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The Federal Reserve continues its battle to reduce inflation by authorizing a quarter-point hike in its benchmark interest rate, indicating it expects additional increases in the future.

The federal funds rate will increase to a range between 4.50 percent and 4.75 percent, the highest level since 2007.

“The Committee believes that continued increases in the target range would be necessary in order to achieve a monetary policy stance that is sufficiently restrictive to restore inflation to 2% over time,” the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) said in a statement.

Investors anticipated the 25 basis point increase, the Fed’s ninth straight increase since raising its target in March 2022. The Fed boosted its target range by half a percentage point at its previous meeting in December.

Markets anticipate that the Fed will raise interest rates one more time this year at the meeting before taking a break to assess how the economy and inflation react to the highest interest rates in over a decade. Jerome Powell, the head of the Fed, and other central bank officials have warned the market against assuming that a stop or slowdown in rate hikes signals an impending switch to rate lowering. However, the prices of major financial assets indicate that investors anticipate a rate decrease before the end of the year.

“In evaluating the extent of future increases in the target range, the Committee will consider the cumulative tightening of its monetary policy, the delays with which monetary policy influences economic activity and inflation, as well as economic and financial events,” the FOMC stated.

The FOMC is “very attentive to inflation concerns,” according to the statement, a language the Fed has used since its second hike in May of last year.

In this statement, the Fed removed references to the pandemic, including one that ascribed inflation to “supply and demand imbalances that were connected to the outbreak, increased food and energy costs, and broader pricing pressures.” The Fed also no longer claims to be actively monitoring “public health” when analyzing potential monetary policy adjustments.

Inflation has improved in recent months, according to the Fed.

“Inflation has eased slightly but remains high,” the statement lamented.

Author: Steven Sinclaire

The State of California is seeking to pin the theft of $30 billion in coronavirus relief funds from the state’s Employment Development Dept. on former President Donald Trump.

The California State Auditor criticized the EDD for serious misconduct in 2021, according to Breitbart News:

“Californians are expected to apply for unemployment benefits and maternity leave reimbursement through the EDD. However, fraud and poor management have resulted in losses of billions of dollars. While legitimately worthy Californians wait months for the money they need, the EDD system has mailed unemployment checks to jail prisoners.” 

“EDD did not significantly step up its fraud detection efforts for its unemployment benefits program until months into the epidemic, which led to payouts of nearly $10.4 billion for claims that it later discovered may be fraudulent, the study itself notes.”

Now that Rep. James Comer (R-KY), the new chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, has inquired, California is attempting to blame Trump’s purportedly ineffective federal leadership.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the state responded to the new congressional probe by shifting the blame:

In a four-page letter to Rep. James Comer, R-Kentucky, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, head of the state Employment Development Dept. Nancy Farias stated: “Unfortunately, the Trump Administration exhibited little interest in building (a) coordinated national response when these (emergency pandemic unemployment) programs were begun in 2020, leaving states to fight for themselves against a demonstrable pattern of sophisticated, multinational criminal syndicates at work.”

Ironically, Dems., not the Trump admin., insisted on using state unemployment systems to distribute coronavirus assistance rather than relying only on federal government checks. They were following the recommendations of liberal economists who intended to use increased unemployment as a kind of benefit.

According to The New York Times:

“Democrats suggested that Congress should concentrate on specifically targeted legislation that could be passed swiftly.”

According to Ms. Pelosi, “We asked the economists what truly can stimulate the economy rapidly, and they answered things like food stamps — because people would spend that quickly — unemployment insurance and refundable tax credits.” There must be a connection between what we’re doing and the coronavirus problem.”

Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) stated on Wednesday that Republicans are disregarding fraud in conservative states while focusing their investigations on Democrat-ruled areas like California and New York.

California suffered the most from this type of fraud, while many other states did as well. Some have attributed this to the state’s vast population, while others have said that it is a result of the state’s dysfunctional, Democrat-run bureaucracy.

Author: Steven Sinclaire

A resolution to repeal President Joe Biden’s ESG investment rule, which may politicize 401(k)s, was launched by 49 Senate Republicans and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV).

Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN), who provided the first statement on the matter to Fox News Digital, said that “President Biden is endangering retirement funds for millions of Americans for a political goal.”

The resolution of disapproval was spearheaded by Braun and Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY).

“The last thing we should be doing is encouraging fiduciaries to make these decisions with a lower rate of return for solely ideological reasons at a time when Americans’ 401(k)s have already taken such a blow owing to market downturns and record high inflation,” Braun said. “For the sake of the millions of Americans who rely on these funds for their retirement, we are glad to oppose this regulation.”

