SCW NEWSWATCH & VIDEO: “Saudis and Russia Open the Oil Taps While the Market Shrugs” – Bloomberg/ Elena Mazneva/ Annmarie Hordern/ Dina Khrennikova/ Grant Smith/ Jack Farchy

Oil Wells and Sunset

“Russia and Saudi Arabia are pumping an extra 1 million barrels a day of oil and could do even more. Yet the market [has had only a muted price reaction]. After their September meeting … spurred prices to a four-year high, the world’s two largest oil exporters sought … to ease … price worries of consumers, and the U.S. president. Russia is pumping record volumes of crude … Saudi Arabia is almost there ….

… Trump has been blaming [OPEC] for rising crude prices ever since he [ended] the [Iran] nuclear agreement … and reimpose[d] sanctions. Last month, the group appeared to rebuff his calls for a rapid production increase to offset the drop in Iranian shipments, prompting a surge in prices and even harsher rhetoric. … Russia … already broke its post-Soviet production record last month [and] could add another 200,000 to 300,000 barrels a day of supply within a ‘few months,’ according to Energy Minister Alexander Novak. The oil price is … probably ‘a bit too high,’ he said ….”

Click here for: “Saudis and Russia Open the Oil Taps While the Market Shrugs” – Bloomberg/ Elena Mazneva/ Annmarie Hordern/ Dina Khrennikova/ Grant Smith/ Jack Farchy










SCW RUSSIAWIRE: “Huge Military Drills Show Both the Limits and the Durability of China-Russia Ties” – RAND/World Politics Review

Asia Map, adapted from image at cia.gov by Steven C. Welsh :: www.stevencwelsh.com :: www.stevencwelsh.info

“In the largest Russian military exercise since the height of the Cold War, Moscow … [in September] deploy[ed] 300,000 troops, 900 tanks and 1,000 aircraft in central and eastern Russia. … [for] ‘Vostok 2018,’ or East Exercise 2018 …. for the first time ever, Chinese military forces … participate[d], with plans to send[] 3,200 troops and 30 aircraft over the border into eastern Russia. … highlight[ing] two important, seemingly contradictory [aspects of] the relationship between China and Russia. First, the appearance of military cooperation masks deep strategic distrust and suspicion below the surface. … [Yet] strong incentives and a lack of alternatives provide a sturdy foundation for a continued strategic partnership going forward. Vostok 2018 represents the latest in a series of combined Chinese-Russian military exercises stretching back more than a decade. Their militaries have been training together since 2005, and China and Russia have been holding joint naval exercises every year since 2012, including near each other’s respective hotspots. Last year, China sent three naval ships to its first jointly held exercise with Russian forces in the Baltic Sea. In 2016, the two navies carried out a joint exercise in the South China Sea … [after] a ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague rejecting China’s territorial claims in the contested waterway. Warm political statements by top Chinese and Russian leaders have complemented these military actions. …”

Click here for: “Huge Military Drills Show Both the Limits and the Durability of China-Russia Ties” – RAND/World Politics Review/Timothy R. Heath or click here for longer version







 

 

NEWSWATCH: “Fed Holds Rates Steady, but Indicates Increases Will Continue Officials give no signal they plan to pick up the pace of rate rises following recent inflation gains” – Wall Street Journal/Nick Timiraos

Federal Reserve Bank file photo

“The Federal Reserve held short-term interest rates steady Wednesday and indicated it remains on track to raise them gradually in coming months to keep the expanding economy on an even keel. … after its two-day policy meeting, offered nothing to dispel market expectations that it would deliver its second rate increase of the year … in June. … Fed officials would like to see the jobless rate remain steady … [They] have to sort out how the recent fiscal policy changes could boost growth and inflation. It is probably too soon for officials to have reached firm conclusions …. Trade policy is another wild card. …”

Click here for: “Fed Holds Rates Steady, but Indicates Increases Will Continue Officials give no signal they plan to pick up the pace of rate rises following recent inflation gains” – Wall Street Journal/Nick Timiraos





NEWSLINK: “In Tense Encounter, #Merkel Tells #Putin #Sanctions Must Remain” – Bloomberg

EU Map

“German Chancellor Angela #Merkel told President Vladimir #Putin that #EU #sanctions will have to remain on #Russia as the two leaders clashed over #Ukraine, human rights and election meddling at a chilly encounter in the Black Sea city of Sochi.”

WHITE HOUSE: “President Trump Proposed a Massive Tax Cut. Here’s What You Need to Know”

White House File Photo

(WhiteHouse.gov – Gary Cohn – April 26, 2017 – reposted from: whitehouse.gov/blog/2017/04/26/president-trump-proposed-massive-tax-cut-heres-what-you-need-know)

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to do something big. President #Trump has made #tax reform a priority, and we have a #Republican #Congress that wants to get it done. This is something that #Democrats should support too because it’s good for the American people.



The President is going to seize this opportunity by leading the most significant tax reform legislation since 1986 – and one of the biggest tax cuts in American history.

The President has focused on three things since his campaign: job creation, economic growth, and helping low and middle-income families who have been left behind by this economy. He understands that there are a lot of people in this country that feel like they work hard and still can’t get ahead. They are sick of turning their paychecks over to Washington and having no idea how their tax dollars are spent. They are frustrated by a tax code that is so complicated that they can’t even do their own taxes.

