Interesting Stuff from My In-Box, Maybe?
More Economic and Government topics the time. Much of it due to the pandemic caused economic issue. It is interesting as to how the news varies from week to week and what becomes important. I did add reports on Ukraine’s economy for 2022. You will see percentages from ~31% to ~38% cited depending on who you read.
The Housing economy in in Arizona has come to a near standstill. At an AZ State House Committee meeting, the representatives were discussing (I was there being an ass) how they could make Builders and developers more profitable by cutting into various requirements before the build actually begins. Public meetings were one of the proposed cuts. What a novel idea, eliminate public input.
There were many times the room was packed during our Planning Commission meetings in Michigan. Most of the time with residents.
With builders? There are other things which can improve profitability such as doing things right the first time, stopping the dropping of dumpsters on sidewalks, place planks near curbs to allow heavy equipment to pass over then, conserve the lowly nails, etc. The amount of waste is the building of housing is phenomenal.
Economics, Finance, and Labor
Low and moderate income taxpayers can benefit from the Earned Income Tax Credit, consumeraffairs, Kristen Dalli. the agency promoted the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) – a credit designed to give a tax break to Americans who earned $59,187 or less in the previous year.
Labor Market Recap January 2023: Disinflation Amidst Labor Market Strength, employamerica.org, Preston Mui. Nearly every indicator from every data source is showing strong employment against a backdrop of slowing nominal price and wage growth.
Ford 4Q profit drops 90%, company says more cost cuts coming, AP News, Tom Krisher. $1 billion of the $2 billion in lost profits was due to lower production and lost sales, the other $1 billion was in operational costs. He attributed about 60% of the production problem to the chip shortage, with the rest coming from parts suppliers who had trouble ramping up factories. Interesting issues when you are trying to phase out of gasoline vehicles, go to electric vehicles and run two manufacturing sites.
PE’s dropping asset values are a warning sign for public pension plans, pitchbook.com, Jessica Hamlin. The reporting lag for private equity returns data means that public pension plans’ 2023 portfolio numbers will reflect losses in the asset class, marking a major “warning sign” for the institutions in the year ahead . . .
Labor Market Strength Is No Justification for a Recession, Roosevelt Institute, Justin Bloesch, Mike Konczal. Inflation is finally returning to trend. Over the past three months, Consumer Price Index (CPI) core inflation was 3.1 percent, less than half of the range we saw in early 2022. Longer-term measures are also now declining.
Inflation ticked lower in December. Here’s what went up and here’s what went down, consumeraffairs.com, Mark Huffman. The Labor Department’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) fell 0.1% in December, pulling the annual inflation rate down to 6.5%.
How much tax should the rich pay to fight poverty and hunger? qz.com, Diego Lasarte. Oxfam’s report calculates that “the richest 1% have bagged nearly twice as much wealth as the rest of the world put together over the past two years.”
Surveillance and the Loneliness of the Long-Distance Trucker, The New Yorker. A new book shows how electronic tracking systems have failed to make trucking safer. But they have helped companies spy on their workers.
The Economic Picture of Ukrainian Households, Wilson Center. Ukraine’s economy faced ample difficulties before Russia’s full-scale invasion, the effects of the invasion have amplified old problems and brought new ones: a rising poverty rate, displaced populations, price hikes, and the need for more budget revenues to replace everything destroyed in the war.
Ukraine’s remarkable economy emerging, Emerging europe.com, Ukraine’s Economy Ministry on January 5 reported that the country’s economy in fact contracted by just 30.4 per cent in 2022.
How Ukraine is Managing a War Economy, imf.org. According to our estimates, Ukraine will lose at least one-third of its GDP in 2022.
Ukraine GDP – Ukraine Economy Forecast & Outlook, focus-economics.com. According to a preliminary reading, GDP slid at a slower rate of 30.8% year on year in the third quarter, an improvement from the 37.2% contraction tallied in the second quarter.
Arizona’s Dilemma: Import Water or End its Housing Boom, Time, Clara Nugent. Tucson has gone to great lengths to cut back on the amount of water used per resident. At the same time, Arizona is enthusiastically welcoming tens of thousands of new residents—lured by cheap housing and endless sunshine—each year. Anyone who thinks the housing is cheap in AZ, is deceiving themselves.
