Trump calls Chinese ‘grand champions’ of currency manipulation ReutersSean Rayford | Getty Images U.S. President Donald Trump addresses a crowd at Boeing’s South Carolina facilities on February 17, 2017 in North Charleston, South Carolina.President Donald Trump declared China the „grand champions” of currency manipulation on Thursday, just hours after his new Treasury secretary pledged a more methodical approach to analyzing Beijing’s foreign exchange practices.In an exclusive interview with Reuters, Trump said he has not „held back” in his assessment that China manipulates its yuan currency, despite not acting on a campaign promise to declare it a currency manipulator on his first day in office.”Well they, I think they’re grand champions at manipulation of currency. So I haven’t held back,” Trump said. „We’ll see what happens.”During his presidential campaign Trump frequently accused China of keeping its currency artificially low against the dollar to make Chinese exports cheaper, „stealing” American manufacturing jobs.But Treasury Secretary StevenMnuchin told CNBC on Thursday he was not ready to pass judgment on China’s currency practices. Asked if the U.S. Treasury was planning to name China a currency manipulator any time soon, Mnuchin said he would follow its normal process of analyzing the currency practices of major U.S. trading partners.The Treasury is required to publish a report on these practices on April 15 and Oct. 15 each year.”We have a process within Treasury where we go through and look at currency manipulation across the board. We’ll go through that process. We’ll do that as we have in the past,” Mnuchin said in his first televised interview since formally taking over the department last week. „We’re not making any judgments until we go continue that process.”A formal declaration that China or any other country manipulates its currency requires the U.S. Treasury to seek negotiations to resolve the situation, a process that could end in punitive tariffs on the offender’s goods.The U.S. Treasury designated Taiwan and South Korea as currency manipulators in 1988, the year that Congress enacted the currency review law. China was the last country to get the designation, in 1994.The current situation is complicated because China’s central bank has spent billions of dollars in foreign exchange reserves in the past year to prop up the yuan to counter capital outflows.Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin goes one-on-one with CNBC The International Monetary Fund said last year that the yuan’s value was broadly in line with its economic fundamentals.The U.S. Treasury also said in its last currency report in October that its view of China’s external imbalances had improved somewhat.Trump’s pronouncements about the yuan could also complicate matters for Mnuchin as he prepares for his first meeting next month with his Group of 20 finance minister counterparts in Baden Baden, Germany.Follow CNBC International on Twitter and Facebook.
The Latest: WH adviser asked FBI to refute Russia story Associated Press 11 hours ago WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times local):10:40 p.m.A White House official says chief of staff Reince Priebus asked a top FBI official to help dispute media reports that President Donald Trump’s campaign advisers were frequently in touch with Russian intelligence agents during the election.The official says Priebus’ request came after the FBI told the White House it believed a New York Times report describing Trump advisers’ contacts with Russia was not accurate. As of Thursday, the FBI had not stated that position publicly.Priebus’ discussion with the FBI’s deputy director sparked outrage among some Democrats, who said he was violating policies intended to limit communications between the law enforcement agency and the White House on pending investigations.The White House official was not authorized to disclose the matter publicly and insisted on anonymity.— By Julie Pace__4:15 p.m.White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is suggesting the Trump administration may crack down on states that have legalized recreational marijuana.Spicer says during a press briefing Thursday that the issue rests with the Justice Department. But he says, „I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement of it.”He adds that it’s „something that the Department of Justice I think will be further looking into.”President Donald Trump said as a candidate that he supports medical marijuana. But Spicer says there’s a big difference between that and the recreational use of the drug.The Justice Department has several options available, including filing lawsuits on the grounds that state laws regulating pot are unconstitutional because they are pre-empted by federal law._3:30 p.m.President Donald Trump’s address to Congress next week will be titled „The Renewal of the American Spirit.”White House press secretary Sean Spicer says Trump will speak on a number of topics, including defense, border security and taking care of the nation’s veterans.Spicer also says the president will discuss his plans for improving the nation’s economy. Many of those themes were a central focus of Trump’s campaign speeches.House Speaker Paul Ryan last month invited the president to speak before Congress on Tuesday._3:00 p.m.President Donald Trump says he will bring the „full force and weight” of the U.S. government to combat an „epidemic” of human trafficking.The president is meeting at the White House with senior advisers and representatives of organizations that deal with trafficking. His daughter, Ivanka Trump, is among those in attendance.Trump calls human trafficking a problem that is „not talked about enough.” He says he will order the departments of Justice and Homeland Security to take a hard look at the resources they are devoting to addressing the issue.
