Monday, April 25, 2016

Monday, April 25, Night Wall Street Roundup: Wall St. ends slightly lower on energy, earnings

By Rodrigo Campos
Reuters
April 25, 2016


Energy shares dragged Wall Street slightly lower on Monday, tracking a decline in oil prices, while earnings and guidance from companies including Perrigo and Xerox also weighed on U.S. stocks.

With the S&P 500 up in eight of the past 10 weeks and nearing the record high set almost a year ago, traders are struggling to find reasons to push it even higher as underwhelming earnings and the specter of higher interest rates hover over markets.

Perrigo Co (PRGO.N), down 18 percent after it lowered its adjusted profit forecast for the full year, was among the largest drags on the S&P 500. Its Chief Executive and Chairman Joseph Papa resigned to take the reins at Valeant Pharma (VRX.N), whose U.S.-traded shares have tumbled nearly 85 percent from last August.

"This is hardly a big selloff but we are having trouble breaking through (to new highs on the S&P) because of a lack of consistently good earnings and economic data," said Rick Meckler, president of LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

"One of the few positives is a weaker dollar but it is hard to see a reason for that to continue; rates are being lowered around the world and expected to rise here (in the United States), there's no clear path to a lower dollar."

The Federal Reserve is expected to hold interest rates steady after a two-day meeting set to begin on Tuesday, but policymakers may be more upbeat on the economic outlook, leaving the path open for future rate hikes.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 26.51 points, or 0.15 percent, to 17,977.24, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 3.79 points, or 0.18 percent, to 2,087.79 and the Nasdaq Composite.IXIC dropped 10.44 points, or 0.21 percent, to 4,895.79.

The energy sector .SPNY was the largest drag on the S&P 500 with a 1.1 percent decline.

First-quarter earnings from S&P 500 components are expected to have fallen 7.3 percent from the previous year, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S data. Of the 135 companies that have reported, 59 percent reported revenue above analyst expectations, just short of the average of 60 percent going back to 2002.

Xerox (XRX.N) shares tumbled 13.3 percent, their sharpest one-day drop since September 2009, to $9.68 after the printer and copier maker reported lower revenue.

The U.S. Justice Department approved Charter Communications' (CHTR.O) proposed purchase of Time Warner Cable (TWC.N), whose shares jumped 4.1 percent to $209.63. Charter rose 4.6 percent to $207.01.

Tribune Publishing (TPUB.N) soared 53 percent to $11.50 after Gannett (GCI.N) offered to buy the owner of the Los Angeles Times. Gannett was up 6.5 percent at $16.79.

The PHLX housing index .HGX fell 0.7 percent after data showed new U.S. single-family home sales unexpectedly fell in March. The decline was concentrated in the western U.S. region, however, suggesting that the housing market continued to steadily improve.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 2.04-to-1 ratio and on the Nasdaq a 1.71-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 8 new 52-week highs and 1 new low; the Nasdaq recorded 35 new highs and 21 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was just shy of 6 billion shares traded, below the 6.9 billion daily average over the past 20 days.


Article Link to Reuters:

Saudi Prince Unveils Sweeping Plans To End 'Addiction' To Oil

RIYADH | BY SAMIA NAKHOUL, WILLIAM MACLEAN AND MARWA RASHAD

Reuters
April 25, 2016


The powerful young prince overseeing Saudi Arabia's economy unveiled ambitious plans on Monday aimed at ending the kingdom's "addiction" to oil and transforming it into a global investment power.

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the world's top oil exporter expects state oil company Saudi Aramco [SDABO.UL] to be valued at more than $2 trillion ahead of the sale of less than 5 percent of it through an initial public offering (IPO).

He added that the kingdom would raise the capital of its public investment fund to 7 trillion riyals ($2 trillion) from 600 billion riyals ($160 billion).

The plans also included changes that would alter the social structure of the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom by pushing for women to have a bigger economic role and by offering improved status to resident expatriates.

"We will not allow our country ever to be at the mercy of commodity price volatility or external markets," Prince Mohammed said at his first news conference with international journalists, who were invited to a Riyadh palace for the event.

"We have developed a case of oil addiction in Saudi Arabia," he had earlier told al-Arabiya television news channel.

His "Vision 2030" envisaged raising non-oil revenue to 600 billion riyals ($160 billion) by 2020 and 1 trillion riyals ($267 billion) by 2030 from 163.5 billion riyals ($43.6 billion) last year. But the plan gave few details on how this would be implemented, something that has bedevilled previous reforms.

The 31-year-old prince gave assured answers to questions on the plan, and appeared to pitch his comments to appeal across the Saudi social spectrum, and in particular to young people, who face unemployment and an economic downturn despite their country's oil wealth.

Even before oil prices started to plunge in 2014, economists had regarded Riyadh's fiscal policy and economic structure as being unsustainable, but reduced income from energy sales has made reform more urgent.

The plan appeared to lift sentiment on the Saudi stock market .TASI, where shares jumped by 2.5 percent in the heaviest trading for eight months, but it fell short of convincing skeptics that the kingdom can prosper in an era of cheap oil.

At the center of the plan is the restructuring of its Public Investment Fund (PIF), which Prince Mohammed said would become a hub for Saudi investment abroad, partly by raising money through selling shares in Aramco.

Asked where Riyadh would find the funds for a $2 trillion dollar fund after recent borrowing, he said it would come from transferring the ownership of Aramco to the PIF.

"We are speaking about more than $2 trillion. We expect the valuation to be more than $2 trillion. In addition to that there are other assets that will be added to the fund, and part of it is already added.

He said it could "turn into a global investment fund with a size of up to $3 trillion dollars".

OPENING ARAMCO ACCOUNTS


The partial privatization of Aramco was also central to the plans, and Prince Mohammed said it would be transformed into an energy company that he expected to be valued at $2 trillion to $3 trillion, and that less than 5 percent of it would be listed on the stock market.

So big is the state oil company because of its rights to the kingdom's crude reserves, that selling even 1 percent of its value would create the biggest initial public offering (IPO) on earth, he said.

He said other Aramco subsidiary companies would also be listed along with other publicly held companies, and added that one major benefit of privatization was that it would increase transparency and help limit corruption.

"People used to be unhappy that files and data of Aramco are undeclared, unclear and not transparent. Today they will be transparent. If Aramco gets IPO-ed that means it has to announce its statements of accounts," he said.

Since the prince was appointed to oversee Saudi long-term planning through the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, Riyadh's focus on reform has grown far more urgent and far more acute.

