Decline of The US As The Leading Economic Superpower

For over a year economists have been discussing the fact that China has emerged as the largest global consumer market.

Meanwhile the US has claimed jobs and income growth, which has been demonstrably proven false. It is not possible to have expansion of jobs and income while concurrently having mass layoffs and retail closures. It simply doesn’t work that way.

Some have pointed to the stock market numbers as indications of economic health. I’ve covered many times how the stock market is an inverse indicator of the general economy at worst or completely unrelated at best.

Now new numbers are telling more of an advancing tale of the decline of the US market. Perhaps this will be enough for more people to awaken to the truth.

In the most recent Global Fortune 500 list, the US is headquarters to 121 of the most profitable companies. China is headquarters to 129 of the most profitable companies. 20 years ago, in 1999, China was headquarters to 8.

In the global list of the largest banks, 3 are headquartered in the US. China is headquarters to 4. There are one each in Japan, the UK and France. JP Morgan Chase is the highest on the list of American banks and it comes in at number 6. The Chinese banks occupy spots numbers 1,2,3 and 5. This has remained unchanged for several years, even as US media makes claims that China’s economy is declining and US economy is growing.

In the last few months, cryptocurrency has seen a resurgence with Bitcoin as of this writing valued at $11, 834 and precious metals are increasing in value with gold spot price now $1499 per oz, while bonds have shown an inverted yield curve, with short term bonds having more return value than long term bonds.

At the last meeting of the Federal Reserve board, the interest rate was decreased by 0.25% to between 2% and 2.25%. This is unprecedented, as the only time to interest rate has ever declined has been when the economy was showing signs of recession and the interest rate was decreased to encourage spending to spark growth. If our economy is doing so well, why do we need to decrease the interest rate, which is already extremely low? That leaves virtually no buffer for safety if we enter an officially recognized recession/depression.

Of course, those of us paying attention know the US has remained in a recession since the 2008 crash. Yes, it was a crash. Not a “crisis”, not a small event, a crash.

Yet the China trade war still has major implications.

Last year, China temporarily halted purchases of soy from the US, leading to Trump announcing a bailout of mostly corporate farmers to the tune of $16 billion. As of this week, China responded to increased tariffs on Chinese goods with a complete ban on agricultural purchases from the US.

Trump’s response? Threatening even more tariffs on Chinese goods by as much as an additional 15% on top of the recent 10% tariffs.

Last year, China temporarily stopped buying oil from the US. They began buying oil again in February this year but at much lower amounts, less than 50% of their previous purchases. China is likely to respond to this recent threat with banning all oil purchases from the US for good.

Many alleged economic “experts” say the loss of sales to China is basically no big deal and the US will gain additional revenue by selling to Europe. They do not explain where any “additional” sales are going to magically appear from. I haven’t heard of Europe having a sudden increase in their desire for soybeans.

Many countries are banning the import of many US agricultural products because of concerns regarding GMO’s and glyphosate, declared a likely carcinogen by the World Health Organization. The “experts” too often fail to mention these concerns or the fact that the US State Dept has literally tried to sue other nations to force them to accept sales of our produce in contradiction to the will of their own people, who demanded the bans. Alternative agricultural producing countries have primarily already turned away from GMO’s and glyphosate, meaning they are more likely to buy and sell from each other than from the US at this point. Even a large percentage of Americans have objections to the same things.

As of this past week, Trump announced another bailout of farmers to the tune of $28 billion. Combined with the $16 billion already mentioned, that adds up to $44 billion, which comes to a cost of $130 each for every man, woman and child in this country. Plus he has promised he will bail the farmers out again next year if necessary. Of course, the major recipients of these bailouts are corporate farm owners and investors.

Trade deals, especially with such contentious issues as China is facing with the US at this moment, once China establishes trade agreements with other countries, they will not easily be swayed to change those agreements back to the US. They are in the process of negotiating new trade agreements with other countries right now. Which means future sales may be lost indefinitely.

No matter how we look at it, the US cannot force other countries to buy from us. This is even more true when we try and force our sales onto other nations at the point of a gun, literally or figuratively. We cannot sue other nations into submission. Other nations see the fact that we are threatening all of them. The likely outcome is that they will form alliances in opposition to our government. That risk increases when considering that we have a trade deficit with most of the countries we trade with. It increases more when those countries view our massive national debt which has only increased every year for 18 years now and the suspension of the debt ceiling. All those nations are acutely aware that we do not have the resources to pay off that debt.