5 Trump myths about illegal immigration Rick Newman 19 hours ago 5 Trump myths about illegal immigrationScroll back up to restore default view.The deportation force is being mustered.President Donald Trump is making good on his campaign promise to round up and deport undocumented immigrants more aggressively than prior presidents. He recently told business leaders at the White House that a “military operation” is underway to roust people who are in the country illegally, and John Kelly, the Director of Homeland Security, recently outlined plans to hire 15,000 new immigration agents to help with the work. That will take time—and require Congressional funding—but the Trump administration already seems to be ramping up enforcement of existing immigration laws.Trump has blamed undocumented immigrants for taking American jobs, committing violent crimes and milking US taxpayers. There are certainly anecdotal examples of each, but Trump also applies his usual hyperbole to the issue, while overlooking the important role undocumented workers play in the US economy. They account for about 4.5% of the American workforce and are crucial workers in industries such as agriculture, construction and hospitality. If Trump intends to kick an estimated 11 million undocumented people out of the country, it could upend many businesses and harm the economy more than it helps.[Related: Trump wants to block immigrant workers companies need.]“Will US workers come in and ask for those jobs? I’m guessing not without a big pay raise,” says Jennifer Van Hook, a demographer at Penn State University who has studied illegal immigration in depth. “There’s going to be a labor shortage in certain industries, especially if these people really do leave.”Many people conflate legal and illegal immigration, which are actually quite different. The majority of people in the country illegally arrived with legal visas, and simply stayed once the visa expired. A smaller portion snuck in without any paperwork at all. Some of those are the “really bad dudes” Trump rails against, but most aren’t. Here are 5 myths about illegal immigration that are obscuring the economic importance of such people:Illegal immigration is getting worse. Trump has talked about America’s “open borders” as if foreigners are suddenly flooding into America. That’s not what is happening. Illegal immigration peaked in 2007, and has since drifted down, according to the Pew Research Center. Fewer people have been coming from Mexico, while more have been coming from Central America. Here’s the overall trend:Undocumented immigrants don’t have jobs. Trump frequently cites a controversial study saying 62% of the unauthorized population collects some kind of welfare, as if people sneak into the United States just for taxpayer-funded benefits. (More on that dubious claim below.) In reality, about 60% of undocumented immigrants—roughly 6.4 million of the 11 million—have jobs. The portion of undocumented, working-age men with a job is 87%, according to research by Harvard University economist George Borjas. The employment rate for American men is much lower—74%. “A frequent conjecture is made about undocumented immigration—that ‘undocumented immigrant men come to the United States to work,’” Borjas wrote in a 2016 study. “The data strongly support this conjecture.” Undocumented women are less likely than American women to work, probably because they are more likely to have children.[Related: Trump now owns Obamacare.]Those who do work take American jobs. Trump rightly asserts that most undocumented workers are lower-skilled, undereducated people. But it’s unlikely they take many jobs Americans would otherwise have. Borjas’s research, for instance, found that undocumented immigrants are “far less responsive to wage changes than the labor supply of natives.” That means they’ll work even if pay drops or low-paying jobs are replaced by even lower-paying ones – probably because they have no other choice. Americans, by contrast, have resources such as unemployment insurance and other types of programs to palliate the sting of economic hardship. The data suggests American workers simply don’t want or need the low-paying jobs often done by foreigners. Plus, of the 10 states with the highest percentage of undocumented immigrants—Nevada, Texas, California, New Jersey, Arizona, Florida, Maryland, New Mexico, New York and Colorado—7 have an unemployment rate equal to or lower than the national average of 4.9%. If undocumented immigrants were putting Americans out of work, unemployment ought to be higher than average in those states, not lower.Undocumented immigrants suck up taxpayer money. People in the country illegally are not entitled to any federal welfare benefits at all. None. And there’s no evidence of meaningful fraud that puts taxpayer money in their pockets. What undocumented immigrants can claim is federal food assistance if there are children in the household who were born in the United States, which would make them US citizens. Undocumented children are also allowed to attend public schools, and their families do consume public services such as fire protection and garbage pickup. There’s some cost to that. But they also contribute to the economy by paying sales taxes (and income taxes in some cases), and helping companies turn a profit. Trump frequently cites a study claiming illegal immigration costs US taxpayers $113 billion per year, which Politifact deemed “mostly false.” Other studies have found that the cost of undocumented workers to the US economy is much lower, and some economists think their net contribution to the US economy might be positive.