1. Harold James, The German Slump: Politics and Economics 1924-1936. Not economic history in the post-cliometrics sense, but a history of economic issues, very high quality, full of good information on just about every page. 2. William Rosen, Miracle Cure: The Creation of Antibiotics and the Birth of Modern Medicine. A good book on exactly […] The post What I’ve been reading appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.
WASHINGTON ― The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a modified version of an Iran sanctions bill on Thursday that includes changes recommended by former Obama administration officials. The original version of the sanctions bill had broad bipartisan support. But Obama-era national security officials warned that it risked violating the Iran nuclear deal and alienating U.S. allies. With Republicans now in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, Iran deal advocates didn’t have much leverage to convince lawmakers to tweak the legislation. But with a well-coordinated public and private messaging campaign, a group of Obama alumni succeeded in altering two sections of the bill they deemed risky. The amended legislation, approved by a vote of 18-3, changes language that would impose sanctions on anyone the president determines “poses a risk of materially contributing” to Iran’s ballistic missile program, to anyone who “knowingly” contributes to the program. The original description, critics argued, was overly broad and would have been difficult to enforce. “What if your car company was used to haul a missile?” said Richard Nephew, who was the lead sanctions expert on the U.S. team during the Iran nuclear negotiations. Lawmakers also reworded a section that would have created new conditions for lifting some ballistic missile sanctions that are set to expire in seven years as part of the nuclear deal. The original wording risked violating the nuclear deal by changing the terms of sanctions relief, critics said. The modifications closely mirror changes recommended by former officials who served in the previous administration’s National Security Council, State Department, Treasury Department, CIA, and Pentagon. Days after lawmakers introduced the bill in March, seven Obama-era foreign policy staffers proposed three changes to the text. Earlier this month, former Acting Treasury Secretary Adam Szubin embraced two of those proposed changes in a letter to members of the Foreign Relations Committee. The two changes endorsed by Szubin ultimately made it in the amended text of the bill. “In almost every meeting we’ve had with members and staff since Mr. Szubin and other Obama administration officials weighed in, the offices have referenced their opinions as reasons for concern,” a lobbyist who advocated for changes to the legislation told HuffPost. Szubin, an Obama appointee who served briefly under President Donald Trump, “had a particular impact on the Republican side because he is someone who is known and not seen as overtly political,” the lobbyist added. The only recommendation from former Obama staffers that failed to make its way into the amended bill was the removal of language that imposes sanctions reserved for global terrorist groups on the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, a component of Iran’s military. Critics warned that the language will have the practical effect of designating the IRGC as a foreign terrorist group, a move that defense officials have warned could compromise U.S. military operations in Iraq. Because the IRGC is involved in a significant portion of Iran’s business transactions, the designation could scare foreign companies away from doing business with Iran, which would undermine sanctions relief promised to Iran under the nuclear deal, Nephew said. Of the 21 members on the committee, only four ― Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) ― voted in favor of a failed amendment to modify the IRGC provision. Convincing lawmakers to make any changes to a bill that was likely to pass with bipartisan support in its original form was a coup for critics of the legislation. But even with the modifications, some Obama administration officials say they remain concerned about potential effects of new sanctions legislation on the fragile international nuclear accord. The evening before the committee vote, former Secretary of State John Kerry warned lawmakers against passing a new sanctions bill in the immediate aftermath of the re-election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the more moderate of the candidates. Jeff Prescott, a former National Security Council official who helped draft the March warning to lawmakers, said on Thursday that the changes to the bill may prevent “an outright violation” of the nuclear deal, “but we remain concerned about lending bipartisan license to an Administration that has signaled an intent to revisit aspects of the nuclear deal and escalate against Iran in the absence of a clear strategy or diplomatic engagement.” That concern was echoed even by some lawmakers who voted in favor of additional sanctions. “The reticence that some of us have brought to this debate is due to the fact that we worry that this can be construed as a congressional pre-endorsement” of future actions by the Trump administration that could undermine the deal, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said on Thursday, shortly before the committee vote. Though the Trump administration has so far upheld U.S. obligations under the nuclear deal and certified Iranian compliance, the president has indicated a willingness to change course. In a recent joint statement between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia ― Iran’s main regional adversary ― the two countries agreed that “the nuclear agreement with Iran needs to be re-examined in some of its clauses.” -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
John Cochrane took part in a debate on Italy and the euro, hosted by Il Sole 24 Ore, Italy's premier financial daily. The debate was promoted by Luigi Zingales. Most of my friends thought it was not a great idea, for it put on par contributions from well-established economists with others that are quite at the fringes of the scientific debate: the first tended to be less critical of the euro project, the latter tended to have a more jaundiced view of the European single currency. My gut feeling is that Euro-exit is a bad idea, but debating it frankly is a good idea: for nothing helps bad arguments more than the impression that they can't be talked about, most likely because of some dark forces which are suppressing the debate. Cochran contributed a splendid piece to the debate. The article was criticised by Alberto Bagnai, perhaps the most vocal critic of the euro in Italy. Cochrane responded here and was showered by quite a few critical comments. In his rebuttal, contending that Italy's problem is not the currency Italians use but high public spending and lack of economic dynamism, John writes: Call me when you can hire and fire people, government spending is under 50% of GDP, marginal tax rates are less than half, rent control is gone, it takes less than a decade to get a building permit, or when the World Bank ease of doing business ranking doesn't look like this. Well, rent control has been gone for quite a while, and so commentators on Cochrane's blog couldn't resist the temptation to teach the famous economist a lesson on Italy. They provided Cochrane's readers with a glimpse of Italy as a free market nirvana - perhaps inadvertently. Let me just go through a couple of the points they make. I don't believe they are false: but they are, so to say, half-truths. Rent control Correct, Italy doesn't have rent control any longer. Does it mean that property rights are seriously enforced? Not quite. Evicting illegal occupants and squatters is actually more difficult than ever, with obvious effects on the supply of rental units. My colleague Giacomo Mannheimer blogged on Italy's lack of respect for property rights here and also authored a short report on the subject (In Italian, sorry). Labour law Did Italy liberalise its labour markets? Well, we had a number of attempts that were certainly an improvement as compared with the former arrangements. In the late 90s/early 2000s, unemployment in Italy was at a historical low, perhaps precisely because of these liberalisation attempts. At last, the so-called "Jobs Act" has abolished the infamous "article 18" of the Workers' Statute, which made it virtually impossible to fire people for businesses with more than 15 employees. Yet we still don't have much "freedom to fire" today. For one thing, any attempt to actually fire a particular individual by a firm needs to pass the scrutiny of the labour courts, which regularly side with the workers. There is still a strong disincentive to even attempt to fire someone, as the legal costs will be significant and good chances are that you ultimately won't get rid of him. It is actually easier to fire a bunch of people collectively, after negotiations with trade unions, in cases of severe distress of a given company (but without telling them who shall go), than picking one single worker and firing her. It is true that we had something like German "mini jobs": but they have been abandoned, because of trade unions' pressure. Together with the enduring hegemony of the trade unions, the country's biggest problem lies in national collective bargaining. Though at firm-level you may negotiate a number of variations on the national agreement, these latter do not include wage cuts. Read this old-ish piece by Thomas Manfredi and Paolo Manasse, which very clearly points out the problem in the conclusion: In Italy, the share of contracts covered by some form of collective bargaining is among the highest among Western countries- around 85%. This happens despite the fact that union membership is on the low side, around 30%, in international comparisons. The reason is that collective contracts typically apply to non-unionised workers as well as unionised ones, and they are also enforced outside the sector where they are negotiated. Furthermore, while the average length of collective contracts in Italy is 3 years, in line with the OECD average, the de-facto duration is much longer, due to recurring delays in contracts' renewals. As of today, only between 30 to 40% of Italian firms use in-company bargaining (Treu 2009), while this percentage is close to zero for companies located in the South. In the discussion on Cochrane's blog, Uber gets mentioned a few times. It is true that banning Uber is a trend all over Europe, and not just in Italy. And still the point can be made that the drive for over-regulation is pervasive, in the Italian bureaucratic class as well as among decision makers. A couple of stupid examples may make you smile. Advertising for baby formula is prohibited by the law (see here). The Parliament is considering a law to regulate the possibility of calling/hiring a chef to cook a dinner at your house (see this). It is true that national regulation of commercial activity has been pretty much liberalized: but local government continues to meddle. Then of course there are the quite bigger issues of public spending (basically 50% of GDP), high taxation, high public debt (132,6% of GDP) that Cochrane alluded too and that constitute the bulk of good reasons for so-called "structural reform". Summarizing. It is certainly not true that Italy didn't reform in the last twenty years (in the 90s, actually, Italy privatised a lot). But very often these reforms did not result in a much needed liberalisation of the Italian economy, which is not a free market nirvana yet. It's hard to argue with Cochrane on that point. (3 COMMENTS)