The Biden admin. released a Dept. of Labor (DOL) plan that would take effect on Jan. 30 and allow retirement plan managers to take Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations into account when making investment decisions.

The most recent tool used by Wall Street financial oligopolies and the gov’t to get businesses and American investors to support social causes they otherwise would not support is ESG investment. Combating purported climate change, diversity mandates, and other leftist values are included in this.

The assistant secretary for employee benefits security, Lisa Gomez, stated in a written statement in Nov. that “Climate change and other social, environmental, and governance factors can really be useful for plan investors as they make choices about how they can best grow and safeguard the retirement savings of America’s workers.”

Retirement plans should only be concerned with generating the highest returns, not furthering a political goal, according to Barr.

“Retirees would receive lower returns on the investments of their hard-earned money if Congress doesn’t intervene to stop the Department of Labor’s rule approving ESG investing in retirement plans. Congress has to take action now, and I commend Sen. Braun and our allies for picking up the battle once again,” Barr added.

A disapproval resolution may be sponsored by a politician under the Congressional Review Act, and as a result, it cannot be stopped from being discussed on the floor. For the resolution to pass the Senate, only a simple majority is needed.

According to Fox News Digital, supporters of the measure expect that one more Senate Democrat will support the measure, increasing the likelihood that it will pass the upper body of Congress.

Author: Steven Sinclaire

The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, a federal watchdog monitoring pandemic-era spending, discovered $5.4 billion in “possibly fraudulent pandemic loans” in a report published this week.

In conjunction with the $5.4 billion in loans, PRAC detected 69,323 “questionable” Social Security numbers.

According to the report:

“The PRAC Fraud Alert reveals 69,323 suspect Social Security Numbers were used to receive $5.4 billion from the Small Business Administration’s COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and Paycheck Protection Program. Small companies and their workers affected by the pandemic received over $1.2 trillion in aid through these initiatives.”

Before requesting additional data from the SSA, the committee’s team of data researchers cross-referenced data from over 33 million PPP and EIDL loan applications to publicly available SSA information, determining that 221,427 Social Security Numbers “were either not issued by the SSA” or didn’t “match the name and/or date of birth information” that was provided by loan applicants.

The report of the committee examined loan disbursements from April 2020 to October 2022.

The Small Business Administration’s “initial approach to starting these programs made billions of dollars accessible to millions of borrowers that were affected by the pandemic outbreak, but used few program controls to authenticate applicants’ eligibility before disbursing funds,” according to the report.

“Although the SBA later incorporated certain fraud protection mechanisms in 2021, the initial implementation of PPP put speed of disbursement above inspection of application eligibility, a trade-off that contributed to widespread fraud,” the paper continues.

Interestingly, SBA spokesperson Christina Carr used the contents of the study to criticize former President Trump’s administration, claiming that the report is a “great illustration of why it was a mistake not to adopt further anti-fraud measures under the Trump administration.”

The PRAC study comes as the GOP-led House Oversight Committee plans a hearing on “the flagrant misuse of taxpayer money used on COVID relief programs” this week.

“I don’t think the PPP loan program will fare well in history,” Oversight Chairman James Comer (R-KY) stated Monday.

PRAC Chairman Michael Horowitz, who is also the Inspector General of the DOJ, is scheduled to speak before the Committee. Horowitz will be joined by Comptroller Gen. Gene Dodaro and Assistant Director of the US Secret Service Office of Investigations David M. Smith.

When announcing the hearing, Comer stated that the Oversight Committee owed it to Americans to “determine how hundreds of billions of taxpayer funds spent under the pretext of pandemic assistance were lost to waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.”

“Dems in the Administration and Congress have spent a great deal of time pushing money out the door and far too little time performing meaningful scrutiny of how that money was being used over the last two years,” Comer said.

“That is changing with our Republican majority in the House. The Oversight Committee, led by Republicans, is returning to its fundamental mission of rooting out waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in the federal government and holding President Biden responsible.”

Author: Scott Dowdy
Although President Joe Biden continues to claim that his economic policies are functioning well, there are several troubling signals suggesting otherwise, notably the crucial consumer spending rate. Simple rule: if individuals are purchasing more items, it often indicates that they are satisfied with the economy and the health of their finances.

When people tighten their belts, it’s because they either do not have enough money to buy more than the necessities, or they’re holding on to their wallets out of dread for the future.