The road to where this nation is at this moment began decades before Trump. He did not cause all of it but is definitely making it worse. Of course, Trump was merely a logical progression of what came before him with each successive administration since Reagan, at the very least. The flow of wealth to the top is now about to capsize this country. The Panama Papers. Tax cuts for the rich while our own citizens suffer. Collapsing infrastructure, rising “defense” costs.

In terms of international relations, we have been following the same path for well over 100 years. Trade agreements under threats, regime change, the fiat petrodollar, American “investors” who then try to rule over other countries.

We are now in the precise circumstances where all empires in history have fallen. Only on a larger scale.

Automation- Your Job Is Not Safe From Indirect Effects, Pt 1- The Challenges

I’ve been writing about the effects of automation reducing jobs for several years now. More jobs are being eliminated through automation than the number sent to other countries.

Jobs which become automated will never come back. Period. The jobs do not even have to be automated in this country. They can be automated in another country. The result is the same, that the job no longer exists.

I still encounter people continuously that insist that technology creates more jobs than it eliminates. When challenged to explain how that works, they consistently fall silent. All they have is propaganda which they regurgitate, either programmed into them or which they directly promote with full knowledge that their words are false. Many of those who have challenged my statements work in the tech and robotics field, trying to justify their positions. I will admit that some of them seem to be trying to ease their own conscience. Sorry, I cannot be that nice to them.

I am not a Luddite or against technology. As a nurse, I prefer computer charting and despise paper charts. They’re a pain in many respects. They may be more secure for privacy but there have been many cases of paper charts being damaged, burned or destroyed. Once they’re gone there is no backup, they’re just gone. Forever. Plus the whole thing of chasing down the single copy of a chart when multiple offices or doctors want to access it while medical records sits on their thumbs is not fun, to say the least. As a writer, this effort relies almost exclusively on technology. Accessing information today takes a fraction of the time it once did. Sharing valid information is done in milliseconds. Mass social movements can be built in short order in this way. Independent media relies on technology, allowing us to bypass the multibillion dollar corporate propaganda machine.

Their rationale fails every time. The point where the tech propagandists fall is when I ask them to explain why companies would invest in expensive systems to reduce labor, when it would only result in more labor cost. I’ve stated before how jobs for auto workers, telephone operators, print setters, proof readers, toll booth attendants, accountants, bank tellers, cashiers, file clerks, manufacturing jobs and many more have been eliminated due to technological advances. Once systems are built, it takes only a few workers to maintain them. Updating software is done remotely, so one worker in another state or country can maintain systems. One or two technicians for a large company or from a contractor can maintain hardware for a city or several cities. Repairs are a matter of replacing disposable components.

No, trades are not safe. Of late, I have heard from people who say that trades are secure. No, they’re not. One person replied to a comment by saying he is a painter who does mold remediation. I concede that his job is secure. For the moment. Yet over time it will not be. This is true for many occupations.

The threat does not need to be a direct one.

The race is on. On his own statement, I directed him to do a search on YouTube. Right now there are many companies and universities in multiple countries developing home painting systems. Each one first does scanning and mapping of the space to be painted, stores a 3D model and then starts painting. So they are not limited to a set environment. It is a race for the first system to be patented and implemented. These systems do not do remediation but focus on viable structures and new construction.

Now, think about the implications.

Overcrowding. I’ll stick with the home painting issue as an example. Painters do not all do remediation. However, once robotic systems become widely used which eliminate an ever-growing number of jobs for new and stable construction, painters who relied on new or stable construction for income will acquire new skills which add on the their existing skills. Like mold remediation. This results in increased competition, driving down prices for remediation. Reduced pricing then results in reduced income per contract. The number of contracts will remain constant, while more workers will be competing for them. Less income per job, fewer jobs available.

Expand the concept. I have challenged the growing cry of people claiming that trade skills are secure. See that article here. However, let’s say that they are correct and I am wrong. If other occupations continue being eliminated while trade/vocational occupations remain secure, what happens? You’ve seen this before. What happens is that the number of people entering those careers skyrockets. The field becomes overcrowded, competition for those jobs becomes fierce, driving down wages and available opportunities are spread among a greater number of workers.

Ask a Programmer. One of the claims that will not go away is that there is an increasing need for programmers. That information is sorely outdated. Years ago, there was a demand for programmers who developed entire programs and systems. Those who had the skills could demand high wages. Today, thanks to competition, a programmer who could once demand $100 an hour can barely demand $30 and have to compete for that. Today, rather than building programs and systems, we have developers who develop applications or “apps” which run on top of operating systems. In many cases, apps can be developed with drag-and-drop programs developed by someone else. Even that has seen competition which demands short development time, perhaps only a few hours, at lower cost, meaning less income. In fact, tech development has resulted in systems which can create simple apps with no human programming needed. Tell the system what you want the app to do and it compiles an app for you with pre-written scripts pasted together. Developers have developed themselves out of jobs.

