Archive

November 30th, 2016

Markets would struggle to digest corporate tax reform

    Financial markets have been optimistic since the election of Donald J. Trump in the U.S., in part because investors assume that the incoming administration will pass some sort of business-friendly tax reform. But some of those reforms could hit investors in unexpected ways.

    One plank of Trump's business-friendly tax reform, which Hillary Clinton proposed as well, entails giving multinational corporations a one-time chance to repatriate overseas cash at a lower tax rate. Some investors fear that this would create a large one-time tax payment that would suck liquidity out of financial markets.

    U.S. corporations hold over $2.5 trillion in cash overseas. President-Elect Trump has proposed that the repatriation tax rate for this cash be 10 percent. Perhaps after negotiations with Congress as part of a larger tax reform bill, the rate ends up being more like 15 percent -- still a hetfty discount on the U.S. corporate income tax rate of about 35 percent. And then let's imagine that $1 trillion gets repatriated at that tax rate, for a one-time tax bill of $150 billion. How would that affect markets?

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In 'Trump effect,' nations adapt to uncertainty

    During the presidential campaign, many foreign ambassadors quietly warned that a Donald Trump presidency would be a disaster.

    It's easy to see why. As Robert Kagan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a Clinton supporter, put it in a column over the weekend, Trump's victory marks the end of America as the anchor of a liberal international order.

    This was certainly how the president-elect campaigned. On the trail, Trump shattered the bipartisan foreign policy consensus on issues ranging from the NATO alliance to the prohibition of torture. He mused about a nuclear Japan and boasted that he knew more than the generals.

    So one might expect that after Trump's victory, U.S. allies and adversaries would begin exploring new relationships in a post-American world. It's early days, but this is not yet apparent. Instead, America's friends and foes are exploring whether Trump is a man with whom they can do business -- someone they can meet halfway.

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November 29th

Far from draining the swamp, Trump seems poised to deepen the muck

    It is our duty to demand ethical integrity from our presidents, and Donald Trump cannot be allowed to make himself an exception.

    He is already trying hard to do so.

    Amid the hustle and bustle of his transition, according to The New York Times, President-elect Trump found time last week for a visit from the Indian partners with whom he is developing a pair of residential towers in Pune, a sprawling city not far from Mumbai. And Trump received a congratulatory phone call from Argentine President Mauricio Macri, with whose father Trump had business dealings in the past. Trump and Macri denied published reports that Trump lobbied for an office building project he and a group of partners want to build in Buenos Aires.

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After this election, what I can do for my daughter

    I voted for Hillary Clinton for a dozen reasons. Not surprisingly, one of those reasons was fueled by my hope to finally have a woman at the executive helm. Raising a daughter, one who is an impressionable 9 years old, made me want it all the more. For her to see a female leader in that role would validate paths I did not actually see myself while I was a young girl.

    Wednesday morning after the election, we both shed tears when it did not come to pass.

    I am now coming to terms with the error in my messaging to myself and, perhaps more important, to my daughter. Over the past nine years, I have shortchanged so many other competent women who are equally viable role models, whether they be leaders or the sturdy cogs that keep things moving. I have deep regret about that now.

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What Democrats owe the country

    Senate Democrats think they can hold Donald Trump accountable by challenging him to deliver on issues where he has made populist noises.

    Supporters of this strategy insist that offering to work with Trump where he shares Democratic goals is the best way to split the Republican Party or, alternatively, to expose Trump's flimflam if he fails to deliver for working-class Americans whose cause he rhetorically championed.

    In normal circumstances, this approach might be just the ticket. Unfortunately, this moment is anything but normal.

    Millions feel vulnerable to Trump's moves on immigration and doubt his commitment to equality before the law. We should be alarmed by his flouting of widely accepted norms governing conflicts of interest and the right to dissent. There is good reason to ask Democratic leaders to send unambiguous signals of resistance.

    His selection of right-wing figures such as Stephen K. Bannon and Michael Flynn for White House posts and of longtime civil rights foe Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general only feed legitimate demands for a strong pushback.

