Financial News – Greece

Global stock markets sank Monday after Greece closed its banks and imposed capital controls in a dramatic turn in its struggle with heavy debts.

Oil prices declined and the euro edged down after Athens announced the moves to stanch the flow of money out of Greek banks and pressure creditors to offer concessions before a bailout program expires Tuesday.

Germany’s DAX index tumbled 2.9 percent to 11,161.41 points in early trading and France’s CAC-40 dived 3.4 percent to 4,887.69. Britain’s FTSE 100 dropped 1.6 percent to 6,643.83. Futures augured losses on Wall Street. Dow futures were down 1.1 percent at 17,677.00. S&P 500 futures shed 1.1 percent to 2,073.00.

Greece’s Cabinet closed banks for six business days and restricted cash withdrawals. The Athens Stock Exchange was due to be closed Monday. That follows Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ weekend decision to call a referendum on European and International Monetary Fund proposals for Greek reforms in return for bailout funds.

The accelerating crisis has raised questions about whether Greece might withdraw from the 19-nation euro currency, a move dubbed Grexit.

While this has happened in the past; I strongly suggest people keep an eye out. Each time this happens the odds of the problem cascading to affect our economy increases.  As everyone knows our world economy is very tightly interwoven with so many other countries. Even if we don’t have much direct trade with Greece, other countries do so if their economy tanks it can impact ours.
Next, I would also suggest people study how the Greek government has and will handle this. One of the common steps as shown above is a ‘bank holiday’. Think about what would do how you handle business, how you would put food on the table and gas in your car. People still have to work, still have to get to doctor’s appointments, buy medicine etc.

Think about what else the government or banks can do. Remember in 2013?

He should know. As Cypriot finance minister in 2013, Sarris was forced into a deal contingent on winding down a bank on an ELA lifeline. A second bank was forced to raid its clients deposits to recapitalize, a process known as a ‘bail-in’.

How many of us keep most of our money in the banks; wouldn’t it be a kick to find out the bank decided to take 10, 15, 40% of your money to stay afloat?

I’m watching closely and trying to take the lessons to heart. What do you think about the situation?
Please join the discussion>?

Breaking News — Open Carry !

Reports are filtering in from those who were there; Governor Greg Abbott signed Open Carry into law today.
Now the long wait until Jan 1st 2016 in order to actually be able to exercise our right. (Edited to add photo and link)

Anyone want take odds on the antis trying a judicial approach to stopping this?

Campus Carry should be signed at the same time or today according to previous notices. But that doesn’t go into effect until September of 2016 for Universities and 2017 for Junior colleges. Again, a long wait to exercise our rights.

 

 

 

State Department News

Probably everyone has heard of the recent efforts of the State Department (PDF of proposal here – search for ITAR to invoke the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations (ITAR) in order to remove ‘technical data” from discussion and posting online. This is nothing short of two things: first an attempt to circumvent our right to free speech and in my opinion more importantly, a distraction.

Paragraph (b) of the revised definition explicitly sets forth the Department’s requirement of authorization to release information into the ”public domain.” Prior to making available ”technical data” or software subject to the ITAR, the U.S. government must approve the release through one of the following: (1) The Department; (2) the Department of Defense’s Office of Security Review; (3) a relevant U.S. government contracting authority with authority to allow the ”technical data” or software to be made available to the public, if one exists; or (4) another U.S. government official with authority to allow the ”technical data” or software to be made available to the public.

The requirements of paragraph (b) are not new. Rather, they are a more explicit statement of the ITAR’s requirement that one must seek and receive a license or other authorization from the Department or other cognizant U.S. government authority to release ITAR controlled ”technical data,” as defined in § 120.10. A release of ”technical data” may occur by disseminating ”technical data” at a public conference or trade show, publishing ”technical data” in a book or journal article, or posting ”technical data” to the Internet.

This proposed provision will enhance compliance with the ITAR by clarifying that ”technical data” may not be made available to the public without authorization. Persons who intend to discuss ”technical data” at a conference or trade show, or to publish it, must ensure that they obtain the appropriate authorization.

