Those Damn Drug Prices!

While I prepared for the Storm Barry to show up I checked my supplies and my meds to be sure I had enough to last 2 weeks in case the storm was more dangerous than predicted….and this had me thinking…..

I admit that the older I get the more drugs I seem to need to keep going….and those prices are so damn high that all us old farts are bitching about the prices.

There are many theories as to why this situation exists…..mine is that Congress just protects its handlers profits……but could there be another possible answer?

How about the US Trade policies?

Skyrocketing drug prices were a major issue in the 2016 US presidential campaign, and the Trump administration has since announced measures to bring them down. Why, then, is the administration also pushing for intellectual-property rules that give pharmaceutical giants even more price-gouging power?

Sharp price increases for essential and life-saving medicines have generated a political backlash against the pharmaceutical industry in the United States. In February, the US Senate Committee on Finance scolded industry representatives for pursuing policies that are “morally repugnant.” Since then, 44 US state governments have filed a lawsuit against Israel-based Teva Pharmaceuticals and 19 other companies, alleging conspiracy to stifle competition for generic drugs and illegal profiteering from over 100 different medicines.

For its part, US President Donald Trump’s administration has also announced that it will pursue measures to reduce the prices of drugs, especially those needed to treat America’s opioid epidemic. Yet the administration is also trying to export intellectual-property rules that are known to be associated with massive price increases abroad, making basic medicines unaffordable to millions of poor people in developing countries.

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/07/10/blame-us-trade-policy-sky-high-drug-prices

As much as I would love to be able to blame it all on Trump I just cannot….every president is just as guilty….it has NEVER been about the health of the people rather the profit of the corporations.

Pharma and insurance companies are panicking with the popularity of Medicare For All…I have even had a few come to IST and try to wish away the Medicare For All program…..but they will succeed because they have the cash to buy the Congress to get their way and the rest of us can just die if we do not like their plans.

Sorry about that a rant first thing on a Sunday.

Looks like we were fortunate and all we got here was rain and a bunch of wind…..one down and waiting for the next……0330 hrs and 93 degrees….getting back to normal…..

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Tariffs–Winners And Losers And Economics

Our Trade War With China!  Who’s gonna win and who gonna lose?

With all the words flying around about this legal aspect or another…..the news on our trade war with China takes a back seat…..but I think it needs to be in the forefront……

I found an article that tells the winners and losers in this trade war (I am hoping that you will actually read the referenced article)…..areas of our economy like technology, agriculture, steel, etc……

U.S. companies in everything from computer chips to tractors have said President Donald Trump’s trade wars, including disputes with Beijing and global steel tariffs, have had an impact on them.

Even for some of the expected winners, such as steel companies, the benefits of the president’s tariffs are not entirely clear.

Trump said on May 5 he would raise tariffs on $200 billion (£159 billion) worth of Chinese goods from 10% to 25%, ratcheting up pressure on Beijing to agree to a deal.

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-usa-trade-china-winners-losers-factbo/winners-and-losers-in-trumps-trade-war-with-china-idUKKCN1TK1UM

And yet the markets have not tanked on the bad news for the bigger of our corporations…..

Is this a good thing…… these tariffs?

This “Booming Economy” that we hear about from Trump, the GOP and others is looking a lot like the economy……wait for it……under Obama…..

In some key ways, the Donald Trump economy, on fire last year but slowing this year, is starting to resemble the one he inherited from his predecessor .

There are the rock-bottom bond yields, plodding economic growth and, not to be understated, the Federal Reserve seemingly pulling all the strings, a role that was only exacerbated in the days since the financial crisis and Great Recession and continues to the present day.

Those similarities came into even sharper focus this week, when the benchmark 10-year Treasury note yield fell below 2% for the first time since Trump became president, and the Fed’s indication, if something just short of an outright promise, that it soon will be cutting rates about half a year since its most recent hike.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way: The 2017 tax cut and aggressive moves toward deregulation were supposed to pull the U.S. economy out of its glacial move higher. That happened in 2018, but policymakers and Wall Street pros are growing increasingly fearful that a slowdown if not outright recession is on the horizon, and the Fed is being asked again to ride to the rescue.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/20/the-trump-economy-is-starting-to-look-more-and-more-like-the-obama-economy.html

Oh Snap!  All the comparisons to what Obama did…will this make the list for Supreme Beloved Leader?

