Do Graduate Degrees Produce Value?

One of the more contentious aspects of the tax reform bill currently going through Congress is a proposal to treat the value of graduate-student tuition waivers as taxable income. In the US most PhD programs charge tuition, like undergraduate programs, but PhD students are typically granted a waiver of tuition along with a modest stipend to cover living expenses. In the early versions of the tax bill, the value of this waiver — which could be $50,000 to $60,000 at a private university — would be classified as taxable income. University officials, graduate student associations, academics, and most journalists have condemned this aspect of the tax plan. As a university professor I have received multiple communications urging me to write my Congressional representatives, speak out publicly, and otherwise fight to defeat this legislation.
As of this writing, it appears the tuition-waiver piece will not be in the final bill, so university officials, the AAUP, the grad student unions, and other graduate-education supporters can rest easy. Maybe all that lobbying paid off.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on Dec 13, 2017.

The 30-Years Bubble—Why America Ain’t That Rich

The entire financial and economic narrative in today’s Bubble Finance world is virtually context- and history-free; it’s all about the short-term deltas and therefore exceedingly misleading and dangerous.
So when a big trend or condition is negative and unsustainable, you generally can’t even get a glimpse of it from the so-called “high-frequency” weekly, monthly and even quarterly data on which the financial press and its casino patrons thrive. And that’s not merely because most of the data from the government statistical mills is heavily massaged and modeled and often “adjusted” beyond recognition over 3-5 year intervals of statistical revision.
Beyond that, however, even medium term trends get largely ignored. That’s because the purpose of economic and financial data today is to facilitate daily (and hourly) trading in the casino—not inform long-term investors about underlying trends, conditions and prospects.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on Monday, December 11th, 2017.

America’s Decline And The Neglect Of Luther’s Principles Of Liberty

Authored by S. T. Karnick via Specator.org,
Freedom requires a sense of personal responsibility if it is to survive.
***
With the nation’s news dominated by reports of political corruption (most recently, the Clintons’ apparent use of ‘pay to play’ schemes during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as U. S. secretary of state), sexual harassment scandals pandemic among the nation’s elites, extreme vulgarization of political speech and the common culture, riots against freedom of speech on the nation’s college campuses, paralyzing partisanship in Congress, death threats and open assassination attempts against government leaders and police officers, and the rest of the dismaying parade of moral shortcomings on display among the nation’s leaders in all walks of life, it appears that we are in the midst of a war not just between political and cultural factions, but over the very definition of our civilization.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 11, 2017.

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT JUST ADMITTED IT WILL CONTINUE WARRANTLESS SPYING – EVEN IF CONGRESS VOTES TO STOP IT

Bypass the Fourth Amendment With One Weird Trick — Edward Snowden (@Snowden) December 6, 2017

U. S. officials admit they are not planning on shutting down the government’s warrantless spying program, even if it is not reauthorized by 2018.
As the United States Congress runs out of time to vote on a bill that would reauthorize one of the government’s most egregious warrantless spying programs, officials are claiming that those programs won’t end anytime soon – even if they are not reauthorized by the end of the year.
The USA Liberty Act will reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2017. While the bill’s proponents have claimed it will help ensure ‘security’ in the United States, privacy advocates have warned that will provide additional loopholes for the government to continue conducting warrantless surveillance of innocent Americans.
The assumption may be that if the USA Liberty Act is not signed into law, then the provisions from Section 702 will no longer be legal and the U. S. government will stop collecting data from innocent Americans without warrants – but intelligence officials do not see it that way.

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on DECEMBER 8, 2017.

Bulgaria Government Shocked To Discover It Owns $3 Billion In Bitcoin

Bulgaria’s GDP is about $52.4 billion (2016), so it is quite a shock that the Bulgarian Government is sitting on an approximate $3 billion worth of Bitcoins seized in an anti-corruption operation back in May.
Putting this into a little more glaring context, Bulgaria is holding 18% of the national debt in bitcoins…
Fun fact: today's bitcoin prices have been interesting enough that there was a significant difference in how much Bulgaria had in USD between me writing this story and my editor editing it.
— Nikhilesh De (@nikhileshde) December 7, 2017

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 9, 2017.

