Greenback Tyrant

The incumbent international currency has been American for decades. Is it time for regime change?

❝ There’s a paradox at the heart of global finance. The U.S. share of the world economy has drifted lower for decades, and now President Trump is retreating from the American chief executive’s traditional role as Leader of the Free World. Yet the U.S. dollar remains, as the saying goes, almighty…

By the latest tally of the European Central Bank, America’s currency makes up two-thirds of international debt and a like share of global reserve holdings. Oil and gold are priced in dollars, not euros or yen. When Somali pirates hold up ships at sea, it’s dollars they demand. And threats to be cut off from the dollar-based global payments system strike terror into the likes of Iran, North Korea, and Russia…

❝ Now the dollar paradox shows signs of unraveling. Political leaders who once accepted the dollar’s hegemony, grudgingly or otherwise, are pushing back. Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, said in September that it’s “absurd” that European companies buy European planes in the American currency instead of their own. In March, China challenged the dollar’s dominance in the global energy markets with a yuan-denominated crude oil futures contract. Russia slashed its dollar holdings this year, claiming (inaccurately) that the greenback is “becoming a risky instrument in international settlements.” And French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters in August that he wants financing instruments that are “totally independent” of the U.S…

Just more of that economics stuff that divides the few competent politicians we have in Washington. The rest accept their party line as blindly as any Trumpkin. “Ignorance was good enough for grandad. Why change?”

How’s the economy in your county?

Click on the map to get the Brookings Institute Report

…We consider five factors — population density, the degree of industry concentration, the manufacturing share of employment, the share of those without a high school degree, and the share of college graduates — that help explain both vitality and its change over time. In total, these five factors explain 71 percent of the variation in vitality across counties in 1980, and 66 percent of the variation in 2016… They are also helpful in understanding the change in vitality across counties over time.

Please RTFA. Well done, even with the conservative bent of the folks at Brooking. A chance to learn and reflect.

NAFTA Is Dead. Long Live NAFTA.

Trump’s trade brinkmanship has offended allies, sown economic uncertainty, and achieved almost nothing. Hooray?

❝ On Monday President Donald Trump announced the end of NAFTA, the trade agreement he’s repeatedly called a “disaster” for U.S. workers, and hailed its successor, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, as the greatest trade deal ever seen. As you might therefore expect, the new agreement is just a lightly tweaked version of the old. Despite the president’s theatrics, NAFTA lives on.

That’s good — because, far from being a disaster, free trade across North America serves the interests of all three countries. But Trump’s USMCA has a downside. It was achieved only after months of needless economic uncertainty and the trashing of America’s reputation as a reliable partner…

❝ Some of the tweaks in USMCA are good, some not so good, but the new pact mostly affirms the existing arrangements…But his aggressive and unruly posturing has done great harm nonetheless. The president has sent the message that he disdains alliances, sees the world in zero-sum terms, and cannot be trusted. The main result of his sound and fury over NAFTA is diminished U.S. sway in the world.

Our fake president achieved nothing more than generalized trade updates previously agreed to in negotiations with President Obama. What’s new is the crap his ego trip put everyone through – and continues. Ignorance, modified by corruption, brings nothing of value to working class families – except the same old “political” solutions.