On November 9, 2016, the shareholders of Australia’s largest company, and the world’s tenth-largest bank, revolted. The Commonwealth Bank’s shareholders were reacting to the board’s annual Remuneration Report, which contained a recommendation that the CEO be granted a bonus based on what critics saw as “soft” measures. Other firms have ventured down this path, including the conglomerate Wesfarmers, with its 200,000-plus staff, and the global hospital operator Ramsay Health Care. Should CEO performance be assessed only on “hard” measures? Should soft measures be part of a CEO’s scorecard? Is there a framework that might assist you to tackle the CEO appraisal task? CEO incentives have traditionally been evaluated against objective data — also labelled “hard.” Take, as an example, the world’s largest mining company by market capitalization, BHP Billiton. Its Remuneration Committee employs several key performance indicators (KPIs) to guide the compensation of senior executives. According to its annual report, those include financial metrics such as “attributable profit; underlying EBIT (earnings before interest and taxation); and total shareholder return (share price and dividends which are assumed to be reinvested).” What has emerged more recently is the use of nonfinancial, but still objective, KPIs. In BHP’s case, these are total recorded injury frequency and greenhouse gas emissions. Corporations are now taking a further step beyond objective metrics, which can be financial and nonfinancial, to include subjective measures — tagged as “soft.” In 2012 the Commonwealth Bank restructured its evaluation system so that 75% of CEO incentives came from the bank’s total shareholder return (TSR), relative to a set peer group, and 25% from customer-satisfaction results, benchmarked against another peer group. When this award structure reached the end of its four-year performance period, on June 30, 2016, in response to the ethical scandals within the bank’s life insurance arm, the bank’s board took yet another step to include even more subjective measures. Specifically, to help modify the bank’s culture to match its stated values, the Remuneration Committee and Board recommended a change to the reward split: TSR 50%, customer satisfaction 25%, and people and community 25%. The latter was concerned with “measuring long-term progress in the areas of diversity and inclusion, sustainability, and culture.” Now a full 50% of the assessment was subjective. This proved to be a step too far for some shareholders, precipitating their revolt in November 2016. Boards around the world find themselves in a bind. For the last 20 years they’ve gone down a path forged largely by U.S. corporations and global remuneration consultants. They now find themselves dissatisfied with the result, recognizing that they can’t simply rely on financial measures in assessing corporate performance and in distributing rewards to CEOs and senior executives. But they don’t really know what to do instead. As a consequence, companies are firing off ad hoc responses rather than approaching performance measurement in a comprehensive way. The Commonwealth Bank appeared to shareholders as simply putting out a fire. “Well-intentioned but not well designed” was how Ian Silk, the CEO of Australia’s biggest industry superannuation fund, AustralianSuper, assessed the bank’s attempt. The future of corporate reporting lies in an integrated approach. Here’s the framework I employ with boards and CEOs. I recommend using it in developing a corporate performance scorecard. It produces both objective and subjective measures: Recognize, as company law dictates, that a board’s primary responsibility is to look after the best interests of the company — not only those of shareholders. Develop a corporate scorecard focused on the relationships that the company has with its stakeholders, including customers, employees, shareholders, and suppliers. Acknowledge that the relationship between company and stakeholder is a two-way street. Develop measures on both sides recognizing that measuring performance is measuring relationships and that shareholder returns are driven by effective relationships with other stakeholders. Appreciate that those much-sought-after leading indicators are often those soft, subjective measures. Implement a short list of KPIs recognizing the cause-and-effect relationship between soft and hard measures. A recent study by AMP Capital observed that “incentives linked solely to financial metrics risk fuelling negative culture and conduct.” As a result, it noted: “Companies are increasingly focussing on setting non-financial targets alongside financial targets.” The Commonwealth Bank is one among many firms around the globe that is forging new ground. You might expect that the board, under its new chair’s leadership and following the kerfuffle, would back away from the issue. It has no intention of doing so. Instead, indications are that it will provide shareholders with additional context and logic on the thorny issue of soft measures as part of CEO assessment. That points to an additional step that firms can take: proactively preparing their shareholders to accept a different way of doing business.
TransferWise had launched a Borderless Account for people and companies that do business across national baoundaries.
East Europe-focused Burisma Group’s adviser, Vadym Pozharsky, spoke to NGW about the risks and rewards of operating in Ukraine’s upstream. As a private gas producer, what do you see as the main obstacles to expanding business in Ukraine? Ukraine is a strategic region for Burisma Group.
After nearly 20 years of trying and billions of dollars in investment, why are organizations are still struggling with cybersecurity? In fact, the problem seems to be getting worse, not better. Answering this question requires moving beyond a purely technical examination of cybersecurity. It’s true that the technical challenges are very real; we don’t know how to write bug-free code, for example. But if you look at the challenge more broadly, even if we resolved the technical issues, cybersecurity would remain a hard problem for three reasons: It’s not just a technical problem The rules of cyberspace are different from the physical world’s Cybersecurity law, policy, and practice are not yet fully developed The first reason — that cybersecurity is more than just a technical problem, incorporating aspects of economics, human psychology, and other disciplines — has been explored in other articles in this cybersecurity series. However, the other two reasons also contribute strongly to making cybersecurity difficult, and our approaches must take them into account. Differing Rules in Cyberspace Cyberspace operates according to different rules than the physical world. I don’t mean the social “rules” but rather the physics and math of cyberspace. The nodal nature of a light-speed network means that concepts like distance, borders, and proximity all operate differently, which has profound implications for security. First, with distances greatly reduced, threats can literally come from anywhere and from any actor. Second, the borders in cyberspace don’t follow the same lines we have imposed on the physical world; instead they are marked by routers, firewalls, and other gateways. Proximity is a matter of who’s connected along what paths, not their physical location. Insight Center Getting Cybersecurity Right Sponsored by Accenture Safeguarding your company in a complex world. As a result, our physical-world mental models simply won’t work in cyberspace. For example, in the physical world, we assign the federal government the task of border security. But given the physics of cyberspace, everyone’s network is at the border. If everyone lives and works right on the border, how can we assign border security solely to the federal government? In the physical world, crime is local — you have to be at a location to steal an object, so police have jurisdictions based on physical boundaries. But in cyberspace you can be anywhere and carry out the action, so local police jurisdictions don’t work very well. The same principles of cyberspace that allow businesses to reach their customers directly also allow bad guys to reach businesses directly. Yet you can’t have governments get in the way of the latter without also getting in the way of the former. Sharing information among people at human speed may work in many physical contexts, but it clearly falls short in cyberspace. As long we continue to try to map physical-world models onto cyberspace, they will fall short in some fashion. Legal and Policy Frameworks Next, cyberspace is still very new from a legal and policy point of view. In the modern form, the internet and cyberspace have existed for only about 25 years and have constantly changed over that time period. Therefore, we have not developed the comprehensive frameworks we need. In fact, we don’t yet have clear answers to key questions: What is the right division of responsibility between governments and the private sector in terms of defense? What standard of care should we expect companies to exercise in handling our data? How should regulators approach cybersecurity in their industries? What actions are acceptable for governments, companies, and individuals to take and which actions are not? Who is responsible for software flaws? How do we hold individuals and organizations accountable across international boundaries? Some answers are beginning to emerge. For example, we should not expect the federal government to protect every business from all online threats all the time — it’s simply not practical, nor is it desirable, because it would significantly impact the way we’re able to do business. On the other hand, we can hardly expect most organizations to thwart the activities of sophisticated nation-state actors. So how do we resolve this dilemma? Perhaps we should borrow concepts from the disaster response world, and divide responsibility in a fluid manner that adapts over time in response to changing circumstances. In disaster response, preparedness and initial response reside at the local level; if a given incident overwhelms or threatens to overwhelm local responders, then steadily higher levels of government can step in. We could apply these principles to allocating responsibility in cyberspace — businesses and organizations remain responsible for securing their own networks, up to a point. But if it becomes clear that a nation-state is involved, or even if the federal government merely suspects that a nation-state is involved, then the federal government would start bringing its capabilities to bear. Fully answering these questions is the key cybersecurity policy task for the next five to 10 years. As long as we treat cybersecurity as a technical problem that should have easy technical solutions, we will continue to fail. If we instead develop solutions that address the reasons why cybersecurity is a hard problem, then we will make progress. The Cyber Threat Alliance (CTA) is just one example of this approach (disclosure: I’m the president of CTA). A little over two years ago, a group of cybersecurity practitioners from several organizations concluded that the industry’s operational model was not producing the desired results and decided to adopt a new one — to work together in good faith to begin sharing threat information in an automated fashion, with everyone contributing to the system, and with the context of threats being given a lot more weight. CTA’s structure is an attempt to deal with the known flaws in existing information sharing efforts. If we can continue to innovate in this manner, we can finally begin to make some progress against this seemingly intractable problem.
