Category Archives: Economics

Nuclear Energy — Lower CO2 & Cost

In the interest of bringing not so popular information to your attention, I thought you might find the article below of interest.  Besides all of the currently known positive features of nuclear plants, there is yet another not advertised at all.

Nuclear engineers created a new process, or more accurately a re-process, which reduces the nuclear waste from large power plants which has caused so much fear in America.  The concern has been that we would destroy ourselves by putting waste material in the ground.  But with the new process which involves creating much smaller nuclear plants (i.e., local) and running them on ‘used’ nuclear waste, they can reduce the radioactivity levels down to only 10% of what older plants create.  And, we could have numerous plants to drive local communities with a lot of inexpensive electrical power.

But hey, that would be contrary to what the nuclear skeptics believe.  And besides, it would be a move toward resolving ‘global warming’..!?  We couldn’t have that…

Nuclear Power vs. Traditional

 


 

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Cashless Society

Many of you may have already heard about this topic.  But, just in case, I thought I’d share this article from a financial management company I receive information from regularly.  This guy is knowledgeable, serious, and makes an effort to educate society based on his experience and often inside information.  (But this really isn’t inside stuff.)

The Progressives in this world are attempting to control everything, everywhere.  Their belief is that when ‘the event‘ occurs, they will be in the select few who will wield power and be members of the ‘select few‘.  This is but just another one of the many steps toward the ‘one world government’ that the elites are planning for our future lives.

To be forewarned is to be forearmed.  Take a minute or two to learn what is coming that will affect everyone one day…

 


 

On July 12, credit card giant VISA announced that it will soon offer selected retailers $10,000 to stop accepting cash. No one seemed to pay much attention. The announcement received relatively little coverage in the press. Should it have? Yes!

What most people don’t realize is there is a broad movement in many parts of the world to reduce or eliminate the use of cash. This is for real – it’s not some conspiracy theory. Sweden, for example, is in the process of eliminating the use of cash, and today only 2-3% of transactions there are conducted in cash. Other countries are headed in that same direction to varying degrees.

The truth is, most governments and central bankers around the world believe it is important to gradually eliminate the use of cash in the years ahead. They claim the absence of cash would help reduce crime and terrorism, expedite monetary policy and help the global economy. Yet in my opinion, the potential benefits they claim would be minimal and their motives are dubious at best.

The real reason they want to rid the world of cash is so that all of our transactions would be recorded in one form or another and therefore be more traceable. This gives authorities more control, expedites tax collection and lets Big Brother keep a closer watch on all of us.

While the War On Cash and the Cashless Society are not near-term threats to Americans, it is important to keep an eye on this troubling trend. That’s what I’ll focus on today. I’ll start with VISA’s latest offer to pay selected retailers $10,000 to stop accepting cash, and then we’ll move on to the bigger picture implications down the road.

Before I get to that discussion, let me briefly mention last Friday’s initial 2Q GDP report which came in, as expected, at a 2.6% annual rate, following growth of only 1.2% in the 1Q. While the 2Q increase to 2.6% was good news, it remains to be seen what the economy will do in the second half of this year.

VISA Offers Select Retailers $10,000 to Stop Taking Cash

In a move that should have gotten more attention, VISA announced on July 12 that it will soon begin offering select retailers $10,000 to stop accepting cash. VISA said it is planning to give $10,000 apiece to selected restaurants and food vendors to upgrade their payment technology, as long as the businesses agree to stop accepting cash.

Consumers at retailers which take the VISA deal would be able to pay for goods or services only with debit or credit cards or with their cellphone apps such as Apple Pay. For the record, I don’t expect this “no cash” trend to become widespread in America anytime soon.

charge card

In case you’re wondering, VISA and other credit card companies consider payment in cash as their chief competitor. If they can get more consumers to pay by credit and debit cards, instead of cash, their profits could rise significantly. VISA’s CEO, Al Kelly, recently admitted: “We’re focused on putting cash out of business,” adding that converting checks and cash to digital and electronic payments is the company’s “number-one growth lever.”

VISA processes credit and debit card payments on behalf of banks and merchants. The company makes money when consumers use their VISA-branded cards. An increase in transactions and payments volume over its network results in rising revenues.

