According to the “Big Picture” a long term 75% debt to GDP ratio is perfectly o.k.

The headline at the “Big Picture” reads “Tune Out Politicians Still Obsessing Over Government Debt.”

debt to GDP chartCalling this situation less than ideal is crazy:

Right after the credit crisis, projections showed the ratio of debt to gross domestic product in the U.S. reaching 225 percent by 2040. Improvements to the economy since then have increased tax receipts and lowered demand for safety net programs. According to the latest forecast, the debt-to-GDP ratio will be a bit more than 100 percent by 2040. That isn’t ideal, but it’s far below crisis levels.

This forecast indicates either weak growth, explosive government spending or both.

7000 Touch-screen kiosks: McDonald’s answer to high cost of doing business in Europe

McDonald’s replaces 7000 cashiers in restaurants across Europe with touch-screen kiosks:

The hiring picture doesn’t look quite so rosy for Europe, where the fast food chain is drafting 7,000 touch-screen kiosks to handle cashiering duties.

The move is designed to boost efficiency and make ordering more convenient for customers. In an interview with the Financial Times, McDonald’s Europe President Steve Easterbrook notes that the new system will also open up a goldmine of data. McDonald’s could potentially track every Big Mac, McNugget, and large shake you order.

Make it more expensive to do business (i.e. increase the minimum wage or corporate taxes) and it’s the lower skill workers who bear the brunt of the cutbacks.

h/t Insty…

Robin Hood Tax: Another bad European idea that will find its way here

obama hood

Does this remind you of a developing Democrat election campaign?

At its best, the financial services sector provides important services to people across the income spectrum. But in its current guise, it is failing to do so. In fact, it has become a powerful driver of inequality. The huge increase in speculation in the financial markets has pushed the volume of financial transactions to more than 70 times the size of the world economy. And we are all still suffering from the irresponsibility of this sector, which led to the global financial crash.

Lord Turner, former chair of the Financial Services Authority, described much of the financial services sector as “socially useless” and said it had grown too big. Calculating the difference between what people take out of the economy in terms of their pay, and what they put in in terms of the value to society of their work, the New Economics Foundation estimated that many people in the financial services sector were a burden on the rest of us.

If you really want to look at the difference in what people take out of the economy versus what they put in, look no further than the worlds third largest economy, the United States Federal Government.

**** h/t Timmy ****

Party of the 99%: Obama’s spend $7.9 million on 2013 trip to Ireland while soldiers lose vacation time in 20 locations

Defense Department has decided to remove 20 areas from list of locations qualifying for imminent danger pay:

Beginning June 1, soldiers deploying for 12 months to certain countries across the globe will have to go without their two-week rest and recuperation leave.

The change is being sparked by a recent Defense Department decision to remove 20 areas from its list of locations that qualify for imminent danger pay.

It goes without saying. Washington politicians continue to retain their generous vacation schedule.

Speaking of generous vacations schedules, remember when Dear Leader, his family and his entourage jetted to Ireland to attend the G8 summit in 2013? I know it’s difficult tracking the myriad of lavish Obama vacations, fortunately Judicial Watch continues keep tabs on these extravagances and recently filed a Federal lawsuit to obtain the records for the Ireland ‘summit’. What they found was a shocking $7.9 million tab for the June 17 – 19, 2013 trip:

Judicial Watch announced today it has obtained records from the U.S. Department of the Air Force and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security revealing that President Obama’s June 2013 trip to Belfast, Ireland, including a Dublin sightseeing side trip by Michelle Obama, her daughters, and her entourage, cost the taxpayers $7,921,638.66.

According to the Department of Air Force documents, the flights to, from, and around Ireland for the June 17 – 19, 2013 trip totaled 33.6 hours at $228,288 an hour, which comes to a flight expense alone of $7,670,476.80 The records came in response to a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information lawsuit filed on January 13, 2014.

According to the DHS documents, the total cost for “security and/or other services” for the Dublin side trip by Michelle Obama and her entourage was $251,161.86, including $55,004.85 at the Shelbourne Hotel and $70,855.44 at the Westbury Hotel. Vehicle rental charges were $114,721. The records also came in response to a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information lawsuit filed on January 13, 2014.

After accompanying the president to a meeting with Northern Ireland youth on the morning of June 17, the First Lady, her daughters, and her entourage departed on their own, apparently aboard Air Force Two, for a sightseeing side trip to Dublin. Though the White House claimed the trip was for diplomatic purposes, WashingtonDossier.com reported the itinerary showed, “She and her daughters will visit the Trinity College library to explore President Obama’s Irish family roots, attend a performance by the world-famous Riverdance troupe, and visit the Wicklow Mountains national forest.”