[Related: Let’s give Trump credit for this.]They commit an inordinate amount of crime. Violent crimes committed by unauthorized immigrants probably get more attention than similar crimes committed by Americans, but there’s no evidence immigrants commit crimes at a higher rate than anybody else. In fact, crime rates in immigrant communities tend to be lower than elsewhere in the United States. On this issue, the data doesn’t separate legal immigrants from those here illegally. So it’s hard to know precisely about crime rates among the unauthorized population. But we do know that the typical unauthorized immigrant has been in the United States for nearly 14 years, according to Pew. Many have settled into law-abiding communities rather than joining gangs or going on violent rampages. There’s nothing especially newsworthy about that, however.Confidential tip line: firstname.lastname@example.orgRick Newman is the author of four books, including Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman
Conquering Trump returns to conservative summit BY ALEXANDER BOLTON – 02/24/17 06:01 AM EST 1,152 CPAC Highlights: Day 1TheHill.com NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — A conquering President Trump will return to CPAC on Friday to address conservative activists, who are happy with his first month in office but have yet to be completely sold on his agenda.A year ago, Trump won just 15 percent in the straw poll of CPAC attendees, finishing a distant third behind the winner, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) at 40 percent, and runner-up Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) at 30 percent.Trump has since taken over the Republican Party, and in last year’s GOP presidential primary he triumphed over both Cruz and Rubio.White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and senior adviser Steve Bannon received standing ovations from CPAC attendees as they slammed the media and talked up Trump’s agenda.White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, who received a similarly warm reception, joked that enthusiasm for the president was so high that, “by tomorrow, this will be TPAC.”Conservatives attending the meeting said the president has eased concerns over his ideological principles by selecting what Cruz on Thursday called the most conservative cabinet in memory.“They are pumped about who Trump has appointed to his cabinet and about his Supreme Court nominee. They are happy about what they’re seeing coming out of this administration,” said Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R), who for years was one of the most conservative members of the Senate and a regular attendee at CPAC.Brownback said doubts about Trump among conservatives have “by and large” receded, though he acknowledged they haven’t completely settled.There is disquiet over Trump’s talk of a $1 trillion infrastructure investment package, and the president’s pledge not to touch Medicare is another point of contention from conservatives who see it as a major driver of federal deficits.Trump’s criticism of trade deals and promises to renegotiate them — his economic nationalism championed by Bannon — has caused some angst from rural conservatives who have long sought markets for agricultural products.“There’s still people who are trying to figure out the economic populism message to some degree, what all that means,” Brownback added.CPAC has never been home turf for Trump.He pulled out of the conference at the last minute last year in the midst of a controversy over several donations he made to the American Conservative Union, the group that sponsors the conference. Rivals grumbled that he was trying to influence the outcome of the straw poll.A year earlier, he didn’t even register in the 2015 poll, which Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) won with 25.7 percent support, followed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), who collected 21.4 percent support.In 2014, another CPAC poll won by Paul, Trump finished tied for 14th place with one percent along with former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) and Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio).Jim DeMint, the president of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, and a former senator from South Carolina, said Trump’s poor performance reflected his lack of organization more than any inherent unpopularity.“You know the way these straw polls work, it’s basically who’s organized and bussing people in to do it. It’s never been reflective of which conservative is the most popular,” said DeMint.He said if CPAC were polling attendees for the 2020 GOP nomination, Trump would win.Because Trump is a pragmatist looking to cut deals and rack up accomplishments, DeMint said conservative activists can’t sit back and assume his administration will continue on the same trajectory as the past several months, when his cabinet and court picks met their expectations.