Mid Week Clips

Sleepers in Hong Kong McDonalds

I have eaten at the McDonalds in Hong Kong over the years. Just smaller portions and only after I grew tired of fish and veggies. I think I told the story of coming off The Wall, making my way down a road with my Chinese associates towards a Chinese restaurant, and turning the corner to eat at a KFC (their choice). It back upped to The Wall. They loved it.

According to a survey, in just five years there has been a six-fold increase in so-called McRefugees in Hong Kong or residents who spend their nights sleeping in the 24-hour McDonald’s outlets across the city.

People Keep Shooting Up the Emmet Till Sign

Hate and bigotry dies hard in some places.

Shot-up Emmett Till Memorial

Kroger To Stop Accepting Visa

A California subsidiary of Kroger will stop accepting Visa credit cards next month in a dispute over swipe fees.

“Foods Co. Supermarkets said it would no longer take Visa credit cards beginning Aug. 14. The ban will cover 21 stores and five fueling centers in central and northern California. Shoppers will still be able to use Visa debit cards, as well as cards from other networks such as Mastercard, Discover and American Express.”

The cost of swiping using a debit card and computerized systems are getting out of hand. In 2014, Walmart filed suit against Visa alleging it cost $350 million in fees from 2004 to 2012.

Trump Admits to Meeting

“President Trump said on Sunday that a Trump Tower meeting between top campaign aides and a Kremlin-connected lawyer was designed to “get information on an opponent” — the starkest acknowledgment yet that a statement he dictated last year about the encounter was misleading.”

Too Little Too Late’: Bankruptcy Booms Among Older Americans

For a growing number of older Americans, traditional ideas about life in retirement are being upended by a dismal reality . . . bankruptcy.
The signs of potential trouble such as vanishing pensions, soaring medical expenses, inadequate savings have been building for years. Now, new research sheds light on the scope of the problem. The study found the rate of people 65 and older filing for bankruptcy is three times what it was in 1991 and the same group accounts for a far greater share of all filers.

Steel Giants With Ties to Trump Officials Block Tariff Relief for Hundreds of Firms

“Charlotte-based Nucor, which financed a documentary film made by a top trade adviser to Mr. Trump and Pittsburgh-based United States Steel which has previously employed several top administration officials have both objected to the 1,600 exemption requests filed with the Commerce Department.

To date, their efforts have not failed and resulted in denials for companies based in the United States but rely on imported pipes, screws, wire and other foreign steel products for their supply chains.

The ability of a single industry to exert so much influence on the exclusion process is striking even in Mr. Trump’s business-friendly White House, given the high stakes for thousands of American companies that depend on foreign metals. The boundaries of trade policy are being tested by the scope of Mr. Trump’s multifront trade war with allies and adversaries alike, which includes tariffs on up to $200 billion worth of goods from China and possible tariffs on automobiles and auto parts.”

Commerce Department: 59% of the denials come in cases where United States Steel, Nucor, or a third large steel maker AK Steel Holding Corporation have filed an objection. Nearly all of the rest were in cases where the company applying for an exclusion erred in its submission.

Economy Adds 157,000 Jobs in July, Little Evidence of Pick-up in Wage Growth Mark Thoma cites Dean Baker’s Report

“In spite of the healthy pace of job growth and the low unemployment rate, there continues to be little evidence of accelerating wage growth. Over the last year, the average hourly wage has risen by 2.7 percent. There is a very small uptick to 2.87 percent if we annualize the rate of wage growth for the last three months (May, June, and July) compared with the prior three months (February, March, and April).

Interestingly, there was a modest fall in hours in July, which led to a decline in the index of aggregate weekly hours from 110.0 to 109.8. As a result, the average weekly wage actually declined slightly in July.

The leading sector for job gains in July was manufacturing, which added 37,000 jobs, all but 5,000 of which were in the durable goods sector. Employment in the sector is up by 327,000 over the last year, an increase of 2.6 percent.”

NDD has covered similar in his posts at Angry Bear.

Notes On A Butter Republic

Paul Krugman: Denmark, where tax receipts are 46 percent of GDP compared with 26 percent in the U.S., is arguably the most social-democratic country in the world. According to conservative doctrine, the combination of high taxes and aid to “takers” must really destroy incentives both to create jobs and to take them in any case. So, Denmark must suffer from mass unemployment, right?

Yep, Danish adults are more likely to be employed than their U.S. counterparts. They work somewhat shorter hours, although that may well be a welfare-improving choice. But what Denmark shows is that you can run a welfare state far more generous than we do – beyond the wildest dreams of U.S. progressives – and still have a highly successful economy.

Indeed, while GDP per capita in Denmark is lower than in the U.S. – basically because of shorter work hours – life satisfaction is notably higher.

Short Term Healthcare Policies

Good Discussion at Kaiser on Trump/Republican Compliant Short Term Policies and what they will and will not cover.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) exempted short-term policies from market rules that apply to most major medical health insurance policies sold to individuals in the non-group market: rules that prohibit medical underwriting, pre-existing condition exclusions, and lifetime and annual limits, and that require minimum coverage standards. By contrast, short-term policies:

• are often underwritten with pre-existing medical conditions in mind. Applicants with health conditions can be turned down or charged higher premiums, without limit, based on health status, gender, “age,” and other factors;
• exclude coverage for people with pre-existing conditions – policyholders who get sick may be investigated by the insurer to determine whether the newly-diagnosed condition can be considered pre-existing and excluded from coverage;
• do not have to cover essential health benefits – typical short-term policies do not cover maternity care, prescription drugs, mental health care, preventive care, and other essential benefits, and may limit coverage in other ways;
• can impose lifetime and annual limits – for example, many policies cap covered benefits at $2 million or less;
• are not subject to cost sharing limits – some short term policies may require cost sharing in excess of $20,000 per person per policy period, compared to the ACA-required annual cap on cost sharing of $7,350 in 2018 ; and
• are not subject to other ACA market requirements – such as rate review or minimum medical loss ratios.

In comparison, an ACA Catastrophic plan covers all essential benefits, allows 3 PCP visits per year, and will cover certain preventative services at no cost for people under 30. If your income is that low for either Trump’s plan or the ACA plan, you are better off to get a Bronze or Silver plan as you will be eligible for a subsidy. The new version by Trump and Azar is a ripoff.

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