Bill Owens: Confounding Events 8/5/19

Aug 5, 2019

The Senate Intelligence Committee recently issued a report, although heavily redacted, which concludes that all 50 states election systems were tampered with by the Russians, and that the Russians were engaged in substantial interference in 2016 election.  This is, of course, dramatically different than the House report which was issued under the Chairmanship of Mr. Nunes and constituted the worst of “fake news”.  The real test here, however, is what will the Senate do with this information, and are they willing to push back against the administration to ensure that the 2020 election and all subsequent elections are not tampered with by the Russians or any other source.

California has struck a deal with several major car makers to control emissions which will be more stringent than those which the EPA wants to enforce.  The EPA and the Trump administration are crying foul, no surprise.  In many cases where the Trump administration has revised, reduced, obliterated regulations, they have said it is up to the states.  So how is this different?  It isn’t, it is just the President is on the losing end of this one.  You might also wonder why the four carmakers would reach such an agreement when they could have less stringent standards to work under.  Again, pretty simple.  California is an enormous market.  The carmakers have made the business decision not to be in a continuous battle with the State of California and its regulators. 

If you own Digital or Crypto currency, IRS has issued 10000 warning letters to digital currency holders (usually for aggregate transactions over $20000). The tax rules surrounding digital currency are little known and IRS has been criticized for failing to issue updated rules. The real issue for IRS is the failure of these transactions to be reported by the taxpayer or the intermediary.  If you have received one of those letters or you hold digital or crypto currency, but have not reported transactions, visit with your CPA or other tax advisors.

A recent story in the Press Republican indicated that due to our low unemployment numbers in Clinton County, and not as low, but close, in other counties, there is a dearth of workers, and in particular those with the necessary training to meet the demand of the growing regional economy.  This is good for all.  So where will our needed workers come from?

Dan Coats announced he is stepping down as Chief of National Intelligence.  Former Senator Coats is a well-respected individual who is being replaced by Congressman John Ratcliffe, although, Friday afternoon, August 2nd, President Trump pulled the nomination.  I guess he did not believe Mr. Ratcliffe had the necessary credentials and he didn’t.

The economy continues to grow, although not at the rate that the Trump administration initially put forward for 2018, which I don’t think was an attempt to mislead, but rather the Bureaucracy’s muddling analysis had not been done until now.    A recent New York Times article pointed out the signs that may signal a recession is on the way.  We have had an expansion now for about ten years which is a rare occurrence in recent economic history.  The factors listed, some of which fell towards evidencing a recession, some against a recession, and the majority were in, if you will, the cloudy area.  It will likely take several, if not many months, for those cloudy areas to either return to sunshine, or to move to stormy.  Given the overall health of the economy, I suspect even with the Chinese trade war, this could be a relatively short and shallow recession.  On the other hand, if we cannot resolve the Chinese trade war, then any number of factors could cause a much deeper recession than any of us want.

On Thursday August 1st, POTUS announced 10% tariffs on all remaining Chinese goods, effective September 1, 2019.  This is in response to the go-slow Chinese strategy.  We’ll know shortly where we are headed, but it doesn’t look particularly good.

A recent discovery of a Triceratops in North Dakota was made by a graduate student who found the 365-million-year-old dinosaur.  The discovery of, I am sure from the student’s perspective, was a huge boost to his prospects going forward, but his insight from my perspective was even more important.  He is quoted as saying that his great desire to explore for lost worlds grew due to his desire to aid our understanding of life on earth.  In a world where we disregard with regularity, facts, this is refreshing and evidences that there are people who are making discoveries which educate us and give us a broader understanding of the world around us.  Congrats to Mr. Duran.

I have concluded POTUS is not a racist, but rather he hates all who are not Trump sapiens.  May be some more than others, and others less who praise him.

Mr. Owens is a former member of Congress representing the New York 21st, a partner in Stafford Owens in Plattsburgh, NY and a Senior Advisor to 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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