Prince Mohammed has enjoyed a dizzyingly rapid rise since his father became king 15 months ago, from being little known outside the ruling Al Saud family to become the driving force of Saudi plans to prepare for a future after oil.

In his rare press conference, he presented himself as a modernizing leader who seeks to shake Saudi Arabia out of its economic slumber and its reputation for opacity and rigid bureaucracy, showing an interest in topics including education, the public role of women, and football.

Saudi Arabia would prepare a new education curriculum, Prince Mohammed said. Despite previous reform attempts, the kingdom's schools have long been seen as focused on religious teachings rather than preparing students for a role in a modern economy.

Under the plans, Saudi Arabia would produce or assemble half of its defense equipment internally in order to create job opportunities, he said, and Riyadh would make foreign investment easier.

The government ran a deficit of 367 billion riyals ($98 billion) or 15 per cent of gross domestic product in 2015, officials said, and this year's budget plan aimed to cut that to 326 billion riyals ($87 billion).

His economic team has already announced efforts to curb wasteful government spending, to diversify revenue streams by introducing sales tax and privatizing state assets, and to make reforms in the education sector.

Such was the speculation among Saudis over the details of the plan that hashtags associated with it were the top two trending on Twitter on Monday in the country with the highest rate of social media use in the Middle East.

But ambitious targets, such as raising the private sector share in the economy to 60 percent from 40 percent, reducing unemployment to 7.6 percent from 11 percent and growing non-oil income to 1 trillion riyals ($267 billion) from 163 billion riyals ($44 billion) were not explained further.

PLANS


Some Saudis said they had hoped for more detail on crucial issues such as education reform. There were no further details of plans to increase revenue from tax or of any changes to the political structure of the absolute monarchy.

"For me as a Saudi, I am concerned by the education transformation plan," said a Saudi entrepreneur. "If it is not at the top of the list, why not?"

However, the plan also envisaged increasing women's participation in the workforce, something that has already grown quickly over the past five years, to 30 percent from 22 percent.

But he also said he did not believe Saudi society was ready to end its ban on women driving.

A green card system would also be launched within five years to enable expatriate Arabs and Muslims to live and work long-term in the country, Prince Mohammed said, in a major shift for the insular kingdom.

But the focus was on economic restructuring to help reduce oil dependence.

"I think by 2020, if oil stops we can survive," Prince Mohammed said. "We need it, we need it, but I think in 2020 we can live without oil."

Appealing to Saudi youth, he ended his news conference by promising them a new Saudi Arabia.

"The vision is not a dream, it's a reality that will come true," he said.

($1 = 3.7489 riyals)


Article Link to Reuters:

Operation Wetback Revisited

The horrifying story of the program Donald Trump wants to emulate.


By Jeet Heer
The New Republic
April 25, 2016


Every four years in the United States, a common refrain is heard: “If candidate X wins the White House, I’m moving to Canada.” In 2000, facing the prospect of a President George W. Bush, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam memorably vowed, “I’m moving to a different country if little Damien II is elected.” Vedder didn’t keep his word, but Pierre Salinger, former press secretary to John F. Kennedy, did, expatriating himself to France, where he died in 2004.

Most people are more like Vedder than Salinger—quick to make idle threats of relocation but slow to act on them. According to an Ipsos poll conducted in March, 19 percent of Americans would consider moving to Canada if Donald Trump is elected (a slightly smaller number, 15 percent, said they were pondering emigration if Hillary Clinton prevails). The truth is, though, even the most upsetting election result will never be enough to inspire a substantial number of Americans to pull up their stakes and plant them in a foreign land. And despite his gobsmacking success in the Republican primaries, few liberals still take Trump’s policy proposals—or his prospects for winning—seriously enough to be house hunting in Toronto or Winnipeg.

But if there is one thing Trump is dead serious about, it’s mass deportation. If he is elected president, our emigration problem will not involve well-to-do liberals leaving voluntarily, but millions of undocumented Americans being forcibly expelled. Trump has offered an actual plan for dealing with undocumented immigrants—broad in outline, clear in intent. He’s been unwavering on what he intends to do: Deport the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants in America, construct a wall along the Mexican border, and block remittance payments sent by undocumented immigrants back to Mexico in order to force the Mexican government to pay for that wall. And he has cited a genuinely scary historical precedent. On multiple occasions, Trump has praised President Dwight Eisenhower’s mass deportation effort—although he’s been careful not to mention its name, which was based on a slur used to refer to Mexican migrants who would swim the Rio Grande to cross over into Texas: Operation Wetback.

“Let me just tell you that Dwight Eisenhower—a good president, great president,” Trump said in a November GOP debate. “People liked him. ‘I like Ike.’ ... Moved a million and a half illegal immigrants out of this country, moved them just beyond the border: They came back. Moved them again, beyond the border: They came back. ... Moved them way south. They never came back.”

It won’t surprise any Trump-watcher that he got the details of Operation Wetback wrong. Far from a success on any score, it was a blot on America’s reputation, a program that turned immigration control into a refugee crisis. Operation Wetback is all too well-known to Hispanics, a crucial and cautionary part of their history in the United States. But it’s long been largely, and conveniently, forgotten by the rest of American society. That makes the episode well worth revisiting, given that the leading Republican contender for president is vowing to replicate it—only on a much vaster scale.

The roots of Operation Wetback can be traced to the birth of large-scale farming in the Southwest. Prior to the 1920s, agriculture in the United States centered on family farms, with the work done by sharecroppers who lived nearby. But in that decade, a new type of farm emerged in California, Arizona, and Texas—owned by banks, lawyers, and investors, and worked by a migrant class that moved from state to state and across the Mexico-U.S. border. Without this reserve army of cheap labor, large-scale, proto-corporate farming would have been so unprofitable as to be virtually impossible. The migrant workers’ lack of political rights was a key part of the system, since it kept labor organizing to a minimum.

In 1942, the Mexican and American governments tried to bring order to this exploitive system by agreeing to the Bracero Program (formally known as the Migrant Labor Agreement), which permitted vetted contract laborers (mainly screened for health problems) to be legal guest workers for a fixed term, usually a few months at a time. Braceros were promised fair treatment in wages and boarding, but enforcement was lax and employer abuse was widespread.

The Bracero Program was meant to be an alternative to undocumented immigration, but ended up providing a cover for it. Though there were between 200,000 and 450,000 braceros per year in the 1950s, farmers wanted more laborers—and the existence of a large number of braceros created communities where undocumented workers could also find work. And as large farms employed braceros, smaller farmers often turned to the undocumented to stay competitive. If braceros were shadow workers with nebulous rights, the hundreds of thousands of undocumented workers who came in the wake of the program existed as shadows of shadows.