Me thinks this news will not see the light of day.

There is other news that is missed by the MSM……some economists are predicting a crash is coming…..but can Trump hold it off until after the election…..

If he times it right, Donald Trump might set back the Democratic Party for a generation or more; if he misses, he’ll go down in history along with Herbert Hoover as the guy who brought the nation an economic disaster.

Back in 2007 and early 2008, many of us were convinced that an economic crash was coming, and that George W. Bush and his Treasury secretary, Henry Paulson, and Fed chairman, Alan Greenspan, knew it.

And we also thought that they were doing everything they could to hold it off so it would happen after the 2008 election, so if a Democrat was elected they could say the crash was because people were “worried about the incoming Democrats,” and if McCain won it would be his problem, not Bush’s.

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/06/18/can-donald-trump-hold-economic-crash-until-election

What do you think?

Would a crash change your mind on voting this time around?

A New “Free Trade” Agreement

Once again I return to my small expertise….foreign affairs….I have gotten caught up in the drama we call politics here in the US….it is a train wreck that one cannot look away from or miss the best part.

Our president is playing the trade war card these days…..everyone is in his sights……his policies reflect ideas from the 1950s not the 21st century….but that is not what this post is about……

There is a new “Free Trade” agreement now…..it is the continent of Africa…..

In a nutshell, it means a single market of goods and services for 1.2 billion people with an aggregate GDP of over $2 trillion. UNCTAD, the UN’s trade body, predicts reducing intra-African tariffs under AfCFTA“could bring $3.6 billion in welfare gains to the continent through a boost in production and cheaper goods.”

One of the more stark economic data points about Africa is just how little African countries trade with each other—just 16% of total continental trade in 2014. The UN Economic Commission for Africa thinks AfCFTA has the potential to raise intra-African trade by 15% to 25%, or $50 billion to $70 billion, by 2040.

Brookings’s analyst Landry Signé estimates that if AfCFTA works as intended, Africa will have a combined consumer and business spending of $6.7 trillion in 2030.

https://qz.com/africa/1633022/africa-free-trade-deal-will-boost-continent-economy/

It is good to see that Africa is trying to protect itself and to make a better economy for the people of the region.

It Is About “Rare Earth”……

Not the rock group from the 70s (Get Ready and Celebrate)….I am referring to those minerals that are a major component in some electronics….and guess who has control of much of these elements?   Wait for it……..China!

Rare Earth Minerals?  What the Hell is that all about?

Many applications of REE are characterized by high specificity and high unit value. For example, color cathode-ray tubes and liquid-crystal displays used in computer monitors and televisions employ europium as the red phosphor; no substitute is known. Owing to relatively low abundance and high demand, Eu is quite valuable—$250 to $1,700/kg (for Eu2O3) over the past decade.

Fiber-optic telecommunication cables provide much greater bandwidth than the copper wires and cables they have largely replaced. Fiber-optic cables can transmit signals over long distances because they incorporate periodically spaced lengths of erbium-doped fiber that function as laser amplifiers. Er is used in these laser repeaters, despite its high cost (~$700/kg), because it alone possesses the required optical properties.

Specificity is not limited to the more exotic REE, such as Eu or Er. Cerium, the most abundant and least expensive REE, has dozens of applications, some highly specific. For example, Ce oxide is uniquely suited as a polishing agent for glass. The polishing action of CeO2 depends on both its physical and chemical properties, including the two accessible oxidation states of cerium, Ce,3+ and Ce4+, in aqueous solution. Virtually all polished glass products, from ordinary mirrors and eyeglasses to precision lenses, are finished with CeO2.

https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2002/fs087-02/

Plus the Rare Earth Minerals are used in our military……

A lack of these minerals could force a national security risk……and that would increase the use of the military (cause and effect)…….

I would say the possibility of a war with China is more so than with Iran.

Thoughts?