“I think he is very practical. He wants to do what works and we’re going to show him that conservative ideas work,” he said.Trump increased trust among conservatives during the campaign when he tapped Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a regular CPAC attendee, as his running mate.Robert Bluey, the editor in chief of The Daily Signal, a conservative publication, who started attending CPAC in 2003, said activists didn’t know what to think of him in the past because “he didn’t have a policy record.”“All of the other people who were running for president, you could see where they stood on issues of life and taxes and spending,” he noted. “There was some skepticism because of things he had said in the past in TV interviews and his association with some politicians.”Trump had donated money to Hillary Clinton and in 2008 hosted a fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee at his Palm Beach resort hotel Mar-a-Lago.He convinced Republican voters during the campaign that those expressions of support were nothing more than practical business maneuvering done to survive in Washington’s pay-to-play environment of policymaking and regulation.Over the last three months, he won points among activists by naming former South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R), a leading deficit hawk in Congress, to head his budget office; Betsy DeVos, a prominent advocate for vouchers and school choice, to head the Education Department; former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a leading opponent of federal environmental regulation, to head the Environmental Protection Agency; and former Rep. Tom Price (R), an outspoken advocate of Medicare reform, to run the Department of Health and Human Services.“It’s probably still a trust-but-verify approach that a lot of people take but they’re more receptive to him based on his actions,” Bluey said of conservatives’ evolving views of Trump.Ben Kamisar contributed.
Associated Press Thu, Feb 23 4:05 AM PST BAGHDAD (AP) — The Latest on the Iraqi government forces’ battle to take the western half of Mosul from the Islamic State group (all times local):3 p.m.A military spokesman says Iraqi special forces have captured a key village southwest of Mosul from where Islamic State group’s snipers and shelling had been slowing the government offensive.The village of Tell al-Rayan fell to the Iraqi troops amid a major push on Thursday that saw federal police forces enter the grounds of the Mosul airport as special forces fought their way into an IS-held base next to the airport.The advances are part of a U.S.-backed government offensive to drive the Islamic State group from western Mosul.The spokesman of the Joint Military Operation Command, Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, told The Associated Press that IS had used Tell al-Rayan to position snipers and fire off rockets and mortar rounds to derail the advance of the Iraqi troops._1:15 p.m.An Iraqi military spokesman says Iraqi special forces have entered a sprawling military base next to Mosul’s airport on the southern edge of the city.The push came shortly after Iraqi federal police forces earlier on Thursday entered the airport grounds, taking control of the runway and exchanging fire with Islamic State militants hunkered down inside the airport buildings.The two-pronged advance is part of a U.S.-baked offensive aimed at driving the Islamic State group from western Mosul.The spokesman of the Joint Military Operation Command, Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, told The Associated Press that clashes are underway inside the Ghazlani base. He didn’t provide more details._11:30 a.m.Iraqi police officials say the country’s militarized federal police forces have entered Mosul International Airport, taking over the runway amid fierce clashes with the Islamic State group.Thursday’s advance is part of a major assault that started five days ago to drive IS militants from the western half of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.Two police officers say the airport buildings are now under fire from the Iraqi police forces. They would not provide more details but said troops from the U.S.-led coalition are with the advancing forces, though they didn’t specify the nationalities of the foreign forces.The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to reporters.—Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Baghdad._9:30 a.m.Iraq’s special forces say they have begun an assault against the Islamic State group on a sprawling military base south of Mosul that’s adjacent to the city’s airport.Two Iraqi special forces officers say their troops have reached the edge of the Ghazlani base on the city’s southern rim on Thursday morning and that clashes there are underway.A federal police officer says his forces are also pushing toward the Mosul airport. All officers spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to reporters.The advances come days after Iraqi forces officially launched the operation to push IS out of Mosul’s western half.The operation to retake Iraq’s second largest city was officially launched in October and in January its eastern half was declared „fully liberated.”