Interestingly, VISA accounted for 59% of total purchase volume on US general purpose credit and debit cards last year, compared with rival Mastercard’s 25% market share, according to the Nilson Report, a trade publication. I had no idea that VISA is more than twice as large as Mastercard, did you?

Still, cash remains a formidable competitor. Check and cash transactions totaled $17 trillion worldwide in 2016, up about 2% from a year ago, according to VISA. Credit cards have made a dent in cash in the US, but cash remains a widely used payment form among Americans — accounting for 32% of all consumer transactions in 2015, compared with 27% for debit cards and 21% for credit cards, according to the Federal Reserve.

The bottom line is that credit card companies like VISA, Mastercard, American Express, etc. have a vested interest in the War On Cash. As it increases, it improves their bottom lines.

More Details on the War On Cash & a “Cashless Society”

Many around the world, and especially in the US, are unaware that there is a real War On Cash. Much of the ongoing debate of late has been focused on a report earlier this year from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) entitled The Macroeconomics of De-Cashing.” The dubious central conclusions of the report were:

  • A cashless payment system would make the monetary policy transmission mechanism more efficient, as there would be very little or no cash available anymore. In particular, it would become possible to implement negative interest rates on a broad front, in order to boost consumption.
  • Since a decline in cash holdings would go hand in hand with an increase in demand deposits at banks, the banking sector would be able to extend more loans. That would lower the level of interest rates and boost economic growth.
  • A sudden increase in the demand for cash is a sign of an imminently impending financial crisis. Shortly before the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, demand for cash currency increased significantly. That was a sign that bank customers had increasingly lost confidence in the solvency and liquidity of commercial banks. This warning signal would no longer be available if cash were abolished.
  • A cashless economy makes tax collection easier, as the example of Sweden illustrates.

I couldn’t disagree with most of these conclusions more. Let’s examine them more closely. In bullet point #1, the IMF claims that a cashless society would “make monetary policy transmission more efficient.” When has monetary policy transmission ever been efficient, I ask? The answer is, rarely.

Then in that same bullet point, the IMF raises the issue of “negative interest rates on a broad front.” This is an important point because it appears in almost every article about the War On Cash. It took me awhile to figure this out, but here’s what it really means.

In the War On Cash, banks would penalize citizens who insist on keeping cash. The IMF’s thinking is that banks would be encouraged to offer negative interest rates on checking and savings accounts. In other words, they would charge you to hold such accounts. The IMF believes this would motivate us to spend all of our cash rather than hold onto it, and that would be good for the economy, they assume. But that is very short-term thinking.

When you boil it all down, the IMF’s report is nothing more than a call for the abolition of cash. They even admit in the last bullet point above that it would make tax collection easier, since every citizen would be forced to open a bank account in order to get credit or debit cards. The point is, they would like to be able to track ALL of our transactions.

Fighting Crime, Terrorism, Counterfeiting & Black Markets

The IMF and others pushing for a Cashless Society always default to the suggestion that banning cash would reduce crime, terrorism, tax evasion and eliminate the “black market.” Yet such claims are highly controversial. So much so, it’s hard to know where to even start.

Based on information I gathered in preparing to write this article, most experts on the issue of the “shadow economy” and tax evasion agree that a ban on cash would only minimally affect these societal problems. Professor Friedrich Schneider, one of the most renowned experts in the areas of the shadow economy and tax evasion in Europe, concluded that a cash ban would reduce crime by a mere 10% and organized crime by less than 5%.

Other studies reach similar conclusions when it comes to terrorism. Most experts agree that the elimination of cash would only minimally affect terrorist groups and radical individuals which could find alternative sources to fund their operations — including so-called “crypto-currencies” such as Bitcoin and others.

War on Cash

The point is, the elimination of cash would not be the panacea that its promoters promise. While the use of cash is on the decline around the world, especially in Sweden and other European countries, the use of physical currencies around the world is not likely to disappear in most of our lifetimes.

Eliminating Large Denomination Currency Notes ($100 Bills)

As noted above, central bankers and mainstream monetary economists have recently become enamored with the idea of reducing or eliminating hand-to-hand currency. The most comprehensive defense of this proposal is Kenneth Rogoff’s 2016 book, The Curse of Cash. In it, he strongly advocates for eliminating the US $100 bill.

