Why China is winning the EV war

“The Biden administration has a climate goal that 50 percent of all new car sales in the US will be electric by 2030. Meanwhile, China already reached that milestone this year, in 2024. Over the past decade, China has pulled numerous levers to scale up its electric vehicle industry, and key to that strategy has been the development of the most globally competitive EV battery. Their efforts have spawned the world’s biggest battery companies, like CATL and BYD.
The Biden administration wants to keep Chinese cars and batteries out of the country — but that could be counter to our own electric vehicle ambitions in the short term.”


What Kenya’s deadly protests are really about

“parliament passed a bill increasing taxes — including on a bevy of everyday essentials like cooking oil, diapers, and bread — on a population already suffering from inflation and high rates of unemployment.
As protests increased in size and intensity, even breaching parliament’s chambers, they were met with violent repression. Nearly two dozen people were killed Tuesday.

After initial recalcitrance, President William Ruto said Wednesday he would not sign the controversial bill. His decision was a victory for the protesters, but the saga leaves the country’s future more uncertain than ever, both economically and politically.”

“Kenya’s troubles are a distillation of the problems facing several dozen developing nations, crushed under debt”

“Complicating matters are Kenya’s other economic problems. Corruption, cronyism, financial mismanagement, and the vestiges of colonialism have hobbled Kenya’s once-impressive economic development and exacerbated class and ethnic inequalities.”


Biden is on track to beat inflation and lose the presidency

“there are three reasons for Democrats to fear that slowing inflation will prove too little, too late.
For one thing, voters’ distrust of Biden’s economic management appears unshakeable. In a recent Gallup poll, just 38 percent of Americans expressed confidence in Biden to “do the right thing for the economy.” That is up a smidgen from Biden’s 35 percent mark in 2023, but it is still the worst economic approval that any modern president has suffered in Gallup’s polling, with the exception of George W. Bush immediately after the financial crisis. By contrast, 46 percent of voters have confidence in Trump’s economic management.

In RealClearPolitics’s average of recent surveys, Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy by a 17.6 point margin. And voters’ appraisal of Biden’s economic acumen has not substantially improved in recent months, even as inflation has declined. By the end of Trump’s term, on the other hand, voters approved of his economic management by a 7.8 percent margin.

Thus, the idea that Biden is personally responsible for the surge of inflation in 2022 — and that he cannot be trusted to effectively manage the economy for that reason — appears deeply rooted in voters’ minds. The fact that wages have been rising much faster than prices for more than a year has left no dent on this impression. Another few months of falling inflation could move the needle a bit, but there’s little reason to assume that such a development will dramatically change public opinion.

Second, relatedly, historical precedent suggests that the economy’s performance up to this point in Biden’s term will matter more than its performance from now until November. According to Democratic data scientist David Shor, when you examine the relationship between GDP growth and past incumbent presidents’ electoral outcomes, their economic records between inauguration and April of their reelection year count for much more than economic conditions in their campaigns’ final months.

Finally, if inflation has truly been defeated, victory has come too late to yield substantial interest rate cuts before November. The Federal Reserve declined to reduce rates after its meeting this week and forecast a single, quarter-percentage-point cut by year’s end. Investors predict that such a cut will come in September at the earliest. Even if the rate cut comes before Election Day, it would still leave Americans with dramatically higher borrowing costs than they faced when Biden was inaugurated.

It is conceivable that a small September cut may help the president a bit at the margins. Another possibility is that Biden will effectively shepherd the nation out of an economic crisis and deliver it into a low-inflation, high-employment economy and then promptly hand the White House back to Donald Trump, who will proceed to receive the lion’s share of the credit when the Fed slashes interest rates next year.”


Tell the truth about Biden’s economy

“Early in his column, Powell writes that since 2019, America’s working-class has “weathered 20 percent inflation and now rising interest rates—which means they’ve lost more than a fifth of their purchasing power.”
This is simply false. You cannot measure a trend in workers’ purchasing power over time by looking exclusively at changes in their costs. Since 1947, the consumer price index has risen by roughly 1,400 percent. If we applied Powell’s logic to that data point, we would conclude that Americans’ purchasing power had apocalyptically collapsed since the Truman administration. But of course, Americans are not poorer today than they were in 1947 — because since that year, the median US household income has increased by roughly 2,400 percent.

Similarly, although consumer prices have risen 20 percent since 2019, the average hourly wage among nonmanagerial workers in the US has grown by 25 percent over the same period. Put differently, at least for Americans who don’t debt-finance their expenditures, purchasing power is higher today than it was in 2019.”


The Supreme Court decides not to trigger a second Great Depression

“The Supreme Court delivered a firm and unambiguous rebuke to some of America’s most reckless judges on Thursday, ruling those judges were wrong to declare an entire federal agency unconstitutional in a decision that threatened to trigger a second Great Depression.
In a sensible world, no judge would have taken the plaintiffs arguments in CFPB v. Community Financial Services Association seriously. Briefly, they claimed that the Constitution limits Congress’s ability to enact “perpetual funding,” meaning that the legislation funding a particular federal program does not sunset after a certain period of time.

The implications of this entirely made-up theory of the Constitution are breathtaking. As Justice Elena Kagan points out in a concurring opinion in the CFPB case, “spending that does not require periodic appropriations (whether annual or longer) accounted for nearly two-thirds of the federal budget” — and that includes popular programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Nevertheless, a panel of three Trump judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit — a court dominated by reactionaries who often hand down decisions that offend even the current, very conservative Supreme Court — bought the CFPB plaintiffs’ novel theory and used it to declare the entire Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unconstitutional.

In fairness, the Fifth Circuit’s decision would not have invalidated Social Security or Medicare, but that’s because the Fifth Circuit made up some novel limits to contain its unprecedented interpretation of the Constitution. And the Fifth Circuit’s attack on the CFPB still would have had catastrophic consequences for the global economy had it actually been affirmed by the justices.

That’s because the CFPB doesn’t just regulate the banking industry. It also instructs banks on how they can comply with federal lending laws without risking legal sanction — establishing “safe harbor” practices that allow banks to avoid liability so long as they comply with them.

As a brief filed by the banking industry explains, without these safe harbors, the industry would not know how to lawfully issue loans — and if banks don’t know how to issue loans, the mortgage market could dry up overnight. Moreover, because home building, home sales, and other industries that depend on the mortgage market make up about 17 percent of the US economy, a decision invalidating the CFPB could trigger economic devastation unheard of since the Great Depression.

Thankfully, that won’t happen. Seven justices joined a majority opinion in CFPB which rejects the Fifth Circuit’s attack on the United States economy, and restates the longstanding rule governing congressional appropriations. Congress may enact any law funding a federal institution or program, so long as that law “authorizes expenditures from a specified source of public money for designated purposes.””