The comparison between the Comey-Russia investigation and possible wrongdoing by #45 Trump and Watergate wrongdoing by Nixon is badly overblown. There was smoking gun proof in Nixon’s recorded White House conversation tapes that he aided, abetted, covered up and obstructed justice in the Watergate break-in and assorted other illegal acts. This easily topped the high bar necessary to bring impeachment counts against Nixon. The GOP Senate leadership in that day saw this, and gently pushed Nixon toward a resignation. They did it for the plain reason that a severely damaged Nixon was wreaking havoc with the GOP’s image and agenda. Barring any tapes or memos that show Trump actually told former FBI director James Comey to back off from probes of his Russia ties and election meddling and former National security Advisor Mike Flynn’s involvement with this, there’s no smoking gun proof to nail Trump. But Trump and the GOP leadership is still on the Nixon hook. The Trump taint, as with Nixon, wreaks havoc on the GOP’s image and especially its hell bent legislative drive to wipe off the map every vestige of the eight years of the Obama administration accomplishments. The day after Trump’s White House win and the GOP’s capture of the Senate, it was a near certainty that the Affordable Care Act was finished, a big tax cut scheme for corporations and the obscenely wealthy was a done deal, and the Dodd-Frank financial rules would be a thing of the past. But long before Comey took the spotlight about Russia and Flynn, the GOP’s legislative victory lap was in trouble. Trump’s disastrous Muslim ban roused the furor of nearly everyone who had access to a microphone and reporter’s notepad. Some GOP leaders publicly denounced and distanced themselves from it and him, many others privately held their heads in between groans. This was more than an image relations nightmare for the GOP. It was the first real warning sign that Trump’s antics could be a crippling distraction for the GOP when it came to doing business with him. This entailed keeping GOP Senate members in line on the crucial legislative issues, and winning support from some Red State Democrats for at least parts of the GOP agenda. It didn’t take long for that nightmare to become reality when Democrats were near unanimous in opposing Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch, pounded his cabinet nominees in confirmation hearings, and forced the GOP controlled Senate to slow to a crawl on work to repeal the ACA. GOP leaders have had to watch night after night news reports of some new Trump bumble, stumble, and embarrassment, and then they have to duck and dodge reporters who follow them everywhere screaming questions about Trump, not the work of the Senate, but Trump. Then there’s the problem of the poll numbers and 2018. The numbers are Trump’s never high popularity poll numbers that have plunged to historic lows for the first few months of an incoming President’s term. This alone wouldn’t mean much to Trump and the GOP. But what does mean something is the methodical march downward of his poll popularity among the group that put him over the top; namely, non-college degree, blue collar and rural white males. It’s not a big drop yet, and many still are keeping the faith with him, no matter what. However, the point is the number of them who view him favorably aren’t growing and maybe won’t. This would be a disaster for the GOP in the 2018 mid-terms. GOP leaders not only worry out loud about not being able to get much done in Congress, but maybe even losing Congress in 2018. There are a couple of dozen or more congressional districts that are deemed in play for the Democrats. Tens of thousands in the swing districts bought Trump’s fight for the forgotten working class and middle class guy, and clean the Beltway swamp pitch, and loathing of Obama. They stampeded to the polls in 2016 to back him. There’s no Obama in 2018. The swamp is just as polluted, and all those jobs supposedly flooding back from overseas to the Rust belt are nowhere in sight. That, and a badly tainted Trump, doesn’t exactly make for a lot of happy campers ready to dash to the polls to back GOP candidates and incumbents battling for their political lives in those contested districts. The Comey tit-for-tat is not even close to the massive government near meltdown of Watergate. And Trump may not have blatantly broken the law as Nixon did. However, the lesson from Watergate is that a damaged goods President is the ultimate liability for his party, especially a party that made a lot of promises and raised a lot of expectations that it would deliver the goods in totally wiping clean the Obama year initiatives. This is the real GOP Trump nightmare. Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is the author of the new ebook How the Democrats Can Win in The Trump Era (Amazon Kindle). He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network. type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related... + articlesList=591c712fe4b041db89661f67,59137d4de4b0b1fafd0de012,591337c2e4b0e070cad70acd -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
Misstatements or poorly balanced schedules can cause international incidents.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Washington, D.C. 12:17 P.M. EDT THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Tom Donohue. Thank you all for that warm welcome. And on behalf of President Trump, let me just say thank you to Tom Donohue for your decades of tireless advocacy for business in America. Would you all join me in showing your appreciation for Tom Donohue’s years of leadership for American free enterprise? (Applause.) It’s an honor for me to be back at the United States Chamber of Commerce, the leading voice for American industry for more than 100 years, and to have the privilege to participate in this Invest in America Summit. I bring greetings this morning from a champion of American workers and of American free enterprise -- the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.) From the very first day of this administration, President Trump has been fighting to restore jobs and opportunities for the forgotten men and women of this country. And whatever Washington, D.C. may be focused on at any given time, rest assured, President Donald Trump will never stop fighting for the issues that matter most to the American people -- good jobs, safe streets, and a boundless American future. (Applause.) But I’m here today with a very specific message to all of those that are gathered here, on behalf of the President, it’s my pleasure to announce: America is open for business. (Applause.) It’s great to be with you all today. I’m especially honored to be joined by two friends who were job creators in their prior life and now they're leading two of the great states of America -- Governor Doug Ducey and Governor Matt Bevin of Arizona and Kentucky respectively. Thank you for being with us today. Thanks for being such great, great leaders. (Applause.) I’m also grateful to have with us so many American and international business leaders, and representatives of nearly 40 nations across the wider world. On behalf of President Trump and the American people, thank you for all that each of you do to strengthen the bonds of commerce and friendship between our land and yours. From factories to finance, from real estate to retail, your nations, your businesses recognize that investing in America means investing in success -- for you and for us. And as you know, placing a bet on America is really no bet at all. It’s a prudent, safe, and smart decision, and one that will reap rewards for many years to come. The advantages of investing in the American economy are really too numerous to count. They include our unparalleled system of capital, the quality and caliber of our workforce, and, of course, the entrepreneurial spirit that fuels the economic engine of the most powerful economy in the world. For all these reasons, and so many more, today foreign direct investment in America tops a stunning $3.1 trillion. No other nation in the world even comes close. The benefits of foreign investment, either from firms headquartered overseas or in domestic businesses with majority foreign ownership, are felt in American communities large and small. You know I saw it firsthand, as Tom mentioned, back when I was Governor of the state of Indiana. My former Secretary of Commerce, Victor Smith, is with us here today, and he can attest that foreign investment means jobs and opportunities for people all across our state and all across America. In our case in 2014, over 170,000 Hoosiers worked at foreign-owned companies, and the billions of dollars invested in our economy by international businesses contributed to Indiana’s reputation as a great place to live and work and raise a family. The truth is America as a whole is better off. All told, foreign investment is responsible for more than 6.3 million American jobs -- $57 billion in research and development in every field and industry and $425 billion in annual American exports. So let me just say on behalf of President Trump, thank you to all of the nations that are represented here for your businesses playing such an indispensable role in the prosperity of the United States of America. (Applause.) Your investment in our nation is vital to the American people, and ultimately it’s a win-win for both of us. But we’re here today because the truth is that we have a tremendous opportunity for growth in America. And rest assured, President Donald Trump is firmly committed to renewing America’s reputation as the best place in the world to make an investment and the premier investment destination on Earth. Since day one, President Trump has taken decisive action to strengthen the American economy and extend our competitive edge. This President has signed more bills to slash red tape than any President in American history. Before this administration, only one President had ever signed a Congressional Review Act measure -- President Trump has already used that legislation 14 different times. He’s used what is known as the Congressional Review Act to repeal overreaching, unnecessary, and harmful regulations ranging from the Department of the Interior, the Department of Labor, the SEC, the Federal Communications Commission, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and more. It’s been a restoration of common sense in regulations in America. And beyond that legislation, President Trump has ordered every agency in Washington, D.C. to find two regulations to get rid of before they issue any new regulations on American businesses and American free enterprise. (Applause.) Overall, this President has already eliminated rules and mandates that would have cost our economy as much as $18 billion every single year. And the President’s leadership doesn’t start there. He’s been rolling back the ban on offshore drilling. He’s put the Clean