Operation Wetback, initiated in 1954 and overseen by President Eisenhower’s military pal, retired Major General Joseph M. Swing, had an ostensibly humanitarian rationale; social groups like churches and labor unions had been raising alarms about the exploitation of immigrant labor. But the most influential push came from farming interests who had created the problem. For them, it was a way to shut down proposed laws that would penalize them for hiring undocumented workers.

Cold war paranoia also fueled Operation Wetback. In 1954, Teamster Magazine complained that “more than 100 Communists a day are coming across the sparsely patrolled border.” Eisenhower’s attorney general, Herbert Brownell Jr., tried to shoot those rumors down, noting that while it was theoretically possible there might have been subversives crossing the border, there was absolutely “no evidence” of it. A similar lack of evidence has not, of course, stopped Trump from articulating the twenty-first-century equivalent of that conspiracy theory, peddling rumors of terrorists crossing the Southern border. “Tens of thousands,” he wildly claimed in December, bearing “cell phones with isis flags on them.”

The model for Trump’s immigration “solution” was a humanitarian catastrophe. Operation Wetback led to a drastic militarization of the border, with the Immigration and Naturalization Service using jeeps and planes to swoop up migrants. Over one million people were reportedly sent back to Mexico in 1954, and a further 242,000 the following year. The methods of removal were cruel: More than a quarter of the migrants were taken in cargo ships from Port Isabel, Texas, to Veracruz, Mexico—a form of transportation that a congressional investigation would later compare to an “eighteenth-century slave ship” and a “penal hell ship.” Others were simply dumped deep in the interior—or, in Trump’s words, “way south.”

One labor official told historian Mae N. Ngai about a horrific but hardly unique incident, in which “some 88 braceros died of sunstroke as a result of a roundup that had taken place in 112-degree heat, and … more would have died had Red Cross not intervened.” According to the same labor official, “Literally hundreds of thousands of braceros were roaming about the streets” of Mexicali, a border town just opposite Calexico. And because the category of “wetback” was not a clear legal one but rather a racial slur, it was easy for it to extend far beyond the parameters of the undocumented; an unknown number of American citizens who didn’t have proper documents were swept up.

By citing Operation Wetback as a model, Trump has given us a chilling foretaste of what he means to do. Just as in the Eisenhower era, he would give a free pass to the business leaders who employ undocumented workers (a wise move, in a purely self-serving sense, since Trump himself falls into that camp). The brunt of the policy would fall on the most vulnerable, and the effect would be to degrade an entire ethnic group. While Trump hasn’t deigned to say how he’d go about rounding up and removing millions of people, his version of Eisenhower’s program would undoubtedly cause massive collateral damage. The undocumented are woven deeply into the fabric of existing American society. Going after them would tear apart families and whole communities.

Trump may cut a ridiculous figure, but we can’t afford to shrug off his promise to revive Operation Wetback. It’s his signature issue, after all, the one that catapulted him into front-runner status in the GOP primary—and the one that will get much of the credit (and blame) if he manages to win the White House. As outlandish as the idea of deporting 11 million people sounds, as president, Trump could work within existing law to accomplish much of the goal through executive action. Beyond that, a newly elected Trump would have a mandate to push Congress for draconian immigration laws.

Under President Trump, we could fully expect to relive one of the most shameful episodes in American history. Which is no reason to be thinking of packing up and leaving the country—but plenty of incentive for any fair-minded American to stay and fight.


Article Link to the New Republic:

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Charles Koch on the GOP convention: 'Why go?'

By Rebecca Savransky
The Hill
April 25, 2016


Billionaire businessman and campaign funding powerhouse Charles Koch said he and his conservative network will skip the Republican convention in July, noting he's "not interested in politics."

"Why go?" Koch asked, according to ABC News.

"We're not interested in politics. We're interested in moving us towards a culture and policies that will enable people to improve lives."

Koch also said Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is "better on the issues," but rejected the idea that the Speaker could emerge as the nominee out of a contested convention.

"I don't see how he could win," Koch said.

"If he did, I mean, that would be create the impression this whole thing is rigged ... that's the opposite of the direction we want to go."

Koch also said party lines don't determine the candidates he supports.

“We're not for somebody because they're Republican or against them because they are Democrat,” Koch said.

“If the Democrats will do a better job, we would support them. But we're not going to get in any campaign where we believe that we can’t make a difference."

Koch said in an interview that it is "possible" Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton would make a better president than putting a Republican back in the White House.



Article Link to The Hill:

$40 Oil and the Twilight of ‘Scarcity Ideology’

By Robert Bryce 
The National Review
April 25, 2016


Scarcity ideology pervades modern environmentalism. Indeed, the environmental movement has long relied on the idea that we are running out of, well, everything.

We are running out of food — that claim goes back to 1798, when Thomas Malthus argued that starvation for many people was inevitable because farmers wouldn’t be able to keep up with population growth. In 1968, Paul Ehrlich published The Population Bomb, in which he grimly declared that “the battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.” Ehrlich’s book was commissioned and published by the Sierra Club. Two million copies were sold. Never mind that today we are feeding twice as many people as we were when Erhlich made his dire prediction and that we are doing so on about the same amount of farmland.

We’ve also heard claims about impending shortages of everything from water to rare earth elements. But no commodity has been the source of more scarcity claims than oil.

And that has led Roger Stern, an energy economist at the University of Tulsa, to coin the term “scarcity ideology.” Stern recently published a must-read essay, “Oil Scarcity Ideology in US Foreign Policy, 1908–1997,” that shows just how deeply the concept of scarcity has polluted American energy policy and foreign policy. Stern’s paper, along with a new book, The Price of Oil, by Roberto Aguilera, a research fellow at Curtin University in Australia, and Marian Radetzki, an economics professor at Luleå University of Technology in Sweden, put the lie to the entire concept of peak oil and petroleum shortages.

Before I delve into those publications, recall that last week, just five days before scads of Greens gathered to celebrate Earth Day, some of the world’s biggest oil-producing countries met in Doha, Qatar, in the hopes of reducing oil production to relieve a worldwide surplus that has sent prices down by about 60 percent over the past two years or so. But no deal was reached. In fact, right after the meeting, both Russia and Saudi Arabia threatened to further increase their output, prompting Venezuelan oil minister Eulogio Del Pino to say that without a multi-nation deal to cut production, “we could see a steep fall in oil prices in the next few weeks.” The Venezuelan predicted that prices, now at about $44 per barrel, could go below $30, owing to oversupply.

None of this should be a surprise. There’s never been a global shortage of oil. In fact, hard as it may be to believe, the recurring problem in the oil market has been not scarcity but surplus.