In a June 2013, article, on the Michelle Obama side trip, the Washington Times reported, “First lady Michelle Obama is sparing no expense on her trip to Ireland, staying at a $3,300-per-night hotel suite in Dublin. Irish press reports Monday said Mrs. Obama and her entourage have booked 30 rooms in the five-star Shelbourne hotel. The first lady is said to be staying in the Princess Grace Suite …. ” According to the hotel’s website, the Grace Kelly Suite features two guest bedrooms, a living room, and a dining area, and measures 1530 square feet.

Soldiers (the 99%) have their 2 week R&R’s removed while the Obama’s travel like the 0.1%…

Remind me again who, precisely, is the party of the 99%…

Michigan Governor: State tax surplus could be used to limit cuts to pensions in Detroit bankruptcy proceedings

Michigan taxpayers have been overcharged by the state of Michigan to the tune of $350 million. That is what Michigan’s budget surplus really is, the state taxed its citizens an extra $350 million that they had no plan to spend. So, rather than sending the money back to the taxpayers, spending the money to fix our literally crumbling roads or simply hang on to the money for a rainy day, what does our nerd Governor propose?

Gov. Rick Snyder said Thursday he’s open to using one-time surplus tax dollars for the state’s contribution toward a fund to bolster Detroit pensions and settle the city’s bankruptcy.

Snyder has pledged $350 million over 20 years toward a $816 million fund designed to limit cuts to pensions and shield city-bought art at the Detroit Institute of Arts from being sold to satisfy creditors.

While private sector citizens in Michigan have had to go round after round of belt-tightening  (job losses, furloughs, pay cuts) during the reign of economic terror during the Granholm era. Now we have to punch additional holes in our belts for even more belt-tightening during the ongoing Obama disaster. Why should Michigan taxpayers take it in the shorts, again, protecting city worker pensions? Let them tighten their belts, or sell the DIA art and other city assets like other bankruptcies require.

BTW, you know after Snyder uses our tax ‘surplus’ protecting city pensions, he will come hat in hand looking for additional ‘revenues’ (i.e. taxes) to fix our roads.

Pending Economic Downturn: The Skyscraper Index

According to the “Skyscraper Index” there is a correlation between the completion of the “worlds tallest” skyscraper and an economic downturn:

Sometimes a skyscraper is not just a skyscraper, at least to economists who see them as harbingers of downturns. The Skyscraper Index measures the correlation between the world’s tallest building and the business cycle. The theory, first proposed in 1999 by Dresdner Kleinwort analyst Andrew Lawrence, is that construction of the world’s tallest building is usually completed right before an economic downturn. The Empire State Building went up early in the Great Depression, and the World Trade Center was completed on the eve of a recession.

Here’s a helpful infographic:

skyscraper index graphic

In related news, Saudi Arabia is constructing what will be the tallest skyscraper in the world, the 3,280 foot (1km or 0.6 mile) tall Kingdom Tower scheduled for completion in 2019. With the skyscraper index in mind, plan for the 2019 economic downturn accordingly.

Politifact 2012 Lie of the Year becomes true: Chrysler building tree Jeep models in China

Remember when PolitiFact called Mitt Romney’s ad stating Obama “sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China” 2012′s “Lie of the Year?

Well, Politifact’s “2012 Lie of the Year” turns out not to be a lie at all. Not only is Chrysler / Fiat building a Jeep in China (for the China market), FCA (Fiat Chrysler Autos) is actually planning to construct three Jeep vehicles in China:

Fiat and Chrysler announced plans Saturday to build three new Jeep models in China for that market, the biggest for the vehicles outside the United States, as they attempt to boost sales in a country where they lag behind their competitors.

The automakers said they will expand their joint venture with China’s Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. Ltd., and increase the portfolio of Jeeps, which are currently imported to China.

Production is expected to start in late 2015 in Guangzhou, the companies said in a statement, adding that they are considering a Jeep model “uniquely designed for China.”

Chrysler Group LLC spokesman Gualberto Ranieri declined to provide details on that model. He said in an email that more information will be announced at an “appropriate time.”

Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, who plans to complete the legal merger of Fiat and Chrysler by the end of the year, said in the statement that the deal represents the next phase in the “expansion on a global scale of the Jeep brand.”

Chrysler building Jeeps in China for the China market is actually a good thing. It causes a few more dollars to flow back to our shores.

Tax Freedom Day is April 21st, for income taxes. But what about the rest of the taxes?

