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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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.

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.

NAFTA Vs USMCA

In 2016 Trump and I had something in common…..we both disliked NAFTA….the only difference was he could do something about it and I could only bitch about it.

US, Canada and Mexico have come to an agreement on trade and NAFTA…..

Canada and the United States reached a deal Sunday night for Canada to stay in a free trade pact with the US and Mexico. In a joint statement late Sunday, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said the agreement “will strengthen the middle class, and create good, well-paying jobs and new opportunities for the nearly half billion people who call North America home.” The new deal, reached just before a midnight deadline imposed by the US, will be called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA. It replaces the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, which President Trump had called a job-killing disaster.

The agreement reached Sunday gives US farmers greater access to the Canadian dairy market. But it keeps a NAFTA dispute-resolution process that the US wanted to jettison and offers Canada protection if Trump goes ahead with plans to impose tariffs on cars, trucks, and auto parts imported into the United States, the AP reports. “It’s a good day for Canada,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said as he left his office. Canada, the United States’ No. 2 trading partner, was left out when the US and Mexico reached an agreement last month to revamp NAFTA. US-Canada talks bogged down earlier this month, and most trade analysts expected the Sept. 30 deadline to come and go without Canada being reinstated.

Of course Trump’s new replacement for NAFTA has a nice ring to it……USMCA

America’s free trade pact with Mexico and Canada may be alive, but the same can’t be said for the NAFTA moniker. Once the new deal was arrived at Sunday night its new name was announced: the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA. President Trump weighed in on the name during a Monday press conference, saying, “It has a good ring to it.” It’s also “a great deal,” he said per USA Today, one that should “pass easily, really easily … in theory there should be no trouble.” Congress needs to approve the agreement, and it needs to be ratified in Mexico and Canada as well. As for how one should say the name, Trump didn’t read it as a word a la NAFTA but spelled the letters out: U-S-M-C-A.

CNBC reports that while much of the deal echoes that of NAFTA, there are pivots in terms of how the dairy and auto industries are handled: US dairy producers’ access to Canadian markets will increase, while Mexico and Canada scored a win in terms of an exemption on passenger vehicles, pickups, and auto parts from potential tariffs. CNBC has much more, including details on changes that will could up the price of cars made in Mexico, which could push more of these jobs north of the border.

NYTimes op-ed states that USMCA is worse than NAFTA…….

North American business leaders are breathing a sigh of relief after Canada agreed, at the 11th hour, to join the revised North American Free Trade Agreement between the United States and Mexico. But before they break out the Champagne, they should look at the details.

Although the revised deal brings much-needed modernization in areas such as e-commerce and intellectual property, the media spotlight on Canada has obscured a bigger problem for the region: Under the new terms, North American trade is headed off the rails and, perhaps along with it, political stability south of the border.

But leave it to the master of business, the grad from the Wharton School, to negotiate a deal that has LESS trade in it……

The United States, Canada, and Mexico have completed their renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Being nothing, if not creative, negotiators named this revamp the “United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement on Trade,” or USMCA for short. While the namers get an F for imagination and creativity, they receive an A for self-evaluation skills, as they aptly removed the term “free trade” from the title. The USMCA does not advance free trade in the world.

There are more than a few labor and manufacturing provisions in this bill that will, no doubt, lead to higher prices for American consumers. There is a sourcing requirement, which mandates that 75 percent of automobile parts be produced in North America, otherwise that automobile cannot enter duty-free. Not only are the costs of auto parts already rising due to President Trump’s trade dispute with China, they will now rise even further due to the requirement that manufacturers use more expensive domestic parts that could have been imported more cheaply.

https://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2018/10/02/leave_it_to_trump_to_negotiate_a_deal_that_leads_to_less_trade_103433.html

Is that a technique known only to those that study at Wharton?

How to cut a deal where there is less trade than the previous deal.

It’s All About Trade

As no doubt you are aware Our Dear Leader has been on a tear for a couple of months about trade….he has pulled out of some agreements and imposed tariffs that have started a bit of a trade war (oh joy as if the American worker did not have enough problems)

The newest proposal is the threat of the US pulling out of the WTO…of which I have written…..https://lobotero.com/2018/09/03/if-it-is-monday-it-must-be-wto/

Dear Leader has started attacking NAFTA (again) and even has some vague words about a revised NAFTA……sadly it sounds like a scam…..keep in mind that I basically agreed with Trump on NAFTA…I think it was a barbaric thing to do to American worker……that aside…I was saying a “scam”?

If the renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement were good for working people, its content wouldn’t be hidden. Just what the Trump administration and the Mexican government of Enrique Peña Nieto have cooked up we do not know, but given the proclivities of both it is not likely to be good.

That the hurried-up deal appears to be intended to force Canada, which has the strongest regulations among the three NAFTA countries, into signing on disadvantageous terms, provides all the more reason to be skeptical. And, finally, a study of the United States Office of the Trade Representative’s “fact sheet” leaves no doubt that any new NAFTA will be a windfall for multi-national corporations, at our expense.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/08/31/revised-nafta-shows-every-sign-of-being-another-trump-scam/

Trump is doing what has become his trademark style….he goes in kicks over all the furniture and then rearranges …in other words he tries to ax an agreement and then with a little success he can claim ultimate victory…..which it is not.

It is always about appearance not results.

And then there is China….you remember them right?

It is 10 years in September since Lehman Brothers went bankrupt bringing global capitalism to the point of collapse.  Although the crash did not finally lead to a total meltdown, it triggered a slump of 1930s proportions and for most economies the last decade has been a lost decade of low growth, low investment, low productivity, marked by debt and deficit, with virtually no improvement in real incomes for the 90 per cent.