The most important interventions — and attempts at interventions — in the oil market (the failed meeting in Doha is the latest example) have aimed at limiting oil production to help stabilize prices. In 1930, Dad Joiner, by drilling a rank wildcat well in Rusk County, discovered the super-giant East Texas Field. Within months, the world was flooded with oil and prices crashed, going from $1.30 per barrel to 13 cents. After a few years of political and legal wrangling, the Railroad Commission of Texas was given the authority to limit production in Texas oil fields. It did so by setting “allowables” — that is, the amount of oil that producers were able to produce and sell in a given month. By limiting production from one of the world’s most prolific oil provinces, the Railroad Commission helped stabilize prices. In 1973, OPEC effectively succeeded the Railroad Commission, and it did so by directly copying the Commission’s model of allowables.

But on Thanksgiving Day 2014, OPEC’s model officially went kaput. The wannabe cartel recognized that it couldn’t control the flood of shale oil coming out of the United States. (Between 2009 and 2015, U.S. oil production soared by about 4 million barrels per day. That’s roughly equal to the combined oil output of four members of OPEC: Ecuador, Indonesia, Libya, and Qatar.) Seeing this surge in production, Saudi Arabia, which has long dominated OPEC, responded by opening its taps, hoping that a price crash would force shale producers in the U.S. to reduce their drilling and therefore reduce supply.

Despite this continuing problem of oil oversupply, policymakers and environmental activists stubbornly cling to the notion that oil is scarce. They have done so for decades. A few examples:

-- In 1914, a federal agency, the Bureau of Mines, predicted that world oil supplies would be depleted within ten years.

-- In 1939, the Interior Department predicted that global oil supplies would be fully depleted in 13 years.

-- In 1946, the U.S. State Department predicted that America would be facing an oil shortage in 20 years.

-- In 1951, the Interior Department revised its earlier prediction and said that the oil on the planet would be depleted within another 13 years.

-- In 1972, the Club of Rome predicted that the world would be out of oil by 1992 and out of natural gas by 1993.

-- In 1977, in a televised speech, President Jimmy Carter warned that “unless profound changes are made to lower oil consumption, we now believe that early in the 1980s the world will be demanding more oil than it can produce.”

Scarcity ideology was convenient for many interest groups. As Stern notes:

"By providing an alarming worldview, scarcity ideology both created and met demand for apocalyptic ideas. Scarcity ideology producers thrived in this trade. Within government, scarcity ideology could be bartered for influence and budgets; within academia for recognition, grants and advancement."


The result of scarcity ideology has been a decades-long orgy of rent-seeking. For instance, Mark Jacobson, an engineering professor at Stanford University, has authored a document in which he claims that the U.S. economy can be run on nothing more than solar and wind energy. In 2014, during a debate at the University of Iowa, he declared that the U.S. had to switch to renewables because we were running out of hydrocarbons.

The most obvious and noxious example of scarcity ideology is the corn-ethanol scam, one of the longest-running robberies of American taxpayers in this country’s history. As I showed in a report for the Manhattan Institute last year, thanks to the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires retailers to mix motor fuel moonshine into our gasoline, American drivers are now paying about $10 billion more per year than they would be if they were buying conventional gasoline alone. And that robbery has been made possible because Big Corn has sustained a decades-long campaign about the supposed evils of foreign oil.

Here’s Stern again:

"Peak oil forecasts . . . all of which proved wrong, repeatedly led policymakers to assume that rival powers sought to seize dwindling supplies or that disaffected exporter-states would decline to sell. Perennial expectation of impending scarcity elevated the perceived importance of foreign oil, especially from the Middle East."

That’s a key line: “that disaffected exporter-states would decline to sell.” The meeting at Doha earlier this month proved, yet again, that the exporter states don’t have a choice. They have to sell their oil into the global market. If they don’t, they have no revenue. Without revenue, the rulers of the petrostates cannot stay in power for very long. Or, for that matter, even keep their people supplied with diapers. An acquaintance told me recently that his mother-in-law often waited in line for four hours before being able to buy nappies in Caracas. Such is the progress that theBolivarian Revolution and Nicolás Maduro are having in Venezuela.

So what does all this mean for future Earth Days? In the view of Aguilera and Radetzki, whose book was published last October, the past is merely prologue. They predict that, thanks to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, the technologies that fostered the shale revolution, oil will remain abundant for decades to come. In addition to providing an excellent review of the history of the global oil market, Aguilera and Radetzki point out that other countries can emulate what the United States has done with its shale deposits. (Shale is the most abundant form of sedimentary rock on the planet.) But oil producers don’t have to target shale. Instead, they can now use horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to increase production from conventional oil reservoirs in Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Mexico, and many other non-OPEC countries.

Those two technologies, they predict, “will have an overwhelming impact on global oil supply.” So much so that, the two authors expect global oil production could rise by nearly 20 million barrels per day by 2035. They further expect that moderate oil prices — they predict $40 oil in 2035 — will mean that “efforts to develop renewables for the purpose of climate stabilization will become more costly [and] require greater subsidies.” That’s a debatable claim. The cost of solar panels, for instance, has been falling for decades, regardless of price gyrations in the oil market. Aguilera and Radetzki are undoubtedly right, however, when it comes to the mandates and subsidies provided to biofuels, which, in fact, have a negative impact on the climate. The same is true for the fat subsidy ($7,500 per vehicle) given to buyers of Teslas and other electric vehicles. (Read my recent article on this welfare program for the Benz and Beemer crowd.)

Of course, Aguilera and Radetzki could be proven wrong about oil prices. But what a marvelous outlook they provide. They expect that oil-importing countries will have the advantage in the years ahead, and they predict that lower oil prices will, “on balance, provide a great advantage to the global economy.”

Furthermore, they point out that the need for continuing military interventions in the Middle East has been dramatically reduced. Indeed, they write that foreign military forays in the region have not been productive in energy-policy terms. Instead, they say, those interventions have “contributed to destabilized output and exports.”

The punchline here is obvious: The more energy we find, the more energy we find. That means we can make energy cheaper and, in doing so, provide every type of power we desire, from motive power and cooking to lighting and computing. Despite decades of handwringing about energy shortages, the U.S. and the rest of the world are now looking at a world of hydrocarbon-energy abundance that will last for decades. The challenge now, given that both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have declared plans to drastically limit, or even ban, hydraulic fracturing, is to ensure that this vibrant new era of energy abundance isn’t turned into an era of energy scarcity by government fiat.


Article Link to the National Review:

Monday, April 25, Morning Pre-Wall Street News and Notes...