Loophole in law threatens future Arizona water supply, expert and lawmaker says, abc15.com. So, they rent the homes. There is a catch: neither of those rules applies if the houses are offered for lease for a period of less than one year. “It gets around the law because you don’t have to demonstrate a 100-year water supply for that development,”
The Egg Shortage Reflects a Cruel, Unsustainable System, treehugger.com, Hayley Bruning. The depopulation of millions of laying hens brings attention to the overcrowded conditions on factory farms.
Bedazzled by Energy Efficiency, Low-Tech-Magazine, lowtechmagazine.com. Energy efficiency is a cornerstone of policies to reduce carbon emissions and fossil fuel dependence in the industrialized world.
Senators form bipartisan Colorado River caucus as tensions rise in West over water crisis, CNN Politics,, Ella Nilsen. What to do about the shrinking Colorado River and in the vanishing water in America’s largest reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, has quickly become the most pressing issue for these Western senators.
Medicare Advantage Plans Fielded 35 Million Prior Auth Requests in 2021, MedPage Today, Sophie Putka. Two million requests denied; reasons for denial remain elusive, according to a new report.
The funding cliff for student mental health, axios.com, Sabrina Moreno. Public school districts that received a windfall of COVID relief funds for mental health services are confronting a new dilemma: How to sustain counseling, screenings, teletherapy and other programs when the money runs out.
A Midterm Assessment Of President Biden’s Promise To Build On The ACA, Health Affairs, Joan Aker. In January 2023, the state of health care coverage in the United States is the strongest it has ever been.
Building Resilience Into US Prescription Drug Supply Chains, Health Affairs, Authors. Patients and hospitals routinely cannot access the most basic and essential prescription medications due to shortages of drugs such as amoxicillin, Adderall, saline, and epinephrine.
Workforce Composition In Private Equity–Acquired Versus Non–Private Equity–Acquired Physician Practices, Health Affairs, Authors. at the individual clinician level, we found that the probability of both entering and exiting a practice was higher for physicians at PE-acquired practices compared with physicians at non-PE-acquired independent practices.
Law, Government, and Politics
President Biden Should Aim Higher in His State of the Union Address, Washington Monthly, Felicia Wong. He can boast about policy successes and a dramatic break from neoliberal orthodoxy, but he has to do so in a speech, unlike last year’s, that clearly and eloquently explains his welcome economic vision.
New York City Completes Construction on Latest American Transit Disaster, vice.com, Aaron Gordon. New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority will begin running service on the Long Island Rail Road. It would go to a new train station underneath Grand Central, dubbed Grand Central Madison. The project is being celebrated as a landmark event for the New York.
Lawmakers Want Prisoners to Trade Their Organs and Bone Marrow for Freedom, vice.com. The graphic says the law would “restore bodily autonomy” to people who are incarcerated by letting them donate their organs.
Banning Noncompetes: A Groundbreaking Step for Worker Power, and What Must Come Next, Roosevelt Institute, Trisha Maharaj. On January 5, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a proposed rule. The rule would regulate, and effectively ban, noncompete clauses in employment contracts. The rule covers nearly 30 million workers, including independent contractors and apprentices. They are often excluded from labor protections.
Visual health misinformation: A primer and research roundup, journalistsresource.org, Naseem S. Miller. Visual misinformation is “visual content that is typically presented alongside text or audio. It contributes to false or inaccurate presentations of information.
Tyre Nichols’s Death: Can Memphis Change Its Police Culture? The Atlantic, David A. Graham. They celebrate the quick moves to fire the officers who beat Nichols. Charging them with murder and to disband the specialized team of which they were a part.
Supervising the Transition: How Banking Regulators Can Address the Coming Shift to Net-Zero Emissions, Roosevelt Institute, Yevgeny Shrago, David Arkush. The financial system is invested in the appearance of taking climate change seriously. To its public commitments mask a failure to take meaningful action.
Russian supermarket shelves are full of Nestlé products like Nescafé: report, SWI swissinfo.ch, Dominique Soguel. “Nescafé, a very popular product in Russia, comes in many varieties,” writes Marcus Ackeret. Marcus notes the same applies to Bystrow brand breakfast cereals, Maggi soups and bouillon cubes, Purina pet food, and Mövenpick ice cream.
