It’s been a busy month with lots of activity which may prove important and meaningful in our lives. So, in no particular order, here’s my report.
Singapore Meet and Greet
It was not a summit in the usual sense, but a successful meeting of President Trump with Kim Jong Un of North Korea. They took each other’s measure and signed a pre-drawn agreement to begin the long process of getting North Korea out of the nuclear arms business. The naysayers are right; this kind of general direction has been set before with poor results.
This meet must be judged a success because it now includes the photo ops and personal commitments of the two leaders. In addition, China is in the wings encouraging North Korea to follow this direction. That’s never happened before.
Trade Conflicts and Tariffs
Let me tell you what this is all about.
According to Canadian economic statistics, that country sells $15 billion dollars a year more in the USA than we sell there.
Mexico sells $55 billion dollars a year more; China an unbelievable $375 billion a year more. The European Union is up by $95 billion a year (latest stats available).
Nevertheless, President Trump and America gets hammered by elements on both the left and the right when the statement “enough is enough on trade” is proclaimed.
The cold truth is that neither President Bush, the younger, nor President Obama wanted anything to do with trade imbalances; they simply weren’t interested. So, the developed world ran wild at our expense.
President Trump, as usual, has brought a gun to a knife fight. His threats of tariffs and unnecessary personal darts are rattling our trade partners who are used to doing what they want unchallenged. The proposed tariffs are driving the narrative but how else will anything change? Shouldn’t the press be explaining exactly how the USA is being taken advantage of economically and the toll that takes?
IG Report Released, sort of
Finally, after numerous unexplained delays, the Justice Department has released the Inspector General’s report on how the FBI handled several political controversies.
Amend that! Only half the report came out. The Hillary Clinton email part. Nothing specific yet on the Trump Campaign-Russian Collusion matter. Former Assistant Director Andrew McCabe was outed in April and fired for violating FBI standards.
Since Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel, the IG left out that part, apparently does not want to embarrass itself about its investigators and destroy whatever credibility Mueller still has. What a mess!
But back to Hillary. The IG report agreed the FBI went a little light on her misuse of classified information on her personal server while she was Secretary of State (a crime).
Former FBI Director James Comey strutted around selling books and doing TV shows, as if he was the puritan angel. Now that the IG has called him insubordinate (whatever that means) for leaks and violation of FBI standards, will he start making refunds to all his book buyers?
One snippet of the report quotes FBI lead investigator, Peter Strzok, in an email, “Trump is not ever going to be president. We will stop it.” Not sure who the “we” is and how can the IG conclude there was no evidence of political bias in these investigations? Are you kidding me!
The Economy is Running Strong, but Higher Growth is not in the Cards
Former Microsoft CEO, and Founder of the nonprofit USAFacts.org, Steve Ballmer was on CNBC arguing that the best he could see for real GDP growth was 1.5%!
He reasons that population growth is 0.3% and real GDP per capita growth has been 1.2%. Together, that gives us 1.5% growth. That’s not even close to the 3% to 4% growth rates the White House and economists keep forecasting.
Economist Harry Dent says his numbers show a similar result; slowing growth rather than booming growth like we’ve been promised.
Workforce growth will slow to zero for many years to come, and even negative in the next several years. Productivity rates have been 0.5% and falling. How do you get 4% growth out of that, especially now that we’re at or near full employment? Quite simply, you don’t!
Any way you add up the numbers, there’s no way to get sustainable, real growth rates of 3% to 4% over the coming years or decade.
The Credit for Bringing North Korea to the Table
President Trump deserves a lot of credit for engaging Kim Jung Un of North Korea to reconcile with South Korea, release the three Korean-American citizens and pledge to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.
The summit between the two in Singapore on June 12th was a small feat.
To be clear, the key player in all this has been China President Xi Jing Ping, who laid down the law to North Korea—step up and negotiate the dismantling of your nuclear fireworks or risk our cutting off your oil, food and other support.
That President Trump built a cordial relationship with his Chinese counterpart proved to be a big assist in making all this happen.
Please Stop Talking—Do Something
It’s time—way past time—to stop talking, protesting and lobbying for more restrictive laws about guns. All the talk is going nowhere, but the school shootings go on and on.
It seems obvious that all the talking, marching and lobbying have done nothing to stop the violence, the mayhem and the horrifying deaths and injuries.
The only changes in the gun laws have been minimal and objectively ineffective. It’s all an exercise going nowhere.
The time has come to pony up the money and bring in the security experts. If we can’t control the use of guns, we can make the schools safer by limiting the ingress to the campus of schools and having armed guards inside.
This isn’t brain surgery—we must do what we can do and stop wasting all the time and energy trying to lobby for more gun controls.
Wake Up America—Time’s up on the Grand Pension Bargain
Public pension issues are NOT just a problem for states. The financial woes drive down to your county, your school district, and your city. No one is talking about that…yet.
Just a few years ago, the public pension liability was pegged at roughly $600 billion. Today, that number has ballooned to $1.378 trillion, and that’s only if public pension funds earn their unrealistic stated rates of return.
Using more conservative estimates, the unfunded pension liability explodes to at least $4 trillion.
Now we—states, cities, towns—have to pay the price. There’s no way around it.
We will have to finish up next week.