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Treating white males with kindness, respect and inclusion

    I consider myself progressive, compassionate, open-minded. Heaven knows I’m tolerant.

    Yet in recent days I have realized that routinely I am engaging in profiling.

    I see a figure up ahead of me on the sidewalk or in the store: I start making judgments. My mind takes giant leaps that cause teeth and hands to clench and pheromones to fly.

    This is something for which many of us have admonished others, like the president-elect. But here I’m admitting the same -- generalizing about others because of race and sex.

    Confession time? Here goes: Since the election, other white males scare the hell out of me.

    White males are the demographic most responsible for electing a man whose belligerent tendencies would put White House security on high alert, were he to show up there unannounced.

    I realize my sudden disposition about white males is wholly irrational.

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A Jolt of Blue-Collar Hope

    The nearby factory that made Dodge Durangos closed eight years ago. The General Motors Boxwood Road Plant — open since 1947 — closed the next year. So did the oil refinery in Delaware City.

    In the span of a year during the financial crisis, once-prosperous northern Delaware had to confront post-industrial devastation.

    It’s sort of the devastation that now has the country’s attention. Donald Trump won the presidency with huge margins in places left behind. He lost the popular vote but won 26 of the 30 lowest-income states, including the old powerhouses of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.

    These places are stuck in what I call the Great American Stagnation. Tens of millions of people have experienced scant progress for decades. Median net worth is lower than in the 1980s, and middle-aged whites, shockingly, aren’t living as long as they used to. Ending this stagnation is the central political problem of our age: It fuels Trumpian anger and makes every other societal problem harder to solve.

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The Shoe On The Other Foot

    Before we sign on to some of the proposed short cuts around the results of this last Presidential election we need to think about if our side had been elected under the rules in effect.

    Yes, the President-Elect is deplorable (I use that word intentionally!), but he is in the position under rules that we had made little fuss about, even when Al Gore won the popular vote. Now Hillary Clinton with almost four times the difference between Gore and Bush is the victim. Not only is she the victim but so are we.

    The electoral college, understood by few, was somewhat odd to begin with despite its good intentions. In a day when communication was quite limited it was meant to give isolated distant groups fair representation. I doubt that many of its creators ever thought that it would sacrifice majority choice. Under any circumstances it has long outworn any value it might have had.

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November 28th

Real editor could fight Facebook's fake news

    Two days after the election of Donald Trump, Mark Zuckerberg found himself on the hot seat.

    At a tech conference, an interviewer grilled the Facebook chief executive about the fake news that proliferates there, suggesting that it had swayed the election toward Trump. One widely shared story, for example, said that Pope Francis had endorsed the Republican nominee.

    Zuckerberg scoffed:

    "Personally I think the idea that fake news on Facebook, which is a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way - I think is a pretty crazy idea. Voters make decisions based on their lived experience."

    But since then, under fire (including from President Barack Obama who railed against the fake-news epidemic last week), Facebook has taken some positive steps.

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Trump's national security adviser wants to water down America's NATO commitments

    In tapping Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to serve as his national security adviser, President-elect Donald Trump has chosen someone who proudly claims to have shaped the next president's views that NATO is "obsolete" and that the United States should threaten not to come to the defense of NATO member states if they don't pay their fair share.

    Flynn told ABC News in May that he first spoke to Trump in September 2015: "We did talk about NATO and I told him . . . the United States - we pay too much of the bill. NATO is a 20th-century model and needs to be retooled for 21st-century threats that we collectively face, you know cyber is one of them. So, I said those things to him when we first talked." He added, "I don't have any problems with what [Trump] said about NATO. And if it's to put NATO on alert, to say, hey, NATO, we got to figure this out - this is no longer the Cold War - we need to organize ourselves differently. And, frankly, if you are part of the club, you've got to pay your bill, and for countries that don't pay their bills, there has got to be some other penalty."

    American officials have complained about their NATO allies before:

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