US traders mull Saudi Arabia, earnings and Fed


CNBC
April 25, 2016


U.S. stock index futures declined on Monday, ahead of the busiest week of first-quarter earnings season.

Monday will be comparatively quiet, with KKR and Xerox reporting quarterly earnings early on. Both companies will host conference calls at 10 a.m. ET.

The major data due on Monday are new home sales for March.

European and Asian stock indexes traded lower on Monday as crude oil prices fell. Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of OPEC, is expected to announce a plan later on Monday to diversify its economy away from oil production.

The Federal Reserve will hold a policy meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday. It is unlikely to raise interest rates but may leave the door open for a rise at its next meeting in June.

"In total, we expect the Fed to hike rates three times this year, to a range of 1.00 percent to 1.25 percent at year-end, as officials switch their focus from downside global risks to rising core inflation," economist Paul Ashworth said in a note from Capital Economics on Friday.

U.S. President Barack Obama is in Germany on Monday to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European leaders.

Major U.S. indexes ended mixed on Friday, with tech stocks leading declines after earnings in the sector disappointed. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 0.1 percent, the S&P 500 was flat and the Nasdaq composite was down 0.8 percent.

Shares of major tech companies, including Microsoft and Google's parent, Alphabet, fell last week by more than 5 percent after earnings missed forecasts.


Article Link to CNBC:

US traders mull Saudi Arabia, earnings and Fed

The Second Cold War Is Just Getting Started

Wait till Putin gets going on the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution.


By Jed Babbin
The American Spectator
April 25, 2016


Since one tribe of cavemen began to observe another, it’s been the norm for one tribe or nation to covertly gather information on another. We live in the age of spy satellites and the interception of telephone, email and social media conversations. But these are (unless Hillary Clinton has access to them) kept secret both from our adversaries and the public.

It’s very rare for a new window on our adversaries to open to the public. For years, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) has been giving us a view into the otherwise unavailable, untranslated media of the Arab world and Iran. Its translations of newspaper articles, speeches by nations’ leaders — and in the case of many Islamic nations, their terrorist proxies — has been an enormous gift to journalists who take the trouble to avail themselves of them.

Thanks to MEMRI, we have been able to read and research materials that told us, for example, that while Yassir Arafat was preaching peace to the United Nations, he was also, at home, shouting in Arabic that Arabs would go to Jerusalem as “martyrs by the millions.” We knew that Iran’s ayatollahs demanding that crowds chant “death to America” wasn’t like Americans singing “take me out to the ballgame,” it was a religious statement demanded of their people. The vast majority of the source material of my book In the Words of Our Enemies came from MEMRI.

Now, our friends at MEMRI have opened another window, this time on Vladimir Putin’s Russia through MEMRI’s “Russian Media Studies Project.” Like MEMRI’s studies of Middle Eastern media, MEMRI-Russia provides a lot more than propaganda published at home to the Russian people. It gives considerable insight into what Russian leaders are arguing to each other and to the Russian oligarchy.

Last week Alexander Grushko, Russia’s emissary to NATO, accused us of trying to intimidate Russia. (For those who forget quickly, Russian fighters recklessly flew over the USS Donald Cook on two successive days two weeks ago and one did a barrel roll around a U.S. RC-135 spy aircraft that same week. All of those maneuvers were threatening U.S. forces on and over international waters.)

Grushko said, “This is about attempts to exercise military pressure on Russia. We will take all necessary measures, precautions, to compensate for these attempts to use military force.”

Grushko’s remarks are made at a time that Russian aircraft are flying close off our west coast; British fighters are being scrambled frequently to intercept Russian combat aircraft closing on the UK; Russian forces remain in Syria, defending the Assad regime, and in Ukraine attempting to slowly conquer that nation. As I wrote last week, Russian forces there have deployed signal jammers to prevent communication between free Ukraine forces.

Which brings us to a report by MEMRI-Russia entitled “Understanding Russian Political Ideology and Vision.” It is based on a long article by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Russia in Global Affairsjournal.

As he must, Lavrov writes from Putin’s perspective which was summarized neatly by the Russian president in 2005 when he deplored the collapse of the Soviet Union, saying it was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century.

Lavrov writes with an intensity of Russian thought that reminds us of the thinking of Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany during the years preceding World War 1. Then, the Kaiser believed Germany was being “encircled” by Britain and its allies, denying his nation its proper place in the world. Wilhelm believed, as Lavrov (and Putin) evidently do now, that their nation is of primary importance to Europe.

Lavrov’s perspective is much the same. He writes that since the Napoleonic Wars, European powers — especially France — have been “obsessed” with their desire to “marginalize Russia in European affairs.” He says that obsession is now translated to NATO, condemning NATO’s expansion to nations such as Estonia, which not only borders the Baltic Sea but Russia as well.

Lavrov writes of “Eurasia,” stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok on the Sea of Japan, in which Russia is literally and geopolitically, central. Evoking the coming hundredth anniversary of the Russian Revolution in 2017, Lavrov writes:

"It seems that, in the context of the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, it is important for us to understand the continuity of Russian history. This should include all of its eras without exception, and [stress] the importance of synthesis of all Russia’s positive traditions and historical experience, and should serve as a basis for dynamic advances and for upholding our country’s rightful role as a leading center of the modern world, and as a provider of the values of sustainable development, security and stability."


That could have been written by Kaiser Wilhelm in 1913. If anyone doubts we are in Cold War 2, that one paragraph should wipe away his disbelief. If Russia were to be the center of the modern world, mandating the values Lavrov cites — as he and Putin believe — we’d again have Russian satellites enduring what Eastern Europe did under Soviet rule.

Cold War 2 is being fought in many ways in which President Obama is complicit. Lavrov gushes praise for Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, the “elimination of Syrian chemical weapons” (a fiction created by Russia and Syria), and the “development of basic parameters of the climate change agreement,” which will burden our economy enormously and needlessly and which Russia (a signatory) will of course ignore.

All of the events praised by Lavrov will either threaten our security or burden our economy needlessly. All are praised by Obama as well as Lavrov.

Donald Trump’s bromance with Vladimir Putin could easily lead us to another “reset” with Russia, like the one Hillary Clinton announced in 2009. As Lavrov said last year, it was an invention of Clinton and the Obama administration, meaning it had no substance. A Trump version would fail even more spectacularly than Hillary’s, but he would take years to face that fact.

Clinton admitted in her tiresome memoir-travelogue Hard Choices that she wished the reset had not failed, but she’s certain to try another under her expert diplomatic guidance. It’s worth remembering that, as her memoir recounts, in her meeting with Vladimir Putin he only paid attention to her when she praised his efforts to preserve the Siberian tiger from extinction.

