The Power Of The Media Illustrated

This is the current polling from RealClearPolitics:

This is some recent economic news reported by The Washington Times on January 9:

Given the dazzling December economic data, it’s no wonder the press gave it short shrift. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy added a whopping 312,000 jobs, far more than the expected 176,000. After revisions, job gains have averaged an impressive 254,000 per month over the past three months. Job growth in 2018 (an average of 220,000 per month) passed that of both 2016 (195,000) and 2017 (182,000). Payrolls increased by 2.6 million in 2018, the highest since 2015.

The sunny jobs picture encouraged 419,000 new workers to enter the workforce and sent the labor force participation rate up to 63.1 percent. Unemployment rates among blacks, Latinos and women are at or near historic lows.

Job growth has also meant significant wage growth. Wages are up a stunning 3.2 percent from last year and .4 percent from November. December was the third straight month that the yearlong growth in nominal average hourly earnings was above 3 percent in nearly a decade; the last time we saw that trend was April 2009. Wages are also being given an assist by inflation being kept in check.

The article at The Washington Times concludes:

His (President Trump’s) astounding economic track record is their worst nightmare. It puts the lie to the nonsense Mr. Obama, the Democrats and the media have been shoveling for years: That anemic economic growth, high unemployment, the collapse of manufacturing and grotesque trade imbalances were the “new normal.”

It also pointedly demonstrates that the statist vision — radical wealth redistribution, socialized medicine, green energy chimeras, social justice enforcement, limits on free speech, private property and gun ownership, and the rule of the leftist mob — creates only tyranny, poverty, injustice and servitude. (Note the deflection: These are things the left claims to want to eradicate.)

Mr. Trump and his economic thunderbolt are exposing the left and its policies as irredeemably bankrupt, economically and morally. And that is perhaps the biggest reason why they must try to destroy him.

A lot of this economic news has not been reported. However, people do notice when there are more jobs available and there is more money in their paycheck. President Trump’s approval numbers are finally in positive numbers. The economy is booming. What would be the basis for most Americans believing America is headed in the wrong direction? Might it be the constant negative reporting from the media? Can you imaging what President Trump’s approval rating would be if the media were actually balanced? Just remember–the people vote. The media represents only a small percentage of votes.

The Quality Of Life Index

Who knew that there was a Quality of Life Index? I certainly didn’t, but there is one, and Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial about it on February 8th.

The editorial reports:

Unemployment at historic lows? Wages climbing at a fast pace? Who knew? The news media, fixated on Trump scandals, hasn’t exactly been broadcasting that good news. And media fact checkers busied themselves after the speech nitpicking Trump’s economic boasts.

But the upbeat assessment clearly resonated with the public, most of whom gave Trump’s speech top marks. Turns out they have been firsthand witnesses to the strength of the economy over the past two years.

How do we know? Look at the IBD/TIPP Quality of Life Index, which asks the public whether they think their quality of life will be better, worse or the same over the next six months.

In the 17 years IBD has been compiling this index, it’s averaged 56.2. Under President Obama, it averaged just 53.7. Even if you only include Obama’s second term, it was well below the 17-year average.

Under Trump? The Quality of Life Index has averaged 59.3. That’s a 10% increase over the average during the Obama years.

To be sure, there’s a partisan element to this. Republicans tend to rate their quality of life higher than Democrats when there’s a Republican in the White House, and vice versa. But look at independents: Their quality of life averaged 52 under Obama. It’s averaging 58.8 under Trump — a 13% bump.

What’ more, the gains are across the board. Households making from $35,000 to $50,000, for example, saw an 8% gain in this index when you compare Trump to Obama. Those making from $50,000 to $75,000, an 11% gain.

This is what winning looks like for the Middle Class.

Regulations Have Consequences

The Washington Free Beacon posted an article today about the impact of regulations on business franchises put in place during the Obama administration.

The article reports:

An industry study found that the Obama administration’s crackdown on franchising has cut hundreds of thousands of job openings and dealt a $33.3 billion blow to the economy each year dating back to 2015.

A report put out by the International Franchise Association and a Chamber of Commerce found that the Obama administration provoked an “existential threat” to the franchise model in which small business owners operate under the umbrella of a national corporate brand. The Obama administration departed from decades of precedent when the National Labor Relations Board held that parent companies could be held liable for labor violations committed by franchisees. The report estimated that the new joint employer standard set curtailed expansion in the industry, leading to between 142,000 and 376,000 lost job opportunities—a 2.55 to 5 percent reduction in the workforce.

“All of this economic cost was predictable and avoidable,” IFA spokesman Matthew Haller said. “Franchise owners have incurred significant losses.”

The article details the Trump administration’s response to the study:

The Trump NLRB has turned to rulemaking to solidify the previous joint employer standard, which only held parent companies liable if they were directly involved in a violation. A previous decision overturning the Obama agency ruling was dismissed after an ethics official said Trump appointee William Emanuel should have recused himself because his old law firm handled joint employer cases. Bird and Haller said the effects of the regulation would not immediately reverse the damage caused by four years of uncertainty, but would be a first step to helping the industry begin creating new job opportunities and expand existing hiring.

“There is the opportunity to this [Trump NLRB] regulation to remove much of that source of fear and to remove the uncertainty—that is the minimum first step to recovering and removing these costs,” Bird said.

The report featured 77 one-hour interviews with lawyers, franchisees, and franchisors of all different sizes across the country. IFA has submitted the report to the NLRB as part of the public comment period for the rule proposal. The agency will begin reviewing these comments and all replies by Feb. 11.

Hopefully the ruling make during the Obama administration can be overturned and more people can go back to starting franchise businesses.

 

How Does This Statement Make Sense?

Yesterday I posted an article that included the following:

…Newly-elected Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) also endorsed impeaching Trump on her first day in office, according to The Nation, which described Tlaib as calling for “immediate steps” to remove the president from the White House.

“Each passing day brings more pain for the people most directly hurt by this president, and these are days we simply cannot get back. The time for impeachment proceedings is now,” Rep. Tlaib declared.

I really am confused about how this president is hurting people. I am further confused by looking at Representative Tlaib’s statement in view of some economic news that was reported today.

For instance, CNN is reporting today:

US employers added 312,000 jobs in December, well above what economists expected and underlining that the American economy remains strong despite recent market turbulence.

The unemployment rate rose to 3.9% as more people were looking for work. It had been at a 50-year low of 3.7% for two of the last three months.

Employers added 2.6 million jobs in 2018, compared to 2.2 million in 2017. Revisions to the October and November estimates added an additional 58,000 jobs to the 2018 total.