Iraq retakes Mosul airport amid cautious advances against IS
Beijing cements South China Sea land grab with missile defense sites while the world awaits US response
> 2016 arms imports from U.S.: $217 million
> 2016 total arms imports: $260 million
> U.S. as % total arms imports: 83.5%
> 2015 GDP: $2.7 trillionAbout 84% of the U.K.’s total arms imports come from the United States. The remainder comes either from Israel or Germany. Over 75% of the country’s total arms imports between 2015 and 2016 were military aircraft. While it is not on par with the United States, Great Britain is one of the biggest arms dealers in the world in its own right, sending nearly $1.4 billion in weapons to other countries in 2016. One of the United States’ closest military partners, the U.K. was a key participant in the U.S. war in Iraq, committing about 46,000 troops at the height of the conflict. The U.K. also committed thousands of troops to the U.S. offensive in Afghanistan.12. Egypt
> 2016 arms imports from U.S.: $238 million
> 2016 total arms imports: $1.5 billion
> U.S. as % total arms imports: 16.0%
> 2015 GDP: $1.1 trillionEgypt has one of the largest armies in the world, with just under 500,000 active troops and several hundred thousand additional troops in reserve. The country went through major political upheaval in 2011, after long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak stepped down following a popular uprising. Perhaps because of the increased political tension, Egypt’s total arms imports over the five years through 2016 increased by about 70% from the previous five-year period, and imports from the United States increased by 46%. Over the last decade, the nation’s largest category of weapons imports were military aircraft. Egypt’s military arsenal also includes over 1,000 M1A1 Abrams tanks, a U.S. military staple manufactured by Virginia-based General Dynamics.
> 2016 arms imports from U.S.: $244 million
> 2016 total arms imports: $254 million
> U.S. as % total arms imports: 96.1%
> 2015 GDP: $274 billion
More than 40 nations have larger economies than Morocco, but only 10 import more weapons from the United States. This is likely in part due to the fact that the North African nation spends over 3% of its GDP on its military, one of the higher shares in the world. The nation has a military of over 200,000 soldiers, a greater standing force than much larger nations such as Germany and the United Kingdom. Last year, Morocco imported roughly a quarter of a billion dollars worth of armaments, and the U.S. accounted for 96.1% of those weapons. The previous year, the United States was the sole supplier of weapons Morocco imported.
> 2016 arms imports from U.S.: $280 million
> 2016 total arms imports: $388 million
> U.S. as % total arms imports: 72.2%
> 2015 GDP: $2.2 trillion
Mexico is one of the U.S.’s largest trade partners, and this includes substantial armament shipments. On the whole, the demand for weapons tends to be higher in parts of the world with more geopolitical uncertainty and armed conflict. Over the past decade, the Mexican government has been embroiled in a violent and widespread conflict with drug cartels. Mexico’s total arms imports increased by 184% over the decade, and the country’s imports from the United States increased by over 300%. As Trump promised to reevaluate trade agreements, the status of the U.S.-Mexico trade relationship is less certain than it has been since NAFTA went into effect in 1994.
> 2016 arms imports from U.S.: $307 million
> 2016 total arms imports: $330 million
> U.S. as % total arms imports: 93.0%
> 2015 GDP: $4.8 trillion
A number of Southeast Asian nations have recently ramped up military expenditure and arms imports due to growing concern about China’s military development in the South China Sea. China has constructed a number of artificial islands, and is building on them what appear to be military bases with possible long-range surface-to-air missile capabilities. Another dispute between Japan and China over a group of islands in the East China Sea is causing additional tension. Despite the increased tension, Japan’s arms imports last year of $330 million were down from the previous year.Over the last 10 years, Japan has imported over $4 billion in arms, 93% of which came from the United States. More than half the nation’s total weapons systems imports are in the form of military aircraft. Until 2015, the United States banned Japan from exporting weapons systems, a remnant of post-World War II policy. The long absence of a private arms industry in the country partially explains Japan’s current level of U.S. arms imports.