And now they, China,  have issued a threat over the Trump tariffs……

Facing new trade sanctions and a US clampdown on its top telecommunications company, China issued a pointed reminder Wednesday that it has yet to unleash all its weapons in its trade war with the Trump administration. Chinese state media warned that Beijing could cut America off from exotic minerals that are widely used in electric cars and mobile phones. The threat to use China’s rich supply of so-called rare earths as leverage in the conflict has contributed to sharp losses in US stocks and sliding long-term bond yields, the AP reports. The nationalistic Chinese newspaper Global Times warned that China has plenty of ways to retaliate against the United States, including the threat of cutting off supplies of rare earth minerals. China last year produced 78% of the world’s rare earths, according to researchers at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

If the US fails to exercise restraint, it will see that “China is far from running out of cards, and we have the will and determination to fight the US to the end,” the paper’s editorial said. China has used rare earths as a cudgel before. Five years ago, the World Trade Organization slapped down China’s attempt to restrict the export of rare earths during a dispute with Japan, rejecting its claim that it just wanted to conserve supplies. Scott Kennedy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, however, says the threat has lost much of its power. First, users of rare earths have stockpiled the minerals for a “rainy day,” he says. Second, they also have figured out how to “use less rare earth to achieve the same results” in products like lasers and magnets. And third, different minerals and chemicals are increasingly being used as rare earth substitutes.

Not to worry……we have troops in a country that is sitting on about $1 trillion (that is trillion with a “T”) worth of rare earth minerals……

Afghanistan, a country nearly the size of Texas, is loaded with minerals deposited by the violent collision of the Indian subcontinent with Asia. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) began inspecting what mineral resources Afghanistan had after U.S.-led forces drove the Taliban from power in the country in 2004. As it turns out, the Afghanistan Geological Survey staff had kept Soviet geological maps and reports up to 50 years old or more that hinted at a geological gold mine.

https://www.livescience.com/47682-rare-earth-minerals-found-under-afghanistan.html

That is right…out longest war EVER is in a country that is loaded with rare earth minerals……could that explain why we are hanging on in the spot?

It is not like we have never fought a war for a resource……think OIL……

Closing Thought–17May19

We are in a war of words and deeds…a trade war….with China….Our Beloved Supreme Leader went on the Tube and soothed the ruffled feathers on Wall Street and the markets calmed down a bit…..but how about the rest of us unwashed masses that do not depend on Wall Street for our wealth?

Me? I do not shop on 5th Avenue so I want to know how I will fare with Trump’s mash up with China…..

Walmart warned on Thursday that higher tariffs on imports from China will mean higher prices, the AP reports. The comments came after the nation’s largest retailer reported its best sale performance at its established US namesake stores for the fiscal first quarter in nine years. It marked 19 straight quarters of same-store sales gains. “We’re monitoring the tariff discussions and are hopeful that an agreement can be reached,” said Chief Financial Officer Brett Biggs. But he told reporters, “Increased tariffs will lead to increased prices for our customers.” Walmart declined to comment on what type of price hikes shoppers could expect and which products would get the biggest increases.

The specter of higher prices was also echoed by Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette. He told investors Wednesday that if a fourth round of tariffs takes effect, that could mean higher retail prices for both store label and national brands. Target, JC Penney, and other major retailers will be reporting results in the next few days and should shed more light on the issue. Walmart, Macy’s and other major retailers have been left largely unscathed by the first several rounds of tariffs since they focused more on industrial and agricultural products. But that changed last week when the Trump administration slapped 25% tariffs on imports like furniture. The administration wants to extend the 25% tariffs to practically all Chinese imports not already hit with levies including toys, shirts, household goods and sneakers.

While Wall Street smiles the rest of us get raped……well our wallets to be exact……not what I signed on for…..

You?

Tariffs…..Tariffs…..We All Fall Down

Of all the shiny objects that Trump and his lackeys throw out for the news to digest…tariffs is the biggest one for his supporters and our economy…….

I heard a report that advisers in the Whote House aren scrambling to explain the markets to this president…..

Seriously?

A “really smart person” and a graduate of the Wharton School of Business (the second most prestigious school of business) needs someone to explain the economics?  Did he sleep through that class at Wharton?

Let me help his supporters for they are wrapping themselves around a LIE.

How simple can I go?

A tariff is a TAX……how’s that for simple?