Because cash is widely used in underground economic activity, Rogoff believes that the elimination of large-denomination notes would help to significantly curtail crime and tax evasion. He claims that suppressing such activities would have the additional advantage of increasing government tax revenue.

He is also among the crowd that believes phasing out most cash would enhance macroeconomic stability by giving central banks an unconstrained ability to impose negative interest rates. That is, negative interest rates on cash, savings and checking accounts. On this point, Rogoff is unable to make a strong case that a negative interest rate policy is even needed, much less that it would work.

Likewise, Rogoff offers no convincing support for how eliminating large denomination bank notes would meaningfully reduce the underground economy. Nor can he definitively demonstrate any significant increased revenue for the US government from phasing out cash.  In short, Rogoff’s case for confining currency to small denominations is, when not entirely mistaken, extremely weak.

Despite this, several countries are moving ahead with the elimination or replacement of large denomination currency notes. In May of last year, the European Central Bank announced that it was phasing out the €500 bank note, at the time worth about US$575. The ECB cited the widespread use of such large notes by criminals.

500 Euro notes

In a similar move, the government of India announced in November of last year that it was replacing its 500 and 2,000 rupee notes with newly designed currencies. The old rupee bills ceased being legal tender shortly thereafter, but were allowed to be redeemed for new bills at banks until December 30 of last year.

The government said the move was primarily aimed at “curbing corruption, thwarting counterfeiters” but admitted it would also dredge up potentially billions of dollars in taxable income believed to be stashed in the underground economy. Now there’s the real motive!

The move sucked so much currency out of circulation that it reduced the wages of millions of Indians who are paid for work in cash. Fortunately, this currency experimentation did not tank India’s vibrant economy, which is the world’s fourth fastest growing economy thus far in 2017.

It’s All About Controlling Access to Your Own Money

The bottom line is that the War On Cash is all about control, even though monetary authorities will never admit that. Instead they claim that the motive is to reduce crime, terrorism, drug dealing, counterfeiting, etc.

By regulating access to your own money, banks and governments can increase their control over you. They can collect maximum taxes and fees, and they can even manipulate your spending habits (at least temporarily) by imposing negative interest rates that effectively charge you for saving.

The elimination of cash also transfers near-complete control of transactions, interest rates and individual use of money to the government. Authorities would then be able to track all of our purchases and sales. It would also require millions of Americans, mostly low income citizens who don’t currently have a bank account, to open one or more.

Do we really want that? I don’t think so!

In the spirit of full disclosure, I don’t believe the US is anywhere close to becoming a Cashless Society. Yet it’s a growing trend we all need to keep an eye on. I’ll keep you posted.

Hoping it’s cooler where you are,

Gary D. Halbert


Can you say, “The mark of the beast?”  You might say this is black helicopter stuff, but it truly is realAnd it is coming.  It’s just a matter of when.

 

 


 

Illegal Immigrants Get Food Stamps

Much like in my last article ( America’s Debt (Hemorrhaging) ), I found the following article demonstrating yet another ‘leak’ in our ‘tax payer system’.  Being the most generous culture on the planet, it is hard for me to understand why we are constantly made out to be ogres and cheapskates.  It is no wonder why we’re $20 Trillion dollars in debt??

Illegals and Food Stamps

 

Maybe we should just make deposits of all monies earned in this country to the World Bank and let them give back to us what they think we deserve??

 

 


 

America’s Debt (Hemorrhaging)

America is bleeding a LOT of money every year and everyone knows it.  (And no one is apparently concerned — for now.?)  But do we know where that hemorrhaging is at?

The two largest areas of loss are Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid.  No seniors (including myself) want to lose their ‘investment money’ — i.e., Social Security.   And those same seniors don’t want to lose their Medicare insurance (help) either.  But that isn’t the end of the story regarding the sources of debt building in our country.

Medicaid and Medicare are two very large drains on our budget that are crippling us.  Ah, but then we have the ‘unreported losses’ also — of which there are many.  Here’s just one example from a report in EMS World (see full article).  The following statement is from that article.

The county collects on roughly 55 percent of its ambulance bills, Moya said, who noted that rate is in line with the national average.”

Now put that together with the number of ‘illegal visitors’ in this country who receive a number of free perks while in this country and you’ve got one heck of a leak!!  My only question is, will the ‘resisters’ allow Trump to un-do what the far left has done in the past eight years?  I hope so.!!