…Paychecks grew as employers raised wages to attract new workers. Average hourly pay was up 3.2% compared to a year earlier. The average number of hours people worked also edged up.

…The unemployment rate rose because more than 400,000 people joined the labor force looking for jobs. The percentage of the working-age people in the work force matched a five-year high.

“Yes, the nation’s unemployment rate rose to 3.9%, but for the best of reasons,” said Mark Hamrick, Bankrate.com senior economic analyst. “That’s a deal we’ll take if more people are participating in the workforce.”

The chart that I watch to see how things are going is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is the chart of the Workforce Participation Rate. It indicates how many Americans are actually part of the workforce. This is the chart:

Note that we have reached the 63.1 percent participation rate only three times since 2014. When President Obama took office, the rate was 66.2. By the time President Obama left office, the rate was 62.7. That was after the federal deficit doubled due to the stimulus package that was supposed to create jobs.

The House of Representatives has a choice–they can either join in the efforts of President Trump to improve the American economy and the lives of American workers, or they can do everything they can to slow it down. Unfortunately, the new rules they are putting in place will bring us laws and policies that will slow the economy down. That is unfortunate–Americans deserve better, even though they elected these people.

The Law Of Unintended Consequences

It’s hard to defend the actions of the Federal Reserve right now. The people who propped up the economy under President Obama seem determined to destroy the economy under President Trump. But we know that the Federal Reserve is apolitical. Sure we do. However, there may be some unintended consequences of the current Federal Reserve actions.

The Gateway Pundit posted an article today which explains some of those consequences.

The article reports:

The Chinese were relentless in their efforts to obtain Western technology and grow their economy.  They set up trade barriers and manipulated their currency in ways that helped China. The US was at a disadvantage in trade resulting in massive deficits into the billions.

Along comes the Trump Administration, the first administration to address China’s unfair trade advantage.  President Trump is a shrewd negotiator and he obviously believes now is the time to encourage China to make changes to their trade barriers with the US.  China may have no choice but to go with what the US offers to keep its economy afloat.

The more pressing issues for China surround real estate, in a manner similar to the US in 2008.  As China grew, it invested in its infrastructure and in addition it invested in large housing projects throughout the country.  These efforts helped bolster China’s already fast growing economy.

The problem is that China over invested in these random properties all over China and these properties today remain empty.

…Now to add to China’s misery, the Fed is doing all it can to kill the US economy.  China is dependent on the US economy to stay afloat.

…The US debt now stands at $21.8 trillion. A 2.25% interest increase on this amount of debt is an annual increase in debt interest payments of $500 billion!!!

The Fed is doing all it can to destroy President Trump’s economy. What the Fed doesn’t realize is that a flat US economy means disaster to the Chinese.

China’s financial crash may make the 2008 crash in the US look small.  The implications will no doubt impact the entire world.  Jerome Powell at the Fed has no idea what he is doing!

Hang on to your hat, if the Federal Reserve continues on its current path, this may be a very bumpy ride.

Exactly What Is The Federal Reserve Trying To Accomplish?

The Gateway Pundit posted an article today that included Economist Stephen Moore’s comments on the recent rate hike by the Federal Reserve. Mr. Moore does not pull his punches.

Mr. Moore states:

In one of the most remarkable Abbott and Costello routines in modern times, the economic wizards at the Fed again raised interest rates on Tuesday. Their cracker jack logic for doing so is to steer America on a course toward recession so they have the tools in hand to end the recession that THEY themselves created. Can anyone tell us who’s on first?

Worse, this Fed move doubles down on its blunderous interest rate rise in September. President Trump turned out to be exactly right: the central bank pull back on money would slow growth and crush the stock market in order to combat nonexistent inflation.

The Fed had already reduced the monetary thrust that it provides to the economy 8 times since December 15, 2015, by raising its Fed Funds interest rate from 0.25% to 2.25%. Each time, the Fed claimed that it needed to guard our economic airliner from inflationary “overheating” – as if its job is to prevent too many people from working and making sure that pay checks aren’t rising too quickly.

Unfortunately, if you cut engine power too far on a jetliner, it will stall and drop out of the sky.

On Wednesday, December 19, despite the numerous market-based alarms that were sounding in the cockpit, Chairman Powell and his co-pilots on the FOMC voted to raise the Fed Funds rate to 2.50%. This sucks more dollars out of the economy at a time when the world demanding more dollars – thanks to Trump’s Tax cutting and deregulation policies.

Chairman Powell has been entirely tone deaf to the financial markets he seeks to protect. The Dow Jones Industrial average, which had risen by 382 points on hopes that the Fed would listen to President Trump and stop cutting power, plunged by 895 points after the 2:00 PM announcement, and closed the day down 352 points (1.49%). Poof, trillions of dollars of wealth vanished.

Since its peak on October 3, which, not coincidentally, was right after Chairman Powell gave a speech suggesting that the Fed might be through tightening money, the Dow has fallen by more than 3,500 points [now 4,500]. Market fears about his bad judgment have cut the value of all U.S. stocks by about $4.5 trillion, which is enough to buy 16,000 Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

The Fed economists use twisted logic that the economy is “strong enough” to absorb the rate hikes – which is simply an admission that their policy will slow growth.

And for what purpose?   Since the last rate hike the economy has slipped into an anti-growth deflationary cycle with commodity prices – oil, copper, cotton, lead, steel, silver among others – falling by about 10 percent. The new Fed policy is sure to accelerate the deflation and farmers, ranchers, coal miners, oil and gas drillers will get further crunched by the dollar shortage.

Can someone at the Fed Temple please explain how falling commodity prices indicates inflation? Inflation is too many dollars chasing too few goods.

The commodities index is about the only read-out that a monetary pilot truly needs. And, right now, the CRB Index is blaring “Pull up!  Pull up!”

Mr. Powell warned of a slowing economy in 2019 – but he failed to acknowledge that the headwinds the economy is facing are the drag the Fed is itself creating. It was almost as if the Fed believes there is some weird Puritan-like virtue to slowing down the investment, employment and wage-growth spurt Trump policies have created.

What is to be done now? Trump wants to fire the Fed chairman though it is doubtful he has the authority to do that. Much better for Mr. Powell to do the honorable thing and admit that his policies have had disastrous economic and financial consequences and resign.

If not this, at least Mr. Powell should hold an emergency meeting of the Federal Reserve Board and immediately cancel the rate hikes. Better yet, the Fed should announce ways to inject money into the dollar-starved economy.

