Tag Archives: US trade deficit

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Launches Yet Another Financial Campaign Against U.S. Workers and Main Street…

Today U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue announced another campaign to protect and defend his Wall Street contributors against initiatives that benefit Main Street U.S.A. This is not the first time, and unfortunately it will likely not be the last time.

For a great historic reference consider THIS ARTICLE from 2014; when the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced their direct attack against the Tea Party backed candidates that threatened to remove the massive lobbying power of Tom Donohue’s corrupt officials. That 2014 reference point has two parts. I strongly urge anyone who would defend the U.S. CoC approach to read both.

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The overwhelming majority of economic punditry and opinion come from salespeople on the purchased payroll, direct and indirect, of the chamber. It is one of the most, check that, it is the most corrupt and abusive enterprise in the history of our nation. They are pulling out a very familiar playbook.

(Reuters) – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday denounced President Donald Trump’s handling of a global trade dispute, issuing a report that argued the tariffs imposed by Washington and retaliation by its partners would boomerang badly on the American economy.

The Chamber, the nation’s largest business lobby group and a traditional ally of Trump’s Republican Party, argued the White House is risking a global trade war with the push to protect U.S. industry and workers with tariffs.The group’s analysis of the potential hit each U.S. state may take from retaliation by U.S. trading partners painted a gloomy picture that could increase pressure on the White House from Republicans ahead of congressional elections in November.[…] The Chamber is expected to spend millions of dollars ahead of the November elections to help candidates who back free trade, immigration and lower taxes. It has already backed candidates who share those goals in Republican primaries. (read more)

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce consists of a massive multinational DC lobbying group that four consecutive administrations’ have allowed to write the actual language in U.S. trade deals and trade negotiations.  Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Bush, Obama, Obama all gave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce the keys to the U.S. economy, and walked away.  The U.S. middle-class was nearly destroyed in the process.

CTH has stood alone, for years, against the insufferable horde of CoC political mouthpieces and their media conscripts.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is at the corrupt center of almost every scheme that fund the Deep Swamp to the detriment of our nation. They are the most vile and insidious UniParty group of lobbyists in Washington DC.

Until Donald Trump came along, they held virtually unlimited power over the U.S. economy.  The Chamber is a cancer; and any politician who associates with that abhorrent group should be excised from existence with extreme prejudice.

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Source: By Sundance | The Conservative Tree House

Very Important Economic Ideological Confrontation: Neil Cavuto -vs- Larry Kudlow…

Neil Cavuto is the defender of multinational Wall Street interests.  Cavuto’s boss, Rupert Murdoch has a well known insider nickname: “Mr. Wall Street”… The Murdoch operations (Fox News and Wall Street Journal among them) are ideological advocates for multinational corporations and historic globalist trade practices; to the detriment of the U.S. middle-class. That’s right, they are. Cavuto and Murdoch are also aligned with U.S. Chamber of Commerce President, Tom Donohue, in all things related to Big Multinational Trade.

In this interview there is a very apropos example of the twisted disconnect evident in the multinational corporate media perspective.  Please focus on the part that begins around 04:55 and listen closely to Cavuto:

…”and we’re really seeing the effect on the folks who have to pay the bills for this sort of thing … we’re already seeing soybean prices coming down; we’re seeing pork related prices coming down … folks are taking it on the chin, what are you telling them?”… etc.

There it is.  Did you catch it?

In discussing futures Cavuto sounds the alarm for “Soybean prices coming down.”  “Pork prices coming down”; and “the folks “taking it on the chin.”

Now, think.  What Neil Cavuto is saying is that U.S. food futures prices are forecast to come down.  In that scenario who exactly is taking it on the chin?

Who is it that Neil Cavuto sees losing out in his position?  It’s not the family going to the grocery store… they will see lower prices… so who are these “folks” losing out?

There it is.

Right there.

It’s easy to miss the gas lighting because it is so commonplace. Cavuto doesn’t even see himself doing it.

This is the twisted and controlled market being discussed.