The long shadow of apartheid, one-handed-economist.com, David Zetland. The Portuguese Prince Henry the Navigator was a slave trader. He paid an academic to justify his natural and moral right to ignore the differences among hundreds of African tribes. He grouped all these peoples into a “Black” race that deserved exploitation as a different species.
Infidel753: The French show us how it’s done. In January, France’s president Macron and his ruling party proposed a “pension reform.” The plan includes raising the retirement age from 62 to 64. 80% of the French public opposes the plan, and unions have led a campaign of mass resistance against it.
Thor’sday Toppled Tankard, Homeless on the High Desert, g’da said. Snowpack, Reservoirs Improved, More Needed
Objectivity + Timidity + Stupidity, Bad Crow Review, Weldon Berger. An outstanding exception to the abjection of the press back then was the Knight Ridder Washington bureau. It consistently blew up the administration’s lies before the war. A year later the editor lnominated their Baghdad bureau to replace the CIA. The bureau seemed to have the better sources.
A Wall Street Time Bomb, levernews.com, David Sirota. More than one in ten public pension dollars invested in private equity assets. States were continuing to keep their private equity contracts secret. Pitchbook cited a new study finding losses from the investments may be on the horizon for retirement systems supporting millions of teachers, firefighters, first responders, and other government employees.
What should be talked about at the North American Leaders’ Summit, substack.com, Steve Schmidt. The United States does not have clean hands in its historic relationship with Mexico. Ulysses Grant in the Mexican War said this about it. “I was bitterly opposed to the measure. To this day I regard the war, which resulted, as one of the most unjust waged by a stronger against a weaker nation.”
Other Interesting Stuff.
US Jet Shoots Down Flying Object Over Canada
NY Times – Feb 11
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he and President Biden had ordered the object violating Canadian airspace to be taken down, a day after another object was shot out of the sky near Alaska. …
An American fighter jet, acting on the orders of President Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, shot down another unidentified flying object on Saturday, Canadian and American officials said, in the latest installment of the drama playing out in the skies of North America.
“I ordered the take down of an unidentified object that violated Canadian airspace,” Mr. Trudeau said in a statement posted on Twitter. He said an American F-22 with the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which is operated jointly by the United States and Canada, downed the object over the Yukon Territory.
As with the object that Mr. Biden ordered shot down near Alaska on Friday, officials said they had yet to determine just what had been blasted out of the sky over the Yukon, which borders Alaska. …
The White House said in a statement Saturday that Mr. Biden and Mr. Trudeau had “discussed the importance of recovering the object in order to determine more details on its purpose or origin.”
Late Saturday, the Federal Aviation Administration briefly closed an area near Havre, Mont., to air traffic. The agency had used similar terminology a week earlier, just before the United States shot down a Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina. A joint statement from NORAD and U.S. Northern Command later said that NORAD had detected a radar anomaly and sent fighter aircraft to investigate, but they did not find anything that correlated with the radar hits. Officials have acknowledged that a heightened awareness could lead to false positives.
The object taken down over the Yukon was picked up on radar as it passed over Alaska late Friday, Pentagon officials said earlier on Saturday. NORAD sent American fighter jets, which were soon joined by Canadian fighters, to track it.
“Monitoring continued today as the object crossed into Canadian airspace,” said Brig. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary. The F-22 shot down the object over Canadian territory using the same Sidewinder air-to-air missile that was used to take down two previous flying objects, General Ryder said, including the Chinese spy balloon a week earlier.
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin spoke by phone Saturday with his Canadian counterpart, Anita Anand, General Ryder said. Speaking at a news conference that evening, Ms. Anand described the object as cylindrical and said it was smaller than the spy balloon taken down over the Atlantic the previous weekend. …
US fighter jet shoots down unidentified cylindrical object over Canada
Reuters – Feb 11
A U.S. F-22 fighter jet shot down an unidentified cylindrical object over Canada on Saturday, the second such instance in as many days, as North America appeared on edge following a week-long Chinese spying balloon saga that drew the global spotlight.
Separately, the U.S. military also scrambled fighter jets in Montana to investigate a radar anomaly that triggered a brief federal closure of airspace.
“Those aircraft did not identify any object to correlate the radar hits,” the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said in a statement.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau first announced Saturday’s shootdown over the northern Yukon territory, saying Canadian forces would recover and analyze the wreckage.
