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Confounding and confusing events 4/18/22

From the world of science, the New York Times reports on a flying battery which is being tested in Burlington, Vermont. In reality it is an electric plane which currently is unmanned but if tests go well, we might be flying one of these. Another version of the Jetsons.

We have more information on voter fraud. I previously reported on this issue and the irony continues for Republicans. Two Republicans in the Villages, Florida were indited for voting twice and Mark Meadows, President Trump’s chief of staff, was removed from voter roles in North Carolina because he voted in Virginia. It is good to know Republicans are finding voter fraud, but I doubt that they thought that they were the enemy.

We are arming the Ukraine, as I am sure you are aware, and we need to understand the danger of generating a broader and possibly nuclear conflict. This is treacherous ground that we tread on.

The Pentagon found an interstellar visitor but it was not green people, but a rock with origins outside of our solar system. It splashed down in the south pacific in 2014. We have detected two others, but this is the first to enter our atmosphere.

US Imports and exports in February jumped 20% each, however, imports remain significantly above exports creating a negative balance of trade. Our balance of trade is frequently recorded in the negative column. The surprise here is that imports continue to increase which likely is the largely result of imported oil from Canada. And for those who are concerned about the Keystone Pipeline, this may be evidence that they shouldn’t be. China continues to suffer from supply chain stagnation, and that is likely to continue in the near term, particularly as COVID re-emerges in China and China struggles to determine how to combat it.

Canada, on the other hand saw its trade surplus increase by $500 billion whether calculated in Canadian or US dollars. This was the largest trade surplus Canada has experienced with the US since 2005. Again, a large portion of this was oil exports and on the interesting side of the discussion, is of course the blockade on the Canadian side which interrupted a substantial amount of trade in the month of February although it did not appear to lessen the overall exports from Canada to the United States. The commentators have not been specific in terms of determining whether or not they think had the borders not been blockaded, what the impact would have been on the Canadian trade surplus. One gets the impression that they do not think it was material because they believe that the exports found other ways into the United States.

In other trade news, Canada surpassed Russia in terms of the amount of oil we imported from those countries, and the Canadians are being held to their agreements under the US-Canada-Mexico Free Trade Agreement as was recently ruled by an arbitration panel. This is good news for farmers, particularly dairy farmers, but the actual dollar value of those transactions is relatively small.

Continuing with our trade discussions, it appears that 3PLs (Third-Party Logistics Providers) are likely to receive Congressional approval from both the House and the Senate to be able to take advantage of the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, the CT-PAT Program which means in effect that these entities which move product, store product, and distribute it will be able to take advantage of the CT-PAT Program which means the goods can be imported into the United States more rapidly and more securely. This is beneficial not only to the 3PLs but also to the importers and in the end, it has value to US consumers as well as the entities that are receiving the product, which tend to be big distributors in the United States.

Russia’s war tumbles on with various twists and turns, and to a large extent, surprises. In particular, the withdrawal from the Kiev area and a focus on eastern Ukraine is something of a surprise and of course people are questioning whether or not this is a faint, or in fact Russia is rethinking its strategy. Mr. Putin must be nearly losing his mind with the performance of the Russian military which seems inept at every level, whether you are talking about General Officers being killed and mismanaging the war, the logistical aspects or the military failures of the Russians, as well as the number of Russian soldiers that have been killed. When you consider the level of atrocities that they have been committing they really do begin to look like the Nazis in World War II. Which is clearly very troubling, but in my view not surprising. This is part of Mr. Putin’s character and one should not be surprised at how he handles himself, particularly under stress.

I saw a sign recently in an ice cream shop – calories don’t count outside of your zip code. Good news for all of us.

Bill Owens is a former member of Congress representing the New York 21st, a partner in Stafford, Owens, Piller, Murnane, Kelleher and Trombley in Plattsburgh, NY and a Strategic Advisor at Dentons to Washington, DC.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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