Consumer spending is sometimes referred to as the “engine of the economy”—and it’s running out of gas. According to the Wall Street Journal, people are “beginning to freak out”:

“Three of the last four months have seen a decrease in retail spending. After adjusting for inflation, spending on services, which includes haircuts, rent and the majority of bills, was flat in the month of December, the weakest monthly showing in over a year. As mortgage rates soared, sales of existing houses in the United States plummeted to their point since 2014. The automotive industry had its worst year in more than ten years.”

Consumer spending actually increased during the end of 2020, at the peak of the pandemic, as a stranded populace purchased new TVs, exercise cycles, and laptops to pass the time. Then came the stimulus payments, which were billions of dollars in government money. Who feels bad about treating themselves to a small treat when a large, unexpected check arrives in the mail?

Those days are long gone. Consumers are leery of committing debt on high-interest rate credit cards or taking out a six-percentage-point vehicle loan now that Biden’s inflation has become the standard. Housing sales have dropped because mortgage rates have hit a 20-year record, raising monthly payments by hundreds of dollars or more. The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, has indicated that another rate hike is possible this week.

What is the significance of consumer spending? If it does not pick up soon, we may soon find ourselves in a recession.

Consumer spending accounts for around 70% of economic activity. A downshifting consumer is one of the main reasons why academic and business economists estimated the likelihood of a recession in the next year at 61%.

The low unemployment rate of 3.5 percent is one of the few favorable economic indicators. However, digital and retail behemoths such as Amazon, Meta, and Google, among others, have lately announced significant layoffs, while other firms are laying off temporary workers and people are taking much longer to find work.

I’m not an economist, but I don’t believe you need to be one to understand what’s going on here: simply go to your favorite grocery store or restaurant. You are unlikely to go home and make an impulsive Amazon buy for that product you don’t actually need once you have recovered from your shell-shock.

These conditions have been brought on by Biden’s bloated Inflation Reduction Act and drunken sailor spending, and it might become a lot worse before it gets better.

Author: Blake Ambrose

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer predicted that Dems would win debt ceiling talks if Republicans demanded major budget cuts.

“Unfortunately, McCarthy allowed a number of extremely radical people to exercise authority,” Schumer told Politico. “The strategy is to persuade our Republican colleagues in the House that they are flirting with calamity and endangering the American people. And to make that clear to the American people. And I believe we will triumph.”

“There will be no hostage-taking, no brinkmanship. Pass the debt ceiling,” warned the New York Democrat, who helped leverage debt ceiling and budget accords under former President Donald Trump’s term.

In response to Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who will have a meeting with President Joe Biden on Wednesday, stated, “When was the last time Biden did a budget? So he wants someone to raise the debt limit, but he won’t tell the American people where the money will go?”

Not all Dems in Schumer’s conference support McCarthy’s tough stance; Sen. Joe Manchin, who met privately with Kevin McCarthy last week, said it is “unreasonable” not to talk.

Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX), head of the House Budget Committee, stated that the Republican Party seeks fundamental reforms similar to the 2011 spending limit, often known as the Budget Control Act.

On Monday, twenty-four Senate Republicans sent a letter to President Joe Biden encouraging him to support spending changes that would cut the deficit.

“Americans are acutely aware that their government is not only failing to work for them, but is actually working against them. We do not plan to vote for an increase in the debt ceiling unless fundamental changes are implemented to meet current and future economic realities and manage the out-of-control government policies,” said the Senate Republicans.

Schumer has vowed to raise the debt ceiling without Republicans if he believes they would not negotiate in good faith.

“I’ve always had a hierarchy,” the New York Democrat stated. “We’ll attempt to deal with them when we can, but when they are as extreme as they are, we have to stand firm.”

Author: Scott Dowdy

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he will meet with Joe Biden on Wednesday to discuss preventing a US debt default, but cautioned the president that his refusal to contemplate spending cutbacks in return for lifting the borrowing limit must be reconsidered.

“I want to find a sensible and responsible method to raise the debt ceiling,” the Republican leader said on CBS Sunday’s “Face the Nation.

McCarthy’s meeting with the president will be his first since becoming Speaker of the House of Representatives earlier this month after Republicans took control of the chamber.

Raising the national debt ceiling, which permits the government to pay for previously incurred expenses, is a common occurrence.

Members of the new Republican House majority, however, have threatened to obstruct the normal rubber-stamping of any increase over the current $31.4 trillion.

Biden argues the issue is unresolvable, accusing Republicans of holding “the economy hostage” in order to force a purely political debate on federal spending.

Biden’s official agenda stated only that he would address “a range of problems” with the Republican speaker, underscoring the White House’s inability to even characterize the meeting as a negotiation.

Raising the debt ceiling is “a duty of this country and its leaders to avert economic calamity,” according to White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre. “Congress has always done it, and President Biden wants them to do it again.”