 

 

I don’t think there is a snowballs chance in Hades of this going through; while there are reasons to limit ‘technical information’ but most of what the people publish online is common knowledge. Should a diagram and blue print for a Mosin Nagant become subject to ITAR despite the fact that firearm has been around for over 100 years?

So why does the State Department elect (here is a hint) to make this move at this time?

Of course the answer is a distraction.

Speaking by telephone, Clinton told the more than 1,300 fast food workers gathered at a convention in Detroit that every worker deserves a fair wage and the right to unionize. 

“I want to be your champion. I want to fight with you every day,” said Clinton, who kicked off her presidential campaign in April saying she wants to be the champion for “everyday Americans.”

The call was another step to the left for Clinton, as she vies for the Democratic nod with progressive candidates Bernie Sanders andMartin O’Malley. She told the assembled crowd that they should continue building the Fight for 15 movement, which is pressing employers to raise workers’ pay.

From Politics

That hissing sound you just heard is more air coming out of thebubble in the global bond market. From Germany to the U.S., fixed income prices tanked last week, sending yields way up. The turmoil is a clear signal that investors are bracing for higher interest rates — whether the Federal Reserve is ready for its first rate hike in a decade or not.

Greece needs money to pay its bills. But creditors don’t want to fork over more dough until it agrees to difficult economic reforms, which would prove Greece is working to stand on its own two feet.
The two sides have been wrangling for months over the terms of a deal that would see lenders give Greece 7.2 billion euros ($8 billion), which is the final portion of a previously agreed to bailout program that could save the country from a messy “Grexit” scenario.

From economic news at home and aboard.

The Affordable Care Act gets less disastrous every day. The latest boost: Overall costs are now likely to be $14 billion per year lower than estimated just two months ago, and $56 billion per year cheaper than the first official estimate in 2010. That’s a 30% reduction, compared with the 2010 numbers.

The Congressional Budget Office regularly updates its cost projections for all big federal programs, and its latest numbers show an improvement related to Obamacare, as the ACA is known, that few supporters or critics saw coming. In 2010, the year Congress passed the law, the CBO said the annual cost of administering the law and providing subsidies to enrollees to help them purchase insurance would be about $172 billion in 2019, when all the provisions of the law are fully in effect. In January of this year, CBO dropped its 2019 estimate to $135 billion per year. It has now dropped that even lower, to $121 billion per year.

What’s behind the slowdown?

Nobody is quite sure why the growth in healthcare costs has slowed so dramatically, after two decades of growth at 3 or 4 times the rate of inflation, which harmed both family and company budgets. Possible reasons: A tough recession that forced many families to cut back on healthcare spending, cost-control efforts throughout the healthcare system, and insurance policies that force consumers to pay more out of pocket, making them more likely to cut bank on nonessential things.

From previous disasters the administration pushed through. Let’s face it, there are many reasons the Obama Administration wants the pro-rights crowd being on the defensive. Not the least is the number of pro-rights laws being passed in many states. I’ll be talking about two here soon; Open Carry and Campus Carry, here in Texas. In the mean time; have some fun looking around at some the technical data published on the internet; wonder how these folks are going to react to the proposed law.

Please join the discussion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freedom of Press or Police Orders?

I’m still processing this video; not quite sure how I feel about it. The video is a backdrop to this tragic story.

 

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Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com
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On one hand, I think the press is way too intrusive. I believe that all too often the media, especially video crews, are too quick to get information on the air. The voracious 24 hour news cycle has led organizations to push the limits; especially the bounds of decency. I’m not sure there was anything that couldn’t have been broadcast from the studio in what Saul Garza reported from the scene.

There is also a valid reason for law enforcement to control a crime scene. The public needs to be protected from possible further violence, evidence needs to be preserved and in some cases the very evidence collected needs to be shielded from immediate dissemination.