For much of the past two decades, America’s economic problems of slow growth and flat wages were due to the drag of fiscal and regulatory mistakes. Now at the very moment in time when we FINALLY have a president who is slashing tax rates and regulations and is making America a much more business-friendly nation, the Fed’s monetary policy has come unhinged.

Cockpit warnings have been sounding for months, not only from the markets, but from President Trump and many other growth economists – including ourselves. We are now suffering the financial ramifications of this “pilot error” on the part of Chairman Powell.

The article includes the following chart:

It’s time either to get rid of the Federal Reserve or put someone in charge without a political agenda. Crashing the economy is the only way the Democrats can take the presidency in 2020, and political insiders know that. The recent drastic rate increase are not done without purpose.

The Real Numbers

Yesterday Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial about the federal deficit and federal revenues. The numbers tell a very different story than the one the media would have you believe.

The editorial reports:

The latest monthly budget report from the Congressional Budget Office shows the deficit jumping $102 billion in just the first two months of the new fiscal year.

…A true apples-to-apples comparison, the CBO says, shows that the deficit climbed by just $13 billion.

So, no, the deficit is not soaring.

The editorial explains:

In fact, the CBO report shows that overall tax revenues climbed by $14 billion in the first two months of the year, compared with the same months last year. Which means they continue to hit new highs.

The CBO report shows that combined income and payroll taxes were the same in the first two months of the new fiscal year as they were last year. That’s even though far less money was withheld from paychecks thanks to the Trump tax cuts.

It also found that corporate income taxes went up by $5 billion. That’s despite the “massive corporate tax giveaway” that Democrats want to repeal.

Why are these revenues flat or up? Simple: The tax cuts help spur accelerated economic growth, which create jobs and spark income gains. More workers and higher wages mean more tax revenues. On the corporate side, a bigger economy means more profits, which even when taxed at lower rates can produce more revenue. This is exactly what advocates of Trump’s pro-growth tax cuts said would happen.

Meanwhile, revenue from “other sources” climbed by $8 billion. (To be clear, at least some of that $8 billion came from the re-imposition of ObamaCare’s nefarious tax on insurance premiums, which Congress had suspended the year before.)

But while revenues climbed by $14 billion, spending in the first two months of the new fiscal year climbed by $27 billion.

The obvious solution to the deficit problem is to limit spending. If we can’t agree on that, we could lower taxes again to increase revenue further, but I suspect that would really cause some Congressional heads to explode.

The Economy Under President Trump

I am not an economist, but I have learned over the years to listen to the people with the best track records on analysis. One of those people is Stephen Moore, who posted an article at The Wall Street Journal yesterday.

The article reports:

Liberals are tripping over themselves to explain why the economy has performed so much better under Donald Trump than it did under Barack Obama. The economy has grown by nearly 4% over the past six months, and the final number for 2018 is expected to come in at between 3% and 3.5%. The U.S. growth rate has doubled since Mr. Obama’s last year in office.

When Mr. Trump was elected, many Democratic pundits predicted an economic and stock-market meltdown. Then the economy started surging and they abruptly changed their tune, arguing that Mr. Trump was simply riding a global growth wave. That narrative was shattered when U.S. growth kept steaming ahead even as global growth—especially in China and Germany—stalled.

The people who predicted an economic crash if President Trump was elected are now saying that the tax cuts have given us a ‘sugar high’, and the market will crash when the sugar wears off. That makes about as much sense as President Obama taking credit for the move toward American energy independence.

The article continues:

The real contradiction in the “sugar high” argument is that it ignores the slow growth of the Obama years, which featured an avalanche of debt spending. Deficits as a share of GDP were 9.8% in 2009, 8.6% in 2010, 8.3% in 2011 and 6.7% in 2012. Where was the sugar high then? Instead of the expected burst in output coming out of the 2008-09 recession, borrowing more than $1 trillion a year for four years yielded the worst recovery since the Great Depression. Even excluding 2009, Mr. Obama’s deficits averaged more than 5% of GDP throughout the rest of his presidency but produced less growth than Mr. Trump has with lower deficits.

This wasn’t what Keynesians expected. Mr. Obama’s economic team predicted 4% growth every year coming out of the recession. Instead the “sugar high” from record peacetime deficits produced measly 2% growth. By 2016 GDP was running about $2 trillion below the trend line of a normal recovery.

The fastest growth rate over the past three decades was recorded in Bill Clinton’s second term, when federal government spending fell from 21.5% to 18% of GDP and deficits disappeared into surpluses. So much for the idea that deficit spending is a stimulant.

Mr. Trump’s fiscal policies have produced more growth than Mr. Obama’s because they were designed to incentivize businesses to invest, hire and produce more here at home. The Obama “stimulus,” by contrast, went for food stamps, unemployment benefits, ObamaCare subsidies, “cash for clunkers” and failed green energy handouts.

The article concludes:

Those pushing the “sugar high” fallacy also don’t realize that the Trump tax cuts aren’t going away soon. The 2017 business tax cuts can’t cause a recession in 2019 or 2020 because they don’t expire until 2025. They aren’t sugar pills.

The biggest threats to the economic boom and financial markets today are a deflationary Federal Reserve and the specter of a global trade war. Solve those problems and the American economy can keep flying high on its own power. And Mr. Trump’s critics will be proved wrong again.

When you decrease taxes and regulations on businesses, we all gain. That combination, if allowed to continue, will bring us continued economic growth.

Putting Politics Before The Welfare Of Americans

Yesterday Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial about the coming Congressional session. The title of the editorial is, “Market Turmoil Shows Why Trump’s Pro-Growth Policies Must Continue.”

The editorial explains:

Kudlow (President Trump’s top economic advisor, Larry Kudlow) tried to calm the waters. “Corrections come and go,” he told reporters at the White House. “I’m reading some of the weirdest stuff how a recession is in the future. Nonsense. Recession is so far in the distance I can’t see it. Keep the faith. It’s a very strong economy.”

Let’s be clear. Economic forecasts have been overly pessimistic for most of the Trump administration, with actual results consistently coming in “unexpectedly” higher than forecast. And Kudlow is right. There’s no sign of a recession on the horizon.

The editorial points out the indications of a strong economy and the steps needed to keep it strong:

Unemployment is at 50-year lows. Wages are growing at the fastest rate since the financial crisis. There are a million more job listings than officially unemployed people. Productivity grew 2.2% in the third quarter, after jumping 3% in the second quarter — the fastest growth rate in four years. Small business optimism and the IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index remains at record highs.

After eight long years of sluggish growth under President Obama, the economy has been booming.