We already see the effects. The dwindling number of remaining occupations, the increasing number of applicants into these occupations is already apparent. Careers which once demanded high skill levels have been “dummy-proofed” through technology. That means fewer literal skills are required for most occupations. That means companies can pay less to workers and offer fewer benefits. Corporations can move entire operations to different states or countries and hire people with no skills at all. Just follow simple instructions for actions they repeat all day, every day for years. Auto workers demand far less pay than they once did. Programmers rarely program. Cashiers don’t have to be accurate. Trust me, I used to run a manual cash register. Riveters don’t rivet, they push a button and the robot rivets.

Many jobs are centralized. Talk to a telephone operator in your own state lately? Customer service technician in your own country? When you get invasive sales calls, chances are they are in New Mexico, Texas or some other country routed through a US number. I lived in San Antonio and New Mexico and those jobs have a high level of competition. My brother made a decent income decades ago as a telephone sales person for the San Antonio Light Newspaper. The Light no longer exists, driven out of business by Rupert Murdoch long before Fox News ever existed.

Worker productivity. We hear reports on financial news that worker productivity keeps rising. This is good news to investors, not to workers. Increased productivity means fewer workers are need to produce the same amount of goods. That means fewer jobs available. It’s that simple.

This is the end of part 1 of this series. Part 2 will delve into solutions.

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I am an independent writer with no corporate sponsors or backing. The only income I make from my writing comes from views. At least I have reached the point where it makes more than it costs me! lol! (Not by much.)My writing is done in between full time (and overtime) nursing, shared custody of my brilliant daughter and mundane existence.

I have opened my new website which is intended to be a central listing of protests and political rallies across the US. It’s still a work in progress but is functional. You can find it at http://RallyAndProtest.com

Please consider becoming a patron on Patreon. I try and average at least 20 articles a month, so a $1 a month donation would come down to 5¢ per article to support independent, non-corporate writing. My Patreon page is here.

If you care to share articles with those who do not have Medium or Patreon accounts, I also post most of my articles on my own website, which has no advertising and I pay for with income from writing. My website is at https://issuesunite.com/ and all articles can be shared freely. You can always quote me, no attribution required. My goal is spreading information and awareness. The whole point is building a better, more peaceful, more equitable world for us and future generations.

China Just Shut Down Any Possibility Of War With the US

This is the good news. China just shut down any possibility of war with the US.

In the ongoing trade war between the US and China, President Xi stood in front of a rare earth mineral mine a few days ago to give a speech. He did not say it but the location and timing are widely taken as an implication that should the US continue the trade war as it is going, China could well restrict or cease shipping rare earth minerals to the US.

What are rare earth minerals? What makes them important? Rare earth minerals are not all that rare as far as usage is concerned. They are vital components in modern electronics. From earbuds and headphones to cell phones, wind turbines, telecommunications equipment and satellite communications. They are also vital to modern military equipment such as targeting and guidance systems.

China holds the greatest reserve of rare earth minerals at 44 million tons. The next highest reserve equals half that amount at 22 million tons each, held by Brazil and Vietnam. Russia comes in third at 12 million tons. The US comes in seventh, at roughly 1.4 million tons.

Some claim that the US can develop our mining and refinement of rare earth minerals. Yet they are so valuable by weight that it would seem to me that capitalist investors would have been doing that already, should it be a realistic option. Which means that if that industry is developed, US taxpayers will be subsidizing corporate profits on yet another industry. Socialism for the rich, capitalism for we, the taxpayers.

Some sources claim we can develop equipment which doesn’t use rare earth minerals. Hmm. Once again, I’m guessing this is not a first best option or we would have been doing so. Why pay additional expenses for elements which are not necessary? It would be a definite possibility but also possible that would place the US at tremendous technological disadvantage. Our electronics could be less efficient, less accurate and slower. Cost could be either lower or higher, depending on the materials and technology used.

Obviously gold could replace some mineral components but not all. Using gold could increase cost of electronics higher, making US consumer electronics less competitive unless built for durability, which most modern electronics are not designed for.

Obviously it would be possible to purchase rare earth minerals from other countries that hold greater reserves than we do. However, if China chose to not sell to us, it would be well known by those countries, causing prices to skyrocket. Law of supply and demand. We won’t be buying them from Russia, even if we wanted to at this point.