The stand-out story of the period has to be the continuing rise of China. Initially, the economy was also badly hit by the crisis, but China was able to recover rapidly to emerge today as a major economic power, moving steadily closer centre stage in the global order.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/08/31/the-decade-of-a-rising-china-10-years-after-the-financial-crisis/

Keep in mind that China is our world competitor….is it really a good idea to start a trade war with them?

Something else to consider…..with all the games played by Our Dear Leader with US trade we still had a deficit……

The US trade deficit widened for the second straight month in July, reaching the highest level since February, as imports hit an all-time high. The deficit in goods with China and the European Union set records, reports the AP. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the deficit in goods and services—the difference between what America sells and what it buys from other countries—rose to $50.1 billion in July from $45.7 billion in June. Exports slipped 1% to $211.1 billion, while imports increased 0.9% to a record $261.2 billion on increased purchases of trucks and computers. The deficit rose despite President Trump’s efforts to bring it down by renegotiating trade agreements and imposing taxes on imports.

So far, Trump’s aggressive policies have had little impact on trade numbers. The goods deficit with China rose 10% in July to a record $36.8 billion. The EU gap shot up 50% to a record $17.6 billion and with Canada nearly 58% to $3.1 billion. The July deficit with Mexico, though, plunged 25% to $5.5 billion. So far this year, the trade deficit is up 7% from January-July 2017. Trump views trade deficits as a result of bad trade deals and abusive behavior by America’s trading partners, but mainstream economists blame an economic reality that can’t be changed much by trade policy: Americans spend more than they produce, and imports fill the gap, particularly as a strong US economy encourages Americans to buy more foreign products.

Maybe things will look up next month……

This will be one of few posts of the day….I must endure about 5 to 6 hours of medical tests and doctors visits….I shall return later…..

If It Is Monday It Must Be WTO!

First, this is not some post about some moronic wrestling federation extravaganza….no I am talking about the World Trade Organization (WTO)….or some of you old farts might remember it as GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade)…..but what the Hell is it?

The WTO was born out of negotiations, and everything the WTO does is the result of negotiations. The bulk of the WTO’s current work comes from the 1986–94 negotiations called the Uruguay Round and earlier negotiations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The WTO is currently the host to new negotiations, under the ‘Doha Development Agenda’ launched in 2001.

Where countries have faced trade barriers and wanted them lowered, the negotiations have helped to open markets for trade. But the WTO is not just about opening markets, and in some circumstances its rules support maintaining trade barriers — for example, to protect consumers or prevent the spread of disease.

https://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/whatis_e/who_we_are_e.htm

I know you are probably thinking that this has nothing to do with you…well you would be wrong for Our Dear Leader if successful could make your living a lot more expensive than today……

He, Dear Leader, has declared a possible war on the WTO……

Shape up or we’ll ship out. That was essentially the message President Trump had for the World Trade Organization in an interview with Bloomberg on Thursday. Trump described the 1994 agreement that formed the WTO as “the single worst trade deal ever made” and issued his threat: “If they don’t shape up, I would withdraw from the WTO.” The body sets rules for global trade and serves as a forum for handling trade disputes, and Trump complained about the historical outcome of those complaints. He had this to say: “We rarely won a lawsuit except for last year. In the last year, we’re starting to win a lot. You know why? Because they know if we don’t, I’m out of there.”

The BBC cites a study that shows the reality is more like 90/90: We win about 90% of the cases we bring, and lose just shy of 90% of those filed against us. As for the cases filed against us, ones from China have made recent headlines. The AP reports Beijing on Monday formally sought “dispute consultations” over the latest round of tariffs—$16 billion of them—imposed last week on Chinese goods. China is a thorn, per US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who views China’s 2001 entry into the body as a mistake. Bloomberg’s take: “A US withdrawal from the WTO potentially would be far more significant for the global economy than even Trump’s growing trade war with China.” In the meantime, the US has been blocking the appointment of new judges, which could ultimately put the WTO’s ability to issue judgments on ice. Click for more on Trump’s wide-ranging interview.

As this policy expands items will becoming more expensive and in some cases more difficult to obtain and that could influence the production in this country…and for what?

Some minor machismo for the news cycle…….for he must be the talk of the town whether good or bad…..

A New Round Of Tariffs

Here we go!

It is not over and promises to get worse……

The trade war has started……Trump’s admin has placed tariffs on China and our European friends…..and a new round has been put into place against China….

The US-China trade war is here—and it’s escalating rapidly. US authorities rolled out a list Tuesday of some $200 billion in Chinese goods that could be hit with 10% tariffs by September, Deutsche Welle reports. The list of more than 6,000 product lines includes food products and many consumer goods, raising fears that the escalation could raise prices significantly for American shoppers, the Wall Street Journal reports. China hit back with its own tariffs on $34 billion in American goods after the US brought in tariffs on the same amount of Chinese goods last week, and Beijing has signalled that it will continue raising tariffs dollar for dollar. No talks are scheduled to resolve the dispute, which the US side blames on unfair Chinese practices.

The latest US tariffs were condemned by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, among others, who called the move “reckless.” China Ministry of Commerce said it was shocked by the escalation, the South China Morning Post reports. “China is shocked by the US move and the Chinese government, as always, will have to react to defend the core interests of our nation and people,” the ministry said. Li Chenggang, assistant minister of commerce, likened the US to a “bull in a China shop” and said tit-for-tat tariffs would “inevitably destroy” US-China trade.

The predictions are that these tariffs will now effect every room of one’s house from the windows and doors to kitchen to bath room….so many household things are made in China and now it will be expensive…..

Something to think about……the attacks on China by Trump could be behind the NK flipping on the “deal” that was supposedly struck in Singapore.

Just a thought.