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Confounding and confusing events 6/27/22

The Press Republican, our Plattsburgh newspaper published an article about Congresswoman Stefanik’s fundraising which is extraordinary, and largely comes from places and from people outside of the district. Maybe more importantly, were her comments about inflation which she said Republicans would stop by ending the spending of the Democrats. She ignores and forgets that under the Trump administration the PPP Program was created, and administered awarding billions of dollars to businesses and funds were provided to individual citizens at the same time, again, in the hundreds of billions of dollars. It is true that Democrats and Mr. Biden also authored a trillion-dollar infrastructure program, and reauthorized funds for families. Neither of these were the sole trigger for inflation, and the Republicans bear an equal share of the blame in that regard. It is also important to note that easy money from the Fed was also originated during the Trump administration which is a major contributor to inflation. More half-truths and nonsense continue to spew.

The Israeli government has collapsed due to the withdrawal of members of the ruling coalition. The Prime Minister will call a vote, and it will be the fifth election in three years. Some commentators are saying that this will open the door for the reemergence of Mr. Netanyahu as the Prime Minister since his party has more members of Parliament than any other single party in Israel.

It has been reported that small businesses are falling behind in the hiring process which I believe we are all seeing evidence of as we go around our communities. This is a serious threat to the recovery and also to those small businesses in terms of their ability to sustain themselves. These businesses don’t have the resources to offer training programs, higher wages and benefits so they are in a position that is very tenuous. Hopefully, this spurs all of us to shop at those stores even if we experience some inconvenience because of the lack of employees and products. We need to keep these folks in business as it benefits us all.

The labor crunch will likely be expanding due to the beginning of the projects that are being funded under the infrastructure bill. This means there will be a need for more construction workers, and thus, more production workers for the supplies that construction needs. In addition, it is quite likely that the wages that the contractors performing the projects can pay will exceed current wages, therefore, drawing employees to this type of work. This is, of course, good news for construction workers, and those entities that supply them because that means that there will be money in the pipeline. In addition, it also creates benefits to our communities as those people who are employed on those projects will have more dollars to spend. Every one of these circumstances has an up and a downside and we have to recognize that that is simply the reality and has always existed, it is just more pronounced today.

US, England, Japan and Canada have announced that they will ban imports of Russian gold. Russia will likely miss a debt payment shortly. China and India continue to import oil, thwarting the ban imposed by NATO giving Russia needed cash.

Maine does an end run on the Supreme Court ruling related to private schools receiving tax dollars. This is the last in a long line of decisions favoring religious groups. Maine enacted a statute which requires every school, religious or not, to comply with anti-discrimination rules, or, no dollars. Thus, the religious schools are being treated like all others and there is no basis for complaining. Very clever, and we need to apply this to other areas of Supreme Court rulings as well.

Politico recently published a story about the controversy surrounding Congresswoman Stefanik, and the Chair of the New York State GOP. Apparently, Ms. Stefanik has come out in support of Mr. Paladino which we have talked about previously, and is being hit rather hard because Mr. Paladino, as you may know, has been quoted as saying that Adolph Hitler is “the kind of leader we need”. Ms. Stefanik has said nothing relative to that comment, nor with regard to any of his other outrageous comments, with the later potentially being the result of her agreeing with his commentary. The fact that she is supporting an avowed racist seems to have little impact upon her, but is very troubling to many of us.

The stories coming out of Uvalde, Texas in terms of how the police conducted themselves has become more and more troubling and outrageous. It is fairly clear that the Chief of Police grossly mishandled this situation which has been confirmed by the Texas Department of Safety, as well as other experts in the field about which we’ve commented about previously. There had been claims that the doors to the classroom were locked, but yet security footage does not show officers even attempting to determine whether or not that was true, in fact, it wasn’t. The Chief is clearly on the hot seat and should be. Hopefully, the various investigations will get to the truth, and determine what level, if any, he has responsibility for. Any reading of the reports to date leaves you with very little sympathy at this juncture for someone who appears likely to have choked, or worse.

Existing home sales have fallen for the fourth straight month for May, while prices conversely skyrocket. The skyrocketing prices are due to a lack of inventory which has persisted for virtually the entire pandemic. Clearly, this is another major factor in inflation, which does not appear to be caused by any actions taken by the government, unless you make the assumption that because people had more money in their hands, and therefore were capable of bidding up the prices, however most of the sales appear to have occurred in the high-end homes, and those people were not likely recipients of large swaths of government cash.

The US and Canada announced that they would reopening the softwood lumber negotiations, however, the Biden administration appears to be taking the position that they are not going to soften their position. Currently, the softwood lumber anti-subsidy duties range from 6.75% to 20.24%, which should make it abundantly clear to virtually anyone that this is inflationary. At the same time, the Biden administration seems to be thinking about cutting tariffs from China because they are inflationary. Go figure.

Market Watch reports that unemployment claims dropped, but at the same time it appears that the red-hot US labor market is cooling. The jobless claims remained near a 5-month high, allowing experts to conclude that the labor market may be cooling off. Claims for long-term unemployment are the lowest since 1969, meaning that people are on unemployment for shorter periods than they have been since that date.

Have a good 4th.

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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