Thus, should China choose to make such a decision it would leave the US at a distinct disadvantage militarily, technologically and possibly economically.

The only other option would be if all rare earth minerals were diverted to military use. That would leave us at even more disadvantage regarding technological trade, which is one of the most profitable trade items by weight and volume.

As far as blocking China’s access to the Android operating system and partnerships, the result is likely to be the same as sanctions on Russia had. They will accelerate development of their own technologies, spreading new operating systems to Asia and Europe, the largest foreign markets whom we trade with. Leaving Google in the dust. That would mean Google trading partners would no longer be paying Google for advertising to markets Android no longer had access to.

Like I said above, this is only accelerating the development of technologies which China has already been working on. They may contract with experts from other countries, including Europe, other Asian countries, India, Russia and American freelancers. Hey, capitalism is capitalism, right? Other countries pulling away from us and advancing beyond us is only a matter of time. Asia and Europe are already expanding 5G and green energy years ahead of the US. In teh case of China, you can blame Trump all you like but they began accelerating their technological development toward more independence from the US ever since Obama’s “Pivot to Asia” which continued on with the Hillary Clinton campaign (“We could rename the Pacific Ocean the American Sea.”) and the Trump campaign. No matter which one took office, they knew what was coming.

The ultimate fact is that any military confrontation with China will leave us at a disadvantage, first in the short term and possibly in the long term. It’s about time we started playing nice with the other kids on the playground.

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I am an independent writer with no corporate sponsors or backing. The only income I make from my writing comes from views. At least I have reached the point where it makes more than it costs me! lol! My writing is done in between full time (and overtime) nursing, shared custody of my brilliant daughter and mundane existence.

Please consider becoming a patron on Patreon. I try and average at least 20 articles a month, so a $1 a month donation would come down to 5¢ per article to support independent, non-corporate writing. My Patreon page is here.

If you care to share articles with those who do not have Medium or Patreon accounts, I also post most of my articles on my own website, which has no advertising and I pay for with income from writing. My website is here and all articles can be shared freely. You can always quote me, no attribution required. My goal is spreading information and awareness. The whole point is building a better, more peaceful, more equitable world for us and future generations.

No, Tariffs Will Not Bring Jobs Back

Talk among the right wing and some corporate media claims the opinion that tariffs will bring jobs back. That’s not going to happen. Of course, some other sources claim that tariffs are destroying jobs. That may come closer to the truth but also not entirely accurate.

China did not come first. First, let’s consider the fact that corporations have historically exported manufacturing jobs to low income countries. At varying times, jobs have been exported to Japan, India, Pakistan, Taiwan, Mexico, South American countries, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the list goes on.

What you can surmise from this is that corporations will continue exporting jobs to lower wage countries that offer tax breaks. Even if the wages were the same, corporations would export jobs to avoid environmental restrictions in the US.

No, US manufacturing is not on the rise. Of course, some sources claim that manufacturing in the US is back on the rise. Ask them for specifics and they cannot reply exactly what manufacturing jobs they are referring to. No, US Steel is not building new plants. Auto manufacturers have added a few jobs but far more have been laid off in the last few months by a negative balance of tens of thousands.

Bailing out corporate farms. Agriculture in the US is suffering because of lost trade with China thanks to trade conflict. Thing to notice most about that is that this caused an oversupply in the US market yet it did not result in decreased grocery prices. Mostly because the farmers got bailed out by the US taxpayer, so they had no need to offer their crops at lower prices to diminish their losses. They dumped many of their crops rather than selling at lower prices.

China refuses our oil sales. China stopped buying US oil back in Oct or Nov of 2018, resulting in an oversupply in the oil market. That was the reason gas and oil prices dropped for a time, as there was no way to store that much oil and no way to dispose of it. It had to be sold. Even if they could have stored it, that would impact trade with OPEC. Relations with OPEC nations, especially Saudi Arabia, are already contentious at the moment.

Where next? One question is where they will be exporting those jobs to. Workers in Mexico are rising up, demanding better pay, benefits and working conditions. No doubt US corporations were counting on further exploiting South African workers but China has beat them to the punch. China is investing billions in South Africa, to include infrastructure which benefits the communities and low interest loans. Things that the US and IMF do not offer. Meanwhile China issues no threats to the countries they work with.

Eastern Bloc? So, the most likely nations that US corporations may target for low wage labor are some former Eastern Bloc nations like Poland. Countries that have few resources of their own and have suffered since the fall of the USSR. One big problem with those countries is that the population is aging because the younger generations have left due to lack of opportunities. Other problems include social unrest and the rise of white supremacists (literal Nazis), so that may well impact the willingness of American consumers to purchase goods produced in those countries. No doubt we will see continued propaganda claiming these countries are standing up to big, evil Russia.