That’s why tax reform is such a big priority for this President.  He cares about making the economy work better for the American people.

We are going to cut taxes for businesses to make them competitive, and we are going to cut taxes for the American people – especially low and middle-income families.

In 1935, we had a one-page tax form consisting of 34 lines and two pages of instructions.  Today, the basic 1040 form has 79 lines and 211 pages of instructions. Instead of a single tax form, the IRS now has 199 tax forms on the individual side of the tax code alone. Taxpayers spend nearly 7 billion hours complying with the tax code each year, and nearly 90% of taxpayers need help filing their taxes.

We are going to cut taxes and simplify the tax code by taking the current 7 tax brackets we have today and reducing them to only three brackets: 10 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent.

We are going to double the standard deduction so that a married couple won’t pay any taxes on the first $24,000 of income they earn.  So in essence, we are creating a 0 percent tax rate for the first $24,000 that a couple earns.

The larger standard deduction also leads to simplification because far fewer taxpayers will need to itemize, which means their tax form can go back to that one simple page.

Families in this country will also benefit from tax relief to help them with child and dependent care expenses.

We are going to repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). The AMT creates significant complications and burdens by requiring taxpayers to do their taxes twice to see which is higher. That makes no sense; we should have one simple tax code.

Job creation and economic growth is the top priority for this Administration, and nothing drives economic growth like capital investment. Therefore, we are going to return the top tax rate on capital gains and dividends to 20 percent by repealing the harmful 3.8 percent Obamacare tax. That tax has been a direct hit on investment income and small business owners.

We are going to repeal the death tax. The threat of being hit by the death tax leads small business owners and farmers in this country to waste countless hours and resources on complicated estate planning to make sure their children aren’t hit with a huge tax when they die. No one wants their children to have to sell the family business to pay an unfair tax.

We are going to eliminate most of the tax breaks that mainly benefit high-income individuals.  Home ownership, charitable giving, and retirement savings will be protected – but other tax benefits will be eliminated.

This is not going to be easy. Doing big things never is. But one thing is for certain: I would not bet against this President.  He will get this done for the American people.

Gary Cohn is the chief economic advisor to President Donald J. Trump and Director of the National Economic Council





NEWSLINK: “#EU stands firms on #Crimea #sanctions against #Russia” – Deutsche Welle

Map of Ukraine and Environs, Including Russia

“… The #EuropeanUnion’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, told a news conference in the #Russian capital on Monday that the #EU could not pretend that #Moscow had not annexed #Ukraine’s #Crimea in 2014, and that the bloc’s sanctions over the issue would not be lifted. She insisted, however, that cooperation between the two sides was not “frozen,” but rather hampered by differences over issues such as #Ukraine and #Syria. Mogherini was speaking alongside Russian Foreign Minister Sergey #Lavrov on her first official visit to Moscow in her current role as the EU’s top diplomat. …”

NEWSWATCH: “List of #Trump’s executive orders” – Fox News

White House file photo

“… An order that directs federal agencies to ease the ‘regulatory burdens’ of ObamaCare. … ‘… on any State or a cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on individuals, families, healthcare providers, health insurers, patients, recipients of healthcare services, purchasers of health insurance, or makers of medical devices, products, or medications.’ * * * An order imposing a hiring freeze for some federal government workers …. This excludes the military, as Trump noted at the signing. * * *  a notice that the U.S. will begin withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. * * *  … the … ‘Mexico City Policy’ … ban on federal funds to international groups that perform abortions or lobby to legalize or promote abortion. …”



Click here for “List of Trump’s executive orders” – Fox News





WHITE HOUSE TEXT: Presidential Memorandum Regarding Withdrawal of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations and Agreement

White House file photo

MEMORANDUM FOR THE UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE

SUBJECT: Withdrawal of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations and Agreement

It is the policy of my Administration to represent the American people and their financial well-being in all negotations, particularly the American worker, and to create fair and economically beneficial trade deals that serve their interests. Additionally, in order to ensure these outcomes, it is the intention of my Administration to deal directly with individual countries on a one-on-one (or bilateral) basis in negotiating future trade deals. Trade with other nations is, and always will be, of paramount importance to my Administration and to me, as President of the United States.

Based on these principles, and by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby direct you to withdraw the United States as a signatory to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), to permanently withdraw the United States from TPP negotiations, and to begin pursuing, wherever possible, bilateral trade negotiations to promote American industry, protect American workers, and raise American wages.

You are directed to provide written notification to the Parties and to the Depository of the TPP, as appropriate, that the United States withdraws as a signatory of the TPP and withdraws from the TPP negotiating process.

You are authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

DONALD J. TRUMP

[also appeared at whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/23/presidential-memorandum-regarding-withdrawal-united-states-trans-pacific]





NEWSLINK: “Are half of Americans approaching retirement with no savings?” – AEI

Hands of Man in Suit Taking Cash From Envelope

“The U.K.’s Guardian tells us … we’re woefully unprepared, financially speaking, for retirement … as many as half of all households with Americans 55 and older have no retirement savings at all. … The Guardian is describing a GAO study …. But is it true? The answer is no, at least not in any rational sense. The GAO measures one source of retirement income, which is retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs. …”