Both Clinton and Trump will attempt, unsuccessfully, to deal with Putin’s Russia for many reasons, not the least of which is that they lack ideological commitment to our system of values and government. Neither Putin nor Lavrov lacks that sort of ideological foundation. We are fortunate that Bernie Sanders — who honeymooned in the Soviet Union — will never be president.

Both Ted Cruz, for all his faults, and John Kasich, whose many faults are different from Cruz’s, would be more trustworthy because they might — just might — be more susceptible of conservative advice about how to fight Cold War 2.

Next year, we will have to wait and see how Russia celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution that created the Soviet Union. The only restraint on Russia is supposed to be its weak fossil-fuel based economy. If the price of oil goes up, that restraint will be removed. As interesting and important as 2016 is to us, next year will be to Putin’s Russia.


Article Link to the American Spectator:

Austrian far-right stuns Europe in presidential first round

Country to have president from outside two main parties for first time since 1945.


Politico EU
April 25, 2016


Austria’s anti-immigrant Freedom Party won big in the first round of presidential elections Sunday, as concerns over the refugee crisis and the economy prompted voters to abandon the ruling establishment in droves.

With all districts counted, Norbert Hofer of the far-right FPÖ claimed 35.3 percent of the vote, while candidates from the two governing parties — the Social Democrats (SPÖ) and center-right coalition partners the People’s Party (ÖVP) — failed to make the run-off. In the last election six years ago, the two mainstream forces together garnered 80 percent of the vote, compared to just over 20 percent Sunday.

Though the presidency is a largely ceremonial office, the election result is being described as a political “earthquake” in Vienna. It means that Austria’s next president will come from neither the Social Democrats nor the People’s Party for the first time since 1945. Those parties currently rule the country in a grand coalition and have dominated its politics for decades. As elsewhere in Europe, that old political order appears to be crumbling.

Austria “has entered a new phase in its history,” wrote Andreas Koller of the Salzburger Nachrichten, a daily. “The consequences of Sunday’s election are nowhere close to becoming clear.”

Hofer, previously a little known party functionary, will face off against Greens candidate Alexander van der Bellen, projected to have won 21.3 percent Sunday, in a run-off scheduled for May 22. All votes, bar a small number of absentee ballots, have now been counted.

In the polls leading up to election day, Van der Bellen was consistently in the lead

While the result has shocked many in Austria, where it is viewed as a protest vote, it comes amid deep frustration with the ruling class.

Only 12 percent of Austrians think the country is moving in the right direction with 52 percent saying it isn’t, according to a recent poll.

Nonetheless, the result marks a major victory for the Freedom Party, which rose to prominence, some would say infamy, in the 1990s under its now-deceased former leader, Jörg Haider.

Recent polls suggest the FPÖ would easily win parliamentary elections if they were held today, with more than 30 percent of the vote.

The party has capitalized on fears about what the influx of refugees will mean for the country. Austria has taken in more refugees per capita than Germany since the crisis began. In that regard, the election result will serve as a reminder to other EU countries of the political cost of embracing refugees.

Hofer’s success also underscores the power of an anti-EU message at a time when Europe remains deeply divided over how to confront a host of challenges, from widespread economic stagnation to Greece to the refugee crisis.

Hofer caricatures the EU as a “debt and liability union,” playing on stereotypes in Austria that Vienna simply “takes orders” from Brussels. Austria, which like Germany pays more into the EU budget than it receives, has become increasingly skeptical of its EU membership. Only 26 percent of Austrians trust the EU, according to the most recent Eurobarometer poll.

“Hofer’s first-round win shows that a high percentage of Austria’s population has apreference for the kind of authoritarian politics that has emerged in Hungary and Poland in recent years: a weakening of parliament, the undermining of the balance of powers, opposition to Brussels directives and limits to press freedom,” Gerfried Sperl, a prominent Austrian newspaperman, wrote in a commentary for the daily Der Standard.

Though much of Austria’s political and media establishment tried to spin the result as a protest against the ruling elites, it will reawaken memories abroad of the country’s long flirtation with right-wing politics. In the 1980s, the Austrians elected former U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim to the presidency, even as he failed to address questions about his activities as a Wehrmacht officer in World War II. The U.S. placed Waldheim on a so-called watchlist, barring him from entering the country.

Austria again attracted unwanted international attention in the 1990s during Haider’s meteoric rise. A charismatic politician, Haider took his right-wing, populist message from his base in a poor southern province to the national stage. In 2000, the Freedom Party joined a coalition with the People’s Party, breaking a taboo against populist parties in the EU and earning Austria international censure.

Prior to his candidacy, Hofer was all but unknown outside his party. An engineer by training, he earned a reputation within the Freedom Party as its “chief ideologue,” the primary author of its platform. Hofer, who is partially paralyzed following a paragliding accident, has also drawn public notice as an activist for the handicapped.

Austria’s presidents are normally gray-haired stalwarts from the ranks of the established parties. The power behind Hofer, who emerged as a candidate at the end of January, is Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache.

Strache, who refocused the party on its core anti-foreigner message in the post-Haider era, currently leads the polls. Parliamentary elections are not scheduled until 2018, but some analysts believe that the growing public frustration with the government could trigger its collapse before then. In addition to the backlash against the government’s course on refugees, unemployment in Austria has been rising, further denting the public’s confidence in the ruling parties.

The question now is whether the established parties will rally behind Van der Bellen.

An economics professor turned politician, Van der Bellen, 72, was the longtime leader of Austria’s Greens. A grandfatherly figure who appeals to both younger liberal voters and older conservatives, he is still viewed as a consensus candidate, despite his support for liberal asylum policies.

Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann, a Social Democrat, said Sunday that he would support the Green after his own candidate garnered only 10.9 percent.

It’s unclear whether the People’s Party, whose candidate won 11.1 percent of the vote, will follow suit in embracing Van der Bellen. Given its past cooperation with the Freedom Party, some observers in Austria believe the People’s Party is again prepared to share power with the populists, even as a junior partner.


Article Link to Politico EU:

Sanders Caught In Political Trap

The Vermont senator is too strong to concede the Democratic race, but too weak to actually win.


By Gabriel Debenedetti
Politico
April 25, 2016


Looking at the tough political layout of the five states voting Tuesday, Bernie Sanders’ advisers are expecting him to win the smallest of them (Rhode Island) and hope he can surprise Hillary Clinton in the biggest (Pennsylvania).