Fake Tax Reform

After supposedly chomping on the bit for years to pass meaningful tax reform, Republicans are now set to blow an historic opportunity. Whatever version of the Bill that emerges from the House and Senate Conference Committee (which will be signed by President Trump faster than he can down a Filet o’Fish), will be far less than the Republicans envisioned when they finally captured the White House and both Congressional Chambers in 2016. But from what I have seen of the particulars, the revisions to the tax code will offer a marginal, although temporary, win for low income individuals, a major slap for moderately successful wage earners and home owners, (especially in the high tax Blue States) and a huge victory for the extremely wealthy and certain categories of business owners. While it is certain that the plan will add to the growing deficit, its immediate economic and political impact is hard to predict.
For generations, taxpayers and politicians alike lambasted our overly complex tax code for its myriad of economic distorting loopholes that seemed to produce nothing except employment for legions of accountants and tax lawyers adept at gaming the system. As a result, talk about tax reform has always included proposals to make the system simpler, fairer, and more transparent. But on that front, the Republican proposals fail miserably. Trump and Congress will hail this achievement as being a major victory for the American people. But the true winner will be the swamp that Trump promised to drain.
Unlike Ronald Reagan, who passed tax reform in 1986 by striking a deal with Democrat House Speaker Tip O’Neill, Trump and Congressional Republicans faced no particular need to compromise. If Reagan had the benefits enjoyed by Trump, Ryan and McConnell, his tax cuts would have been paired with significant spending cuts and perhaps a balanced budget. But to get O’Neill (and his whopping 71 seat House majority) to go along, Reagan’s ideals of fiscal prudence and smaller government had to be set aside. But Trump is no Reagan, and today’s Republican Party has about as much commitment to shrinking the size of government as did the Democrats in the 1980s.

This post was published at Euro Pac on Thursday, December 7, 2017.

What Went Wrong In Charlottesville: At All Levels, Government Is Still The Problem

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,
Corruption. Graft. Intolerance. Greed. Incompetence. Ineptitude. Militarism. Lawlessness. Ignorance. Brutality. Deceit. Collusion. Corpulence. Bureaucracy. Immorality. Depravity. Censorship. Cruelty. Violence. Mediocrity. Tyranny.
These are the hallmarks of an institution that is rotten through and through.
We have been saddled with the wreckage of a government at all levels that no longer represents the citizenry, serves the citizenry, or is accountable to the citizenry.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about the federal government, state governments, or local governing bodies: at all ends of the spectrum and every point in between, a shift has taken place.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 6, 2017.

Catalonia’s Post-‘Independence’ Economic Hangover Sets In

Uncertainty, threats, and counter-threats.
By Don Quijones, Spain, UK, & Mexico, editor at WOLF STREET.
Catalonia’s recent declaration of independence may have been a largely symbolic act but the economic hangover it has left in its wake is very real. Last month the number of unemployed in the region rose by 7,391 – the highest rise in a month of November since 2009. During the same period the number of people registered with social security fell by 4,038 – the sharpest fall since November 2013.
The economic pain is already taking a psychological toll. According to a new poll published by Spain’s Center for Sociological Research (CIS for its Spanish acronym), the number of households that fear that their economic situation will worsen in the next six months surged from 14.2% in August to 22.2% in October. By contrast, in Spain as a whole there was hardly any change, with the rate barely budging from 15.1% to 15.6%.
Almost 3,000 firms have shifted the registered address of their headquarters outside Catalonia since the banned referendum on October 1, many to Madrid. Although the exodus has slowed in recent weeks, every day dozens of Catalan companies continue to change their registered office, despite the express appeal of Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, to stop doing so after the activation of Article 155 of the Constitution.
The Catalan exodus has so far been purely administrative, with companies effectively shifting domiciles, the ‘brass plate’ of the business, to avoid legal and tax complications rather than moving staff or operations, which would have huge cost and logistical implications.

This post was published at Wolf Street on Dec 6, 2017.

FORMER REP. DAVID STOCKMAN ON FLYNN: FBI INTERVIEW WAS ‘BLATANT ENTRAPMENT’

David Stockman, former Michigan representative and Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Reagan, destroyed the Russian collusion hoax with incredible clarity in his latest column on Tuesday.
From Antiwar.com, ‘The FBI’s Perjury Trap of the Century’:
If you were a Martian visitor just disembarked from of one of Elon Musk’s rocket ships and were therefore uninfected by earth-based fake news, the culprits in Washington’s witch-hunt de jure would be damn obvious.
They include John Brennan, Jim Comey, Sally Yates, Peter Strzok and a passel of deep state operatives – all of whom baldly abused their offices. After Brennan had concocted the whole Russian election meddling meme to sully the Donald’s shocking election win, the latter three holdovers – functioning as a political fifth column in the new Administration – set a perjury trap designed to snare Mike Flynn as a first step in relitigating and reversing the voters’ verdict.
The smoking gun on their guilt is so flamingly obvious that the ability of the Trump-hating media to ignore it is itself a wonder to behold.
After all, anyone fresh off Elon’s rocket ship would learn upon even cursory investigation of the matter that the National Security Agency (NSA) intercepts electronically every single communication of the Russian Ambassador with any person on US soil – whether by email, text or phone call.