 

On the other hand, the deputy was clearly out of bounds; in so many ways. First, there was no justification for moving the news team away from their location. It was stated they were going to be bringing in more equipment. HUH? Were they going to park it in the yard? I could see asking them to move the news van but not to step away from the location. The freedom of the press is well established. The freedom of people to be where they are legally able to be is another principle too many of the police simply choose to ignore.

I thought it was hypocritical for the deputy to insist on not being touched while blocking the camera, holding her hand over it and generally bullying the news team under the color of law. Nor should any law enforcement officer, in uniform, be allowed to block their face from being legally recorded.

And her mangling of the law was appalling. Someone’s yard isn’t private property because it is within the city?? Seriously folks that is sad.

So what do you folks think?  Please join the discussion.

On Selling Loosies —

Can we do away with the idea that ‘selling loosies’ is just some minor violation of a city ordinances

The truth is much more complex than that. First and foremost, the people selling ‘loosies’ often place themselves in front of retail stores. They cost those stores customers. Customer who might go in and purchase other items besides just a pack of smokes. So between the revenue lost from selling singletons and the impulse purchases, it can be a hardship on stores. And let’s be realistic, it ain’t cheap to run a business in New York City.

How bad is it ? I don’t know. I did find a site that helps determine what permits or licenses apply

NYC Tax and Permits

I had to include the cigarette vending machine — probably doesn’t apply but the site is kinda wonky about the questions asked. — but that is 10 or 11 requirements someone selling a ‘loosie’ fails to comply with. I  wonder how much money the city, state and federal government looses every year to unreported income. How many people aren’t helped because the tax dollars aren’t to run the shelters, feed the homeless, or keep a medical clinic open. And how many people with unreported income are still getting welfare benefits that could be used to help the lives of others?

I wonder how many times the courts are clogged with low level arrests like this instead of dealing with aggravated assaults, rapes, murders; think of the number of hours dedicated to stopping people from this type of  crime.

And that doesn’t even address federal law either.

 

FDA Flyer and page

What a minute ! It’s against federal law to sell ‘loosies’? yep, appears so. Now again, I don’t agree with the laws in place, but as we gun owners are so often reminded; we have recourse to change the law without resorting to violence. This is nanny state government at it’s most inane; we pass laws that have good intentions (we will make you be healthy) and forget those laws are enforced with violence as the ultimate resort.

Guess it just chaps me to see this issue downplayed. It isn’t a simple traffic violation — running a stop sign in the middle of the night when no one else is around — it is an economic crime. One personally I don’t think should be on the books, maybe this will help drive a few more people into the libertarian/conservative ‘small government’ camp.

Please join the discussion.

Same Story, Two Different Verses

First off we have a department taking action (thankfully) about an excessive force situation.

Back in June, Officer Jesus Martinez was caught on camera by a witness straddling and handcuffing a panhandler who was face down on the ground.

Martinez was seen roughing up the man, and later told the department that he had to use pepper spray because the man was resisting arrest.

Police say in the video it’s clear that the man is in extreme pain. A second witness told police that Martinez tackled the panhandler after they exchanged words.

An investigation by Internal Affairs found that Martinez used unnecessary and/or inappropriate force. He was arrested and charged with Official Oppression, which is a Class A Misdemeanor.

Martinez was also fired from the department, where he had worked since 2006

 

Of course not mentioned is what has happened to other people in the city since June. I applaud the city of Dallas for taking steps to right the wrong. But I do have to ask the antis “Do you think the police would be LESS violence, LESS brutal if the people were unarmed?”

I don’t think so.

Next up we have news from my home town

ARLINGTON – The Arlington Police Department has opened an internal, criminal investigation into the possible illegal sale of accident reports to lawyers and injury clinics.

One department employee has been placed on leave as allegations swirl about an illegal business-solicitation ring.

Yep, seems some ‘unnamed employee’ was providing attorneys and medical clinics with information they shouldn’t have.

I also applaud the city for acting on this. Given the time frame, this really is acting fast on information. Still makes you wonder what other information has been compromised, what other data has been passed on to unscrupulous people?