But even under that best-case scenario, Sanders will face a familiar problem. His delegate deficit is likely to grow, and the campaign will continue to find itself caught in a unique bind that the Vermont senator and his top aides have chewed over countless times in meetings and conversations in Burlington, Vermont, and Washington, D.C. over the past week: Sanders is too strong to concede, but too weak to win.

His online money machine continues to pump along. He still draws thousands to his jam-packed rallies. There’s even the prospect of a series of likely May wins peeking over the horizon.

Yet the path to the Democratic nomination has all but vanished after his 16-point loss in New York last week. Now, with national polls showing him roughly even with the former secretary of state and with $17 million in his pocket as of the beginning of April, Sanders is faced with a series of tricky questions about his place in the race over the next two months — the first of which is how, exactly, to articulate his remaining route to victory.

He hasn’t yet figured out how to answer them.

“[Sanders] is now the rule, not the exception,” said Democratic strategist Joe Trippi, the campaign manager for Howard Dean’s insurgent 2004 campaign – which ended in February of that year. “We’ve just entered the stage now with either super PACs or online fundraising that means the second- or third-place candidate is likely to always have enough money and grassroots support to go to the end. Normally you’d be dead the day after South Carolina [which Sanders lost by 48 points]. He would’ve been under the old funding model."

“The decision they’ve got to make: What is it that they want to do here?” Trippi added. "You can fight all the way to the convention, or you can do what she did when it became obvious [that Clinton would lose in 2008]: Pull back a little and basically be on the floor, and make the motion to have the convention unanimously vote for Obama."

For the moment, the Sanders campaign has hesitated to bite on either option, even wavering on how much to attack Clinton, opting instead to see how Tuesday’s results play out.

Choosing to back off too soon would anger or disappoint Sanders' millions of loyal supporters, his team worries. But deciding to continue fighting could risk damaging the likely Democratic nominee ahead of the general election, though that’s not a concern that weighs heavily on their thinking.

After taking some time to step back and breathe after Sanders’ humbling loss last week — in the description of one senior aide — the senator’s brain trust resumed work, instructed by the candidate to keep assuming that he would continue competing with Clinton in some form or another through the Washington, D.C. primary on June 14, the final scheduled contest.

Even without guidance as to whether Sanders intends to continue trying to take down Clinton or turn into a message candidate at some point, the calculus remains the same, say his senior campaign strategists: as long as Sanders remains mathematically in the race, and as long as he has the money to fund it, there is no reason to exit — forget the questions about Democratic unity.

Thus far, that has meant aides are resuming organizing and buying ads in May and June states like Indiana and California, and continuing preliminary logistical conversations and planning meetings for the July national convention in Philadelphia.

Absent direct marching orders to either intensify or draw back the campaign, Sanders’ strategists are taking their cues from the candidate, who publicly insists in interviews, fundraising emails, and speeches that Clinton’s lead of over 200 pledged delegates is surmountable. And while he maintains that he’s still in the race to win, he has swung between maintaining his standard pre-New York barbs over Clinton's Wall Street speaking fees, her super PACs, and her Iraq War vote in some campaign speeches to hardly including any mention of her at all in others — sometimes on the same day.

In interviews, Sanders has hesitated to sketch out a specific plan for clawing back Clinton’s delegate lead through the coming states.

“Well, we’re going to have to do — obviously, win big in the number of the primaries and caucuses that yet remain. A poll came out yesterday that has us within striking distance in California, a larger state. I think we can do very well in California,” he told NBC on Saturday, asked to explain his path ahead.

His goalposts have shifted in recent months. When it became clear earlier in April that New York was out of reach, people close to Sanders started suggesting Pennsylvania was the real prize — but even that rhetoric has softened as polls continue to show Clinton holding a lead there.

Sanders’ team thinks he lost ground in Pennsylvania after his wider-than-expected margin of defeat in New York, which it believes got out-sized attention because it was the only state voting last week. And now, while Clinton is set to rally in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, a sign of her camp’s confidence in the state, Sanders is eager to project the image that he’s looking ahead to the states ahead, opting to host an event in West Virginia — where he’s likely to win, but which does not vote until May 10.

That scheduling move belies the postures of many staffers: essentially holding their breath through Tuesday, assuming they’ll get more clarity on the direction forward after Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island have their say. Bad losses across the board, acknowledged one aide, could create yet another damaging round of press coverage of the type that has riled the Sanders camp in recent weeks — such as a Saturday New York Times story that looked at the Clinton camp’s thinking on selecting a running-mate.

“The media narrative is, every time we lose once, ‘it’s all over.’ And that has more bite as it gets later on [in the process],” groused one high-level staffer, who also bristled at recent news stories hinting at dissension in the campaign ranks after senior strategist Tad Devine and campaign manager Jeff Weaver appeared to project separate messages following New York’s vote.

In the meantime, staffers have turned their attention to the states looming ahead, tentatively sketching out a path predicated on Sanders finishing atop national polls and with over 20 states in his pocket by the convention.

Seeing dim prospects in Kentucky’s closed primary, the campaign is now hoping for a stretch of May wins in Indiana, West Virginia, and Oregon, followed by others like Montana in June. That wouldn’t significantly cut into Clinton’s delegate lead, aides acknowledge, but Sanders seems intent on campaigning through California, the biggest delegate target of all, which votes June 7.

Such a performance, they hope, would help Sanders’ ultimate pitch to super-delegates — top aides note that Clinton-backing Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy’s office now says he will cast his super-delegate vote for whichever candidate is leading in pledged delegates at the convention, and they were watching closely when Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet was drowned out by Sanders backers chanting “change your vote” at his state’s convention this month.

Still, after a month of working to convince skeptical Democrats that super-delegates would come around to him, even that effort has gotten less of an airing in the last week as no single high-profile party leader has switched from Clinton to Sanders.

On at least one front, the campaign appears to be pressing forward intently even if the candidate himself has dialed back at times: criticizing Clinton.

She is no longer the prime antagonist in each of Sanders’ campaign speeches, though her name does pop up regularly during his appearances on the campaign trail. On Sunday in Providence, for example, it wasn’t until deep into his speech that Sanders lit into her — but he specifically hit her on her lack of support for a carbon tax, not his usual litany of criticisms.

Yet in the campaign’s public press releases that go nationwide, Clinton remains Public Enemy Number One. Sunday’s speech, for example, was billed as “Sanders Challenges Clinton on Climate Change in Rhode Island."

When NBC asked Sanders on Saturday about his divisions and commonalities with Clinton, he replied, “I think there is a lot that unites us. I think there is a lot that divides us."