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on DECEMBER 6, 2017.

Just How Dangerous Is Trumps Latest Fed Board of Governors Pick?

Last week, Pres. Donald Trump nominated Marvin Goodfriend to fill a vacancy on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. When we reported the news, we called him ‘another swamp creature’ – a member of the Washington D. C./Wall Street clan Trump promised to drain away.
We’re not alone in our thinking. In an article on the Mises Wire, Tho Bishop called Goodfriend’s nomination ‘a dangerous act of outright betrayal to Trump’s core constituency of working-class voters.’
It’s true Goodfriend’s views on monetary policy don’t fit in with the current Fed status quo. But that’s not a good thing. Goodfriend isn’t a fan of the conventional radical policy of quantitative easing. He’s actually a proponent of an even more radical policy.
Following is Bishop’s analysis in its entirety.
Donald Trump nominated Marvin Goodfriend to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, one of the numerous vacancies that have emerged over the course of the past year. While his prior nominations of Jay Powell as Chairman and Randal Quarles as Vice Chair represented a disappointing commitment to the status quo, his selection of Goodfriend is a dangerous act of outright betrayal to Trump’s core constituency of working class voters.
The timing of the decision is ironic. After all, while Trump is busy lobbying Senate Republicans to support his desired tax cuts, he has decided to nominate a would-be central banker who wants to effectively tax the bank accounts of American citizens.

This post was published at Schiffgold on DECEMBER 5, 2017.

Obama DOJ Didn’t Bother To Interview FBI Informant Before Filing Charges In Uranium One Scandal

Do you ever get the sense that with certain investigations, primarily those targeting conservatives, the FBI has a tendency to dot every ‘i’, cross every ‘t’ and pursue charges at all costs, no matter how minor, but with others (think Hillary’s email scandal) even the most glaring violations of federal law seem to go unpunished?
For example, compare and contrast the Flynn charges versus how the Hillary email investigation was conducted by the Comey-led FBI. On the one hand, Flynn held perfectly legal conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States AFTER the U. S. presidential election, a common practice for presidential transition teams, yet for some inexplicable reason, probably having something to do with fears of being charged with a bogus ‘Logan Act’ violation in Mueller’s Russian collusion witch hunt, decided to lie about them during interviews with the FBI. As a result of his lies, Flynn has now plead guilty to two counts of false statements, has been ruined financially by mounting legal bills and could end up serving jail time.
On the other hand, compare that outcome to the Hillary email scandal where there is tangible evidence and first-hand testimony that Hillary and her team knowingly violated a Congressional subpoena by deleting 33,000 emails, habitually destroyed evidence with hammers so it could never be recovered and routinely compromised American national security interests by sending “Top Secret” communications via unsecured channels…something that Comey originally defined at “gross negligence” even though he later changed his language to “extreme carelessness” to assure that Hillary could never be pursued with criminal charges. So what were the punishments for all those federal crimes? Well, rather than pursue charges against Hillary and/or various members of her staff the FBI decided to “hand out immunity deals like candy.”
Now, in just the latest bit of evidence that the Justice department has been politically compromised, we learn from John Solomon of The Hill that the DOJ didn’t even bother to interview a key FBI informant before filing criminal charges in the Uranium One scandal back in 2014.
While he was Maryland’s chief federal prosecutor, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s office failed to interview the undercover informant in the FBI’s Russian nuclear bribery case before it filed criminal charges in the case in 2014, officials told The Hill. And the prosecutors did not let a grand jury hear from the paid informant before it handed up an indictment portraying him as a ‘victim’ of the Russian corruption scheme or fully review his extensive trove of documents until months later, the officials confirmed.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 4, 2017.