Chris Wy (who’s pretty fly for a Jersey guy) discusses how average Americans are approaching 2014′s Tax Freedom Day. The day where Americans have finally paid their federal and state income taxes:

More than 1/3 of every dollar I make gets shipped off into a black hole. That’s not “freedom.” Not in my book.

Sure, approximately 1/3 of of your paycheck is confiscated by the Fed’s and your state government for redistribution. However, this isn’t the whole picture. There are a myriad of other taxes and fees imposed (most reside in the fine print) on us by government on all levels that you might not notice. Taxes such as cell phone, cable, sales, energy and gasoline taxes. This is something John Stossel has been covering for years.

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When you sum it all up, the real ‘Tax Freedom’ day for an average American is closer to the Fourth of July than mid April.

midpoint of 2014

Depressing isn’t it? Work half the year to pay all your taxes…

Oh! This doesn’t include inflation, a type of hidden tax that makes everything more expensive.

Fed Chairwoman Yellen claims low inflation is at the root of our weak economy

Everyone needs to grab their wallet, things are about to become even more expensive than they are today. Via Larry Kudlow:

It used to be hypothesized that low inflation was the key to high economic growth. For everybody in the economy, low inflation was a tax cut. Conversely, rapidly rising prices were thought to penalize the economy by placing a tax-hike effect on investors, businesses, and families. It was this logic that spurred Paul Volcker (especially) and then Alan Greenspan to labor mightily in the 1980s and 1990s to bring inflation down.

The Fed’s favorite inflation measure — the personal consumption deflator — has risen about 1 percent over the past year, as has the consumer price index. When I grew up professionally in the 1970s, first as a New York Fed staffer and then as a Wall Street economist, no one — and I mean no one in their right mind — would ever have dreamed that double-digit inflation could be brought down to 1 percent. But Janet Yellen is now telling us that low inflation is a sign, and perhaps even a cause, of the weak economy.

The Wall Street Journal headline last week was “Fed Shows Growing Worry about Low Inflation.” As the narrative unfolds, both the Federal Reserve and the IMF blame low inflation for small wage gains, excess business capacity, and soft global demand.

Not for one nanosecond should anybody believe this nonsense.

Kudlow is being charitable by ascribing altruistic motives to Chairwoman Yellen (and by extension our ‘Leaders’ in Washington).

“You know, we need to do something about the weak economy and high unemployment…”

In reality, politicians in Washington want high inflation to facilitate spending more money without raising taxes to pay for the spending. Furthermore, creating inflation also allows politicians a clever way to avoid accounting for the full amount deficit spending they are engaging in.

Milton Friedman explained this nicely way back in 1978:

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Friedman really hit the nail on the head how “we the people” are complicit in this. Well, not all “we the people.

MIT Tech Review finally catching up to MCT: Wealthy cities are more “green” than poor cites

MCT is ahead of the curve… Again…

Self loathing lib’s at MIT technology review are perplexed. They have discovered actual data contradicting their deep-seated belief that capitalism is bad for the environment:

That raises all kinds of questions about other aspects of city life. A particularly important one is whether big cities are greener than small ones, whether big cities emit more carbon dioxide per capita than small ones.

Today, we get an answer of sorts from Diego Rybski at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and a few pals. These guys give an interesting twist to the debate. They say that big cities in rich countries are greener than small ones but big cities in poor ones are the opposite. And the transition occurs when the GDP per capita climbs above $10,000 per head.

Our self loathing libs can’t seem to wrap their heads around this new data.

The results imply that large cities in rich countries are more efficient than those in poor countries. But just why this should be is something of a puzzle. One possibility is that cities in the developed world are more focused on producing services whereas in the developing world, cities have more industry and so produce more carbon dioxode.

Uh no, it’s not because developed countries focus on “providing services” rather than manufacturing things. It has to do with the fact, that only wealthy countries and, by extension, wealthy cities can afford to worry about the environment.

third world children

As pointed out nearly four years ago here at MCT:

The truth is, if these guys truly cared about the environment, they would be working to protect our economy. Because only wealthy nations can afford to care about the environment. Poor countries can’t.

And that’s a fact.

If the sanctimonious lib’s at MIT Technology Review would bother leaving their ivory tower in Massachusetts and travel to the poor areas of Mexico, Eastern Europe or Asia they would understand that people there are more interested in living day-to-day than how much CO2 their activities are emitting into the atmosphere.

If radical environmentalist truly care about the environment, they would be hard-core free market capitalists. Of course we all know there not. Because it is abundantly clear  that the green movement’s true end-game is implementing socialism.