Bill Owens: Confusing and Confusing Events 07/19/21
On the Covid front, summer camps in Texas, Illinois, Florida, Missouri and Kansas have seen significant outbreaks of Covid, and in some cases they have spread to the local community. Obviously, the reason is that the young people who attend the camps have not been vaccinated. Does that portend epidemics in the fall when school resumes? It just seems logical. Hopefully we can lower the vaccination age even further, as it could have a devastating effect on children, as well as families.
Continuing on the issue of Covid, vaccination rates locally are 59.7% in Clinton County; 60.6% in Essex County; 71.7% in Hamilton County and 65.4% in Warren County, reflecting at least one dose was taken, these numbers are not stellar and will not protect us adequately (possibly none of us) because the variants evolve over the next year. At the end of the week, Essex County reported a slight increase.
On July 12, an official change of command ceremony was held to end our 20 years in Afghanistan. It is clear that Afghanistan is under siege and whether or not it will be able to resist the Taliban onslaught is unknown, but also unlikely. It is certainly not clear whether we can come up with a peace deal that would allow the antagonist to settle the dispute, within the limits of Afghan history and culture.
A Washington Post report says a significant number of people have dumped goldfish in lakes, evidently in warmer parts of the country, and are turning into football-sized fish. It is indeed an invasive species that disrupts the ecology of these bodies of water. These fish grow to extraordinary sizes and contribute to poor water quality by messing up bottom feelings and uprooting plants. The message here is that any fish or animal released into local waters or the local environment is, in fact, an invasive species and will disrupt the ecology of your area. Obviously, the message is not to throw them away.
The Wall Street Journal reported on the Texas Democrats’ walkout in an attempt to thwart the voting rights bill Republicans were trying to push through in the Texas Legislature. The Republican governor of course called this a political coup without taking the credit for his own political coup – the legislation itself. This legislation is disguised to look like an attempt to improve the vote, but rather, it is really an attempt to suppress the vote of minorities and others who would vote democratically. Are there steps that could be taken to strengthen the sanctity of elections and ensure fairness, clearly there are, but that is not the intention of Republicans in Texas, or any other state? of the United States which enacts this type of legislation.
The US Department of Labor reported that the CPI rose the most in 13 years during the month of June. This led to the US dollar rising to a 5-day high against a basket of currencies, which is a typical reaction when inflation appears to be strengthening, as reported by Reuters and Treasury yields have also increased.
The withdrawal from Afghanistan, while entirely appropriate in my opinion, leaves open the question of how we treated the Afghans who served with us. General Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs said it best: “I consider it a moral imperative to take care of those who have served alongside us.” Mr. Biden pledged to provide the opportunity for the Afghans who served with us to be resettled to the United States, and as long as these good people take another alternative, then we should take whatever steps are necessary, including including financial, to make this happen. . We no longer need to lose American lives, and the Afghans who served with us should not lose theirs.
The Wall Street Journal led this week with a headline “Government Worldwide Gorge on Record Debt, Testing New Limits”. The United States has certainly moved in this direction with deficits in the order of $ 3 trillion in recent years, under both President Trump and President Biden. A new twist is a shift in economic thinking, from seeing debt as a threat to essentially saying that debt is not something the government needs to worry about, and that it could usher in local growth. robust. Nonetheless, there will be large mounds of debt that can only be absorbed by inflation, high taxes, or even default. The markets have largely ignored this growth in debt, and appear unresponsive until the Fed raises or raises interest rates only slightly. The yield on Treasury bonds remains low, if that changes, and if Treasury bonds and the yield start to rise, we will likely see both increased pressure on debt as it will cost more to carry it, as well as inflation.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that there are four reasons inflation is picking up steam. The former are the products whose prices fell during the pandemic, but which are increasing now – think of airline tickets. The latter are those that increase because supply does not match demand, but can readjust once supply catches up. Third, those who have risen during the pandemic and are standing up. Fourth, products whose prices have slowed down instead of essentially rising. A classic supply and demand from an unprecedented environment. No surprise, we can’t predict it.
China reports slow growth in the last quarter after experiencing growth in the first quarter which was at a rate of 18.3% falling to 7.9% in the second quarter. Chinese economists say this is the result of the Chinese economy having recovered faster than the rest of the world and is now fully recovered. This is belied by the fact that there is such a dramatic slowdown in the delivery of products from China for a wide variety of reasons that clearly has an impact on their export business. If much of the growth comes from within, then even 7.9% is very impressive. It is worth watching.
Unemployment insurance claims have fallen to the lowest level since the pandemic started at 360,000. This is clearly good news and now we need to see how many of these unfilled jobs remain empty because if we get close to a full recovery on the employment side, where people will come to fill the vacancies. This is yet another conundrum that developed after the pandemic for which we do not necessarily have a clear answer.
Bill Owens is a former congressman representing the New York 21st, a partner at Stafford, Owens, Piller, Murnane, Kelleher and Trombley in Plattsburgh, NY, and a strategic advisor at Dentons in Washington, DC.
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