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Confounding and confusing events 9/26/22

Ron DeSantis’ gambit, as I noted last week of sending Venezuelan immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, has in addition to the reaction of the Venezuelan community also raised doubts about whether or not he had the legal authority to do it, in spending Florida taxpayer dollars. Mr. DeSantis is now being sued by the migrants for fraud. It will be interesting to see if any DA in Florida picks up this matter, and potentially pursues criminal action against him.

Russia is attempting to annex areas of the Ukraine in order to counter the retaking of these lands by the Ukrainian government. The failure of the Russian military, and I think Russian intelligence in the Ukraine is remarkable. There are reports of Russian soldiers running from the battlefield, abandoning equipment, and being unable to secure necessary supplies. This has got to raise serious concerns for large swaths of at least the governing class in Russia, if not, the public at large.

The circus surrounding the seized Trump documents has moved on to the US Court of Appeals and the Special Master. It appears that the Special Master is not looking with any great sympathy upon Mr. Trump’s claims, and in fact, challenged his lawyers to demonstrate factually that they had been declassified. The Court of Appeals reached the same conclusion when a 3 Judge panel (2 Republicans and 1 Democrat) reached a unanimous decision against Trump. My suspicion is, that the documents were never declassified. Trump’s lawyers tiptoed around the issue because lying by an attorney to the Court is frowned upon.

The New York State AG has served Mr. Trump and his three children with charges of fraud in their financial statements and business dealings. The issue here is at least two-fold, including the information he provided to secure loans, and then to impact his real property tax assessments. It seems that those two valuations went in opposite directions; high for loans, low for tax assessments. Of course, it is not really a surprise that he would do that.

In something of a surprise, it appears there is a dead heat between J. D. Vance and Representative Tim Ryan in the Ohio Senate race. This should not even be, if you will, a close call given Ohio’s recent voting record, but it demonstrates what a poor candidate J. D. Vance is and the impact of his various antics, or lack thereof, in this campaign. He has been absent for much of it.

The British pound slid dramatically as the new PM proposed huge tax cuts not seen since the 1970s. It does not sound like the markets have much faith in this new version of the trickle-down economic theory.

The Ukraine continues to stun Russia and Putin’s mobilization is beginning to see resistance. Will Trump lose his buddy? The Iranian people are staging demonstrations against their dictator. Is this the beginning of a trend? Curiously, Italy elected a far-right government.

The fed decided on Wednesday, the 21st, to raise interest rates by basis points, which is continuing the pattern which has developed over the last several months. It also means that they believe that inflation is not under control, and that these steps are necessary in order to achieve that goal. The end game appears to be a rate of 4.6%, which would suggest that at more rate increases are likely to come. My sense is that the markets will build in the 4.6%, and that there may not be as many bumps in future raises that do not exceed the 4.6% level.

The new Prime Minister of Great Britain, Liz Truss, has indicated that she does not see a US/UK free trade deal coming to fruition any time in the near term. This is in contrast to Mr. Johnson and Teresa May who both held out the likelihood of such an agreement, as part of the benefits of leaving the EU. If this is true, then what was the benefit of leaving the EU? It will be interesting to hear Prime Minister Truss articulate a response.

The Congressional race in the 2nd district of Maine between the incumbent Democrat Jared Golden, and the prior office holder, Republican Bruce Poliquin, also features a 3rd and independent candidate, Tiffany Bond. Golden beat Poliquin in 2018, and Poliquin is now back seeking the seat. Poliquin was in office from 2014-2018, and has moved from being a moderate Republican to being a Trump Republican. One Democratic voter who is cited in a recent article indicated that he was voting for Poliquin because his party (the Democrats) has become too radical. Poliquin clearly feels that his Trump positions on immigration and protecting gun rights are not too radical, and he focuses on liberals’ desire to defund law enforcement and push critical race theory in schools. Those are not Jared Golden’s positions.

The housing shortage is a crisis in many areas of the US. I read an interesting article asking the question “where are starter homes?”. I remember the vast Levittown development on Long Island that offered home ownership to many GI’s and their families. The middle-class worker needs this opportunity to have their own home. Will someone build them? If they do, they will come.

Archaeologists discovered a 7,000-year-old structure in the modern-day Czech Republic. It is a circular structure measuring 180 feet in diameter. 200 of these have been discovered across Europe including 35 in the Czech Republic. These structures were made during the Stone Age thousands of years before the Pyramid at Giza or Stonehenge. Fascinating.

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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