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 Richmans' Trade and Taxes Blog

Let's End Means-Tested Benefits -- we were published in American Thinker yesterday
Howard Richman, 1/28/2015

Here's a selection

The Republicans in Congress should push to end these means-tested disincentives against work and savings. Every means-tested benefit could be expanded to include everyone, but at a lower level of benefits.

For example, President Obama’s proposal to make community college free could be easily paid for by eliminating a disastrous means-tested program – one that has discouraged middle class savings and contributed to inflation in college tuition. Currently, Pell Grants pay only partial tuition, and only at expensive colleges. Why not take out the means-testing, and use the funds to pay up to a certain tuition amount, no matter what college is attended?

To read the whole thing, go to:


Comments: 1

BOOK REVIEW: Ha-Joon Chang, Economics: the User's Guide (New York: Bloomsbury Press 2014)
Raymond Richman, 1/25/2015

The title of the book is Economics but aside from learning some terminology the reader will learn little economics from it. He writes that his book “differs from other economics books in that it contains a lot of information on the real world.” Much of the world he describes is the fantasy world of Marxists and leftists. He describes a multitude of old and new economic problems but there is no economic analysis in it but a lot of assertions. It has a lot of definitions of economic concepts and a bit of economic history, selected from a Marxist point of view. Not a single statement of how much the standard of living has gone up under capitalism

He defines economics as the “study of rational human choice” and defines capitalism as an economy organized in pursuit of profit, a dirty word to Marxists. Income would be a better word than profit but workers are also interested in income. A better definition of capitalism appears in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary 10th Ed., namely, “an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.” ...


Comments: 0

Let's end means-tested benefits
Howard Richman, 1/22/2015

In his 2015 State of the Union speech, President Obama proposed programs to assist people who work. In fact, he denigrated those who sit at home, enjoying benefits without contributing. For example, he asked: 

[W]ill we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?

Then more of the same when he said:

Tonight, together, let's do more to restore the link between hard work and growing opportunity for every American. 

And yet more of the same when he said:

We don't just want everyone to share in America's success – we want everyone to contribute to our success.

Was Obama intentionally leaving out the many poor people who make no effort? Does this emphasis imply that he would favor bills that would end the means-tested work-discouraging system built by Washington over the last several decades?

Perhaps the clearest presentation of these disincentives appeared in a slide from a July 2012 presentation by then Pennsylvania Secretary of Public Welfare Gary D. Anderson. Here is one of the graphs that he presented:




Comments: 0

Billionaires Aren’t Dangerous; Those Who Would Prevent the Innovation that Creates Most Billionaires Are Dangerous
Raymond Richman, 1/19/2015

The Democrats and their loving media are bent on making the distribution of wealth and income the principal issue in the 2016 campaign. President Obama in his so-called state-of-the-union message (1/20/15) proposed to raise taxes on the very wealthy, saying “let’s close the loopholes that lead to inequality by allowing the top one percent to avoid paying taxes on their accumulated wealth.” One trouble with that statement is that it suggests the rich don’t pay their fair share of taxes. In 2008, the top one percent of personal income taxpayers according to the IRS paid 38.02 % of the federal personal income tax paid, the top 10% which includes all the really rich paid 69.94%, the top 25% paid 86.34%, the top 50% paid 97.3%, and the bottom 50% paid only 2.7%.

We are all for closing loopholes but it is hard to identify a loophole? Are charitable deductions loopholes? Some believe they are. Besides the president was telling an untruth when he implied that loopholes created wealth inequality. The inequality of wealth is largely due to inventions and innovations. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, to name only two of the thousands who became millionaires and billionaires, did so by creating the products produced by Apple and Microsoft.

The anti-poverty charity Oxfam reported  ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos that the share of the world’s wealth owned by the best-off 1% has increased from 44% in 2009 to 48% in 2014 (while Obama was President incidentally) while the least well-off 80% own just 5.5%. At the most recent meeting of the American Economic Association, economists took issue with some foolish writings about inequality written by French economist Thomas Piketty .