Power Plan on a path to extinction. President Trump recently approved the Keystone and Dakota pipelines what will create thousands of American jobs and strengthen America’s energy future. (Applause.) And President Trump is keeping his promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, and to end its burden on businesses and give the American people finally the quality of healthcare that they deserve. The President’s leadership has made a tremendous impact on our economy, and we're just getting started. Since the start of this year, businesses from across this country and across the wider world have created more than 700,000 American jobs. Company after company all across this nation are making record investments in American workers and in America’s future -- billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs. This represents nothing short than a vote of confidence in the President’s agenda. And make no mistake about it, we've only just begun. If you take nothing else from what I say today, know this: President Donald Trump is committed to signing the most significant and consequential tax relief in American history, releasing the boundless potential of the American economy. (Applause.) As Secretary Mnuchin said just a few weeks back, the President’s plan will strengthen the American economy and create untold opportunities of investment from across the wider world. We’re going to cut taxes across the board for working families, small businesses, and family farms. We're also going to put more money in the American people’s pockets -- and make the tax code simpler, flatter, and fairer for everyone. But when it comes to business, like all of you gathered here, President Trump’s tax plan will give you more incentive to invest in America than ever before. Our administration under President Trump’s leadership is going to fight to cut the corporate tax rate in America to 15 percent and make America competitive -- American businesses competitive again with businesses all over the world. (Applause.) He’ll end the outdated policy of worldwide taxation and enact a territorial system in its place. And President Trump will make sure that our businesses can finally bring back the trillions of dollars that are locked overseas and invest them in American workers and America’s future. The bottom line is that President Trump’s tax plan will strengthen our economy and strengthen our reputation as the best place to invest and the best place to do business anywhere in the world. The same is true of the rest of our agenda. In case you hadn’t noticed, the American people elected a builder to be President of the United States, and President Donald Trump is going to rebuild the infrastructure of America. (Applause.) The President is committed to make historic investments in our infrastructure to ensure that our businesses and yours have the best roads, the best bridges, the best airports, and the best future possible. The truth is that every dollar we invest in infrastructure is a dollar we invest in America’s future, and we look forward to leveraging the expertise of other nations, including many of you here today. We have much to learn from one another in areas we can work together to strengthen the infrastructure of this great nation and our great economy. And President Trump, I can assure you, has a deep appreciation for the role that international trade plays in enriching the American economy and opening doors of opportunity to the American people. But as the President has made clear, too many of America’s established trade relationships don’t fulfill the stated goal of being a win-win agreement for both sides. In fact, in far too many cases, as the President has observed, America has been on the losing side of its trade deals. The President has placed a high priority on fostering trade relationships that are free and fair; trade relationships that don’t work for one party simply don’t work at all. And under the President’s leadership, our administration will continue to work with all of our trading partners on a bilateral basis to roll back the policies that put American businesses at a disadvantage. We're going to work to break down barriers to investment. We're going to work to create a truly level playing field for companies on both sides so we can prosper together. (Applause.) The agreement announced last week between America and China is actually a model of what President Trump will continue to achieve. It opens the path to greater commerce by breaking down barriers to trade and investment in beef, biotechnology, energy, financial services, and more. It was an important accomplishment. I’m confident this agreement will be the first of many -- not only with China but with nations across the wider world. In fact, just last month I traveled to the Asia Pacific on the President’s behalf to promote our economic relationships with South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, and Australia. And at the President’s direction, together with Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, I had the privilege of announcing a new U.S.-Japan Economic Dialogue. We look forward to this dialogue, to seeing it progress, and to exploring ways that we can begin similar discussions with other nations around the world, including many of those gathered here. President Trump and our administration, I can assure you, will work tirelessly to ensure that our trade policies with all of trade partners are mutually beneficial and that they maximize the opportunity for investment in America. Thanks to the leadership of President Donald Trump, there simply is no better time to invest in America and no better time for you to attend this summit. Our President has already taken decisive action to renew America’s promise as a land of opportunity and prosperity. And in the days and weeks ahead, we will continue to work tirelessly to enact our agenda to make the strongest economy in the world stronger still. So today I say with confidence that with your continued help, with your innovation and with your industry, the companies that are represented here today, along with the leadership of President Donald Trump, I know the best days for America and all of her friends across the world are yet to come. Thank you. God bless you all and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.) END 12:31 P.M. EDT
Daniel McCarthy Politics, Americas Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has done Trump a service—though it might not be much appreciated. Donald Trump may have learned about the appointment of a special counsel to look into Russian interference in last year’s election less than an hour before the news went public, but he took the news calmly—at least until this morning. The timing might have been a surprise, but the result should not have been: from the day last week when the president fired FBI director James Comey, the appointment of a special counsel was inevitable. Another former FBI director, Robert Mueller, will now fill that role. This is surely an annoyance to President Trump. But it’s also a lifeline for him. This president ignores the old ways of doing business in Washington. All presidents enjoy wide-ranging authority to hire, fire and direct the behavior of executive-branch personnel, including those in the Justice Department and FBI. But most other presidents have been hesitant to use that power overtly to quash investigations as sensitive as the Russia probe. Donald Trump, by contrast, is shameless, or at least unembarrassed: he makes decisions based on what he wants at a given time, not based on what the seemly way of doing things is supposed to be. So he fired Comey in the midst of another flare-up in the Russia story, and by doing so he breathed life into accusations that he was obstructing justice. Trump is Trump—he may never adopt Washington’s ways. And so, even having dug himself into a hole by firing Comey, his response to the problem was always likely to amount to digging deeper. To step back, cede control and the let the process work itself out is not Donald Trump’s style, not when he’s become engaged in something—and not even when his own best interests might counsel a hands-off approach. If the decision had been left to the president, he would never have changed his strategy. More heads would roll, and the limits between obstruction and the president’s legitimate discretion would continue to be tested. Read full article
Aboard Air Force One En Route Washington, D.C. 2:45 P.M. EDT MR. SPICER: Hi, guys. How are you? I hope you all enjoyed your time in New London. I think the President is getting some pretty wide acclaim for the speech at the Coast Guard Academy today. I think just to kind of recap a couple of the points, he made it very clear in the speech, the advice that he gave to students, to not only defend the American security, but you protect American prosperity. It’s a mission that goes back to the earliest days of the Revenue Cutter Service. “Today, the Coast Guard helps keep our waters open for Americans to do business, it keeps our rivers flowing with commerce, and it keeps our ports churning with American exports. You help billions of dollars of goods to navigate our country every day. You’re the only federal presence in our inland waterways. You police the arteries we need to rebuild this country and to bring prosperity back to our heartland.” He talked about the fact, as you heard, that together, they have the same mission -- “Your devotion and dedication makes me proud to be your Commander-in-Chief.” And then lastly, he basically made it clear and highlighted, as you heard, the speech trip he’s about to take when he said, “In a few days I will make my first trip abroad as your President, with the safety, security and the interests of the American people as my priority. I will strengthen our old friendships and seek new partners. I will ask them to unite for a future of peace and opportunity for our peoples and for the world. First, in Saudi Arabia where I’ll speak to Muslim leaders and challenge them to fight hatred and extreme -- and embrace a peaceful future for their faith. Then in Israel, I’ll reaffirm our unbreakable alliance with the Jewish state. In Rome, I’ll talk with Pope Francis about the contributions of Christian teachings to the world. Finally, I’ll attend the NATO Summit in Brussels and the G7 in Sicily to promote security, prosperity and peace.” Tonight, after the President returns, he’s going to spend a good chunk of today preparing for the visit of the President of Colombia tomorrow. This evening, the Vice President will deliver remarks on behalf of the First Family at an Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month reception in his ceremonial office. He’ll be joined by Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao; Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, Seema Verma; and Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Acting