Still, the Fed has been raising interest rates, and as we’ve pointed out repeatedly in this space, the risk is always that they will go too far, too fast, and crash the economy. The trade war with China is taking its toll. And the economic expansion is old. The last recession ended 113 months ago, making this the second longest in the post-World War II era.

Which is all the more reason for the federal government to continue wringing every bit of growth-inhibiting policies out of the system. For his part, Trump needs to get a trade deal in place with China when he meets with President Xi Jinping at a G-20 summit later this month. And he needs to continue to deregulate where he can.

Unfortunately the Democrats in Congress have little interest in continuing the policies that have resulted in the current economic growth. They will make every effort to roll back the tax cuts and increase the size and spending of the federal government. Hopefully their efforts will not be successful.

Plymouth Rock Began As A Socialist Colony.

The new Democrat party has moved left very quickly in the past two years. The term Democratic Socialist has been used to describe some of the young Democrats just getting their footing in the party. Actually, Socialist would probably be a better description. These young Democratic Socialists are a tribute to the damage done in recent years by our education system. They have not been taught the failures and atrocities associated with Socialism and believe that it is a fair system. They are not familiar with the Pilgrims early socialist experiment.

OffTheGridNews has a brief description of what happened:

Since the Pilgrims did not have enough funds to outfit for the journey and establish a colony, they sought help from the Virginia Company of London and the Virginia Company of Plymouth, companies known as “adventurers,” which were organized to fund and equip colonial enterprises.

One of the key points of the contract between the Pilgrims and the Adventurers said that all colonists were to get their food, clothing, drink and provisions from the colony’s “common stock and goods.” In addition, during the first seven years, all profits earned by colonists would go into the “common stock” until they were divided.

“Today we would call this a socialist commune,” Patton wrote. “In other words, the Pilgrims accepted the socialist principle, ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.’ Each person was to place his production into the common warehouse and receive back, through the Governor, only what he needed for himself or his family. The surplus after seven years was to be divided equally, along with the houses, lands, and chattels, ‘betwixt the Adventurers and Planters.’”

The Pilgrims actually wanted to own their own lands and homes and to work two days a week for their own gain, but the adventurers would not allow it.

Once the agreement was signed, two ships were outfitted for the journey, the Speedwell and the Mayflower. But the Speedwell proved unseaworthy, so everyone still willing to make the journey—102 persons—crowded aboard the Mayflower and set sail.

Patton wrote that after landing on Dec 21, 1620, the Pilgrims suffered horribly their first winter, with around half the colonists perishing. Aid from the now-famous native, Squanto, helped them survive with new planting techniques, but the harvests of 1621 and 1622 were still small.

The colony’s governor, William Bradford, wrote that its socialist philosophy greatly hindered its growth: Young men resented working for the benefit of other men’s wives and children without compensation; healthy men who worked thought it unjust that they received no more food than weak men who could not; wives resented doing household chores for other men, considering it a kind of slavery.

Governor Bradford wrote that to avoid famine in 1623, the Pilgrims abandoned socialism, Patton said.

“At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land,” Bradford wrote.

The colonists, each of whom now had to grow their own food, suddenly became very industrious, with women and children who earlier claimed weakness now going into the fields to plant corn. Three times the amount of corn was planted that year under the new system.

Yes, America began as a socialist colony. When socialism did not result in prosperity, the Pilgrims switched to a free market economy and everyone prospered. We need to learn the lessons of history.

The Economic Numbers From October

First of all, the following chart is found at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. It shows the Workforce Participation Rate in recent years.

The number 62.9 is not a great number, but it is a step in the right direction.

Below is a chart posted at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website showing the unemployment rate for October.

The fact that the unemployment rate remained steady as the labor participation rate increased is good news for Americans. It means that there is continued growth in the job market.

Today The Wall Street Journal posted more good economic news:

Strong hiring and low unemployment are delivering U.S. workers their best pay raises in nearly a decade.

Employers shook off a September slowdown to add 250,000 jobs to their payrolls in October, above monthly averages in recent years, the Labor Department said Friday. With unemployment holding at 3.7%, a 49-year low, and employers competing for scarce workers, wages increased 3.1% from a year earlier, the biggest year-over-year gain for average hourly earnings since 2009.

…The share of Americans in their prime working years, between 25 and 54, who are working or looking for work rose to the highest rate since 2010 last month, at 82.3%.

President Trump touted the figures in a tweet Friday, just days before midterm elections that will decide control of Congress. “Wages UP! These are incredible numbers,” Mr. Trump said.

Employers have added to their payrolls for a record 97 straight months.

This is the Trump economy. The Federal Reserve is beginning to raise interest levels to more normal levels, which may slow down the growth of the economy, but keeping interest rates at artificially low levels is not a good long-term strategy. We still have a need to control our spending and get the national debt under control, but strong economic growth and a lessening of the need for welfare programs should begin that process. There will be some adjustments along the way–low interest rates will no longer be keeping the stock market artificially high and rising interest rates may slow the housing market, but raising interest rates will also help bring us back to a more balanced economy.

If the Republicans hold Congress, the economic growth will continue. If the Democrats gain control of the House of Representatives, we will be in for a very bumpy economic ride.

When Success Becomes Political

It is in the best interests of all Americans for the country to prosper. Unfortunately, some of our politicians have forgotten that principal.

Stephen Moore posted an article at Townhall today with the following title, “Why the Left Hates Prosperity,” It’s an interesting premise.

The article states:

Here is Moore’s rule of modern-day politics: The better the economy performs under President Donald Trump and the more successes he racks up, the more unhinged the left becomes. It’s a near linear relationship. And it goes for media as well.

That’s why the monthly jobs announcements and the quarterly GDP reports, like the one released Oct. 26, are the unhappiest days of the year for the Trump haters. News of 3.5 to 4 percent growth and 7 million surplus jobs are the bane of the resistance movement’s existence.

The usual charge against President Trump is the he has moved the Republican party to the far right and ended the days of compromise with the likes of Ted Kennedy. Just for the record, that wasn’t compromise–it was capitulation (aka losing).

The article continues:

Liberals want a return to the days when the GOP’s standard bearers were people like George H.W. Bush, Bob Michel, Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and most recently, John Kasich.

Think. What do all these Republicans have in common? Losing.

My intention isn’t to disparage these men. I have known all of them and respect them all — especially the noble war heroes. Michel was a Republican minority leader beloved by the left for years and years, precisely because he kept the House Republicans where they belonged — in the minority.