An Oxfam spokesman said it would use its high-profile role at the Davos gathering to demand urgent action to narrow the gap between rich and poor. How? They do not say. One would think that it would be more important to reduce the number of poor than narrow inequality. That is what American inventors and innovators have done historically. ...


Comments: 0

Chinese stock market tumbling...
Howard Richman, 1/18/2015

It's midnight here in Pennsylvania, but it's Monday morning in China and the stock market is already down 6.3% today. Go to the following website to see where it stands right now:

This from Bloomberg News today:

[S]tocks in China headed for their biggest drop since 2009, spurring demand for haven assets.

Chinese brokerages tumbled after regulators took measures to rein in margin trading at three of the nation’s biggest securities firms....

So how does this play out?...


Comments: 0

Chinese Firms Particularly Vulnerable?
Jesse Richman, 1/15/2015

ODU Professor of International Business Shaomin Li published a piece in Fortune Magazine on the 12th which made an interesting argument about the vulnerability of Chinese firms to declining economic growth.  The title is: "Corporate Ponzi Game in China?"

They report a series of interesting findings.  

1. Many Chinese firms have relatively low profit margins. 

2. In order to grow rapidly such firms have relied upon debt financing.

3. The debt-financed growth of capacity in the absence of substantial profits makes China's economy particularly vulnerable to a slow-down in economic growth...


Comments: 0

China's imports up just 0.6% in 2014
Howard Richman, 1/14/2015

China just released its December 2014 trade statistics. After rapid growth from 2005 to 2013, the dollar value of Chinese imports was stagnant in 2014. 


Here is the rate of Chinese import growth:

  • From 2005-2013, Chinese imports grew at a 15% clip.
  • In 2014, Chinese imports grew at a 0.6% clip....


Comments: 0

China pulls December trade statistics
Howard Richman, 1/11/2015

China in 2015 is like the United States in 1929. It has grown rapidly by practicing mercantilism. Instead of buying imports from its customers, it destroyed the market for its exports. The Chinese stock market may be about to lead the world down into an economic recession.

The Chinese stock market began tomorrow morning's (Monday's) trading in free fall after the default of a Chinese property developer. reports:

The last session in China on Friday provided an epic roller-coaster as exuberant retail BTFD'ers met their match with fading inflation and surging default risk concerns. The Monday session has opened to more of the same - with the Shanghai Composite opening down another 1.3% and erasing all the year's gainsAs Shanghaio Daily reports, the Chinese property developer Kaisa Group Holdings (that we have discussed in detail here and who's next herefailed to repay a US$26 million bond coupon, making it the first Chinese property firm to default on dollar bonds.

Meanwhile, in a supposedly unrelated development, Reuters reports that the Chinese government briefly published its trade statistics for December 2014, and then pulled them:...


Comments: 0

November trade report suggests that a worldwide recession is starting
Howard Richman, 1/9/2015

On Wednesday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released the trade report for November 2014. The good news is that the U.S. trade deficit went down, despite the high flying dollar. The bad news is that the report shows a decline in investment spending in the world as a whole and in the United States in particular. It could be that the world and the United States are going into a recession at the moment....


Comments: 0

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  • [An] extensive argument for balanced trade, and a program to achieve balanced trade is presented in Trading Away Our Future, by Raymond Richman, Howard Richman and Jesse Richman. “A minimum standard for ensuring that trade does benefit all is that trade should be relatively in balance.” [Balanced Trade entry]

    Journal of Economic Literature:

  • [Trading Away Our Future] Examines the costs and benefits of U.S. trade and tax policies. Discusses why trade deficits matter; root of the trade deficit; the “ostrich” and “eagles” attitudes; how to balance trade; taxation of capital gains; the real estate tax; the corporate income tax; solving the low savings problem; how to protect one’s assets; and a program for a strong America....

    Atlantic Economic Journal:

  • In Trading Away Our Future   Richman ... advocates the immediate adoption of a set of public policy proposal designed to reduce the trade deficit and increase domestic savings.... the set of public policy proposals is a wake-up call... [February 17, 2009 review by T.H. Cate]