“That is not a debatable point.”

Crisis alert

This sets the scenario for a high-stakes fight in the coming weeks or months.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that a US debt default could spark a worldwide financial disaster, raising borrowing costs and eroding the dollar’s status as an international reserve currency.

To give the two sides more time to work out a solution and prevent a default, the Treasury Department began using “extraordinary measures” on January 19 to temporarily decrease the amount of outstanding debt subject to the limit.

Yellen stated that if no deal is reached, a default may happen as early as June.

While McCarthy expressed confidence that “there won’t be a default,” he emphasized that Democrats were responsible for historically high spending levels within the first two years of Biden’s presidency.

“We can’t keep going down this road,” he stated on CBS.

‘Give us a choice.’

A Democratic congressman from Washington state, Adam Smith, pushed back, claiming Republicans had failed to specify where they would make cuts.

“Right now, Republicans lack a strategy,” he stated on “Fox News Sunday.”

“Their goal, as driven by their party’s radicals, is to scream about spending while failing to increase the debt ceiling and failing to present a plan that says, ‘This is where we’re going to cut.'”

“Give us an alternative, and then we can fight about it,” he continued.

McCarthy, on the other hand, expressed hope that a compromise could be made to avoid default.

“I would like to sit down with the President and hammer out an arrangement so that we can go forward and get back on track,” the speaker added.

“I believe the president will be willing to reach an arrangement with us,” he continued.

According to Jean-Pierre, the meeting on Wednesday will also examine the president’s plan to reduce the US budget deficit “by having the affluent and major businesses pay their fair share,” rather than slashing politically sensitive social spending, as some Republicans propose.

Author: Scott Dowdy

Northrop Grumman Corp., a U.S. defense contractor, predicted full-year sales exceeding Wall Street projections on Thursday, joining a slew of manufacturers profiting from increased worldwide demand for military weapons.

According to Reuters, the United States and its allies have been buying additional weaponry and ammunition and providing billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine since Russia invaded the nation last year.

Northrop presented its new B-21 “Raider” plane during the quarter, the first of a new class of long-range nuclear stealth bombers for the US Air Force.

“We are upgrading our sales forecast for 2023 and anticipate to produce substantial multi-year cash flow growth,” stated Northrop Grumman CEO Kathy Warden.

The Falls Church, Virginia-based business expects 2023 revenues between $38 billion and $38.4 billion, surpassing the average analyst expectation of $37.86 billion, and an adjusted profit of $21.85 to $22.45 for every share, compared to predictions of $22.30.

Northrop Grumman Corp is hardly the only company benefiting from global conflict.

According to data revealed by the State Department, weapon makers in the United States profited handsomely in 2022 as a result of significant arms sales to other nations, particularly Ukraine.

As a result of the Ukraine conflict and rising tensions between the United States and China over Taiwan, arms sales increased from $35.8 billion in 2021 to $51.9 billion in 2022, with direct weapon sales from U.S. manufacturers accounting for an even greater profit, increasing from $103.4 billion in 2021 to $153.7 billion that same year.

Germany, which has bought 35 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets for $8.4 billion, and Poland, which has invested $6 billion on 250 M1 Abrams tanks, are the two largest customers. Others include Spain, the United Kingdom, and Bulgaria, which just joined NATO.

General Dynamics, which manufactures Abrams tanks and Stryker vehicles, reported $2.18 billion in revenue in its combat systems division in the fourth quarter of 2022, up 15.5 percent from the same period in 2021, with operating profitability increasing by more than 18 percent to $332 million.

According to the Financial Times (FT), heightened interest in the group’s vehicles occurred in the second half of 2022 when countries, notably in the West, committed to raising defense spending in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The US Army granted General Dynamics a $180 million contract to modify Abrams main battle tanks and a $100 million contract to modernize Stryker M-Shorad vehicles in the 4th quarter. Austria also spent $20 million on tracked vehicle modifications, and Luxembourg purchased $75 million in assault vehicles.

General Dynamics also secured $260 million in ammunition orders, some of which may end up in Ukraine.

Author: Blake Ambrose

Even as recessionary worries loom, the American economy expanded at a 2.9% annualized pace in the fourth quarter of 2022, slightly above projections.

According to an early projection from the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the Commerce Department, real gross domestic product, which is the total of all final services and goods produced in the economy inflation-adjusted, grew more slowly than the 3.2% annual rate seen in the q3 of 2022. When the economy contracted at a rate of 1.6% in the first quarter of 2022 and a rate of 0.6% in the q2 of 2022, the country already satisfied the technical definition of a recession, which is two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

Private inventory investment, consumer spending, and government expenditure all increased, which contributed to the expansion. Both imports and exports fell; although the former is added to GDP estimates, the latter is subtracted.

