April 17, 2017

President Donald Trump’s negotiation skills in the business world are being tested on the global political stage in his first 3 months in office.  America’s trade deficit with superpower China has been a sore subject for US exporters, driven by a manufactured “currency advantage” maintained by Chinese exporters (Chinese goods and services coming into the United States outnumber US exports sold to China by a ratio of 4-to-1).  But President Trump has offered Chinese President Xi Jinping “a better trade deal” if China would use its leverage to rein in the nuclear risk threatened by North Korea leader Kim Jong Un (source: BTN Research).

The number of new applicants for unemployment benefits has been under 300,000 for 110 straight weeks (the total was 234,000 last week), the longest such stretch since 1970.  The 2.3 million Americans receiving unemployment benefits today are dwarfed by the 153.0 million Americans that are gainfully employed (source: Department of Labor).

When Congress returns next week from its 2-week recess, the White House will press for increased spending for the military ($30 billion) and Homeland Security ($3 billion), offset partially by $15 billion in reduced spending in discretionary programs, i.e., not Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid (source: White House).

 

Notable Numbers

TAX DATA – The top one-tenth of 1% of US taxpayers (based upon adjusted gross income) paid more federal income tax ($273 billion) during tax year 2014 (the latest year that tax information has been released) than the federal income tax paid ($182 billion) by the bottom 75% of taxpayers, i.e., the top taxpayer out of 1,000 average taxpayers pays more in federal income tax than the bottom 750 taxpayers (source: Internal Revenue Service).

JOBS, JOBS, JOBS – Each one-tenth of one percentage point increase in our GDP (e.g., 2% growth to 2.1%) due to a rise in manufactured goods translates into +80,000 new American jobs (source: Commerce Department).

COLLEGE DEBT BUBBLE – Of the 44 million Americans that have accumulated $1.31 trillion of student loans, just 16% (of the 44 million) have at least $50,000 of debt each but collectively this group has incurred 56% of the $1.31 trillion of student debt (source: New York Federal Reserve).

PLEASE STAY – Connecticut lawmakers are considering a state bill that would provide a state income tax credit that averages $1,200 to students who stay in the state to work following their graduation from a Connecticut college with an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree after January 2018 (source: Hartford Courant).

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