Assistant Secretary Susan Thornton. The Vice President will discuss his recent trip to the Asia Pacific, the many contributions that Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander descent have made around the country. And lastly, the President will continue to meet with candidates for FBI director this afternoon. He’ll meet with four more -- Andrew McCabe, Frank Keating, Richard McFeely, and Joe Lieberman. So those will all happen upon return to the White House this afternoon. And then, again, obviously, I mentioned yesterday that there will be some additional logistical guidance that will be given to the press, both to the pool and to the traveling members of the -- the traveling journalists, as far as logistics and questions later tonight. I think the time has been provided on the guidance. If it hasn’t, it will be updated. But we’re looking -- I’m sorry, I’ve been out with you guys -- but there will be an opportunity I think to make sure that both with the pool and with members that are planning on traveling, just some off-the-record guidance in terms of timing and other movements that will occur, and events. So with that, I’ll take a few. Q Sean, does the President support former Director Comey testifying before Congress about his recollection of their conversations and the investigation, and would he be willing to waive executive privilege about their conversations to allow them to discuss fully the nature of those conversations? MR. SPICER: The President wants the -- is confident that the -- in the events that he has maintained, and the truth will -- he wants the truth and these investigations to get to the bottom of the situation. Q Does he support -- MR. SPICER: There’s two investigations going on in the House and Senate, and he wants to get to the bottom of this. Q Have you gotten a chance to look into a little bit more what took place in the meeting between the President and Comey in February? What’s the President’s side of this? We know that he says he did not ask about the Flynn investigation. Can you tell us more about what the President says took place at that meeting? MR. SPICER: I'm not going to get into -- the President has been very clear that the account that was published is not an accurate description of his -- of how the event occurred. Q I guess can you confirm, though -- MR. SPICER: I think that we’ve made it very clear. I’m not going to give any further comment on that. Q So do you have any evidence to back up, like, what -- is it just that the President says that this didn’t happen, this conversation didn’t happen? Or is there any recording or -- MR. SPICER: This is not -- the President has been very clear that this is not an accurate representation of that meeting. Q Are we just corroborating that based on his words, though? I mean, he said in a tweet about tapes last week -- are there records, transcripts of those conversations? MR. SPICER: I think we've been clear about that. I think we've been very -- we put out a statement regarding that. Q Two quick questions. Is the President considering having personal lawyers, like outside of White House counsel, in light of these kinds of allegations and things that have come up? MR. SPICER: If I have any updates for that at some point I'll let you know. Q The White House disputed some of the characterizations of the conversation the President had with the Russian Foreign Minister. It sounds like the Russian President said that their side is willing to release a transcript of the conversation. Do you support the Russians releasing a transcript of that conversation to Congress? And were you aware that they were recording the conversation? MR. SPICER: I think each side -- I am not aware of anything on that, I don't have any update on that. But I think we put out a statement very clearly about the President does not believe that is an accurate representation of that -- Q If the Russians have some sort of transcript, are you willing -- would you like it made public? MR. SPICER: The Secretary of State, the National Security Advisor and the Deputy National Security Advisor have been very clear with their recollection of that meeting, with their account of that meeting. Q -- that the President spoke to Bibi Netanyahu yesterday. Can you discuss a little bit more about what they talked about? And were the specific allegations that Israel intelligence was behind the -- what he told the Russians -- was that -- did that have anything to do with it? MR. SPICER: That phone call was purely a logistical and trip preparation. Q Did they discuss the fact that the source of the intelligence that was told to the Russians -- MR. SPICER: That was preparation. Q Okay. Also it seems that the President has been a bit quiet in the last 24 hours, at least on Twitter and making any public remarks outside the official events. Is there an effort to scale back events until -- or any kind of other comments about the issues that have been going on in the White House right now until he takes off on this trip? MR. SPICER: I think that we put out a statement last night very clear what our position was. I think there’s been a lot of questions that other people have -- that are out there talking about this or that in terms of what was appropriate with respect to some of the stuff that Director Comey did or did not do. But the White House has put out a statement very clearly with our account. Q How concerned are you by the comments that some of the Republicans in Congress are making, saying that this is starting to approach Watergate proportions and will affect the agenda? MR. SPICER: -- very clear that -- the President is obviously focused on his speech that he gave today, winning widespread praise for what he talked about -- the role of the Coast Guard and the future of these young ensigns that will go out there and help defend our homeland, and obviously he’s going to continue to prepare for the meeting with the President of Colombia tomorrow and looking forward to taking off on this trip. Thank you, guys. Enjoy. Q Can you comment about -- Q Can I -- Q Can you just comment on the video -- Q Do you have a date for the budget? MR. SPICER: The State Department put out a statement on that. Q Was the President aware of that? Did he see the video and did he -- MR. SPICER: I don't know. I know the State Department has put out a statement on that. Thanks, guys. END 2:53 P.M. EDT
Coast Guard Academy New London, Connecticut 11:50 A.M. EDT THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you, John. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you, and congratulations to the Class of 2017. Great job. And, General Kelly, I want to thank you for your leadership as the Coast Guard’s Service Secretary. You’ve really been something very, very special to us as a country, and to me and our administration. You’ve done throughout your entire life an incredible job defending your country. Thank you very much, John. (Applause.) And John and all of his folks are also doing an incredible job protecting our homeland and our border. And I’m thrilled that my first address to the Service Academy is the graduation ceremony for the United States Coast Guard. Believe me, it’s a great honor. (Applause.) I’ve been here before and it’s a very, very special place. Every cadet graduating today, as your Commander-in-Chief, it is truly my honor to welcome you aboard. (Applause.) And you should take a moment to celebrate this incredible achievement. Governor Malloy, thank you for being here. Governor, thank you. We’re glad you could join us. And I know how busy the governors are nowadays, and they’re out there fighting. It’s never easy. Budgets are a little tight, but we’re doing a job, all of us are doing a job, working together. I want to also thank Admiral Zookunft and his leadership. His leadership has been amazing. Today’s graduates will be fortunate to serve under such capable and experienced Commandant. He really is fantastic. Thanks also to Admiral Rendon, the Academy Superintendent. Admiral, I understand you come from a true Coast Guard family. Two brothers, a nephew, a cousin have all passed through these halls. That’s very impressive. I guess you like the place, right? (Applause.) Somebody in your family has been doing something right, I can tell you that. I’m sure they all are very proud, just as we are very proud of the fine young officers who are graduating today, Admiral, on your watch. I would also like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to all of the parents and the grandparents and family members who have supported these amazing graduates. Give your parents and everyone a hand. Come on. (Applause.) Because America has families like yours, and we’ll keep all of those families safe and very, very secure. You’re keeping your families safe now. If you are not already, you’re about to become military families. So, starting today, I hope you feel the full gratitude of our nation. These fine young cadets are about to take their rightful place on the front line of defense for the United States of America. Cadets, you deserve not only the congratulations but the gratitude of each and every American, and we all salute you. (Applause.) A proud nation. And you’re a part of a very, very proud nation which salutes the 195 199 cadets of the Coast Guard Academy Class of 2017. Good job. (Applause.) And I understand from the admirals that this has been a very special class. You’ve been trained here to handle the toughest of situations, the hardest of moments really that you can experience, and the hardest in people’s lives, and to help the weak in their hour of need. But even for the Coast Guard, this class has been exceptionally dedicated to public service. You served breakfast at the local food bank every single weekday. You rebuilt a home with Habitat for Humanity. Last year, you led cadets in donating a total of 24,000 hours -- a lot of time -- to community service. You’ve done amazing work. And in the true Coast Guard fashion, you had fewer people and fewer resources, but you accomplished the objectives, and you did it with skill and with pride -- and, I’d like to say, under budget and ahead of schedule. We’re doing a lot of that now in the United States government. (Applause.) We’re doing a lot of that. I won’t talk about how much I saved you on the F-35 fighter jet. I won’t even talk about it. Or how much we’re about to save you on the Gerald Ford, the aircraft carrier. That had a little bit of an overrun problem before I got here, you know that. Still going to have an overrun problem. We came in when it was finished. But we’re going to save some good money. And when we build the new aircraft carriers they’re going to be built under budget and ahead of schedule, just remember that. (Applause.) That will allow us to build more. Now, of course, there are always a few slip-ups from time to time -- you know that. For example, I understand that once or twice, First Class