Transparency on Wall Street: SEC Chair Raises Weak Defenses

On November 8, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman, Jay Clayton, delivered a speech at the Practising Law Institute’s 49thAnnual Institute on Securities Regulation. His focus was transparency on Wall Street and he had this nugget of wisdom to share with the audience:
‘Looking back at enforcement actions, a common theme emerges – where opacity exists, bad behavior tends to follow. As Joseph Pulitzer said: ‘There is not a crime, there is not a dodge, there is not a trick, there is not a swindle, there is not a vice which does not live by secrecy.’ The remainder of my remarks will concentrate on topics that have proven over time to be fertile ground for fraud on investors. The SEC may not yet have policy or rulemaking answers in these areas, but we are on the lookout for ways to fight the type of opacity that can create an environment conducive to misconduct.’
The SEC was created to police Wall Street under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The legislation came on the heels of the U. S. Senate holding three years of hearings that showed Wall Street to be a cesspool of opaque self dealing and collusion that had led to the 1929 stock market collapse and ensuing Great Depression. The SEC has now had 83 years to hone its investigative skills and techniques. And yet, it wore blinders in the runup to the epic Wall Street crash of 2007-2009, which was caused by the same type of corruption that was ferreted out by the U. S. Senate after the 1929 crash. Its blinders remain securely in place.

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade on December 4, 2017.

Debt, Taxes, Growth And The GOP Con Job

During more than four decades in Washington and on Wall Street it is quite possible that we never picked up any useful skills. But along the way we did unavoidably acquire what amounts to a survival tool in those fair precincts—-namely, a nose for the con job.
And what a doozy we have going now as a desperate mob of Capitol Hill Republicans attempts to enact something—anything— that can be vaguely labeled tax reform/tax cut. And for a reason that lies only slightly below the surface.
In a word, they are scared to death that the political train wreck in the Oval Office will put them out of business for years to come. So they are attempting to erect a shield of legislative accomplishment that can be sold in 2018 as the work of the GOP Congress, not the unhinged tweet-storm in the White House.
To be sure, some element of political calculus always lies behind legislation. For instance, the Dems didn’t pass the Wagner Act in 1935, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 or the Affordable Care Act of 2010 as an exercise in pure civic virtue—-these measures targeted huge constituencies with tens of millions of votes at stake.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on November 30th, 2017.

Kushner Is “Senior Official” Who Ordered Flynn To Contact Russia

When commenting on the Flynn plea deal with Mueller, we said that while hardly evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia, especially since all events took place after the election, the real question is who was the “senior member of the transition team” that instructed Flynn to call Russia. Now, according to Bloomberg’s Eli Lake we may have the answer: none other than Jared Kushner, who as Lake says, “could be one of the next dominoes to fall.”
According to the Bloomberg report, “one of Flynn’s lies to the FBI was when he said that he never asked Russia’s ambassador to Washington, Sergey Kislyak, to delay the vote for the U. N. Security Council resolution. The indictment released today from the office of special prosecutor Robert Mueller describes this lie: “On or about December 22, 2016, Flynn did not ask the Russian Ambassador to delay the vote on or defeat a pending United Nations Security Council resolution.” At the time, the U. N. Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements was a big deal. Even though the Obama administration had less than a month left in office, the president instructed his ambassador to the United Nations to abstain from a resolution, breaking a precedent that went back to 1980 when it came to one-sided anti-Israel resolutions at the U. N.
This was the context of Kushner’s instruction to Flynn last December. One transition official at the time said Kushner called Flynn to tell him he needed to get every foreign minister or ambassador from a country on the U. N. Security Council to delay or vote against the resolution. Much of this appeared to be coordinated also with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose envoys shared their own intelligence about the Obama administration’s lobbying efforts to get member stats to support the resolution with the Trump transition team. As Lake correctly notes, “for now it’s unclear what to make of all of this” especially since th most important part of a case is missing: motive.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 1, 2017.

Kushner Said To Have Ordered Flynn To Contact Russia

When commenting on the Flynn plea deal with Mueller, we said that while hardly evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia, especially since all events took place after the election, the real question is who was the “senior member of the transition team” that instructed Flynn to call Russia. Now, according to Bloomberg’s Eli Lake we may have the answer: none other than Jared Kushner, who as Lake says, “could be one of the next dominoes to fall.”
According to the Bloomberg report, “one of Flynn’s lies to the FBI was when he said that he never asked Russia’s ambassador to Washington, Sergey Kislyak, to delay the vote for the U. N. Security Council resolution. The indictment released today from the office of special prosecutor Robert Mueller describes this lie: “On or about December 22, 2016, Flynn did not ask the Russian Ambassador to delay the vote on or defeat a pending United Nations Security Council resolution.” At the time, the U. N. Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements was a big deal. Even though the Obama administration had less than a month left in office, the president instructed his ambassador to the United Nations to abstain from a resolution, breaking a precedent that went back to 1980 when it came to one-sided anti-Israel resolutions at the U. N.
This was the context of Kushner’s instruction to Flynn last December. One transition official at the time said Kushner called Flynn to tell him he needed to get every foreign minister or ambassador from a country on the U. N. Security Council to delay or vote against the resolution. Much of this appeared to be coordinated also with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose envoys shared their own intelligence about the Obama administration’s lobbying efforts to get member stats to support the resolution with the Trump transition team.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 1, 2017.