8. South Korea
> 2016 arms imports from U.S.: $501 million
> 2016 total arms imports: $1.3 billion
> U.S. as % total arms imports: 37.6%
> 2015 GDP: $1.9 trillion
South Korea is situated in an especially volatile and potentially dangerous part of the world. The country is separated from North Korea, its nuclear-armed, antagonistic neighbor to the north, by a demilitarized zone. South Korea has a policy of mandatory military service and has spent more on weapons systems in the past decade than all but a handful of other countries. Since 2007, South Korea has bought an estimated $10.7 billion in weapons from a range of countries, including France, Germany, Israel, and the United States.ALSO READ: The Net Worth of American Presidents: Washington to TrumpHistorically, the East Asian nation has imported most of its weapons from the United States. However, last year marked a departure from the trend. Only 37.6% of South Korea’s total arms imports came from the United States, nearly the smallest share in the last 10 years and well below the decade-high share of 95.2% in 2010. The majority of South Korea’s weapon imports last year came from Germany.
> 2016 arms imports from U.S.: $511 million
> 2016 total arms imports: $868 million
> U.S. as % total arms imports: 58.9%
> 2015 GDP: $2.2 trillion
Unlike many countries on this list, Italy has significant domestic weapons manufacturing capabilities. Leonardo, a Rome-based company formerly known as Finmeccanica, develops helicopters, fighter jets, and defense systems. The company sold $9.3 billion worth of arms in 2015 alone. Still, Italy imported hundreds of millions of dollars worth of military aircraft and sea vessels in 2016, in addition to about $23 million worth of missiles.Italy’s weapons imports hit record highs in 2016. All told, the Mediterranean country bought $868 million in weapons from foreign governments in 2016, versus the next highest annual expenditure of $525 billion in 2007. The majority of weapons systems the country imported last year came from the United States.
> 2016 arms imports from U.S.: $526 million
> 2016 total arms imports: $607 million
> U.S. as % total arms imports: 86.7%
> 2015 GDP: $285 billion
A Middle Eastern country under near constant threat of terrorist attacks and armed conflict, Israel is one of only a few states with compulsory military service. In addition, the country spends about 5.4% of its GDP on defense, a larger share than all but a handful of other countries. American arms manufacturers are some of the biggest beneficiaries of Israeli defense spending. Israel bought some $526 million worth of arms and weapons systems from the U.S. in 2016 alone.Israel is one of only a few countries on this list to have a significant domestic defense and weapons industry. The country is home to defense electronics company Elbit Systems, which reported $2.95 billion in arms sales in 2015, and to Israel Aerospace Industries, which reported $2.78 billion in 2015 arms sales. Each company ranks among the 35 largest companies in the world by arms revenue.
> 2016 arms imports from U.S.: $595 million
> 2016 total arms imports: $901 million
> U.S. as % total arms imports: 66.0%
> 2015 GDP: $329.7 billion
The Middle East is one of the most dangerous and unstable regions in the world today. As a result, many MIddle Eastern countries without much of a defense industry of their own purchase weapons and defense systems from foreign countries. Qatar is one such country. The nation spent $901 million on weapons in 2016, the majority of which it bought from the U.S.ALSO READ: States Getting the Least SleepQatar is an important strategic U.S. ally in the region. The Al Udeid Air Base, located just outside of the capital city of Doha, currently hosts some 10,000 U.S. troops, effectively making it the largest U.S. base in the Middle East.
> 2016 arms imports from U.S.: $773 million
> 2016 total arms imports: $1.3 billion
> U.S. as % total arms imports: 60.5%
> 2015 GDP: $644 billion
The United Arab Emirates is one of several Middle Eastern nations to rank among the U.S. government’s biggest weapons customers. The country bought some $773 million worth of weapons from the United States in 2016, more than from any other country. The UAE’s next largest weapons dealer was France, which sold the country some $336 million in weapons in 2016.Missiles and air defense systems comprised the largest defense purchases the UAE made from foreign governments last year, at $554 million and $250 million respectively. Naval vessels were the country’s third largest arms import cost at $209 billion. The country has a substantial coastline along the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.