Cadet Bruce Kim -- where’s Bruce? (Applause.) Where’s Bruce? Oh, Bruce, how do you do this to yourself, Bruce? (Laughter.) As Regimental Parking Officer, might have accidentally caused a few tickets to be issued or a few of your cars to be booted. Bruce, what’s going on with you? (Laughter.) But, Cadets, from this day forward, we want everyone to have a clean slate in life. That includes Bruce, right? (Laughter.) And so, for any oversights or small violations that might have occurred this year, as tradition demands, I hereby absolve every cadet serving restrictions for minor offenses. Now, Bruce -- stand up once again, Bruce. (Laughter.) They saved you, Bruce, because they all wanted me to do that, okay? Thank you, Bruce. Congratulations, Bruce. (Applause.) Good job. By the way, Bruce, don't worry about it. That's the tradition. I was forced to do that. You know that. Don't worry. (Laughter.) This is truly an amazing group of cadets that are here today for commission. You could have gone to school anywhere you wanted -- and with very, very few responsibilities by comparison. Instead, you chose the path of service. You chose hard work, high standards, and a very noble mission -- to save lives, defend the homeland, and protect America’s interests around the world. You chose the Coast Guard. Good choice. Good choice. (Applause.) You’ve learned skills they don’t teach at other schools right here on the grounds of this academy and also on your larger campus -- the open sea. That is a large, large campus, isn’t it? A beautiful campus. But the greatest lesson you’ve learned at this proud institution is the knowledge you've learned about yourself. It’s the knowledge that each and every one of you is something very special -- you are leaders. From the first stormy days of your Swab Summer to your final weeks as a first class cadet, you have been expected to take responsibility, to make decisions, and to act. And I -- like all leaders, that's exactly what you have to do. You have to act, and you have to act properly. And you have to learn how to act under great, great pressure. You're all going to be under great pressure. You have to learn how to respond and to act under great pressure. Just days from now, you will put this vital skill into the service of your ships, your sectors, and your country. You’ll serve as deck watch officers on our amazing Coast Guard cutters. You’ll bring law and order to the dangerous waters as boating officers. You will block illegal shipments of cash, weapons and drugs. You will battle the scourge of human trafficking -- something that people haven’t been talking about. One of the big, big plagues of the world. Not our country only -- the world. Human trafficking. Americans will place their trust in your leadership, just as they have trusted in generations of Coast Guard men and women, with respect for your skill, with awe at your courage, and with the knowledge that you will always be ready. You are Always Ready. Not only will our citizens trust in your leadership, your commanders will trust you as well. The Coast Guard is the gold standard in delegating decision-making down to chain command. So just as your instructors have at the academy, your Coast Guard commanders will explain their vision, and then they will trust you to get the job done. Just like I, as your President, will also trust you to get the job done. It’s amazing to think of the adventures that are about to begin for you. Across the country this month, millions of other students are graduating high school, college. Many others are wondering, just what am I going to do. They're saying to themselves, what are they going to do. You know what you're going to do. Many, many students are graduating from college right now. They're saying, what am I going to do? Where am I going to go to work? You know it. You picked a good one, by the way. You picked a beautiful one, a good one, and we're really proud to have you, I can tell you. (Applause.) Years from now, some of them may look back and ask themselves whether they’ve made the right choice, whether they’ve made the most of the opportunities they’ve been given. In the Coast Guard, you will face many challenges and many threats, but one thing you will never have to face is that question of what will I do. When you look back, you won’t doubt. You know exactly how you spent your time -- saving lives. I look at your admirals, I look at General Kelly, I look at some of the great people in service, and I want to tell you, they're excited about life. They love what they do. They love the country. They love protecting our country, and they love what they do. Is that right? Good. I didn't think anyone was going to say no. (Laughter.) That would have ruined our speech, right? (Laughter.) They're great people. You always know just what you’ll be: the leaders and officers of the United States Coast Guard. (Applause.) And when they see your uniform, everyone in the world will know exactly what that means. What standard -- and really if you think of it, when you talk about the great sailors, and the great sailors of the world, we have them. But what stranded sailor doesn’t feel relief when those red racing stripes break the horizon? What drifting soul at sea, with only a short time left to live, doesn’t rejoice at the sound of those chopper blades overhead, coming back and coming down to rescue them from death? What poison-peddling drug runner, the scourge of our country, doesn’t tremble with fear when the might of the Coast Guard comes bearing down on them? In each case, we know the reason --America's lifesaving service is on the way. The Coast Guard is truly vital to the United States Armed Forces and truly vital to our great country. (Applause.) Out of the five branches of our Armed Services, it's only the Coast Guard that has the power to break through 21 feet of rock-solid Arctic ice, right? You’re the only ones. And I’m proud to say that under my administration, as you just heard, we will be building the first new heavy icebreakers the United States has seen in over 40 years. We’re going to build many of them. (Applause.) We need them. We need them. The Coast Guard stands watch at our ports, patrols our waterways, and protects our infrastructure. You defend America in a world of massive and very grave threats. Soon, some of you will be leading boardings of suspicious vessels, searching for the most deadly weapons, and detaining criminals to keep our people safe. Others of you will work with partners in scores of countries around the globe, bringing in the full power of the United States Coast Guard right up to those distant shores. And some of those shores are very far away. To secure our borders from drug cartels, human smugglers, and terrorist threats, Coast Guard Cutters patrol more than 1,500 miles below our southern border. A lot of people didn’t know that. When enormous pride hits your heart, you realize that it’s with this great skill and tremendous speed, our Coast Guard men and women interdict dangerous criminals and billions and billions of dollars' worth of illegal narcotics every single year. Your helicopters launch from the decks of world-class national security cutters, and they chase drug smugglers at speeds far in excess of 50 knots. In rough seas, at high speeds, our incredible Coast Guard snipers take their aim at the smugglers' engines. And time after time, they take out the motors on the first shot. They don’t like wasting the bullets, right? (Applause.) They actually don’t. Your slice through roaring storms, and through pouring rain and crashing waves is a place where few other people will ever venture -- exciting. Exciting. But you have to have it in your heart. You have to love it. You love it. In the Coast Guard, you don't run from danger, you chase it. And you are deployed in support of operations in theaters of conflict all around the world. But not only do you defend American security, you also protect American prosperity. It's a mission that goes back to the earliest days of the Revenue Cutter Service. You’ve read about that and studied that. Today, the Coast Guard helps keep our waters open for Americans to do business. It keeps our rivers flowing with commerce. And it keeps our ports churning with American exports. You help billions and billions of dollars in goods to navigate our country every day. You are the only federal presence on our inland waterways. You police the arteries we need to rebuild this country and to bring prosperity back to our heartland. And we are becoming very, very prosperous again. You can see that. Think of the glorious mission that awaits. You will secure our harbors, our waterways, and our borders. You will partner with our allies to advance our security interests at home and abroad. And you will pursue the terrorists, you will stop the drug smugglers, and you will seek to keep out all who would do harm to our country -- all who can never, ever love our country. Together, we have the same mission, and your devotion and dedication makes me truly proud to be your Commander-in-Chief. (Applause.) Thank you. Now, I want to take this opportunity to give you some advice. Over the course of your life, you will find that things are not always fair. You will find that things happen to you that you do not deserve and that are not always warranted. But you have to put your head down and fight, fight, fight. Never, ever, ever give up. Things will work out just fine. Look at the way I’ve been treated lately -- (laughter) -- especially by the media. No politician in history -- and I say this with great surety -- has been treated worse or more unfairly. You can’t let them get you down. You can’t let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams. (Applause.) I guess that’s why I -- thank you. I guess that’s why we won. Adversity makes you stronger. Don’t give in. Don’t back down. And never stop doing what you know is right. Nothing worth doing ever, ever, ever came easy. And the more righteous your right, the more opposition that you will face. I’ve accomplished a tremendous amount in a very short time as President. Jobs pouring back in to our country. A brand-new Supreme Court justice -- who’s going to be fantastic for 45 years -- (applause) -- a historic investment in our military. Border crossings -- thank you to our General -- are down more than 70 percent in just a short period of time -- a total record, by the way, by a lot. (Applause.) We’ve saved the Second Amendment, expanded service for our veterans -- we are going to take care of our veterans like they’ve never been taken care of before. (Applause.) I’ve loosened up the strangling environmental chains wrapped around our country and our economy, chains so tight that you couldn’t do anything -- that jobs were going down. We were losing business. We’re loosening it up. We’ve begun plans and preparations for the border wall, which is going along very, very well. We’re working on major tax cuts