The GOP Tax Bill: Fuggedaboutit!

The GOP has become so politically desperate that they might as well enact a two-word statute and be done with it. It would simply read: Tax Bill!
Actually, that’s not far from where they are in the great scheme of things. The Senate Finance Committee’s bill is a dog’s breakfast of K-Street/Wall Street pleasing tax cuts, narrowly focused revenue raisers that will be subject to withering attack on the Senate floor, nonsensical vote-driven compromises and outrageous fiscal gimmicks—-the most blatant of which is the sun-setting of every single individual tax provision after 2025.
This latter trick is designed to shoe-horn the revenue loss into the $1.5 trillion 10-year allowance in the budget reconciliation instruction and also comply with the Senate’s “Byrd Rule” which allows a point of order to strike down a reconciliation bill that increases the deficit after year 10. Save for these gimmicks, the actual 10-year cost of the Senate bill would be $2.2 trillion including interest on the added deficits.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on Tuesday, November 28th, 2017.

How to gain permanent residency in Mexico without leaving home

As a world traveler and investor, I always try to find markets where there’s a huge difference between the ACTUAL risk and the PERCEIVED risk.
And this risk assessment applies not only to investing, but also to entire countries.
Mexico is a great example.
Sure, Mexico has some serious problems. Crime. Gangs. Drugs. Corruption. Tensions with the US over illegal immigration and American jobs.
But did you know that more Americans applied for residency in Mexico than vice versa over the past few years?
Do these Americans know something others don’t?
Maybe they know a foreign residency opens opportunities you otherwise wouldn’t have. A foreign residency gives you more options for work, business, investments, travel and living. It’s one part of a Plan B… in a location where you like spending time.
And residency in Mexico could be a solution for you.
Mexico’s story is more complex than what’s presented in the news. The country offers a lot more than its northern states where the drug war rages… and where the US media focuses all its attention.

This post was published at Sovereign Man on Simon Black, November 28, 2017.

The EU (with Help from Germany) just Made Monsanto’s Day

One of Germany’s largest companies is trying to buy Monsanto, which changes everything.
A majority of EU governments voted on Monday to extend the European license for glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s flagship product, Roundup, for another five years. One of the deciding votes was cast by the caretaker government of Germany, which came off the fence after abstaining in previous meetings.
The decision was made despite a petition signed by more than 1.3 million EU citizen-subjects calling for a European ban on the weedkiller.
The five-year extension is welcome news for Monsanto, which has found itself in the rather unusual position of being on the back foot in recent years, especially since the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) declared that glyphosate is ‘probably carcinogenic’. The company is facing a rash of potentially costly law suits in the US from farmers, members of their families, and others who claim that Roundup is connected to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

This post was published at Wolf Street by Don Quijones ‘ Nov 28, 2017.

Dictators Fall, but States Remain: Zimbabwe’s (Already) Missed Chance

Last week, the fall of Robert Mugabe’s regime made headlines across the world, and was greeted with relief and hope by international commentators as well as Zimbabweans. Overall, the general feeling was that of a new beginning, long awaited in a country that had been stuck for four decades under rampant inflation, corruption, and an oppressive rule. There seemed to be little doubt, given how the news was presented, that this is a pivotal and far-reaching transformation for this African nation.
And yet, if one looks closely, there are signs that, despite the current sense of hope in Zimbabwe, Mugabe’s removal will not bring the long awaited change. Mugabe “retired’ with immunity, a $US 10 million severance check, and a promise to be paid a salary for the rest of his life. He has now been succeeded by his vice-president, who lead the coup d’tat and capitalized on the year long public protests against his disputed predecessor. With the new president, the rule of the ZANU-Patriotic Front will continue, as will the party’s Marxist-Leninist ideology and its politburo.
How can one know that things won’t change? There are many similarities between the recent history of Zimbabwe and the not too distant history of socialist republics, like Romania, from the decades of oppression and poverty to the overwhelming hope of a new start following the revolution. But one important common aspect of the two regimes – Ceausescu’s and Mugabe’s – is that neither or them were actual autocracies, or ‘personal’ states. A forty year totalitarian rule is not a one-man feat, but must be necessarily supported by an entire state apparatus for which the dictator himself often becomes no more than a mouthpiece.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on November 28, 2017.