Neil Cavuto is not calling for ‘free markets’, he is advocating for ‘controlled markets’, and his anxiety is because the “folks” he references as “losers” are the Multinational Corporations and Big-AG who control the Pork and Soybean market. Cavuto’s ‘consumers’, those he is advocating for, are Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Monsanto, Cargill, Unilever, Nestle’ and ConAgra.  Those are the names of Cavuto’s folks that he sees as “taking it on the chin.”   He is NOT, repeat NOT, talking about people who shop at supermarkets and grocery stores, ie. the middle-class. I cannot emphasize this enough… once you know how to spot this economic disconnect in the arguments by advocates for multinational corporations you can never go back to a time when you don’t see it. This is the most important economic lesson that most Americans simply do not comprehend.  We are in an abusive relationship, and most U.S. consumers don’t even know about it. If the U.S. were to exit NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), the price you pay for most foodstuff at the grocery store would drop 10% in the first quarter and likely drop 20% or more by the end of the first year. Here’s why:

Approximately a decade ago the U.S. Dept of Agriculture stopped using U.S. consumer food prices within the reported CORE measures of inflation. The food sector joined the ranks of fuel and energy prices in no longer being measured to track core inflation and backdrop Fed monetary policy. Not coincidentally this was simultaneous to U.S. consumers seeing massive inflation in the same highly consumable sector. There are massive international corporate and financial interests who are inherently at risk from President Trump’s “America-First” economic and trade platform. Believe it or not, President Trump is up against an entire world economic establishment. When you understand how trade works in the modern era you will understand why the agents within the system are so adamantly opposed to U.S. President Trump. The biggest lie in modern economics, willingly spread and maintained by corporate media, is that a system of global markets still exists.

It doesn’t.

Every element of global economic trade is controlled and exploited by massive institutions, multinational banks and multinational corporations. Institutions like the World Trade Organization (WTO) and World Bank control trillions of dollars in economic activity. Underneath that economic activity there are people who hold the reigns of power over the outcomes. These individuals and groups are the stakeholders in direct opposition to principles of America-First national economics. The modern financial constructs of these entities have been established over the course of the past three decades. When you understand how they manipulate the economic system of individual nations you begin to understand understand why they are so fundamentally opposed to President Trump. In the Western World, separate from communist control perspectives (ie. China), “Global markets” are a modern myth; nothing more than a talking point meant to keep people satiated with sound bites they might find familiar. Global markets have been destroyed over the past three decades by multinational corporations who control the products formerly contained within global markets. The same is true for “Commodities Markets”. The multinational trade and economic system, run by corporations and multinational banks, now controls the product outputs of independent nations. The free market economic system has been usurped by entities who create what is best described as ‘controlled markets’. U.S. President Trump smartly understands what has taken place. Additionally he uses economic leverage as part of a broader national security policy; and to understand who opposes President Trump specifically because of the economic leverage he creates, it becomes important to understand the objectives of the global and financial elite who run and operate the institutions. The Big Club. Understanding how trillions of trade dollars influence geopolitical policy we begin to understand the three-decade global financial construct they seek to protect.

That is, global financial exploitation of national markets.

FOUR BASIC ELEMENTS:

♦Multinational corporations purchase controlling interests in various national outputs and industries of developed industrial western nations.

♦The Multinational Corporations making the purchases are underwritten by massive global financial institutions, multinational banks.

♦The Multinational Banks and the Multinational Corporations then utilize lobbying interests to manipulate the internal political policy of the targeted nation state(s).

♦With control over the targeted national industry or interest, the multinationals then leverage export of the national asset (exfiltration) through trade agreements structured to the benefit of lesser developed nation states – where they have previously established a proactive financial footprint. Against the backdrop of President Trump confronting China; and against the backdrop of NAFTA being renegotiated, likely to exit; and against the necessary need to support the key U.S. steel industry; revisiting the economic influences within the modern import/export dynamic will help conceptualize the issues at the heart of the matter. There are a myriad of interests within each trade sector that make specific explanation very challenging; however, here’s the basic outline. For three decades economic “globalism” has advanced, quickly. Everyone accepts this statement, yet few actually stop to ask who and what are behind this – and why? Influential people with vested financial interests in the process have sold a narrative that global manufacturing, global sourcing, and global production was the inherent way of the future. The same voices claimed the American economy was consigned to become a “service-driven economy.” What was always missed in these discussions is that advocates selling this global-economy message have a vested financial and ideological interest in convincing the information consumer it is all just a natural outcome of economic progress.