for all. We are going to give you the largest tax cut in the history of our country if we get it the way we want it, and we’re going to give you major tax reform. (Applause.) And we’re also getting closer and closer, day by day, to great healthcare for our citizens. (Applause.) And we are setting the stage right now for many, many more things to come. And the people understand what I’m doing, and that’s the most important thing. I didn’t get elected to serve the Washington media or special interests. I got elected to serve the forgotten men and women of our country, and that’s what I’m doing. (Applause.) I will never stop fighting for you, and I will never stop fighting for the American people. As you leave this academy to embark on your exciting new voyage, I am heading on a very crucial journey as well. In a few days, I will make my first trip abroad as President. With the safety, security, and interests of the American people as my priority, I will strengthen old friendships and will seek new partners -- but partners who also help us. Not partners who take and take and take, partners who help, and partners who help pay for whatever we are doing and all of the good we’re doing for them -- which is something that a lot of people have not gotten used to and they just can’t get used to it. I say, get used to it, folks. (Applause.) I’ll ask them to unite for a future of peace and opposition opportunity for our peoples and the peoples of the world. First, in Saudi Arabia, where I'll speak with Muslim leaders and challenge them to fight hatred and extremism, and embrace a peaceful future for their faith. And they’re looking very much forward to hearing what we -- as your representative -- we have to say. We have to stop radical Islamic terrorism. (Applause.) Then in Israel, I'll reaffirm our unbreakable alliance with the Jewish state. In Rome, I will talk with Pope Francis about the contributions of Christian teachings to the world. Finally, I’ll attend the NATO Summit in Brussels and the G7 in Sicily -- to promote security, prosperity and peace all over the world. I’ll meet scores of leader, and honor the holiest sites of these three great religions. And everywhere I go, I will carry the inspiration I take from you each day, from your courage and determination to do whatever is required save and protect American lives. Save and protect American lives. We want security. You're going to give us security. (Applause.) In just one example, we see how priceless that gift of life is to the people you touch every day. A few years ago, a Coast Guard helicopter and rescue swimmer took off in the direction of three terrified fishermen who clung to their sinking and burning vessel. That day, our Coast Guard heroes did their jobs well. They flew over the sea, despite tremendous danger, and extended a helping hand at the moment it was most urgently needed. There was very little time left. But that’s not the most remarkable part of that story. As one Coast Guard swimmer put it, you do that stuff all the time. You do it every hour of the day. Something is happening all the time with the United States Coast Guard. You do an amazing job. A remarkable thing happened with that rescue, but when you think of it, you do those rescues all the time. There, the Vietnamese fishing captain grabbed the swimmer’s hand. He looked his Coast Guard rescuer in the eye, and said: “I was asking God to please let me live....I need to see my kids. Please, God, please, let me live so that I can see my kids. Then God sent me you.” That's what he said. (Applause.) To every new officer, and to every new Coast Guard member here today, or out protecting life around the world on some of the roughest waters anywhere, you truly are doing God’s work. What a grateful heart you must all have. Because it is with my very grateful heart, and America’s cheers for the Coast Guard -- and America cheers for you often -- but we wish you good luck. As your Commander-in-Chief, I thank you. I salute you. And I, once again, congratulate the Coast Guard Class of 2017. (Applause.) God bless you. God bless the Coast Guard. And God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you, everybody. Great honor. Good luck. Enjoy your life. (Applause.) END 12:18 P.M. EDT
WASHINGTON ― A White House in a “downward spiral,” as a key Republican senator called it, is making an already daunting task even harder: persuading qualified candidates to take important administration jobs. Hundreds of key posts at the Department of Defense and the State Department remain unfilled heading into the fifth month of Donald Trump’s presidency because of his insistence on personally approving all top hires. And the hiring crunch started before the most recent stretch of controversy that began with Trump firing the FBI director while the bureau was investigating the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia and was followed by an Oval Office meeting last week with Russian officials during which Trump reportedly revealed highly classified information. Then Tuesday came the multiple reports that Trump had asked FBI Director James Comey to end his investigation of Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser. “Up to now, many experienced national security hands had been barred from serving in this administration because they opposed candidate Trump,” said Richard Haass, president of the nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations and author of a new book, “A World in Disarray”. “The danger now for the country is that many of these same people will opt to stay out because they oppose President Trump.” The onslaught of unflattering revelations has even some Republican lawmakers calling for changes. Tennessee Republican and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker, a Trump ally, said Monday that the White House has to find a way to reverse this “downward spiral.” In short order, Trump has sparked a brain drain from within the government ranks ― dissuading those inclined to serve from submitting their résumés and prompting those already in place to consider leaving. One long-serving former FBI official told HuffPost that morale at the agency has cratered since Comey’s dismissal, with case agents and administrators petrified that the president is politicizing their work. “If it is political, it’s a problem,” the official said, predicting that few applicants would find the agency appealing if Trump chooses a politician to replace Comey. Right, wrong or indifferent, an administration has to have its voice at the lowest echelons of agencies, and that’s just not happening. Todd A. Weiler, assistant secretary of defense in the Obama administration A similar dynamic is shaping up in the national security agencies, where Trump has faced profound and sustained difficulties recruiting staff. A Republican foreign policy hand who turned down a spot in the administration during the presidential transition over concerns about the Trump team’s ties to Russia said the situation actually looked much rosier just two weeks ago. “People were coming to the view that they could buckle down and work in this administration because they could make the administration better,” the would-be appointee said on the condition of anonymity out of fear of angering the Trump administration. That outlook has dimmed considerably. Trump publicly contradicted top aides on why he had fired Comey and then, less than a week later, put National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster before the press to knock down a critical Washington Post report Monday that Trump gave sensitive information to the Russians ― before admitting it Tuesday morning on Twitter. “To have McMaster out there shilling on this is not sitting well with foreign policy professionals,” the GOP foreign policy expert said. “They’re concerned that they are dragging his reputation through the mud, and they look and say: ‘If H.R. had this sterling reputation and may not survive this, how could I?’” Unfilled political appointments have two consequences on a new administration’s effectiveness. While some of those jobs are largely ceremonial ― glamorous ambassadorships, for example ― others entail nuts-and-bolts work. And those tasks either go undone or are passed down to lower-level employees, which in turn affects their ability to do their own jobs. At another level, though, the failure to install management-level political appointees means the career service employees who do the majority of the work are likely to continue carrying out policies laid out by the previous administration. “What we are seeing right now in the Pentagon for example ― my old world ― is careerists either trying to interpret what they think a team would want or in some cases going it on their own and for their own personal agendas taking action on certain items,” said Todd A. Weiler, assistant secretary of defense in the Obama administration and deputy assistant secretary under President Bill Clinton. “And that’s a dangerous way to do business. Right, wrong or indifferent, an administration has to have its voice at the lowest echelons of agencies, and that’s just not happening.” Republican political consultant and longtime Trump critic Rick Wilson said some delay in filling jobs is to be expected, particularly at relatively lower levels. As a young political appointee of President George H.W. Bush in the early 1990s, Wilson stayed in his job a full 14 months into Democrat Bill Clinton’s presidency until leaving in March 1994. Yet Trump’s challenge is even more difficult, Wilson said, because of his insistence on loyalty. In past administrations, the president has drawn not only from backers of his own campaign but also from those who had supported other candidates, even other party members. Trump, while he put former GOP rivals Ben Carson and Rick Perry on his Cabinet, has been less willing to hire supporters of other GOP presidential candidates. “Unless you were a loyal Trump suck-up for the entire campaign, they’re not even going to consider you,” said Wilson, who added that that criterion left just a small group of prospects. “And they’re lunatics.” Some of Trump’s problem, of course, stems from Republicans who remain absolutely unwilling to work for Trump. “I don’t know anyone who worked for the governor who would work for President Trump,” said John Weaver, who ran the Republican primary campaign of Ohio Gov. John Kasich. “Especially me.” And the more the Trump scandals pile up, Wilson said, the harder it will be to find good people. “There’s a talent gap already, and it’s going to be an even worse talent gap,” he said. “People aren’t going to volunteer for a mission that’s political suicide, that’s career suicide.” -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
The ability of telehealth companies to do business in Texas cleared a key hurdle last week when a bill widening patient access cleared that state’s House of Representatives.
