Small Business Optimism at 35-Year High
Leia Klingel reports for Fox Business that “small business owners’ optimism touched a 35-year high in July, with businesses setting records in terms of job creation and hiring,” according to a new survey from the National Federation of Independent Business.
“In July 2018, the NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Index marked its second highest level in the survey’s 45-year history,, at 107.9 – just shy of the July 1983 record-high of 108.” Klingel writes.
Records were set for job creation plans. A seasonally-adjusted net 23 percent of businesses are planning to create new jobs, while 37 percent of business owners said they had job openings that they could not fill in July.
“Small business owners are leading this economy and expressing optimism rivaling the highest levels in history,” said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan. “Expansion continues to be a priority for small businesses who show no signs of slowing as they anticipate more sales and better business conditions.”
A net 35 percent of owners expect better business conditions, while they said the availability of qualified workers was their No. 1 problem. Owners also reported that they were increasing the compensation they offered workers.
Fifty-nine percent of firms were hiring or trying to hire, while 52 percent (88 percent of those hiring or trying to hire) reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill.
Twenty-three percent of owners said their biggest business problem was finding qualified workers.“Despite challenges in finding qualified workers to fill a record number of job openings, they’re taking advantage of this economy and pursuing growth,” said NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg.Profits continued to perform, and more firms raised prices in July, a positive signal of demand.
Report: Regulations being cut at record pace, savings double
In the Washington Examiner, Paul Bedard reports that “Federal agencies, led by Labor and Health and Human Services, are cutting Obama-era regulations and saving money faster than demanded by President Trump,” according to a new report from American Action Forum. “As a result, the administration is expected to easily meet the president’s order to cut at least two old regulations for every new one issued and cut the costs of regulations.”
“With less than two months remaining in FY 2018, the Trump administration is well on its way to surpassing its regulatory budget goals,” said the new report from American Action Forum, which charts federal regulations.
“Collectively, executive agencies subject to a regulatory budget remain on pace to double the administration’s overall savings goal. On an individual basis, 12 of 22 agencies have already met or surpassed their savings target,” added the report written by Dan Bosch, the director of regulatory policy at the American Action Forum.
He highlighted the winners:
“The Department of Labor (DOL) enjoys the largest total savings of covered agencies with $417.2 million. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) comes in second in savings, but has a larger savings surplus (or the amount in excess of its FY 2018 target) than DOL at $285.6 million. The Department of Transportation (DOT) ranks third in annualized savings followed closely by the Department of Justice.”
The Trump administration grabs the wheel
Heritage Foundation founder Ed Feulner writes in The Washington Times that freezing fuel-economy standards for cars and trucks is a “much-needed course correction” by the Trump Administration. “Not all pay equally. In fact, the poor are hardest hit by higher CAFE standards.”
Just the opposite, actually. It was the Obama administration’s move to increase CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards that was steering us in the wrong direction. This is simply a case of the current administration grabbing the wheel and doing a little much-needed course correction.
When you consider that CAFE was created in the mid-1970s in response to the OPEC oil crisis, it may seem surprising that we’re dealing with it so many years later. But as Ronald Reagan once said, “A government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth,” and the same certainly holds true for a government program.
So CAFE standards have not only not gone away, they’ve done what so many other regulations do: become bigger. And in the process, they’ve raised prices and reduced consumer choice.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics measured the quality-adjusted average price of new vehicles and found that from the mid-1990s until 2008, when CAFE standards remained mostly steady, the average vehicle price fell steadily. Since the Obama-era standards took effect, as researchers Salim Furth and David Kreuter pointed out in a 2016 paper, average new car prices have risen to $6,200 above the trend line.
Trump may be the president to bring us truly ‘free’ trade — and a free market
In The Hill, Charlie Kirk says that President Trump’s trade policies could level the playing field in a historic way. “President Trump has the potential to end up as the most free-market president of our lifetime”—and that applies to open, fair trade as much as anything else.
Third, are tariffs a useful deterrent in a broader effort to level the international market?
We don’t know yet how it will turn out. It is clear that foreign leaders are very eager to avoid them. More broadly, here’s the case for giving Trump the time and space to conduct his strategy, even if it ends up breaking a few eggs in the process.
1) Trump is a master of keeping his enemies off balance. Why does fortune favor the bold? And what is the “element” of surprise? If Trump stuck to the old, failed tactics, we know he’d fail. So it’s no reason to worry if he tries new approaches, even if they result in gnashing of teeth from global elites.
2) Trump is fundamentally pro-free market. He’s a businessman — he understands competition. He signed the most important tax cut in decades as the biggest domestic priority of this Congress. And his administration is dismantling bureaucratic red-tape as fast as humanly possible. The chasm on trade is much more tactical than it is philosophical.
3) Our rivals on the world stage, especially China, can practice patient strategies more easily because their societies aren’t free. My biggest worry about the president’s strategy is not that it can’t work, but that the American public will quickly recoil from any short-term pain encountered from a strategy that’s focused on the longer-term. China’s strategic decisions are made at the scale not of decades, but centuries.
A truly free market with China — and Europe — would be a huge accomplishment. Is it surprising that “protectionist” Trump, always trouncing the expectations of his critics, might be the one to get us there?
Carr Fire draws Trump’s Cabinet secretaries; one wearing special socks
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen recently visited California to address the devastation caused by the Carr Fire, Mike Chapman reports for Redding Record Searchlight. “Certainly you learn a lot more coming to the front line than in Washington, D.C.,” Secretary Zinke said.
He was amazed at how a powerful firestorm in the Keswick area destroyed a high-voltage tower that was built to withstand 200 mph winds.
“It was picked up, removed out of the foundations and crumpled like an aluminum can,” Zinke said. “The speed of which this fire occurred at some locations was unprecedented … and I’ve seen a lot of fires.”
At a Redding roundtable, Perdue and Zinke vowed to trim the federal bureaucracy’s red tape to accomplish several legislative goals in the fire’s aftermath. One is to work in cooperation with other government agencies and private industry to remove timber through salvage operations at burned areas without attracting lawsuits from environmental groups.
Another goal is to replant trees and restore watersheds before erosion can take a toll.The ultimate goal is to work toward more prescribed burns and forest thinning so dense forests don’t pose such tinderbox conditions going forward.
“These are tragedies that we’ve got to learn from — what can we do differently, what can we do better and how can we prevent these kinds of things in the future,” Perdue said.
He said many people misunderstand what forest management is all about. “We’re not talking about clear-cutting,” he said.Making a forest less susceptible to massive wildfires involves tree-thinning operations and prescribed burns during safe times of the year.
“It’s good for recreation. It’s good for hiking. It’s good for wildlife. It’s good for water quality and it’s good also for the economy, for the mills and the jobs that depend on harvesting coming from our federal lands,” Perdue said.
“How did we get here?” Zinke asked.
Drought created arid conditions and temperatures are rising whether they’re cyclic or not, he said.
“You have (forest) density. You have beetle kill. You have dead and dying timber and you have higher, elevated temperatures. Those combined to form a 200,000-acre-plus fire,” Zinke said.
The agriculture secretary noted how intense forest fires have come in cycles the past century during what he called a climate change. Millions of acres of forest land burned from 1920 to 1945, then he said there was a cooling-off period until about 1980 when fires returned with a vengeance.
“Has it happened before — yes and we need to do the things that we all know to do to make sure this doesn’t devastate other communities like this area of Northern California,” Perdue said.
Interior Secretary Zinke said Northern California residents should be fishing, hiking, mountain biking and enjoying the rivers on public lands during the summer.”We should be re-creating, not evacuating.”
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