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13Aug

OIL PRICES; WILL THERE BE CONTINUED DREAD AT THE GAS STATION?

The pain at the pump has really hit home for many Americans during the recent holidays with prices that have averaged 73 cents more than a year ago. The average price of regular gas nationwide was $2.26 a year ago. The price of gas on Independence Day was the highest in four years. A barrel of Brent crude increased by five dollars from April to May. More than one variable has been at play creating a surge in the price of oil. The OPEC member countries voted to cut back on oil production in 2016. With demand staying high, and even higher in China, the price of oil, and by extension gasoline, was impacted by the falling supply. The U.S. supplies Saudi Arabia with military weapons, including a $350 billion deal last year. The president has asked the Saudi King to increase oil production. The head of OPEC said that

30Jul

TARIFFS: WILL THEY THROW A WRENCH IN THE MARKET?

For years, the United States has held the distinction of being an economic superpower. We have been the world’s banking center, our currency has been the reserve currency for the world and English has been the language of international business. The U.S.’s economy dwarfs most and few countries were even a close second place in the past. China has had a goal of challenging all of these paradigms. The world moves at such a fast pace today that many geo-political events, that should startle the markets only produce a yawn. The potential for a trade war between the U.S. and its many trading partners offers the prospect for getting Wall Street’s attention. The introduction of tariffs came out of promises made on the campaign trail by the president. As a businessman, he had been dismayed for many years at what he saw as poorly negotiated deals between the U.S. and

2Jul

RETURN TO PAIN AT THE PUMP

Americans had become somewhat complacent about fuel prices in the past few years, enjoying prices at the pump that had dropped from $4.11 in 2008 to $3.64 a gallon in 2012 to $3.37 in 2014 and much further during the next three and a half years. Those sky-high prices of 2008 through 2014, which had been putting a real dent in many people’s budgets, had resolved. Oil producers had a glut of product on their hands and OPEC had even resorted to cutting production. That complacency can be thrown out the window now. In the past five months, gas prices have increased by 50 cents a gallon. Prices at the pump are now hitting levels not seen since 2014. It was that year that a barrel of oil last hit $100. During a period of less than 40 years, a gallon of gas went from 36 cents in 1970 to

19Jun

THE RECENT FRENCH ELECTION

Preventing future terrorist attacks was apparently not on the minds of the French people as they went to the polls and voted for Emmanuel Macron as the country’s next president. Macron had run on a pro-Europe, pro-EU platform, but it was his opponent who ran on the need for stricter vetting of refugees. At 39, Macron is the youngest person to hold the position since Napoleon. The French presidential election occurs in two phases and Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen were the top two finalists who survived the first round two weeks before and sought political victory in a second round that happened two weeks later. Election result projects in France gave Macron two thirds of the vote. Instead of leading another country to exit the European Union, Macron embraces the EU and campaigned on his commitment to the union. Macron’s competitor’s campaign for the presidency never had a

7Jun

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TAX REFORM PLAN

Reducing personal and corporate tax rates was a centerpiece of the new Trump tax proposal which came out April 26, 2017. The changes are meant to stimulate domestic corporate profits and hiring while giving the middle class a tax break. The other goal of the proposal is simplification of a process that has grown far too complex for the average person. With any changes to the current tax code and the way personal taxes are collected, there is substantial interest in how tax revenues might be affected and what taxpayers can expect for popular deductions. According to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the structure is “a tax plan that will count partly on revenue from economic growth spurred by tax cuts and partly on revenue from limiting deductions and other tax breaks.” The White House blog states that the focus of tax reform has centered on: “job creation, economic growth, and