 

 

 


 

A House Divided

We have all been witnessing the division of this country for several years.  But it would seem that we’re at a place now that us ‘boomers’ haven’t seen in our lifetime.?!  Quite scary.  But the question is, how could this affect us in the immediate future?

Revolutions are started sometimes over not such serious issues.  Situations have a way of getting blown out of proportion.  Typically this is because there is a tremendous amount of anxiety built up, usually over a long period of time.  The extraordinary response is typically due to that anxiety (anger).  Personally, I believe this is because of the progressive movement’s fear of lost ground.

In the following article the author makes several reasonable cases for how our country could turn like others around the world in recent years.  Although I don’t think this is any reason to move to Canada next week, it is something to consider.  Being forewarned is to be forearmed…

America: A House Divided

 

This article was taken from a pessimistic website.  Although, it has published several good points over recent years worth reading.  Given our current direction, I believe he may well be spot on sometime in the future..?

 

 


 

Plan-B — Republican’s Insurance Plan

So is it a good thing?  Personally I’m not sure — I don’t trust Ryan to start.  And, the republicans have become democrat light over the last few decades.  So where does that put us?  I think you know.

But here’s an article that gave me a different slant on the insurance game.  From it, I get that we’ll get ‘the hose’ no matter which direction we go..?


 

Mauldin Economics

March 7, 2017

Why Interstate Health Insurance Won’t Fix Obamacare

By Patrick Watson

Congress has a new healthcare plan to replace Obamacare. It may go nowhere since many Republicans aren’t happy with it… and the problems it tries to solve will remain.

Worse, anything that gets past the House and Senate may not matter if insurers refuse to play in 2018. The big ones haven’t committed yet.

If the new plan doesn’t fly and Obamacare collapses, as seems likely, what’s Plan C?

President Trump listed several ideas in his speech to Congress last week. Among them was this:

The time has come to give Americans the freedom to purchase health insurance across state lines—which will create a truly competitive national marketplace that will bring costs way down and provide far better care.

That sounds practical and conservative. Just reduce regulations, and the free market will provide.

Often, that’s true. This time, it’s not.

To find out what the problem is, look no further than a deal Citibank made with South Dakota 37 years ago.

Credit Card Loophole

When you read the fine print on one of your credit cards, you’ll likely see the issuer is a bank in South Dakota. It might be Delaware or Nevada, but probably South Dakota.

Why are the big banks issuing credit cards through South Dakota subsidiaries?

Back in 1980, with both inflation and interest rates at double-digit levels, banks were getting squeezed on credit card loans. State usury laws capped the interest rates they could charge borrowers, but not the banks’ own cost of funds.

Legendary Citibank Chairman Walter Wriston found a loophole. A 1978 Supreme Court ruling said banks could set consumer loan interest rates based on the state in which the bank was located, instead of the borrower’s state.


Photo: Getty Images

Wriston had been asking New York legislators to raise the usury limit so New York-based Citi could charge higher rates nationwide.

When they refused, he looked for friendlier politicians… and found them in South Dakota.

Wriston called then-Governor Bill Janklow with a generous offer. Here’s how a Frontline documentary described it.

In an effort to stimulate the local economy, South Dakota was in the midst of eliminating its usury laws. Mr. Wriston told Mr. Janklow that if South Dakota would quickly pass a bill inviting Citibank into the state, he would bring 400 jobs. To preempt concerns from local banks about new competition, Citibank also promised to open only “a limited” bank. “We’ll put the facility in an inconvenient place for customers and we’ll pay different interest rates,” Mr. Wriston recalled telling Mr. Janklow. “All we want to do is use it to issue cards.”

For Mr. Janklow, it was an easy decision.

“To me, this wasn’t a credit card deal, it was a jobs deal,” he said. “It was an economic opportunity for the state. I was slowly bleeding to death.”

With bipartisan support and backing from South Dakota’s banking association, Janklow proposed a special “emergency” bill. “Citibank actually drafted the legislation,” he said. “Literally we introduced it, and it passed our legislature in one day.”

The arrangement ultimately brought 3,000 high-paying jobs to South Dakota and a host of new suitors from banks across the country.

That’s why your credit cards come from South Dakota. Citibank literally picked its own regulator and wrote its own law. Delaware and Nevada later made similar moves, but South Dakota was first.

