Presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee Donald “I am really, really rich” Trump is, according to Forbes, the 121st richest person in America. So, yes, he is really, really rich.
He loves the perks of being really, really rich, like flying to campaign events in one of his own private jets, which means he blithely skips those annoying airport security lines that non-billionaires must endure. He enjoys kicking back in one of his five houses, including the 58-bedroom Mar-A-Lago mansion, where the $600,000 annual property taxes are three times the entire cost of an average American home. And, of course, Trump relishes the power he has to tell workers, “You’re fired.”
Born into wealth, Trump attended private schools and inherited $40 million when he was just 28 years old. He didn’t spend summers volunteering for Habitat for Humanity in Appalachia. He didn’t take a gap year to put that fancy private school education to use tutoring inner city kids. So, frankly, it’s easy to understand why he opposes raising the minimum wage. This guy who was born with a really, really silver spoon in his mouth doesn’t have a clue what living on $7.25 an hour means.More ...
Many people might think that Donald Trump can only teach the country how to offend women, African Americans, and a range of non-European ethnic groups. While that may be his area of expertise, it seems that his rants on dealing with debt may actually provide a teachable moment. As a result, the country, and possibly even the policy elites, may get a better understanding of when and how debt can pose a problem.
Trump first raised the debt issue a couple of weeks ago when he implied that as president he would negotiate discounts on U.S. debt just like he did with many of his businesses that faced bankruptcy. In those cases Trump could tell his creditors that if they didn’t make concessions, like accepting fifty cents on each dollar of debt, then he would go into bankruptcy. If a Trump business went into bankruptcy, the creditors might have to wait years to get anything and may end up with much less than the discount Trump proposed.
That might work for a business, but it doesn’t make sense for a government like the United States, which has a perfect credit history and borrows in a currency it prints. Trump later made exactly this point. Of course since the U.S. government prints dollars, it is hard to see what it could mean for the country to go bankrupt, unless we forget how to use the printing presses.
But there is still a story about discounted debt that does make sense to which Trump referred — if interest rates rise, the market value of long-term bonds falls. If we issued a 30-year bond in 2016 at 2.6 percent interest (roughly the current rate) and the interest rate in 2017 rose to 6-7 percent (the 1990s interest rates), then the market value of the bond will fall by around 40 percent.
The International Trade Commission (ITC) just released its 792-page monster of a report on the “likely impact” of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on the US economy. The findings are largely positive on net but tiny, which confirms two of my priors. First, I see no rational way your support or opposition to the TPP can be informed by these findings, and second, trade agreements, as opposed to trade, have little to do with US growth and jobs.
That is not, btw, meant to be a critique of the report. The fact that it shows tiny results, which I’ll get to in a moment, comports (as I said above) with my expectations of the economic impact of a trade agreement with a bunch of countries, 6 with whom we already have trade deals.
But as I’ve stressed before, it is beyond our capacity to plausibly model the impact of a complex, 6,000 page, 12-country trade deal 15 years out! Remember, we’re severely challenged trying to accurately predict GDP or jobs out one quarter or one month. And while the ITC report fails to provide confidence intervals around its estimates, they’d likely cross zero (i.e., be statistically indistinguishable from no change at all).More ...