It’s not.

It’s not natural at all. It is a process that is entirely controlled, promoted and utilized by large conglomerates, lobbyists, purchased politicians and massive financial corporations. Again, I’ll try to retain the larger altitude perspective without falling into the traps of the esoteric weeds. I freely admit this is tough to explain and I may not be successful.

Bulletpoint #1: ♦ Multinational corporations purchase controlling interests in various national elements of developed industrial western nations. This is perhaps the most challenging to understand. In essence, thanks specifically to the way the World Trade Organization (WTO) was established in 1995, national companies expanded their influence into multiple nations, across a myriad of industries and economic sectors (energy, agriculture, raw earth minerals, etc.). This is the basic underpinning of national companies becoming multinational corporations. Think of these multinational corporations as global entities now powerful enough to reach into multiple nations -simultaneously- and purchase controlling interests in a single economic commodity. A historic reference point might be the original multinational enterprise, energy via oil production. (Exxon, Mobil, BP, etc.) However, in the modern global world, it’s not just oil; the resource and product procurement extends to virtually every possible commodity and industry. From the very visible (wheat/corn) to the obscure (small minerals, and even flowers). Bulletpoint #2 ♦ The Multinational Corporations making the purchases are underwritten by massive global financial institutions, multinational banks. During the past several decades national companies merged. The largest lemon producer company in Brazil, merges with the largest lemon company in Mexico, merges with the largest lemon company in Argentina, merges with the largest lemon company in the U.S., etc. etc. National companies, formerly of one nation, become “continental” companies with control over an entire continent of nations. …or it could be over several continents or even the entire world market of Lemon/Widget production. These are now multinational corporations. They hold interests in specific segments (this example lemons) across a broad variety of individual nations. National laws on Monopoly building are not the same in all nations. Most are not as structured as the U.S.A or other more developed nations (with more laws). During the acquisition phase, when encountering a highly developed nation with monopoly laws, the process of an umbrella corporation might be needed to purchase the targeted interests within a specific nation. The example of Monsanto applies here.

Bulletpoint #3 ♦The Multinational Banks and the Multinational Corporations then utilize lobbying interests to manipulate the internal political policy of the targeted nation state(s). With control of the majority of actual lemons the multinational corporation now holds a different set of financial values than a local farmer or national market. This is why commodities exchanges are essentially dead. In the aggregate the mercantile exchange is no longer a free or supply-based market; it is now a controlled market exploited by mega-sized multinational corporations. Instead of the traditional ‘supply/demand’ equation determining prices, the corporations look to see what nations can afford what prices. The supply of the controlled product is then distributed to the country according to their ability to afford the price. This is essentially the bastardized and politicized function of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This is also how the corporations controlling WTO policy maximize profits. Back to the lemons. A corporation might hold the rights to the majority of the lemon production in Brazil, Argentina and California/Florida. The price the U.S. consumer pays for the lemons is directed by the amount of inventory (distribution) the controlling corporation allows in the U.S. If the U.S. lemon harvest is abundant, the controlling interests will export the product to keep the U.S. consumer spending at peak or optimal price. A U.S. customer might pay $2 for a lemon, a Mexican customer might pay .50¢, and a Canadian $1.25. The bottom line issue is the national supply (in this example ‘harvest/yield’) is not driving the national price because the supply is now controlled by massive multinational corporations. The mistake people often make is calling this a “global commodity” process. In the modern era this “global commodity” phrase is particularly nonsense. A true global commodity is a process of individual nations harvesting/ creating a similar product and bringing that product to a global market. Individual nations each independently engaged in creating a similar product. Under modern globalism this process no longer takes place. It’s a complete fraud. Massive multinational corporations control the majority of production inside each nation and therefore control the global product market and price. It is a controlled system. EXAMPLE: Part of the lobbying in the food industry is to advocate for the expansion of U.S. taxpayer benefits to underwrite the costs of the domestic food products they control. By lobbying DC these multinational corporations [Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Monsanto, Cargill, Unilever, Nestle’, ConAgra etc] get congress and policy-makers to expand the basis of who can use EBT and SNAP benefits (state reimbursement rates). Expanding the federal subsidy for food purchases is part of the corporate profit dynamic. With increased taxpayer subsidies, the food price controllers can charge more domestically and export more of the product internationally. Taxes, via subsidies, go into their profit margins. The corporations then use a portion of those enhanced profits in contributions to the politicians. It’s a circle of money. In highly developed nations this multinational corporate process requires the corporation to purchase the domestic political process (as above) with individual nations allowing the exploitation in varying degrees. As such, the corporate lobbyists pay hundreds of millions to politicians for changes in policies and regulations; one sector, one product, or one industry at a time. These are specialized lobbyists.