> 2016 arms imports from U.S.: $869 million
> 2016 total arms imports: $1.1 billion
> U.S. as % total arms imports: 82.0%
> 2015 GDP: $1.1 trillion
Australia bought more weapons from the United States last year than any other country outside of the Middle East. The vast majority of Australia’s 2016 arms imports were aircraft and missiles. The United States supplied over 80% of these weapons systems, accounting for $869 million of the country’s total weapons imports. Meanwhile, Italy and France each sold Australia $80 million worth of weapons, and Germany accounted for an additional $32 million of the country’s military spending.Australia is home to one of the world’s 100 largest defense contractors by revenue. Austel, a shipbuilding company, reported $980 million in arms revenue alone in 2015.
> 2016 arms imports from U.S.: $893 million
> 2016 total arms imports: $1.7 billion
> U.S. as % total arms imports: 51.5%
> 2015 GDP: $534 billion
The militaries of few countries are as dependent on the U.S. government as Iraq’s. Since U.S. troops toppled the Iraqi government in 2003, the country has been in a near-perpetual state of disorder. Currently, the Iraqi military, under the guidance of U.S. advisors, is fighting to free parts of northern Iraq from Islamic State control. A major battle is currently underway for the city of Mosul.Iraq is a major buyer of American weapons. The country imported $893 million worth of U.S. weapons and defense systems in 2016, the second highest sum of any country in the world. Iraqi weapon imports do not come close to the total amount spent by the U.S. in Iraq in recent years. Some estimates put total DoD and State Department spending in Iraq since 2001 at over $800 billion.ALSO READ: Cities With the Highest (and Lowest) Unemployment Rates
1. Saudi Arabia
> 2016 arms imports from U.S.: $1.9 billion
> 2016 total arms imports: $3.0 billion
> U.S. as % total arms imports: 64.0%
> 2015 GDP: $1.7 trillion
Saudi Arabia’s spending on American arms and weapons systems has increased dramatically in recent years. The oil-rich Middle Eastern country never spent more than $607 million on arms from the United States between 2006 and 2013. Since then, however, spending shot up to well over $1 billion in 2014 and reached $1.9 billion in 2016, the largest amount yet.In the final weeks of his administration, former President Barack Obama blocked the sale of 16,000 guided munitions kits, used to upgrade missile accuracy, to Saudi Arabia. The move came amidst growing concern among U.S. officials over civilian casualties in Yemen. Saudi Arabia leads a coalition to influence the ongoing civil war in neighboring Yemen. Earlier this month, the Trump administration declared its intentions to move forward with the arms sale.
US turns into ‘oil nation’ with record exports, ‘eating’ OPEC market share Patti Domm | @pattidomm CNBC.com Trader makes the case for buying oil now The U.S. exported a record amount of crude oil, topping a million barrels a day for a second week and filling the gap in world markets created by OPEC cutbacks.Shale and other U.S. producers sent 1.2 million barrels of crude oil onto world markets last week, up nearly 200,000 barrels a day from the week earlier and about 350,000 barrels above the four-week average, according to Energy Information Administration data. Until recently, the U.S. was exporting about 500,000 barrels a day.”OPEC’s got a competitor. No doubt about it,” said Kyle Cooper, a consultant with Ion Energy Group. „They certainly have to be concerned with U.S. oil producers eating into their market share.”U.S. producers have also ramped up production to 9 million barrels a day last week, a level last seen in April 2016. The new production is increasing even as the U.S stockpiles continue to grow. According to EIA, oil supplies grew for a seventh week, adding a smaller than expected 564,000 barrels.”OPEC is definitely looking over its shoulder at these rising numbers of exports, and it’s undermining their efforts on a daily basis,” said John Kilduff of Again Capital. „Some of it’s going to Asia. China is one of the more unusual buyers in there. The shale guys are filling the gap of the very cuts that were put in place by the market.”The Oil Producing and Export Countries and non-OPEC producers, like Russia, agreed to cut about 1.8 million barrels a day from the world market in an effort to stabilize oil prices.This is in contrast to a previous failed strategy to let the market set prices, which ended with oil collapsing into the $20s per barrel as producers flooded the world market. That earlier strategy was a direct response to the rise of U.S. shale production in the last decade.Oil has been holding above $50 per barrel since OPEC reached the output deal in December. The market has been giving the producers high marks for compliance with the deal, with a recent Bloomberg report quoting OPEC sources saying they have 90 percent compliance and non-OPEC 70 percent. OPEC removed about 