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Confounding and confusing events 5/2/22

It appears that the Governor of Florida has created a $1 billion dollar problem due to his decision to terminate certain benefits for Disney World. It appears that when the special district was created it provided that all debt had to be paid before it could be terminated so now it appears that the debt is going to shift to the state of Florida. I’m sure that the citizens of Florida will be delighted when those monies are diverted for this purpose as opposed to taking care of Florida’s other budgetary needs. Talk about hoisted by your own petard.

The US Government has put in place a new program to allow US citizens to sponsor Ukrainian refugees. This was reported in the New York Times recently and it appears that this program which allows Ukrainians to come to the US for up to two years is intended to function with some rapidity, not like typical immigration processes and to help in the settlement process of Ukrainians. This possibly creates a very interesting opportunity for many businesses that are having difficulty securing employees and that is to sponsor Ukrainians to come to the US and fill their employment needs for this two-year period. It may well be that during this time Ukrainians will become eligible for other types of immigration and this would certainly give some potential benefits to employers. This may be worth investigating, particularly when the unemployment rate is 3.6% with millions of unfilled jobs.

The war in the Ukraine continues to escalate on many fronts as Russia has decided to cut supplies of gas to several European countries. What impact this has on those countries and other members of NATO in terms of how they will respond will certainly be very interesting. The developments continue to surprise, and I suspect that process will continue as we go forward.

We also saw an escalation, if you will, by the US in comments of Secretary Lloyd Austin who indicated that one of our goals now is to, if you will, further cripple the Russian military by continuing to supply weapons and other supplies to the Ukrainian army and the Ukrainian people. This change in attitude and military strategy would seem to indicate to me that our intelligence is letting us know that the Russians are in much more dire straits than we might have imagined or anticipated. The process of getting equipment and troops to the front line seems to be largely broken and if all of this is true and the Russians can be forced into expending more supplies, more weapons, and unfortunately people, we could well weaken the Russian military rather substantially.

The US trade deficit in March jumped 17.8% to a record 125.3 billion due to soaring imports and inflation. This situation is not a good one when the balance is tipped this far in favor of imports rather than having a closer tie or relationship to the level of our exports. In addition, economists had forecasted a decline in the trade deficit so the fact that it continues to bloom does not portend good things for our overall economy.

I recently saw an editorial cartoon depicting Representative Stefanik’s 2021 fundraising. It appears that she raised $3,735,000.00 of which $260,000.00 came from the District. Ms. Stefanik touts her fundraising powers within the District but has never given away statistics that would prove her point. Assuming these numbers are accurate it is clear Ms. Stefanik is not a great fundraiser within her home District. Does it mean anything more with regard to her popularity or does she simply ignore this situation and seek to raise funds from those in Washington who will provide a much greater return on her investment of time.

In Canada the liberals and the NDP have reached a deal for coalition government until 2025. This is the first time since 1917 that a coalition government has been agreed to by any parties.

US household spending increased 1.1% in March, reflecting higher prices, but also the capacity to spend.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the tight labor market continues resulting in higher wages and benefits – up 4.5% in the first quarter year over year and the fastest rise since 2001. Obviously impacting inflation.

Ohio is in the news with the Republican Senate primary taking center stage. The only question is does Trump win, if he does, we certainly will not be getting a Rob Portman Republican.

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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