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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Trump's Anti-Globalism a Necessary Corrective, argues Joel Kotkin

in New Geography and the Orange County Register

An excerpt:

"Ever since the Second World War, America’s foreign policy, with the possible exception of the Reagan years, has been shaped by consensus. The United States was able to both lead and effectively subsidize the rest of the world. Initially, this made sense when the other major powers were either seriously weakened or under threat from the Soviet Union.

Trump has broken this model. His “America First” approach is crudely stated and has bad antecedents, but, frankly, where was the other strategy getting us? Europe, Japan and our other “allies” were getting rich while we sent our soldiers to fight and die. Playing nice for a generation did nothing to stop North Korea’s nuclearization or Iran’s aggressive expansionism.

Unlike his more idealist predecessors, Trump recognizes that every world leader — including Angela Merkel, Xi Jinping, Emmanuel Macron — seeks to enrich her or his own countries, even at other countries’ expense. Our competitors may be outraged when Americans selfishly play hardball, but perhaps it’s time to be asking for something beyond often empty promises.

. . .

The foreign policy and trade policies of previous administrations benefited mostly the elite districts in the large coastal cities, but did much harm to the middle of the country. Globalism seems less glamourous when it means the loss of millions of jobs.

The addition of draconian climate change legislation under President Obama upped the ante, as Trump, or his handlers, intuited. Even as Silicon Valley and Wall Street looked to capitalize on green policies, vast parts of the country, particularly those dependent on fossil fuel production and cheap power for manufacturing, feared they  were about to be abandoned.

So far, Trump’s attempt to reverse these trends has delivered more than could have been expected. Despite reports of ill-effects of tariff policies on manufacturers, industrial employment and production continue to grow after slackening in the last year of the Obama administration. Elections have consequences: the South has emerged as the nation’s premier growth engine while growth and demographic vitality has come back to parts of Midwest."

Class and race chasms in redeveloping Chicago and Detroit

are explored in this New Grography article.

An excerpt:

"On to today. Chicago's inventory of former poor and working-class white ethnic enclaves has effectively run out. Developers face a choice: expand outward into neighborhoods with larger numbers of people of color, or build more densely in already hot neighborhoods. With some exceptions (Humboldt Park, parts of Pilsen), developers are choosing the latter.

This has serious ramifications. Building more densely in hot neighborhoods sounds good on the surface, but developers are likely approaching a ceiling (financial and physical) in those hot neighborhoods. Land acquisition costs go higher and higher. Development review and approval receives heightened scrutiny from city planners and elected officials. NIMBY residents organize against new development. And the price of housing has to go up to account for the additional headaches the developer receives. I think it's bringing revitalization efforts overall in Chicago to a halt.

At the same time much of Chicago is hollowing out. Blacks in particular are leaving the city in droves, especially on the west and south sides. Black population in Chicago fell by 17 percent between 2000 and 2010, and another nine percent from 2010 to 2016. Overall, Chicago's black population is down 24.7% since 2000 -- nearly 260,000 -- and showing no signs of slowing down.

Since the black withdrawal from Chicago is largely driven by black middle-class residents, motivated by poor school quality, crime, a lack of amenities or services, or poor job or growth opportunities, increasing concentrations of poorer residents with fewer choices are being left behind. So it appears Chicago is possibly headed toward extreme bifurcation: dense, wealthy concentration on the north lakefront, the Loop and near south side, and vacant concentrations of poor residents on the west and south sides. There are (and will be) concentrations of middle-class neighborhoods that sit between the affluence and poverty, but they will exist in various states of transition, potentially improving -- or collapsing."

Another great article from Jeffrey Snider : for workers and real corporate profits, not a great economy

Stock prices have little to do with profits

An excerpt:

"Rather than blame heroin's reappearance on American streets and the slow, demographic shift decades in the making, the labor market's struggles especially over the past few years coincide with this devastating lack of profit growth. Companies that can't manage much profit return growth are not going to hire a ton of new workers, nor will they be willing to pay through the roof for new or existing workers no matter how low the unemployment rate falls. It really is just that simple."

Saturday, September 30, 2017

A take on the recent German Election...

...from Christopher Caldwell in THE WEEKLY STANDARD.  

Some excerpts:
Refugees began pouring into the country months later. On New Year’s Eve 2015-16, groups of North African immigrants isolated, surrounded, and groped hundreds of women on the square in front of Cologne’s cathedral. The details were not known to the public until weeks later, thanks to the obstinacy of local police in covering it up and of politicians in minimizing it. Soon the AfD was racking up seats in state parliaments, and lots of them​—​getting a quarter of the vote in the eastern region of Sachsen-Anhalt and even 15 percent in yuppie Baden-W├╝rttemberg. (In this fall’s national election, the AfD was the number-one party in Saxony, taking a third of the vote in Petry’s Saxon stronghold.) 
Much of the media discussion faulted Merkel for one policy misstep or another. The migrants ought to have been better vetted. More should have been done to make the passage across the Mediterranean less hazardous for migrants, to create job opportunities in the Middle East, to explain the chancellor’s position. That is nonsense. The fears motivating Germans are matters of demography. Africa is going to add 493 million people between 2015 and 2030, according to U.N. statistics. Add, not have. There are few jobs for them. Many will head north. 
The economist Thilo Sarrazin, an old-school Social Democrat, published a book in 2010 called The Abolition of Germany that became the country’s biggest nonfiction success since World War II. One of his bolder claims was that within three generations, Germany would have an ethnically non-German majority. Last year he published a sequel, Wishful Thinking, in which he admitted that the process was moving much faster than that. The migrants Merkel accepted in 2015 include about a million young men. That may not sound like a lot, but it is about 15 percent of the German men of their age. And the bureaucratic process of bringing their families from Syria and Afghanistan is already under way. Certain neighborhoods in Berlin​—​Wedding, stretches of the old East Berlin avenue Sonnenallee​—​have lately become heavily Middle Eastern. 
It is common to snicker that voters for the AfD must not know what they are doing, since the party had its best scores in the parts of the former East Germany where immigration is lowest. Only 27 of the AfD’s 93 members come from the East. But a lot of the economically stagnant rural zones there will indeed be changed by migrants, because they have become spontaneously generated assisted-living communities. Houses are empty and kids are gone. They are tempting places to lodge the newcomers, and Germany lacks the demographic resources—the young volunteers—to teach them German and otherwise assimilate them.