The expansion of the manufacturing, mining, utilities, and construction industries led to an increase in private inventory investment. Due to a decline in new single-family home construction activity and a rise in mortgage rates because of the Federal Reserve monetary policy operations, residential fixed investment also fell.

Despite persistent predictions of a recession, the annualized growth of 2.9% beat experts’ estimates of 2.8%. Given the persistence of supply chain issues and inflationary pressures, the majority of economists anticipate a recession this year. An economic downturn would come after one of the worst years for the stock market in recent memory last year.

According to research by Bank of America Chief Finance Strategist Michael Hartnett, the economy will contract in the first half of the year before markets find a “far more firm footing.” However, according to Goldman Sachs Chief Economist Jan Hatzius, there are “good grounds to predict robust growth in coming quarters” according to the company’s analysts.

The Biden administration has come under fire for allegedly making economic bottlenecks worse. Since taking office, the commander in chief has halted Keystone XL Pipeline expansions and leased less federal property for oil drilling than any of his predecessors since World War II. Public records also reveal that the admin’s task group on the supply chain problem had little to no impact since Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg took a two-month paternity leave and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack never showed up to meetings.

Even when major technology companies announced widespread layoffs, Biden “inherited an economic catastrophe and transformed it into the biggest two years of employment growth on record,” according to White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre last week. She continuously shot down worries that the cuts may portend more unemployment throughout the economy. “We can see that the President’s economic strategy is effective. And I believe that’s crucial as well,” she added. “Is there still work to be done? There is always more work to be done, as you may also hear from us.”

As annual inflation dropped from 7.1% in Nov. to 6.5% in Dec., price levels have calmed in several places. Despite the fact that price rises are still far higher than the 2% annual average observed before the lockdown-induced recession, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen noted that inflation “has really been fairly modest, quite low for the previous six months or so.”

Author: Steven Sinclaire

As the war gets close to the one-year milestone, President Biden said Wednesday afternoon that he has authorized sending 31 Abram tanks to Ukraine.

“As springtime draws near, Ukrainian soldiers are striving to protect the ground they control and getting ready for more counteroffensives to free their territories. In the very near future, they must be able to defeat Russia’s shifting strategy and tactics on the battlefield. They need to be better at navigating broad terrain and improving their maneuverability, and they also need to develop durable defenses that can withstand long-term Russian aggression,” according to Biden.

He continued, “Today, I’m declaring that the United States will supply 31 Abram tanks to Ukraine, which is the same as one Ukrainian battalion.”

Although Biden did not address the price tag, the Department of Defense soon after his speech disclosed a $400 million package in the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI).

The Department of Defense stated in a news release that “this $400 million USAI package signifies the beginning of a contractual process to supply further capabilities to Ukraine.”

Along with 31 Abrams main combat tanks, eight tactical vehicles for equipment recovery, support equipment, and vehicles, and funds for training, maintenance, and sustainment, the package would also include ammunition for 120mm rounds.

Since January 2021, the United States has pledged $27.8 billion in security aid to Ukraine. Since then, the U.S. has invested over $113 billion in Ukraine altogether.

“As quickly as feasible,” Biden promised, Ukrainian forces would get training in logistics, maintenance, and sustainment, as well as the replacement parts and tools required to keep tanks operational.

“Delivering these tanks to the field,” he added, “will take time.” He and senior defense officials who briefed reporters earlier did not specify when the tanks would arrive or when Ukrainian military would get tank operation training.

“Another Forever War — while Communist China runs rampant, undaunted,” tweeted Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO).

Although defense experts have long voiced doubts that the advanced tanks were the best equipment for Ukrainian soldiers at the time owing to the challenging training and maintenance needs, Biden claimed that Secretary Of defense Lloyd Austin had endorsed the action.

However, the decision was made under strong international pressure to deliver the tanks.

A break in the deadlock among NATO allies on whether to send sophisticated tanks to Ukraine was signaled earlier in the day when Germany declared it would send 14 Leopard 2 tanks there. The United States had encouraged Germany to provide Leopard 2 tanks, but Germany was hesitant to do so without a guarantee that the United States would also supply Abrams tanks.

By declaring, “We wanted to ensure we were all together,” Biden refuted claims that Germany had compelled him to send the tanks.

Zelensky’s birthday is today, according to Biden, who also sent him birthday greetings.

“We are with you for as long as it takes, Mr. President,” he continued.

Author: Steven Sinclaire

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