EXAMPLE: The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS)

CFIUS is an inter-agency committee authorized to review transactions that could result in control of a U.S. business by a foreign person (“covered transactions”), in order to determine the effect of such transactions on the national security of the United States.

CFIUS operates pursuant to section 721 of the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended by the Foreign Investment and National Security Act of 2007 (FINSA) (section 721) and as implemented by Executive Order 11858, as amended, and regulations at 31 C.F.R. Part 800.

The CFIUS process has been the subject of significant reforms over the past several years. These include numerous improvements in internal CFIUS procedures, enactment of FINSA in July 2007, amendment of Executive Order 11858 in January 2008, revision of the CFIUS regulations in November 2008, and publication of guidance on CFIUS’s national security considerations in December 2008 (more)

Bulletpoint #4With control over the targeted national industry or interest, the multinationals then leverage export of the national asset (exfiltration) through trade agreements structured to the benefit of lesser developed nation states – where they have previously established a proactive financial footprint. The process of charging the U.S. consumer more for a product, that under normal national market conditions would cost less, is a process called exfiltration of wealth. This is the basic premise, the cornerstone, behind the catch-phrase ‘globalism’.

It is never discussed.

To control the market price some contracted product may even be secured and shipped with the intent to allow it to sit idle (or rot). It’s all about controlling the price and maximizing the profit equation. To gain the same $1 profit a widget multinational might have to sell 20 widgets in El-Salvador (.25¢ each), or two widgets in the U.S. ($2.50/each). Think of the process like the historic reference of OPEC (Oil Producing Economic Countries). Only in the modern era massive corporations are playing the role of OPEC and it’s not oil being controlled, thanks to the WTO it’s almost everything. Again, this is highlighted in the example of taxpayers subsidizing the food sector (EBT, SNAP etc.), the corporations can charge U.S. consumers more. Ex. more beef is exported, red meat prices remain high at the grocery store, but subsidized U.S. consumers can better afford the high prices. Of course, if you are not receiving food payment assistance (middle-class) you can’t eat the steaks because you can’t afford them. (Not accidentally, it’s the same scheme in the ObamaCare healthcare system). Agriculturally, multinational corporate Monsanto, ADM, ConAgra says: ‘all your harvests are belong to us‘. Contract with us, or you lose because we can control the market price of your end product. Downside is that once you sign that contract, you agree to terms that are entirely created by the financial interests of the larger corporation; not your farm. The multinational agriculture lobby is massive. We willingly feed the world as part of the system; but you as a grocery customer pay more per unit at the grocery store because domestic supply no longer determines domestic price. Within the agriculture community the (feed-the-world) production export factor also drives the need for labor. Labor is a cost. The multinational corps have a vested interest in low labor costs. Ergo, open border policies. (ie. willingly purchased republicans not supporting border wall etc.). Remember the example of China purchasing Smithfield foods?  In these examples the state-run economic operation of China operates like a corporation. [More Here] This corrupt economic manipulation/exploitation applies over multiple sectors, and even in the sub-sector of an industry like steel. China/India purchases the raw material, coking coal, then sells the finished good (rolled steel) back to the global market at a discount. Or it could be rubber, or concrete, or plastic, or frozen chicken parts etc. The ‘America First’ Trump-Trade Doctrine upsets the entire construct of this multinational export/control dynamic. Team Trump focus exclusively on bilateral trade deals, with specific trade agreements targeted toward individual nations (not national corporations). ‘America-First’ is also specific policy at a granular product level looking out for the national interests of the United States, U.S. workers, U.S. companies and U.S. consumers. Under President Trump’s Trade positions, balanced and fair trade with strong regulatory control over national assets, exfiltration of U.S. national wealth is essentially stopped. This puts many current multinational corporations, globalists who previously took a stake-hold in the U.S. economy with intention to export the wealth, in a position of holding contracted interest of an asset they can no longer exploit. Perhaps now we understand better how massive multi-billion multinational corporations and institutions are aligned against President Trump.