Canadian Defence Minister Anita Anand declined to speculate about the origin of the object, which she said was cylindrical in shape.
She stopped short of calling it a balloon but said it was smaller than the Chinese balloon shot down off South Carolina’s coast a week ago, though similar in appearance.
Aloft at 40,000 feet (12,200 m), it posed a risk to civilian air traffic and was shot down at 3:41 EST (2041 GMT), she added.
“There is no reason to believe that the impact of the object in Canadian territory is of any public concern,” Anand told a news conference.
The Pentagon said NORAD detected the object over Alaska late on Friday.
U.S. fighter jets from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, monitored the object as it crossed over into Canadian airspace, where Canadian CF-18 and CP-140 aircraft joined the formation.
“A U.S. F-22 shot down the object in Canadian territory, using an AIM 9X missile following close co-ordination between U.S. and Canadian authorities,” Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said in a statement.
U.S. President Joe Biden authorized the U.S. military to work with Canada to take down the high-altitude craft after a call between Biden and Trudeau, the Pentagon said.
The White House said Biden and Trudeau agreed to continue close coordination to “defend our airspace.” …
Could be they are sending these our way?
China’s Falcon reconnaissance UAV
(They fly at up to 45k feet; capable of 20 hour flights; there are both armed & unarmed versions.)
Various ‘unidentified flying objects’ continue to be shot down over the US and Canada, it is reported. Also, one over China. Go figure!
MSN: In a Sunday CNN report, White House correspondent Arlette Saenz gave an update on information authorities had released about the incident.
Saenz said: ” A senior administration official has provided new details to myself.
“[They were] detailing what exactly this unidentified object looked like.
“It was flying at about 20,000 feet when it was shot down. It had been flying over a part of Michigan’s upper peninsula and was nearing Lake Huron.
“It was ultimately taken down by fighter aircraft…a senior administration official described it as having an octagonal shape and there were strings hanging from it with no discernible payload.”
(A few photos would be much appreciated, surely.)
My question would be, were there noodly appendages?
Like a Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Thanks run, the end of the week is always a hodge-podge …
Flying Objects Could Turn Out to Be Harmless, U.S. Says
NY Times – Feb 14
A top White House official said on Tuesday that three unidentified flying objects shot down in the past several days might turn out to be harmless commercial or research efforts that posed no real threat to the United States.
John F. Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said investigators had not yet found any evidence that the three objects were connected to China’s program of balloon surveillance similar to the balloon shot down off South Carolina’s coast this month.
But he cautioned that officials had not yet been able to find and collect the debris from the three objects after they were shot down, and that a different conclusion could be reached if the debris was found and analyzed.
Mr. Kirby said that military and intelligence officials had also found nothing to suggest that the three objects were part of an intelligence collection effort by another country. …
Scott Drops Social Security From Plan as GOP Retreats From Entitlement Cuts
NY Times – just in
The backtracking by the Florida Republican came after bipartisan criticism and signaled how the G.O.P. has pulled away from calls to overhaul the nation’s entitlement programs.
After a year of criticism, Senator Rick Scott, Republican of Florida, capitulated on Friday and amended his party policy agenda to exempt Social Security and Medicare from his proposal to terminate all federal programs every five years and subject them to congressional review.
Mr. Scott said the agenda he issued last February, as the chairman of the Senate Republican campaign arm, was never intended to propose any cuts in the popular retirement programs, although he did not include any carveout for either in his plan. As recently as this week, he defended the idea that all federal spending must be reconsidered in order to tackle the debt.
The senator’s retreat was the latest evidence that Republicans, who have long called for revisions to Medicare and Social Security to help rein in the nation’s soaring debt, have fully backed off from such proposals — at least for now — taking them off the table in spending talks this year with the White House and congressional Democrats. The shift in the longtime position has been accelerated by warnings from Donald J. Trump, the former president and current presidential candidate, that Republicans should not touch either of them. …
… in a tacit concession that he had erred, Mr. Scott wrote in an opinion essay in The Washington Examiner on Friday that he was amending the proposal he made as the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee to exclude “Social Security, Medicare, national security, veterans’ benefits and other essential services” from the requirement for a five-year review.
“That plank of my Rescue America plan was obviously not intended to include entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security — programs that hard-working people have paid into their entire lives — or the funds dedicated to our national security,” Mr. Scott wrote. …