A tariff is a tax on goods coming into or leaving a country. That tax might be an ad valorem tax, which is a fixed percentage of the product’s price from time to time, or a specific tax that stays the same no matter what happens to the product’s price. Either way, the aim of import tariffs is to stop cheap goods from coming into the country from overseas and stealing market share of domestic producers. In this sense, tariffs are a form of protectionism, imposed to save industries that are especially vulnerable to competition from overseas.

I have tried to make it simple for people to understand tariffs and their results……

https://lobotero.com/2019/05/10/as-tariffs-come-and-go/

I am not so sure that Trump economic policies were the result of Trump economics……tariffs are proof for me…..they will bring the “surging” economy to a screeching halt.

Stupid is as stupid does!

A couple of idiotic statements from this group of mental midgets……

As the US-China trade war continues to rage, President Trump is not only defending the hugely disruptive effect it is having on the global economy, but promising that the “great patriot farmers” of America would reap the rewards when the US ultimately won the trade war.

Trump promised that the US government would compensate farmers for any losses they suffer from the tariffs, and suggested China would pay for that compensation in the form of the higher tariffs they are paying for the US allowing them “to do business with us.”

Trump’s promises to the farmers are likely driven by the political reality of the situation. Farmers heavily backed Trump’s election, and the trade war has heavily hurt their exports to China, as retaliatory sanctions have left them increasingly noncompetitive on the market.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) was a lot more comfortable with US farmers suffering in the trade war. Cotton insisted the hardship for them was “minimal,” and that China would suffer more than America would, suggesting that made it worth it.

Cotton further said that the hardships borne by American farmers was nothing compared to the sacrifices made by US soldiers in various wars overseas.

(antiwar.com)

Very smart?  MY ASS!

Trump’s lie that this is just a squabble with China seem to have soothed the feathers of Wall Street……markets are a bit more stable…..

Maybe he is smart….smart enough to know that a LIE will tamp down any opposition to Trump’s mash up with China.

The Free Trade Con

As Americans we pretend that we are down with the concept of Free Trade…..but in reality there are very few voters who know what the term means and we voted a dim wit into the presidency with the promise of more “Free Trade”…….

First let us define “Free Trade”…… Free trade is a policy to eliminate discrimination against imports and exports. Buyers and sellers from different economies may voluntarily trade without a government applying tariffs, quotas, subsidies or prohibitions on goods and services. Free trade is the opposite of trade protectionism or economic isolationism. (Trump shot that concept in the ass!)

Politically, a free-trade policy may be the absence of any trade policies, so a government doesn’t need to take specific action to promote free trade. This hands-off stance is referred to as “laissez-faire trade” or trade liberalization. Governments with free-trade agreements do not necessarily abandon all control of import and export taxation. In modern international trade, few free trade agreements (FTAs) result in completely free trade.

If you have a hard ti me with this concept we can get more simple……

From the start of these “Trade Agreements” like Clinton’s NAFTA and then it went on from there….I had to write about them as well….

https://lobotero.com/2016/12/09/what-about-nafta/

https://lobotero.com/2018/10/03/nafta-vs-usmca/

The promise of a better trade economy from the dolt in the White House has done little to expand the concept of “Free Trade”…..and the GOP can NO longer claim to be the party for Free Trade as long as they enable the policies of this president…..

The whole idea of a “new” NAFTA is a con and the American people need to be aware of this con…..

Approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA 2.0 also known USMCA) will do little to reverse the problems of the NAFTA trade agreement of 1994. Nothing in the proposed replacement agreement will prevent job outsourcing, nor is there any part of the agreement that would reverse our current agricultural trade deficit. So what’s the deal with the “Motorcade for Trade” tour?

The 2018 Census of Agriculture documents the occurrence of a clear shift in farm size. Small and medium sized farms are exiting production while the number and overall size of larger farms continues to increase. We are told growth is inevitable in any business if they wish to succeed, because growth goes hand in hand with efficiency and profit.

Farmers are told they must become more efficient and adopt economies of scale and that rationale is often accepted since farm prices are seemingly always on the decline and less income per unit of production means more units of production are required if one wants to survive. This same logic is applied to most jobs: factory workers must produce more, teachers must teach larger classes, etc.—all for the same low wage.

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/04/17/dont-fall-hype-free-trade-agreements

Voters need to know that a con job is a con job and this BS is at beast “snake oil” for the mindless.