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Source: By Sundance | The Conservative Treehouse

Excluding Oil, The US Trade Deficit Has Never Been Worse

By Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge

Remember when in January 2010 Obama promised that he should double US exports in five years in a bid to collapse the US trade deficit? Not only that, but in his 2010 SOTU address, Obama doubled down by saying “It’s time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs in the United States of America.”

Back then, Jennifer R. Psaki who was still a simple White House spokesperson, said that the White House “had been working for several months on a policy to increase exports. She said the plans included the creation of an export promotion cabinet and steps to help small and medium-size businesses tap markets in other countries. ”

Well, it isn’t quite five years later (he still has six months), but we doubt that anyone would have expected what the outcome of Obama’s export boosting campaign would be. We show it below in the following chart which captures the US trade deficit, excluding oil.

 

What this chart shows is that when it comes to core manufacturing and service trade, that which excludes petroleum, the US trade deficit hit some $49 billion dollars in the month of May, the highest real trade deficit ever recorded!

In other words, far from doubling US exports, Obama is on pace to make the export segment of the US economy the weakest it has ever been, leading to millions of export-producing jobs gone for ever (but fear not, they will be promptly replaced by part-time jobs). It also means that the collapse in Q1 GDP, much of which was driven by tumbling net exports, will continue as America appear largely unable to pull itself out of its international trade funk, much less doubling its exports.

What’s perhaps just as bad, is that the chart above shows that global trade continues to collapse: just recall the near standstill in Chinese trade, both exports and imports, that took place earlier this year. We wonder: is the fact that the world is trading with each other at the slowest pace since the Lehman collapse also due to harsh winter weather?

Yet while core trade is the worst ever, overall US trade is not all that bad. Why? Because of the shale revolution of course, and the fact that net US petroleum imports have plunged.

 

Note, the above chart does not imply the US is a net exporter of petroleum, especially considering the recent news surrounding the easing of the oil export ban. That simply won’t happen as was explained previously. What it does show is that oil imports as a percentage of the total US trade deficit continue to decline, even if the US still remains a net oil importer.  Which is curious because as Bloomberg reports, “the U.S. will remain the world’s biggest oil producer this year after overtaking Saudi Arabia and Russia as extraction of energy from shale rock spurs…  U.S. production of crude oil, along with liquids separated from natural gas, surpassed all other countries this year with daily output exceeding 11 million barrels in the first quarter, the bank said in a report today. The country became the world’s largest natural gas producer in 2010. The International Energy Agency said in June that the U.S. was the biggest producer of oil and natural gas liquids.”

So even with the world’s biggest crude production, the US still needs to import nearly $9 billion in petroleum goods every month? That is hardly enough to offset the massive loss of jobs experienced in other non-energy sectors of the economy which unlike oil, have never seen a worse trade deficit.

Furthermore, even as the energy sector soaks up some $200 billion in capex or some 20% of the total private fixed-structure spending, the US shale renaissance will only persist for another 5 or so years before the output rates peak and resume their downward direction:

U.S. oil output will surge to 13.1 million barrels a day in 2019 and plateau thereafter, according to the IEA, a Paris-based adviser to 29 nations. The country will lose its top-producer ranking at the start of the 2030s, the agency said in its World Energy Outlook in November.