I think Mr. Moore is on to something here. As long as the Republicans were shooting themselves in the foot, the Democrats loved them. Donald Trump is not your average Republican. He is probably one of the few Republicans who would have stood strong during the nomination process of Justice Kavanaugh, That’s one of many reasons why Democrats hate him.

The article concludes:

Politics is a contact sport. There aren’t many moral victories in politics. And yes, it really all does come down to winning. As two-time winner Bill Clinton used to say, you can’t change the country if you don’t win.

The problem for the Trump haters, and the reason they are so spitting angry, is that Trump is changing the country for the better. According to a Quinnipiac poll, 7 of 10 voters rate the economy as good or great. Liberals are doubly angry and frustrated because they were so sure he would fail. Perhaps they are the ones who are intellectually inferior.

I strongly suggest that you follow the link and read the entire article–there is a lot of insight in what Mr. Moore is saying. No one likes to lose, but at least the Republicans were gracious about it–too gracious.

Results vs. Spin

The American economy has done very well under President Trump. The fact that many Americans now have jobs, bonuses, and pay raises has not gone unnoticed by many voters. Many Americans have simply tuned out the constant anti-Truemp drumbeat of the mainstream media. Voters are looking at the economic results of the Trump administration–not the spin of the media.

Yesterday The Gateway Pundit reported:

Trump approval hits 50% after tumultuous week of violent attacks that shook the nation.

The latest Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that 50% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance. Forty-nine percent (49%) disapprove.

President Barack Obama had an approval rating of 44% on October 29, 2010 before his party suffered HUGE losses in the 2010 midterm elections.

And that is despite an attacking media that is 92% negative in its Trump coverage.

The mainstream media has become so biased that they are not taken seriously. If they want to regain some of their status, they might try simply reporting the news and letting people form their own opinions.

Good Economic News

The Gateway Pundit is reporting today that the third quarter GDP was 3.5 percent.

The article reports:

The US GDP for the third quarter was reported at a whopping 3.5% under the leadership of President Donald Trump. This was another BIG Trump win which doubles the first quarter growth of 2.2%. 

President Obama never reached an annual GDP Growth rate of more than 3.0%.  No President over the past century had not ever been held to GDP growth rates of less than 3.0% until Obama.

The article includes the following chart:

Note the large increase in GDP ratio to debt between 2007 and 2009. The way to bring that ratio back down is to grow the economy. It will be a slow process, but it can be done.

One thing to keep in mind when looking at the above numbers is what would have happened had Hillary Clinton been elected in 2016. The policies of President Obama would have continued–slow economic growth, high unemployment, increased dependency on food stamps, etc. One political theory that is embraced by some in the political left is Cloward Piven.

The Cloward-Piven strategy is a political strategy outlined in 1966 by American sociologists and political activists Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven that called for overloading the U.S. public welfare system in order to precipitate a crisis that would lead to a replacement of the welfare system with a national system of “a guaranteed annual income and thus an end to poverty”.

I believe that the outcome of the Cloward-Piven theory was the goal of the economic policies of President Obama and expected President Hillary Clinton. We have temporarily dodged that bullet, but we need to remember that there are powerful Americans working toward that end.

 

Sometimes The Facts Just Don’t Agree With The Spin

Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial yesterday about some assertions made by former President Obama in a recent speech.

The editorial notes:

In a speech at a rally in Nevada, Obama claimed that the current economic boom has nothing to do with Trump’s economic policies.

“By the time I left office,” he said, “wages were rising, uninsurance rate was falling, poverty was falling. And that’s what I handed off to the next guy. So when you hear all this talk about economic miracles right now, remember who started it.”

Well, who did start it?

The editorial explains:

GDP growth was decelerating throughout 2016. Household income was flat. The unemployment rate was flat. The stock market was flat.

And, “by 2016, wage growth began to taper off quickly,” notes the American Action Forum’s Ben Gitis.

Even The New York Times, which has been gamely trying to grant Obama credit for the current boom, now admits that 2016 was an “invisible recession.”

“There was a sharp slowdown in business investment, caused by an interrelated weakening in emerging markets, a drop in the price of oil and other commodities, and a run-up in the value of the dollar,” it explained.

Slow Growth Expected

By the end of 2016, pundits and economists were widely predicting a new era of slow economic growth. Why? Because for eight years under President Obama’s leadership, the economy struggled to even top 2% annual growth. It never reached 3%. And every single year GDP growth missed the forecasts by Obama’s own economists.

So for Obama to claim that he handed Trump a thriving economy is 100% pure poppycock.

What’s more, Obama and other liberal Democrats insisted in 2016 that if Trump were elected, he’d send the economy into a tailspin.

There is a definite difference between words and results. Former President Obama can claim all the economic success he wants, but the numbers simply do not back him up.

The Trump Economy Continues To Make News

Yesterday The Conservative Treehouse posted an article about the growth of the American economy under President Trump.

The article reports:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released some remarkable economic data today. There are more than seven million current job openings [See Here] and the year-over-year average wage gains are 3.3% [See Here]

I suggest you follow the link and read the entire article. It is a fairly detailed analysis of what has happened due to de-regulation and tax cuts.

The article concludes:

The investing class economy, ie. another name for a ‘service-driven economy’, has been the only source of historic reference for approximately three decades. These talking heads convinced themselves that a “service driven economy” was the ONLY economy ever possible for the U.S. in the future.

Back in January 2017 Deutsche Bank began thinking about it, applying new models, trying to conceptualize and quantify MAGAnomics, and trying to walk out the potential ramifications.  They began talking about Trump doubling the U.S. GDP growth rate when all U.S. investment groups couldn’t yet fathom the possibility.

It’s like waking up on Christmas morning every day to see the pontificating Fed struggling to quantify analysis of their surrounding reality based on flawed assumptions. They simply have no understanding of what happens within the new dimension.

Monetary policy, Fed control over the economy, is disconnected and will stay that way for approximately another 12-14 months, until Main Street regains full operational strength –and– economic parity is achieved.

As we have continued to share, CTH believes the paycheck-to-paycheck working middle-class are going to see a considerable rise in wages and standard of living.  How high can wages rise?… that depends on the pressure; and right now the pressure is massive.  I’m not going to dismiss the possibility we could see double digit increases in year-over-year wage growth in multiple economic sectors in several regions of the U.S.

Remember, as wages and benefits increase – millions of people are coming back into the labor market to take advantage of the income opportunities.  The statistics on the invisible workforce varies, but there are millions of people taking on new jobs in this economy and the participation rate is growing.

It is time that the average working American got a few economic breaks. President Trump is providing those breaks.