The result wasn’t all bad. Today, credit cards are widely available in every state. Your interest rate may be higher and your spending limit lower if you have poor credit, but you can probably get a card.

If you think enabling more Americans to take on more debt is a good idea, we have the perfect system to do it. But what we don’t have is competition between states.

In theory, banks in any state can issue credit cards. But good luck getting one that isn’t from South Dakota, Delaware, or Nevada. Those are the choices the banks give us.


Photo: Getty Images

Separate Risk Pools

A state-based national market for credit cards isn’t exactly the same as one for health insurance, but it’s similar in some ways.

Instead of usury limits, insurance companies face state laws mandating certain benefits that raise costs and reduce profits. They’re one reason health insurance premiums are higher in some states.

So if we let insurers sell health coverage across state lines, people can bypass all that and buy in a state whose insurers best suit their needs. Sounds great, right?

The problem is that health insurers will likely do what the banks do with credit cards: congregate in whichever state lets them do what they want—which is to insure only healthy people.

The result, within a couple of years, will be separated risk pools. Young, healthy consumers will buy stripped-down, low-priced policies from states that allow them, while older, sicker people all cluster in the few states willing to cover them at a reasonable cost—if any will.

Sound familiar? Something like that is why Obamacare isn’t working.

This is where the credit card analogy breaks down. No one has to have a credit card. You won’t die without one. But everyone will get sick or have an accident sooner or later.

There’s another problem: Providing health insurance isn’t as simple as just mailing someone a card and billing them every month. The insurer has to deliver care locally, wherever the customer lives. Building hospital and doctor networks is expensive.

Five states—Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Rhode Island, and Wyoming—already did what President Trump suggests. They’ve opened their borders to insurers from other states.

Has it worked? Have insurers from other states rushed into these wide-open markets?

No, they haven’t. So erasing the state lines may not be as helpful as proponents think.


Photo: Getty Images

Insurance ≠ Care

Politicians choose their words carefully when they talk about this. They’ll often say everyone should have “access to health insurance.”

Sounds nice, but it misses a few things.

Access to health insurance is not the same as access to health care. People are learning that the hard way right now.

In many parts of the country, Obamacare plans come with deductibles of $5,000 or more. So you’re covered only after you’ve spent $5,000 that you probably don’t have.

Median household income in the US is only around $56,000. Median means half of all household incomes are below that amount, and few people have an extra $5,000 sitting around. They’re insured, yes, but they can’t afford to use their insurance even if tax credits cover the premiums.

So Obamacare isn’t the solution, because it’s not working either.

But interstate insurance is no cure. At best, it will leave us with the same problems Obamacare hasn’t solved. It might even make them worse.

I wrote last year how our healthcare system suppresses job creation and undermines economic growth. We need a better solution.

We know what doesn’t work. We need to find out what does.

See you at the top,

Patrick Watson

Left vs. Right? Is There a Difference?

Just in case my readers potentially miss it, I’m adding this YouTube video for everyone to watch.  If you ever wondered why congress has only a 10% approval rate, this will explain why!

The following video is of Rand Paul speaking about the proposed budget submitted by the Republican party.  This, after gaining the majority in the House, Senate, and now Presidency.  Incompetent criminals…

Rand Paul on the 2017 Budget

 

And all of this is done under the guise of repealing Obamacare!!!  Yet another continuing resolution.  The video is a little over 20 minutes.  But you’ll get the idea after only a minute or two.  Truly unbelievable.

After posting this article, I got an idea for an alternative solution to the spending quandary we live with in congress.  Here’s my idea:

Connect the American budget with congress’s salary.  If they cut the budget 10%, they get a 10% raise.  If the budget goes up 10%, their salary is cut.  So let’s look at an example.

Current congress salaries (House and Senate) = $93,625,000/year (poor guys)  So if the budget was cut 10%, their salaries would go up $9,362,500 — a nice raise!  Now considering the current U.S. annual budget is about $3.8T, that would mean we’d save $380B.!!!  At that rate we’d be saving some ‘real money’ before you know it!!  I don’t know about you, but this sounds like a good deal to me!!?

There’s only one problem with my idea…   congress would have to vote on it for approval!!  NO WAY would that fly with the fat lazy self-serving ‘representatives’ we have today!!  (*&^%#$%^