, commons is taken to mean any shared and unregulated resource such as atmosphere, oceans, rivers, fish stocks, or even an office refrigerator.

Another excerpt from the above WikiPedia article is as follows:

Although common resource systems have been known to collapse due to overuse (such as in over-fishing), many examples have existed and still do exist where members of a community with access to a common resource co-operate or regulate to exploit those resources prudently without collapse.

In my mind the cooperation and regulation is the main reason we agree to have governments.

Who Says Labor Laws Are “Luxuries”?

Naked Capitalism has the article Who Says Labor Laws Are “Luxuries”?

A standard recommendation given to late-industrializing economies by the economic advisors of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund has been to refrain from imposing regulations on the labor market, or if such regulations are already in place, to abolish them.

In discussions with a friend of mine from India, I finally came to the conclusion that the workers in each country should have a say in what labor laws they want to see in their own country. It is unfair of us to insist on our labor standards in other countries. Workers in other countries could conclude that trying to impose our standards on them is just an excuse for preventing our jobs to go to their workers. So let the workers in these countries decide if they think it is to their advantage to have jobs at the wages and working conditions that would prevail in their countries if they had labor laws to their liking.

You can have all the economic theory you want, but democracy might be the more important principle. Not our style democracy, but whatever style of democracy that suits the people in their own country.

Death By China: How America Lost Its Manufacturing Base   Recently updated !

YouTube has the video Death By China: How America Lost Its Manufacturing Base (Official Version).

This award-winning film examines the US-China trade relationship. The companion Crouching Tiger ten episode documentary on YouTube is based on the best-selling book Crouching Tiger: What China’s Militarism means for the world.

I haven’t had the time or the stomach to watch much of this video. In what little I have seen, I keep wondering where is the voice of the workers. If you watch more of it, you may be able to tell me where I missed it.

The trouble with the world’s trade policies and free trade agreements is that they are all based on the concerns of corporations, with little thought to the concerns of the workers.

In the case of China, the Chinese workers are probably getting the benefits of improving living standards while the owner, managers, and the elites improve their lot even more. In the USA, the corporations get the benefit of cheap labor, and the USA workers are getting their living standards hammered. This is not the fault of the Chinese workers, or as much the fault of the Chinese government as this video would have you believe.

It is a tough problem to solve to improve the lives of all workers, everywhere in the world. However, if no workers anywhere have a voice in trade deals, then we will never even work on solving problems for workers, let alone finding actual solutions.

So don’t let corporations and their owners pit the workers in one place against the workers in another place. We need some universal solidarity among workers everywhere to improve everybody’s lives as much as possible.

I found this video on JustNform. Since I am new to JustNform, I haven’t figured out how to share the postings with non-members. To use the previous link to JustNform, you have to be a member. I feel it somewhat unfair to give the initial credit to YouTube instead, but for the time being, this is the only solution I know how to implement.

Trump Vows to End “Provocative” War Games on Korean Peninsula After Historic Summit with Kim Jong-un

Democracy Now has a series of video segments starting with Trump Vows to End “Provocative” War Games on Korean Peninsula After Historic Summit with Kim Jong-un.

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have wrapped up a historic summit pledging to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, with President Trump announcing the end of U.S.-South Korean war games. The summit marked the first-ever meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader. For more, we speak with investigative journalist Tim Shorrock in Singapore.

The new regime in South Korea may have made this possible. The Obama regime with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not have a good record with North Korea, possibly because they did not have a good partner in South Korea. Another possibility is that President Hillary Clinton might have been far more belligerent than Trump has proved to be,

Although I did not vote for Trump, maybe I was right to think that it was not so sure that Clinton would have been better, and I had a clear conscience not supporting Clinton.

If the Democrats try to block this peace initiative, or if Lindsay Graham wants an Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) to threaten North Korea to be peaceful, I will do my best to let everyone know how stupid these moves would be. In my efforts to excoriate promotion of hostility toward peace it will make no difference to me who promotes such stupidity. I will firmly support efforts toward peaceful resolution. Sanders and Schumer, are you listening?

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