What Results Look Like

During the final weeks of the mid-term election campaign, you will hear Democrats say, “The tax cuts were only for the rich–they didn’t help anyone else.” A misinformed friend of mine posted that on Facebook recently. So let’s look at the facts.

The Conservative Treehouse posted an article yesterday about the impact of the Trump Tax Cuts on average Americans.

The article quotes a Business Insider article that reports the following:

  • Walgreens Boots Alliance announced that it will make investments around $150 million to boost mainly its in-store wages in fiscal 2019 in the light of favorable tax reforms.
  • Walgreens CFO said Thursday that the increase in store wages was “in light of the favorable tax reforms in the US.”

…The pharmacy-chain owner Walgreens Boots Alliance announced Thursday that it will make investments of about $150 million to boost mainly its in-store wages in fiscal 2019 in wake of  President Donald Trump’s tax reforms.

The announcement marks a 50% increase in company’s investment towards wages which was announced in March. At the time, Walgreens said it would invest around $100 million per annum to increase wages beginning later this calendar year.

“We will be making select incremental investments of around $150 million in fiscal 2019, mainly in store wages, but also to fuel our new community health care initiatives, and you can view these in light of the favorable tax reforms in the US,” Walgreens CFO James Kehoe said Thursday, on the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call. 

The article at Business Insider explains how the tax cuts have impacted the average worker:

In December 2017,  the Trump administration slashed the federal corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% and allowed a one-time repatriation of overseas cash. The bill also allows companies to bring overseas profits back home to invest in domestic projects or repurchase of shares.

Kehoe said the investments will result in a headwind of approximately $0.12 a share, or two percentage points of earnings-per-share growth for the coming fiscal year. 

US retailers are scrambling to keep workers as they look for opportunities with higher pay and attractive benefits. The US unemployment rate fell to a 48-year low of 3.7% in September. According to the Bureau of Labour statistics, there were 757,000 retail-job openings across the United States in July, which is about 100,000 more than a year ago.

The surge in the number of retail jobs has allowed workers the opportunity to move around within the industry. As a result, companies are raising wages to try and retain workers. Earlier this month, Amazon hiked its minimum wage to $15 per hour, effective November 1. That followed wage hikes from places like Target and Costco

That is significant.

The Conservative Treehouse concludes:

Back in January 2017 Deutsche Bank began thinking about it, applying new models, trying to conceptualize and quantify MAGAnomics, and trying to walk out the potential ramifications.  They began talking about Trump doubling the U.S. GDP growth rate when all U.S. investment groups couldn’t yet fathom the possibility.

It’s like waking up on Christmas morning every day to see the pontificating Fed struggling to quantify analysis of their surrounding reality based on flawed assumptions. They simply have no understanding of what happens within the new dimension.

Monetary policy, Fed control over the economy, is disconnected and will stay that way for approximately another 12-14 months, until Main Street regains full operational strength –and– economic parity is achieved.

As we have continued to share, CTH believes the paycheck-to-paycheck working middle-class are going to see a considerable rise in wages and standard of living.  How high can wages rise?… that depends on the pressure; and right now the pressure is massive.  I’m not going to dismiss the possibility we could see double digit increases in year-over-year wage growth in multiple economic sectors in several regions of the U.S.

Remember, as wages and benefits increase – millions of people are coming back into the labor market to take advantage of the income opportunities.  The statistics on the invisible workforce varies, but there are millions of people taking on new jobs in this economy and the participation rate is growing.

Winnamins.  We’ll need lots of them…

Wow.

 

Why Are All These People In Djibouti?

This is a map showing the location of Djibouti:

Many years ago at a Marine Ball in New Orleans, I sat next to a young officer who had recently returned from Djibouti. I asked him what he had done there, and he responded very politely by telling me everything I wanted to know about Djibouti except what I had asked him. I wondered, but let it go. That was at least twelve years ago, and Djibouti is still an important place to the world’s most powerful nations. One look at its location explains why.

On Friday, the Center for Security Policy posted an article with the title, ” Arms Trafficking on the Rise in Djibouti.” So what is this about?

The article reports:

Attention was brought this week to the growing issue of arms trafficking in the East African nation of Djibouti, which has seen a spike in recent years. Driving the problem is the instability and ongoing conflict in neighboring countries such as Yemen, Somalia, and Sudan. The negative attention comes as Djibouti is trying to establish itself as a developed and economic upstart nation.

…Djibouti’s lack of internal conflicts, its surge of economic investments and its resulting economic growth, have all led to increased stability not present in its neighboring countries.  Driving these positive developments are its access to both the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, resulting in its labeling by some as the “most valuable real estate” in the world.

Another major component of Djibouti’s growth has been the military presence of several major world powers within its border such as the United States, France, China, and Japan. France was the first power to establish a military base there as the former colonial power in the region, although budget constraints will require them to close this in the near future. The United States has a strong military presence in Djibouti as the central location of its African-based operations known as AFRICOM. The only foreign bases of both China and Japan are in Djibouti, and India is looking to build a base there in the coming years. The main interest of these countries in Djibouti is the country’s strategic positioning near the Bab-el-Mandeb strait and the Horn of Africa.

…China has the largest presence in Djibouti, given its large development and business presence, and owns a significant amount of the nation’s debt. To this point, the United States sought reassurance earlier this year by the Djiboutian Foreign Ministry that Djibouti’s relationship to China would not overshadowed their agreement with the United States. Despite these assurances, concern over China’s heavy presence in Djibouti, and its ability to remain a neutral partner, continues to increase.

As Djibouti’s economy and international profile continue to grow, interest in the strategically located African nation will continue to increase from world powers and transnational criminals alike who look to profit from the country’s exponential rise.

Stay tuned. This growing country in one of the most unsettled regions of the world is very strategically located. The military buildup by foreign interests in Djibouti is not accidental.

Winning

Yesterday The Conservative Treehouse reported the following:

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) just released another survey.  The Small Business Optimism Index has soared to 108.8 in August; that’s an all-time record in the survey’s 45-year history, topping the July 1983 highwater mark of 108.  This incredible surge in economic outlook began with the era of President Donald J Trump.

The article includes the following chart:

Wow.

The article further reports:

According to the release:

“At the beginning of this historic run, Index gains were dominated by expectations: good time to expand, expected real sales, inventory satisfaction, expected credit conditions, and expected business conditions,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg.

“Now the Index is dominated by real business activity that makes GDP grow: job creation plans, job openings, strong capital spending plans, record inventory investment plans, and earnings. Small business is clearly helping to drive that four percent growth in the domestic economy.”