So I’ll ask the antis “Do you think the police would be LESS corrupt if the people were unarmed?”

This types of problems are not unique to America, they are not unique to this time and place. Time and time again we’ve seen that basic human nature has not changed, not in this country and not in the thousands of years of documented human history. These are just two of the many examples of why the average person should not be disarmed. There has to be a final check on the abuse of power; that check has to stay in the hands of the individuals.

 

Please join the conversation.

I voted…..and for Prop 1 I Voted NO

Texas makes it fairly easy to vote early; the polls are even open on Sunday. So after church, I stopped by and cast my vote.
As usual, I voted for those I believe will support a small government. Or at least not growing it as fast as possible.

On the ballot is a state-wide Proposition

“The constitutional amendment providing for the use and dedication of certain money transferred to the state highway fund to assist in the completion of transportation construction, maintenance, and rehabilitation projects, not to include toll roads.”

Let’s look at what the Proposition does and then I’ll explain why I voted against it.

The additional transportation money would come from directing a portion of the state’s annual oil and gas production tax collections to the State Highway Fund. Currently, the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) receives 75 percent of the state’s annual oil and gas production tax collections that exceed the amount collected in fiscal year 1987, when it was created. If approved by voters, half of the money currently destined for the ESF would be dedicated to the State Highway Fund. The remaining half would continue to build the unspent balance of the ESF. According to estimates from the Texas Comptroller, if voters approved the Constitutional Amendment $1.7 billion would be transferred in to the State Highway Fund in the first year alone.

Okay….First reason is right there — it takes money that is supposed to be dedicated to the Economic Stabilization or “Rainy Day” Fund and directs it to transportation projects such as roads and bridges.

Second reason;

(c) Not later than the 90th day of each fiscal year, the comptroller of public accounts shall transfer from the general revenue fund to the economic stabilization fund and the state highway fund the sum of the amounts described [prescribed] by Subsections (d) and (e) of this section, to be allocated as provided by Subsections (c-1) and (c-2) of this section. However, if necessary and notwithstanding the allocations prescribed by Subsections (c-1) and (c-2) of this section, the comptroller shall reduce proportionately the amounts described by Subsections (d) and (e) of this section to be transferred and allocated to the economic stabilization fund to prevent the amount in that [the] fund from exceeding the limit in effect for that biennium under Subsection (g) of this section.Revenue transferred to the state highway fund under this subsection may be used only for constructing, maintaining, and acquiring rights-of-way for public roadways other than toll roads.

Breaking down the politician weasel wording; Each legislative session the politicians would vote for a ‘floor’ on how little money has to stay in the Rainy Day fund and then split any money (remaining  above and beyond that) and new money into the Rainy Day fund and the State Highway fund.

So letting the politicians decide how much we should keep in the rainy day fund is a bad thing (more on this later). Related to this is the tendency of politicians to vote against appropriating the necessary amount of money for the important projects and then use other money to prop it up.
Sorry folks, if the State Highway fund isn’t getting enough money; the answer is simple; either vote for more taxes or stop spending money wastefully.

 

Lastly,

The constitutional amendment would provide significant progress in addressing the state’s unmet transportation needs by providing $1.7 billion in the first year alone. However, this amendment alone does not “solve” Texas’ transportation funding challenge. Experts say Texas has at least $5 billion in unmet transportation needs each year. This measure is expected to provide $1.7 billion annually to address these transportation needs.

Yeah, won’t come anywhere close to solving the problem but it would siphon even more money off from the Rainy Day fund. Yes, this is the final problem — the Rainy Day fund is a political slush fund that politicians tap on a regular basis and it needs to stop. NOW.

I feel we need to vote against every transfer of money out of that account. I think we need to hold politicians accountable for its depletion. Our recent history in the last 5 to 10 years shows how rocky the economy can be. We need to be prepared, as individuals and as a polity, to weather uncertain or hard times.

So, that is why I voted against it.

What do you folks think; would you vote for or against?