Shares of Sears Holdings Corporation (SHLD) plummeted on Monday after its CEO took to the internet to post a bizarre statement against one of the company's vendors.
Gambling Commission reportedly focuses on effectiveness of ‘self-exclusion’ system whereby problem gamblers can bar themselves from betting Online gambling company 888 is being investigated by the industry regulator, which has the power to strip betting firms of their licence to do business, amid concern over the tools it uses to help problem gamblers.The Gambling Commission is examining 888’s “self-exclusion” regime, a system betting firms use to allow customers to bar themselves voluntarily from gambling. Continue reading...
Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com, As I was writing the newsletter this past weekend, the following email rolled into my inbox: “The S&P will double. And not just eventually. But over the next 5 years (or sooner). Sounds like a Herculean task on the surface, but it’s really not. My 5-year doubling thesis also means that we won’t see another recession until stocks double again, nor will we see another bear market until stocks double again. Got it?” The email goes on to make the case as to why the markets will do something that has never occurred before in history, or “why this time is different,” which can be summed up in one word – “Trumponomics” “It’s no secret that the market has been re-energized this year on the Trump administration’s pro-growth agenda, which includes the highly anticipated corporate tax cuts. There’s no doubt some of that will go to stock buybacks. But with the US suddenly becoming one of the most business-friendly countries in the world, you will see massive new corporate investment. These tax cuts alone could usher in decades of new prosperity. And it should be noted that these aren’t one-time stimulus packages that provide only temporary incentives and modest economic benefits. We’re talking about transformational growth due to long-term structural changes in how companies do business in America. Instead of the subpar 1.5-2.0% annual GDP that the market has been struggling to achieve over the last 8 years, the economy is expected to double that pace to 3-4%. But even with the weaker than normal economic pace we have been going through, the market in just the last 5 years has produced a total compounded return of 98.2%. So it’s not hard to imagine that if GDP were to double, earnings would soar, and stocks could easily gain another 100% over the next 5 years, and likely a whole lot more!” Pretty incredible. Too bad it’s complete nonsense. According, to the email, the longest bull market in history was between December 1987 and March 2000 as the market rallied for 12.3 years, gaining 582% along the way. But that’s not exactly true, because as shown in the table below, there was a recession in 1990-91 that lead to a 20% decline in stocks. However, for the moment, let’s look at the drivers behind the “greatest bull market of all-time.” Beginning 1983, the secular bull market of the 80-90’s began. Driven by falling rates of inflation, interest rates, and the deregulation of the banking industry, the debt-induced ramp up of the 90’s gained traction as consumers levered their way into a higher standard of living. While the Internet boom did cause an increase in productivity, it also had a very deleterious effect on the economy. As shown in the chart above, the rise in personal debt, which was fostered by 30 years declining borrowing costs, to offset the declines in personal income and savings rates supported the “consumption function” of the economy. The “borrowing and spending like mad” provided a false sense of economic prosperity. During the boom market of the 1980’s and 90’s consumption, as a percentage of the economy, grew from roughly 61% to 68% currently. The increase in consumption was largely built upon a falling interest rate environment, lower borrowing costs, and relaxation of lending standards. (Think mortgage, auto, student and sub-prime loans.) In 1980, household credit market debt stood at $1.3 Trillion. To move consumption, as a percent of the economy, from 61% to 67% by the year 2000 it required an increase of $5.6 Trillion in debt. Since 2000, consumption as a percent of the economy has risen by just 2% over the last 17 years, however, that increase required more than a $6 Trillion in debt. The importance of that statement should not be dismissed. It has required more debt to increase consumption by 2% of the economy since 2000 than it did to increase it by 6% from 1980-2000. The problem is quite clear. With interest rates already at historic lows, consumers already heavily leveraged and economic growth running at sub-par rates – there is not likely a capability to increase consumption as a percent of the economy to levels that would replicate the economic growth rates of the past. “But tax cuts are going to give wage earners a huge boost, right?” Uhmmm…No. Despite tax cuts from previous administrations, as shown below, the surge in corporate profitability, particularly in recent years, is a result of a consistent reduction in wage growth. This has been achieved by increases in productivity, technology, and off-shoring of labor. This drive to increase profitability did not lead to increased economic growth due to increased productive investment and higher savings rates as personal wealth increased. The reality was, in fact, quite the opposite as it resembled more of a “reverse robin-hood effect” as corporate greed and monetary policy led to a massive wealth transfer from the poor to the rich. It is easy to understand the confusion the writer has from just looking at the stock market as a determinant of economic prosperity. Unfortunately, what was masked was the deterioration of prosperity as debt supplanted the lack of personal wage growth and a rising cost of living. Most importantly, with respect to “Trumponomics,” as shown with the data above there is NO EVIDENCE tax cuts lead to increases in economic growth rates, higher levels of consumption or personal prosperity. As I noted just recently: “The differences between today’s economic and market environment could not be starker. The tailwinds provided by initial deregulation, consumer leveraging and declining interest rates and inflation provided huge tailwinds for corporate profitability growth. The chart below shows the ramp up in government debt since Reagan versus subsequent economic growth and tax rates. Of course, as noted, rising debt levels is the real impediment to longer-term increases in economic growth. When 75% of your current Federal Budget goes to entitlements and debt service, there is little left over for the expansion of the economic growth.” “The tailwinds enjoyed by Reagan are now headwinds for Trump.” Do not misunderstand me. Tax rates CAN make a difference in the short run particularly when coming out of a recession as it frees up capital for productive investment at a time when recovering economic growth and pent-up demand require it. Where you are in the current macroeconomic cycle has everything to do with the benefit you receive from economic stimulus. Given we are in the third longest economic expansion in history, it is quite likely that any type of tax reform will have much impact on creating higher rates of economic growth. In other words, we are holding the wrong end of the stick. While it is quite apparent the ongoing interventions by Central Banks have boosted asset prices higher, there has been little improvement in economic prosperity. The widening wealth gap between the top 10% of individuals that have dollars invested in the financial markets, and everyone else, continues to expand. However, while increased productivity, stock buybacks, and accounting gimmicks can certainly maintain an illusion of corporate profitability in the near term, the real economy remains very subject to actual economic activity. The inherent inability to re-leverage balance sheets, to any great degree, to support further consumption provides an inherent long-term headwind to economic prosperity. While the “bullish” mantra of an additional doubling of the S&P 500 is certainly appealing, from an economic perspective it is quite impossible to replay the secular bull market of the 80-90’s. While I would certainly welcome such an environment, the more likely scenario is a repeat of the 1970’s. The trick will be remaining solvent for when the next secular bull market does indeed eventually arrive.