  • 26% of companies plans to increase employment.
  • 38% of companies have current job openings.
  • 34% of companies consider this a good time to expand.
  • 34% of companies expect the economy to improve.

Economic policies make a difference.

This chart shows some other areas of progress:

This is President Trump’s recovery. If you would like this recovery to continue, I suggest you elect Republicans to Congress in November. If you elect Democrats, they will quickly end the tax breaks and other policies that have resulted in this exceptional economic growth.

About That Recovery

Yesterday The Wall Street Journal posted an article illustrating the timeline of the economic growth our country is currently experiencing. The article deals with the recent claims by former President Obama that he is responsible for the current economic growth and that the growth began under his leadership. In February 2018 The Washington Times reminded us that Obama Democrats told us that what looked like long-term stagnation under President Obama’s economic policies, with growth stuck at 2 percent on average for his whole eight years in office, was the New Normal that the American people were going to have to get used to, the best we could do now.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Milton Friedman was the first economist to notice a pattern in American economic history: The deeper the recession, the stronger the recovery. The economy has to grow even faster than normal for a while to catch up to where it would have been without the recession. The fundamentals of America’s world-leading economy are so strong that the pattern held throughout the country’s history.

Until the past decade. The 2008-09 recession was so bad, the economy should have come roaring back with a booming recovery—even stronger than Reagan’s boom in the 1980s. But Mr. Obama carefully, studiously pursued the opposite of every pro-growth policy Reagan had followed. What he got was the worst recovery from a recession since the Great Depression.

Before Mr. Obama, in the 11 previous recessions since the Depression, the economy recovered all jobs lost during the recession an average of 27 months after the recession began. In Mr. Obama’s recovery, dating from the summer of 2009, the recession’s job losses were not recovered until after 76 months—more than six years.

The article concludes:

Obama apologists argued America could no longer grow any faster than Mr. Obama’s 2% real growth averaged over eight years. Slow growth was the “new normal.” The American Dream was over. Get used to it. Hillary Clinton promised to continue Mr. Obama’s economic policies. America’s blue-collar voters rose up.

The recovery took off on Election Day 2016, as the stock market communicated. Mr. Trump’s tax cuts and sweeping deregulation—especially regarding energy—fundamentally changed course from Mr. Obama. These policies have driven today’s boom, increasing annual growth to more than 3% within six months and now to over 4%.

Will Democrats ever figure out what policies create jobs, economic growth and rising wages? If not, they’ll wake up some Wednesday morning to find they have been routed in a fundamental realignment election, in which they have permanently lost the blue-collar vote—once the backbone of their party.

The truth is in the numbers. All of us need to be aware that what former Presidents say about today’s economic growth may not be true. Economic policies make a difference, and President Trump has illustrated that.

Good News For American Workers

The Washington Examiner posted an article today stating that a trade deal has been negotiated with Mexico. The deal did not include Canada, President Trump has indicated that he wants to cut a separate deal with Canada.

The article reports:

The main aspect of Monday’s deal with Mexico was raising to 75 percent, up from 62.5 percent, the amount of North American-made parts a car or truck must have to qualify as duty-free under NAFTA. The change will make it less economical for manufacturers to rely on supply chains that extend into Mexico. The Trump administration has long sought to force more manufacturing back into the U.S. Deal also requires at least 40 percent of auto content to be made by workers earning at least $16 per hour.

The article concludes:

The deal will likely increase pressure on Canada to agree to U.S. demands when three-way talks resume, mostly likely after López Obrador takes office.

“Progress between Mexico and the United States is a necessary requirement for any renewed NAFTA agreement,” Adam Austen, a spokesman for Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, told Reuters. “We are in regular contact with our negotiating partners, and we will continue to work toward a modernized NAFTA. We will only sign a new NAFTA that is good for Canada and good for the middle class. Canada’s signature is required.”

America has made some bad trade deals in the past. NAFTA is one of them. It looked good on paper (to some people), but hurt American workers. I applaud President Trump’s efforts to protect the jobs of American workers and bring jobs back to this country.

First They Came For…

As we approach the mid-term election, there are a number of things to consider. One of the things to look at is the Right-Direction or Wrong Track poll done by Rasmussen. Right now 43 percent of Americans think we are headed in the right direction; 52 percent think we are headed in the wrong direction. In contrast, on October 30, 2016, 30 percent of Americans thought we were headed in the right direction, and 63 percent thought we were headed in the wrong direction. In early January 2016, 28 percent of Americans thought we were headed in the right direction, and 67 percent thought we were headed in the wrong direction. So where am I going with this? As Bill Clinton said, “It’s the economy, stupid!” Hopefully most Americans understand that if the Democrats are able to take control of Congress this year, the economic progress made by the Trump administration will end. Impeachment proceedings against President Trump will begin (it won’t matter whether or not there are any valid charges, the trial will begin). Any investigations into Uranium One, spying on political opponents, or politicizing the justice system will also end. That will mean the institution of a two-tiered justice system in America. If you are connected to the right people, you can pretty much get away with anything. That is what a Democrat victory in the mid-terms will bring us. The Democrats fear that the public will begin to realize this and will attempt to shut down conservative news.

I say all that to predict the actions of the political left in the coming two months. The American Thinker posted an article today spotlighting a situation that should concern all of us. It is about the censorship of Alex Jones. I need to say up front that I am not a huge fan of Alex Jones, but whether you like him or not is not the point. The fact that he can be banned from certain areas of the Internet because of his views should give us all pause. As we approach the mid-term elections, I expect to see more of this. A lot of it is already happening. Please follow the link above to read the entire article. It reminds us of some of the abuses by the media that we have seen in recent years. The Internet has ended the liberal monopoly of the media– it was wounded with the advent of popular talk shows, but the Internet allows everyone to do their own research. Expect to have to look a little harder for your favorite conservative news source in the next few months. I believe PragerU is back on Facebook, but I am not sure for how long. That is only the tip of the iceberg.

Why Is The Good Economic News Always Unexpected When A Republican Is President?

Yesterday The Conservative Treehouse posted an article about the July Retail Sales Report.

The article reports:

The Commerce Department – Economic and Statistics Administration – released the figures from July 2018 retail sales today (full pdf available here), showing an incredibly strong .5% increase in spending in July, bringing a 6.4% increase year-over-year;  and the results have dropped the jaws of the “experts”:

“Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales nudging up 0.1 percent in July.” (link)

“Retail spending in the United States increased a half-percent during the month of July — well beyond what experts predicted.” (link)

“U.S. retail sales rose more than expected in July as households boosted purchases of motor vehicles and clothing, suggesting the economy remained strong” (link)

The article explains the reason for the growth:

As a direct result of President Trump’s multifaceted economic strategy, manufacturing companies are having to look at TCO which is “Total Cost of Ownership”. You see, President Trump is not only approaching manufacturing growth policy from the trade-agreement and investment side, his policies also approach the larger impacts on raw material, energy and labor.