US consumer market. Yet even with low cost labor, that will not bring back stability to the US consumer market. That is where the conflict lies. To bring back the consumer market means the need for living wage jobs. Wages the corporations do not want to pay. Without decent wages, American consumers cannot afford to buy the items produced.

Chinese consumer market. That is why corporations are trying to make inroads to the Chinese consumer market. The Chinese consumer market is now the largest in the world. US corporations have no loyalty to the US. They are loyal only to their own profit margin. If they can make money convincing you how evil China, Russia, North Korea or any other country is, yet conduct profitable sales in those same countries, they will do exactly that.

US impact on China’s GDP. Threats and tariffs are not going to budge China. Our politicians and media try and make it seem as though the Chinese economy relies solely on US trade. Nothing could be further from the truth. US trade accounts for only 4% of China’s GDP. That number is from before China stopped buying US oil around Oct of 2018. So our trade accounts for even less of their GDP now. Basically, China could survive without any trade with the US at all.

US military empire. Trade is not the actual issue concerning China. Their concern is our militarism. We already have considerable military forces in the South China Sea. There is much made in the US media about China building up military forces yet they never mention that the only reason China is doing so is because of the threat posed to them by the US.Think about it and you realize that nobody else poses any risk or potential for risk against China. Nobody else is trying to pose a threat to them.

Weapons sales. Essentially, the only US industry that can compete with China at this point is weapons production and sales. Something the US seems to excel at above and beyond any other country. For now. Meanwhile China is advancing their military technology and offering sales of military drones at prices lower than the US. While Russia has developed aircraft and missile defense systems that are more advanced than our own, also offered at lower prices and with fewer diplomatic demands or threats. I’m sure they would each refuse to sell to nations that pose a threat to themselves or their direct interests. That’s understandable.

Chinese technology. China is building artificial islands, dams, bridges and railways spanning not just their own country but reaching into other countries , other continents as well. Their projects tend to be completed far faster and at lower cost than US corporate contractors have managed projects for decades. They built 18,000 km of high speed rail in under 11 years. Can you even imagine that happening here? They now have the largest dam in the world, the Three Gorges Dam, which incorporates the second largest hydroelectric power plant on earth and a ship lift. It took 18 years to complete but considering the scale that time frame is still a huge accomplishment. While some try to portray China as some backward country where technology is concerned, I’d say they are quite capable. China has a long history of being technologically competent. Rockets and gunpowder originated there. Take a look at the history of China and gunpowder is only one accomplishment of many.

Competition should not be war. The trade war between the US and China should not be a war. It should be nothing more than competition. I’ve written before that growth is toxic. If our economy does actually need to grow larger, it needs to be redirected toward industries and efforts that help our own people. Stop building weapons, stop creating wars, stop building bombs, start building and repairing bridges. When you create an entire segment of your economy to be dependent on war machines, you must create wars to sustain that industry. That means you must create enemies where none existed before. you must destroy things in order to build something and call that growth. That means destroying ecological environments and entire civilizations much older than our own, killing people and call it business.

They are more experienced than we are. China has survived thousands of years in spite of numerous enemies, both economic and military. They are more experienced at trade than we are, having built the original Silk Road and are now building what is dubbed the New Silk Road. Our economy is barely planned 6 months in advance, while they plan 50 years and further ahead. The Belt and Road Initiative is an indication of this. It’s highly unlikely they did not take possible US responses into account when planning. When they refuse to negotiate, that is negotiating. It’s just saying they will not bow down to US tantrums.

They hold far more, far better cards than we do. We are playing their game, they’re not playing ours. So we can play by the rules or take our ball and go home. Because if we try cheating against them, we already lost. Tariffs may bring jobs back.. just not to America.

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I am an independent writer with no corporate sponsors or backing. The only income I make from my writing comes from views. At least I have reached the point where it makes more than it costs me! lol! My writing is done in between full time (and overtime) nursing, shared custody of my brilliant daughter and mundane existence.

Please consider becoming a patron on Patreon. I try and average at least 20 articles a month, so a $1 a month donation would come down to 5¢ per article to support independent, non-corporate writing. My Patreon page is here.

If you care to share articles with those who do not have Medium or Patreon accounts, I also post most of my articles on my own website, which has no advertising and I pay for with income from writing. My website is here and all articles can be shared freely. You can always quote me, no attribution required. My goal is spreading information and awareness. The whole point is building a better, more peaceful, more equitable world for us and future generations.