890,000 barrels a day from the world market in January.Kilduff said he’s skeptical of the compliance. „It looks like compliance is going to be well below 80 percent. Exports are on the upswing. We’re seeing the tanker data,” he said.Cooper said some of OPEC’s compliance was easy to achieve due to planned maintenance in January.Saudi Arabia doing heavy-lifting in OPEC deal: Pro „If you’re bullish, this should make you worry,” Cooper said of the U.S. exports. „I think by late March, April, the market should be concerned about whether [OPEC] compliance is really compliance.”Reuters reported this week that traders from North America, Britain and Brazil have tripled their shipments to Asia, taking advantage of the OPEC cuts. According to Thomson Reuters research, about 30 super tankers this month made their way to Asia from the Americas, the North Sea and Mediterranean.”The pressure on prices is going to stay in place and ultimately break us out of this range to the downside,” said Kilduff. „I’m not sure the Saudis don’t throw it down … but history says the shale guys will cut back.”U.S. shale has been more resilient than expecting, springing back in a big way after oil prices moved above $50 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate was trading in the $54 per barrel range Thursday. As U.S. exports increased last week, U.S. imports have also decreased, down to 7.3 million barrels a day, about 1 million barrels a day below the four-week average.”We are an oil nation now. We are a petroleum state,” said Kilduff. „You have to see how far down our shale producers can drive down their costs. It’s hard to see them competitive with the likes of Saudi Arabia, but they are competitive with some other countries.”The U.S. exports alone totaled more than the production of a number of OPEC countries, like Algeria, Libya, Gabon, Qatar and Ecuador, according to Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates.”Never underestimate U.S. engineering with an economic incentive. What they’ve done across the U.S. is phenomenal,” Cooper said. U.S. drillers have harnessed new technologies and continue to lower costs and increase efficiency as they retrieve oil from areas once thought to be unproductive. „I really think it’s one of the most significant technological advances we’ve seen.”Gartman’s three bullish signs for oil
U.S.California: The Physical Collapse Of A Social State
Forbes Wed, Feb 22 10:01 AM PST Welcome to California. It is a state of a perfect set of laws – at least in the minds of those wedded to the legislative pursuit of social justice.Under the one-party Democrat rules, spending on fairness tops $100 billion every year. Meanwhile, the basic infrastructure of the state, so necessary for the economy long and short term, is collapsing.The California legislature has been busy making the news these days. They are determined to fight President Trump tooth and nail – and they are putting the taxpayers’ money where the legislature’s mouth is.California Democrat after Democrat has decried President Trump. The day after the election, a “Joint Statement from California Legislative Leaders on Result of Presidential Election,” issued in part by California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León (formerly Kevin Leon), stated: “While Donald Trump may have won the presidency, he hasn’t changed our values. America is greater than any one man or party. We will not be dragged back into the past. We will lead the resistance to any effort that would shred our social fabric or our Constitution.”The legislature hired former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder as legal counsel for their fights with the federal government. Their new state attorney general, Xavier Becerra, was appointed “to protect California’s economy and our sensible policies on climate change, health care, civil rights and immigration,” – so said Governor Brown who made the appointment.California, of course, is the front-line for Sanctuary Cities – so many of which have also pledged to fight Trump. Cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento prohibit law enforcement from cooperating with immigration authorities – Kate Steinle notwithstanding. They are all willing to risk millions of dollars in federal funds for their current residents essentially to provide social justice for those here now illegally and in the future.Long before all of that, of course, California has led the way for its brand of social justice on social issues as well. When they have, they do more than talk about it – they spend money on it, including in the schools.Finally, we cannot forget that California has the most stringent and expensive regulations in the world as part of its effort to fight “climate change.” Estimates run to over a billion dollars spent in California each year to change the world’s climate – or at least to prevent it from changing any more. Now Mr. de León wants to prevent the use of any fossils fuels in the state by 2045.