What to read? Check out this review of Douglas Murray's THE STRANGE DEATH OF EUROPE... Michael Rosen in THE FEDERALIST.  A preview:

According to the European Commission’s official compendium of migration statistics, as of January 1, 2016, more than 35 million residents of the two-dozen-plus countries constituting the European Union were born outside of the EU. These foreign-born residents composed more than 8 percent of the populations of Germany, Britain, Spain, France, and the Netherlands, and nearly 12 percent of the populations of Northern European countries like Sweden, Latvia, and Estonia. 
As Douglas Murray demonstrates in his startling, well-argued polemic, The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam, those numbers continue to swell. The explosion of humanitarian crises in the Levant and Central Asia, along with the already disproportionate migration to the continent from Islamic countries, threatens to disfigure European states and the Western values to which they’re ostensibly devoted. 
Murray begins on a bold enough note: “Europe is committing suicide. Or at least its leaders have decided to commit suicide. Whether the European people choose to go along with this is, naturally, another matter.” Well, then. To clear the underbrush for this trenchant thesis, Murray takes a hatchet to the flawed justifications Europeans have posited for indulging immigration, such as goosing the economic engine, enhancing cultural diversity, and revitalizing an aging population.
In fact, he argues, “the economic benefits of immigration accrue almost solely to the migrant,” the problems presented by incomplete integration dwarf the benefits of diversity, and, far from importing young people, European governments should first “work out whether there are policies that could encourage more procreation among their existing populations.”

What's the alumnus to do when his alma mater goes off the rails, academically and politically?

Michael Rubin has some sage advice, with respect to Yale, in AEI Ideas:

So, as Yale President Peter Salovey and leaders of other universities put their hands out for cash, what should alumni upset with the descent of beloved universities into a political swamp do? If balance is the goal, they might give money instead to institutions that encourage ideological diversity on campus.  
The Buckley Program provides some balance at Yale University, and the Alexander Hamilton Society brings mainstream policy practitioners and right-of-center academics to university campuses to debate university professors on issues of the day. Stanford’s Hoover Institution probably contributes more to public policy debate than the rest of Stanford combined. Or, those wishing to support universities’ core missions can donate instead to institutions such as the University of Chicago, whose president has stood firm against the social and political trends buffeting so many other elite campuses. There are also worthy nonprofits, such as the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which stand firm on free speech and academic freedom irrespective of politics. Indeed, in many ways, FIRE has been truer to its objective mission than even the American Civil Liberties Union in recent years. 
Simply put, it’s time for alumni to recognize their annual checks, capital campaign commitments, and end-of-life behests do more harm than good and are killing the educational institutions which they hold so dear or to which they might feel obliged to give back.

What to make--and not to make--of the Kurds' Independence Vote?

In the American Enterprise Institute's IDEAS blog, Michael Rubin concludes as follows:
Both Iraq and Kurdistan will always be incredibly diverse, complex places. In such circumstances, it behooves the US and other Western, liberal states to eschew the authoritarian model and insist on real, substantive democracy not only in terms of elections but also with regard to the rule of law. While both Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan may fall short with regard to rule of law, Iraq has advanced ahead of its northern constituent when it comes to a willingness to have peaceful, political transition. Rectifying that in Kurdistan will be necessary in order to negotiate with Baghdad and to see any serious solution to the current impasse.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Will 'Cash on the Sidelines' propel stocks skyward?

In a recent SEEKING ALPHA post, Eric Parnell says 'No'.

His conclusions:
Yes, households have record amounts of cash, but this statement in and of itself is utterly meaningless.
Instead, the household cash as a percentage of total financial assets is near all-time lows. In short, there is no cash on the sidelines waiting to get into the stock market. It is already all in and then some at this point.
The same can be said of the supposed “Great Rotation” narrative. No “Great Rotation” is going to happen, because investors are already as “Rotated” as they’ve ever been into stocks over bonds. It’s hard to get even more rotated when the assets in stocks versus bonds is already beyond any previous historical peak.
From a contrarian standpoint, if anything presents an upside opportunity in this regard is the bond market, which is historically as underallocated from a household percentage of total financial assets basis as it has ever been. But don’t hold your breath waiting to hear this narrative in the mainstream financial media anytime soon.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Fans of the American Western, Check out...

Best Silver Screen Cowboys, submitted by screenwriter Henry C. Parke in TRUE WEST magazine.  Henry also authors a great blog, Henry's Western Roundup.

Ironically, THE WILD BUNCH, one of my faves, doesn't make the above list...

Click here to view the LA GOLONDRIA scene from THE WILD BUNCH