This multi-pronged policy approach forces companies to look at transportation and location costs of manufacturing. In combination with more favorable tax rates; if domestic costs of material and energy drop, in addition to drops in regulatory and compliance costs of operating the business, the total operating cost differences drop dramatically.

This means labor and transportation costs become a larger part of the consideration in “where” to manufacture. All of these costs contribute to the TCO. Transportation costs are very expensive on durable goods imported. If the durable goods are made domestically, the transportation costs per unit shipped drop significantly. The TCO analysis then further reduces to looking at labor.

U.S. Labor is more expensive, yes. However, if material costs, energy costs, regulatory costs, taxes and transportation costs are part of the TCO equation – then higher labor costs can be offset by the previously mentioned savings.

Economic policies matter. If you want to see this kind of growth continue, elect conservative Republicans to Congress in November. If you want to see this kind of growth come to a screeching halt, elect Democrats–they will take back the tax cuts, put back the regulations, and move to impeach the President. At that point, we will have at least two years of the same economic disaster we saw under President Obama.

Misplaced Values

How much is a human life worth? We live in a world where some countries kill their elderly simply because they are a financial burden on the younger generation. In some countries it is legal to kill children because they have birth defects or other issues. Who decides which lives have value and which do not?

On Monday, CNS News reported:

At the event promoting opposition to President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the former First Daughter of President Bill Clinton credited legalized abortion for helping add trillions of dollars to the U.S economy because women who had abortions were more inclined to enter the labor force:

“Whether you fundamentally care about reproductive rights and access right, because these are not the same thing, if you care about social justice or economic justice, agency – you have to care about this.

“It is not a disconnected fact – to address this t-shirt of 1973 – that American women entering the labor force from 1973 to 2009 added three and a half trillion dollars to our economy. Right?

“The net, new entrance of women – that is not disconnected from the fact that Roe became the law of the land in January of 1973.”

Thus, no matter what other things Americans may care about, everyone should appreciate the economic value of legalized abortion, Clinton said:

“So, I think, whatever it is that people say they care about, I think that you can connect to this issue.

“Of course, I would hope that they would care about our equal rights and dignity to make our own choices – but, if that is not sufficiently persuasive, hopefully, come some of these other arguments that you’ve expressed so beautifully, will be.”

Could one on those aborted babies have grown up and found the cure for cancer, dementia, Parkinson’s Disease? Who did we kill? Could one of those babies have grown up to find the key to nonpolluting green energy, preventing some valuable species from going extinct, or finding a key to longer, healthier living? How much would those discoveries have added to the economy?

The article at CNS News includes an update:

In response to tweets critical of her remarks, Chelesea Clinton declared that “Pro-choice is Pro-life” and that “Reproductive rights have always been about economic rights.”

We have sold our souls for a mess of pottage.

Why Energy Independence Matters

The Washington Times posted an article today about Iranian military exercises in the Straits of Hormuz. The Straits of Hormuz is significant because 35% of all seaborne traded oil, or almost 20% of oil traded worldwide flows through the Straits of Hormuz. This is something to watch as the situation in Iran becomes more volatile.

This is today’s Dry Bones cartoon:

The Washington Times reports:

Iran’s navy sent dozens of small boats into the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday, dramatizing its ability to choke off the strategic Persian Gulf waterway — a move that could send global oil and U.S. gasoline prices soaring — and escalating the confrontation with the Trump administration for withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal.

U.S. officials said the naval exercise was Tehran’s way to show its capability to create a disruption in the waterway, through which some 30 percent of the world’s sea-transported oil passes daily. Officials at the Pentagon said they expected the exercise would last only a few hours, although it was unclear Thursday night whether it had ended.

“We are monitoring it closely, and will continue to work with our partners to ensure freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce,” said a statement by Navy Capt. Bill Urban, U.S. Central Command spokesman.

The development marked Iran’s latest escalation in response to Mr. Trump’s promise to begin reimposing harsh economic sanctions in the coming days that were suspended under the 2015 deal. One Pentagon source said the unexpected Iranian navy moves were meant to hammer home Tehran’s rejection of President Trump’s offer this week for direct, unconditional talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The article details the unrest in Iran:

It is an increasingly delicate moment for Mr. Rouhani, who faces protests in Iran over the nation’s struggling economy, weak growth and declining currency.

The Rouhani government has been rocked by a string of protests in cities across the country over the failing currency, mismanagement and investor fears of U.S. sanctions, the first wave of which is set to begin Tuesday. The Trump administration is pressuring Iran’s other trading partners in Europe and elsewhere to curb trade and investment ties as well.

A report by the official IRNA news agency said about 100 people took to the streets Thursday in the northern city of Sari and that demonstrations broke out in at least three other cities. The agency reported that none of the protests had official permission and all were broken up by police.

Iranian dissident groups abroad have detailed multiple demonstrations in recent days, with harsh police crackdowns in response. The Associated Press cited videos circulating on social media purporting to show dozens of demonstrators setting fire to police vehicles and shouting “death to the dictator.” The authenticity of the videos could not immediately be verified.

One way for a dictator to unite his people is to unite them against a common enemy. This may or may not work in Iran since many of the younger people in the country are more inclined toward western ideas than the ideas of the mullahs.

The article concludes:

“Any disruption of oil supplies in the Persian Gulf would be a major threat to the global economy and would hurt U.S. trading partners, thereby damaging the U.S. economy,” said Amy Myers Jaffe, who heads the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change at the Council on Foreign Relations.

U.S. domestic oil and gas production and export increases in recent years “have not reduced the U.S. need to police the free flow of oil from the Middle East,” Ms. Myers Jaffe wrote in an analysis for the think tank this week. “An oil price rise due to the loss of supply in one part of the world is reflected in U.S. price levels as well all other locations across the globe.”

Rockford Weitz, who heads the Fletcher Maritime Studies Program at Tufts University, said that in the Strait of Hormuz, Iran “could damage commercial shipping with relatively cheap anti-ship missiles, fast patrol boats, submarines and mines.

“Even threats and modest disruption to commercial shipping could trigger economic damage in the form of higher marine insurance rates, crude oil supply concerns and unsettled stock markets,” Mr. Weitz wrote in an analysis published by Tufts last month.

We live in a fragile world–keep praying.