Or sooner. Or later. The funny thing about petroleum production is how dependant on extraction technology it is. Still, while the shale revolution has been a blessing since the Lehman collapse, it may be on the verge of some serious disappointments: recall back in March when the Monterey Shale, whose reserves were said to account for two-thirds of all recoverable US shale oil resources, saw the EIA cuts these estimates by a whopping 96% overnight!

Furthermore, as we also reported back in March, the US may well have hit the tipping ROI point, as shale costs have exploded in recent months. In fact, the one thing that may be masking the increasing unprofitability of shale production in the US is that old standby: debt. Some of the choice fragments from the indepth look at the shale industry, from Shale Boom Goes Bust As Costs Soar:

The U.S. shale patch is facing a shakeout as drillers struggle to keep pace with the relentless spending needed to get oil and gas out of the ground.

Shale debt has almost doubled over the last four years while revenue has gained just 5.6 percent, according to a Bloomberg News analysis of 61 shale drillers. A dozen of those wildcatters are spending at least 10 percent of their sales on interest compared with Exxon Mobil Corp.’s 0.1 percent.

“The list of companies that are financially stressed is considerable,” said Benjamin Dell, managing partner of Kimmeridge Energy, a New York-based alternative asset manager focused on energy. “Not everyone is going to survive. We’ve seen it before.”

In a measure of the shale industry’s financial burden, debt hit $163.6 billion in the first quarter… companies including Forest Oil Corp. , Goodrich Petroleum Corp. and Quicksilver Resources Inc. racked up interest expense of more than 20 percent.

Drillers are caught in a bind. They must keep borrowing to pay for exploration needed to offset the steep production declines typical of shale wells. At the same time, investors have been pushing companies to cut back. Spending tumbled at 26 of the 61 firms examined. For companies that can’t afford to keep drilling, less oil coming out means less money coming in, accelerating the financial tailspin.

But one doesn’t need to look at the shale driller’s balance sheets to know that something is afoot: a quick glimpse at recent Bakken shale dynamics, shows that the well efficiency has topped out and the only offset is the exponentially rising number of wells: an exponential line which as the excerpt above shows is only sustainable courtesy of ZIRP and ultra cheap debt. If and when the Fed’s generosity ends, watch out as the shale day of reckoning finally arrives .

In any event, the above shale discussion is tangential – perhaps the US will uncover new technologies to tap even more oil, at lower prices and higher efficiencies. But probably not, as even the E&P industry is increasingly more focused on buybacks and cashing out here and now, than on capex and R&D spending.

Ironically, it is precisely the oil industry in general, and shale in particular, that Obama blasted as recently as 2011. As the NRO helps us recall, it was back in 2007, Obama said he wanted to free America from “the tyranny of oil.” In 2011, he called oil “yesterday’s energy.” He also decried the profits being made by the oil and gas sector and declared that it was time to repeal the tax preferences given to it (which cost taxpayers about $4 billion per year), calling them “oil-company giveaways.” How ironic is it, then, that it is precisely the oil companies which prevent the soaring US trade gap in all other goods and services to disintegrate the US economy completely.

In any event, in a world in which trade increasingly does not matter (because central banks supposedly can and will merely print “prosperity” to offset the lost wealth that comes with international trade and comparative advantage, a concept that has been around since the late 1700s), it is becoming clear that America has certainly adhered to the Fed’s mission of forcing capital misallocation worse than ever, by focusing not on being competitive in an increasingly more technological and sophisticated world, but merely pretending that an economy can achieve escape velocity almost exclusively through stock buybacks.

And yet somehow there are those who still vouch for 3% GDP growth any minute now, a renaissance in capital spending also any minute now, just, well, never now, and who believe that some 285K jobs can be created at a time when the US economy is free falling and the M&A bubble is laying off tens of thousands every month left and right all in the name of the almighty EPS beat.

But then again, Obama still has 6 months to make good on his promise to “double US exports in 5 years.” We are confident that in retrospect, just like in all of his other public appearances, he will have spoken nothing but the truth…