Cyber-Enabled Economic Warfare and America’s Private Sector

In this video, presented by Samantha Ravich, Deputy National Security Adviser to Dick Cheney as well as Chair of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Transformative Cyber Innovation Lab and Vice Chair of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, a discussion is held on cyber-enabled economic warfare. 

US State Expenditure Hike

According to the annual state expenditure report of the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), there was an increase in US state spending – a first for the 2018 fiscal year.  Industries most impacted were health and transport (6.5% possibly due to an increasing focus on infrastructure throughout the nation) but in every category there was growth.   There was a 6.2 percent hike in general fund revenue during the same time frame.

Executive director of NASBO, John Hicks explained:

“The fiscal 2018 data presents a slightly improved fiscal situation than the prior two years. We’re seeing a slight increase in the growth of spending both from total spending and states’ own funds.”

In addition, there was a more substantial increase in federal fund state spending as compared to state generated revenue spending.   And activity within the manufacturing industry did not meet expectations, dropping to its nadir since April 2017.  According to Timothy Fiore, Chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee:

Demand remains moderately strong, with the New Orders Index easing to below 60 percent for the first time since April 2017, the Customers’ Inventories Index remaining low but improving, and the Backlog of Orders Index remaining steady. Consumption softened, with production and employment continuing to expand, but at lower levels compared to September.”

US Digital Economy: Women all the Way

It seems like women are leading the way in the US digital revolution.  The yearly 2018 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight showed that there is a lot of optimism among female entrepreneurs with a staggering 49% of them expecting an improvement within their local economies and 48& to expect this from the national economy.

In general the women are confident: about the economy, about their success in the economy and about elevation in future growth within their particular positions.  In addition, 56 percent of women are planning to expand their businesses within the next five years. According to Managing Director and head of Small Business, Bank of America, Sharon Miller:

“When it comes to small business, women entrepreneurs are at the forefront of the digital transformation. It is exciting to see how they are innovating and leveraging mobile tools to help their businesses succeed. Their increased optimism about the future and the potential for hiring and growth is also very encouraging.”

Digitally, half of all SME owners predict a total switch to digital payments within the next five years and the women seem to be in charge of this, with mobile devices processing payments and engaging in transaction management. Indeed only 26 percent of men use mobile devices to process digital fiscal transactions whereas 33 percent of women do.


US Economy: Winners and Losers

In this video, Ali Velshi and Stephanie Ruhle join Heather Long, Economics Correspondent for the Washington Post, to discuss latest tax projections and who they benefit. They review how the tax breaks fit into the overall economy. As things stand now, Congressional Budget Office forecasts an economic slowdown, partly due to President Trump’s Trade War.

Measuring US Economic Success

The Bureau of Economic Analysis on July 27th released the gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate for the second quarter of 2018: 4.1 percent.  Everyone has been very excited about this.  It is, after all, a greatly impressive figure, indicative of tremendous growth as compared to  the past few years.  However, according to a recent article by Sophie Mitra, not only does it not tell the whole story, the part of the story that it does tell could be problematic for the average family.  We have to first realize that:

“GDP has many limitations. It captures only a very narrow slice of economic activity: goods and services. It pays no attention to what is produced, how it is produced, or how it might improve lives.”

She pointed out that at the end of the day, what the average American is bringing home in their pay packet each month has remained stagnant “for decades,” irrespective of the fluctuation of GDP and/or unemployment.

Many economists actually believe that “economics considers wealth or the production of goods and services as means to improve the human condition,” and rather it is simply the media that is obsessed with GDP figures.

However, President Trump’s top economic advisor, Larry Kullow insists that the GDP noise “is a boom that will be sustainable,” with Trump himself boasting that “his administration has achieved an ‘economic turnaround of historic proportions’.”

Even if we do consider GDP the be-all and end-all measuring stick of economic success and prosperity, was this all Trump’s doing?  According to a Bloomberg article by Sho Chandra, probably not, since:

“The stars were aligned following 2 percent growth in the first quarter: The biggest tax overhaul since the Reagan era delivered another boost to consumer spending and business investment, and the volatile categories of inventories and trade probably juiced the number — helped by a likely temporary jump in soybean exports ahead of retaliatory tariffs.”

At the end of the day the current GDP number is a nice one but as Mitra pointed out it is much more accurate to engage “complementary measures” involving people as well as products, as an analytic tool.

US Economic Growth: Today’s Trump Card?

Numbers for the 2018 quarter are indicating that the American economy is encountering tremendously positive growth.  The annual rate was 4.1% which has been touted by the commerce department as being “the fastest pace in four years.”   Trump did promise that the $1.5tn tax cuts he implemented would be paid for and this is his proof.

America’s economy has not grown at this pace since 2014.  At that time it escalated to 5.2% in the third quarter.

Employment figures are also looking up.  In June, an additional 213,000 jobs were added and according to a White House Statement:

 “The unemployment rate ticked up in June from an 18-year low, but steady hiring and an increased number of job seekers suggest a strong labor market drew in Americans from the sidelines. U.S. nonfarm payrolls rose a seasonally adjusted 213,000 in June, the Labor Department said Friday.”

Is the US Economy Looking Good?

According to Rick Rule, president of US Sprott Holdings, it could well be.  In this video he talks of how he is anticipating a kind of “catch up” with commodity stocks.  Upcoming are a whole slew of M&A’s in the mining industry and in general, there is cause for optimism for the long term future of America’s economy.

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Texas Takes All

When it comes to being on top in business, Texas takes it all!  According to a CNBC report last week, Texas was ranked America’s 2018 Number 1 state for business!   At Enchanted Rock, a live CNBC broadcast featuring Governor Greg Abbott announced Texas’ rating following a comprehensive study of all 50 states.  64 metrics in 10 categories were used to make the determination.  Abbott’s response to the news was:

“Texas offers a blueprint for business success.  The Texas economy is the fastest growing in the nation, and more Texans are working than ever before. This is not an accident – reforming taxes, removing regulatory barriers, encouraging participation in the sharing economy, investing in our education system, and securing Texans’ freedom to aspire is our formula for success. As Governor, I will work to continue to keep Texas the best state to build a business big or small, and implement a blueprint for a new era of economic expansion.”

Post US Tax Cuts Repercussions

How does the US economy look half a year after the implementation of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act? Mattie Duppler recently took a look at where we are today with this in a review in The Hill.

She commented that:

“Gone is the outdated system that took too much of our money, sent our jobs overseas, and stagnated our economy. Individuals are now seeing thousands of dollars in tax relief and bigger paychecks. Families are benefitting from a doubling of the standard deduction and child tax credit. Lower taxes on businesses of all sizes are stimulating our economy. Americans are feeling the effects of a reinvigorated economy.”

She added support to this with the following numbers:

“More than four million people are receiving bonuses, benefit increases, and higher wages from hundreds of companies, totaling some $4 billion back into the pockets of the working class. Companies like Apple, Comcast, Boeing, and Bank of America have given workers across the country bonuses, in addition to pledging new investments into our national economy. Many more small businesses have done the same in their communities by growing their operations and hiring more people.”

According to an analysis by Willliam Gale, Hilary Gelfond, Aaron Krupkin, Mark J. Mazur and Eric Toder published last month, while the law “reduce[s] federal revenues by significant amounts, even after allowing for the impact on economic growth. It will make the distribution of after-tax income more unequal. If it is not financed with concurrent spending cuts or other tax increases, TCJA will raise federal debt and impose burdens on future generations. If it is financed with spending cuts or other tax increases, TCJA will, under the most plausible scenarios, end up making most households worse off than if it had not been enacted.”