The headline of the campaign's press release promoting the interview, however, told a slightly different story. It read: “‘There is a Lot that Divides Us’ He Tells Meet the Press."


Article Link to Politico:

Sanders caught in political trap

The Party of Disenfranchisement?


By Noah Rothman
Commentary
April 25, 2016


Of all the struggles facing the nation’s previously incarcerated convicted felons, restoring their rights to cast a ballot seems the least pressing. The fact that this aspect of reintegration into society can flow from a lawmaker’s pen stroke makes the temptation to pursue such a reform irresistible to the nation’s Democratic officeholders.

Calling it a civil rights issue and the end of a chapter in Virginia’s “long and sad history” of preventing African-Americans from exercising their voting rights, the Old Dominion State’s Governor Terry McAuliffe restored voting rights to hundreds of thousands of violent and nonviolent felons last week, even those who had never applied for restoration to the voter rolls. McAuliffe’s assertion suggests Democratic motives on this issue are as political as they are altruistic. It revealed that this was, in part, an extension of Democratic attempts on the left to cast any and every effort by Republicans to ensure the integrity of the vote as a vaguely racist endeavor designed to disenfranchise African-Americans, as well as to disadvantage Democratic candidates.

Predictably, local Virginia Republicans played to type. “The singular purpose of Terry McAuliffe’s governorship is to elect Hillary Clinton president of the United States,” said Virginia House Speaker William Howell. “This office has always been a steppingstone to a job in Hillary Clinton’s Cabinet.” Old Dominion Republicans have a point. The move came just days after the state General Assembly closed its 2016 session. In this transparent end-run around the legislature, McAuliffe disadvantaged Virginia’s voters by subverting the authority of their elected representatives. Shockingly, you don’t hear protests from the left about this form of disenfranchisement.

Still, Republicans who accuse McAuliffe of seeking to stack the deck for Clinton ahead of November are doing themselves and their party no favors. Virginia was just one of a handful of states that still deny voting rights to formerly convicted felons who had served their time and completed a period of supervised release. From 1996 to 2008, 28 states either restored or eased the process of restoring voting rights to former inmates who served their time. The restoration of voting rights is, in fact, one element of criminal justice reform measures that have attracted the support of a number of conservative lawmakers.

Republicans in Washington like House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senators Mike Lee, Lindsey Graham, John Cornyn, and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley support measures like the truncation of mandatory minimum sentencing to reduce the nation’s prison population. Republicans like Graham, John McCain, and Rand Paul have made it clear they believe it is only right to restore voting rights to criminals who have serviced their debt to society. Though the conservative activist and donor classes are split on the issue of restoring voting rights, some influential right-leaning organizations are foursquare behind it. “We’re big fans of people voting,” said Koch Industries General Counsel and Senior Vice President Mark Holden. “We think it’s important.”

There are Republicans who will say McAuliffe’s measure goes too far, exceeded his authority as governor, or was simply injudicious to pursue in a general election year. Those are perfectly valid criticisms. Republicans are, however, by no means united against the restoration of voting rights to the formerly incarcerated, and to go after McAuliffe’s reform on its merits advances a Democratic effort to cast the GOP as the party of disenfranchisement.

From the purging of voter rolls to ensure an accurate list of registered voters, to opposition to weeks of early and absentee voting, to antipathy toward universal voter registration; a variety of liberal efforts to increase the voting population are viewed unfavorably by Republicans. From a conservative perspective, the modest hurdles before aspiring voters – things like learning how to register and Googling the location of your polling place – are by no means prohibitive. In fact, they are the least a society can do to ensure a reasonably informed electorate. “Voting is the most shallow gesture of citizenship there is,” as National Review’s Kevin Williamson wrote.

It is, however, voter identification laws that represent the equivalent of a new poll tax and the restoration of Jim Crow laws, according to the country’s more hysterical voices on the left (including Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton). The reality of voter ID is less clear-cut than agitators on the left allow.

The majority of statewide voter identification laws were only implemented after 2010, so there are really only two election cycles 2012 and 2014 that can be studied to measure their effects. To avoid an apples-to-oranges comparison between a midterm and presidential election year, they must be taken respectively.

“Fourteen of the 21 states had a voter ID requirement in place, while seven didn’t. If ID laws affected turnout in these states, it didn’t show up in the numbers: The average turnout rate for each group was 51 percent,” wrote former New York City Director of Public Affairs under Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Francis Barry. In some states, like Georgia, African-American turnout in 2014 increased over 2006 and 2010. It is most likely the case that Georgia’s competitive gubernatorial and senatorial races in 2014 drove turnout.

On the presidential level, there is precisely one data point (2012) to measure its effects on minority voter participation. Forbes contributor Neil Assur’s study of census data and voter participation rates in 2008 and 2012 found that early voting restrictions dampen white voter participation more than they do for black or Hispanic voters. More intuitively, and to the extent they can be measured, the depressing effect of voter ID laws on voter participation among African-Americans seems to have been much less than it was for Hispanics – a population that is inflated by an influx of immigrants. “Criminal Restrictions and Voter Registration Restrictions, however, do not seem to have a significant impact on voter turnout,” he noted. As was the case in Georgia, competitive races drive turnout. Stated simply: voters vote when they have a compelling reason to do so.

All this may be beside the point. Progressives who declare the Republican Party’s exertions in the effort to ensure that only eligible voters cast their ballots are appealing to emotions. Republicans who attack McAuliffe’s motives rather than the process by which he secured his latest reform are only helping the left make their case. A Republican Party that elevates as its presidential nominee the candidate of large and militarized deportation forces, Muslim bans, and calls for the execution of five wrongly accused black youths in a full-page newspaper ad will be unable to repair its reputation among minority voters. In that scenario, the decimation the GOP will endure at the hands of minority voters will be entirely deserved. But most of what the left calls “disenfranchisement” cheapens the word. Republicans should not help Democrats in their dishonest effort to cast the GOP as the party of hostility toward minority voters by living down to their worst stereotypes.


Article Link to Commentary:

Argentina’s Triumphant Return to Capital Markets

By Mohamed A. El-Erian
The Bloomberg View
April 25, 2016


Last week, international capital markets enthusiastically granted redemption to Argentina, a serial defaulter on money it has borrowed from external creditors. The scale of this reaction is counter-intuitive and could provide the wrong incentive underpinnings for financial relationships that involve an important element of trust. Yet this kind of forgiveness has occurred regularly -- for good and bad reasons -- and, for the most part, prematurely.

Argentina defaulted in December 2001 and spent almost 15 years in protracted legal conflicts with bond creditors, including a group of particularly hard-nosed “holdouts” that included hedge funds that had purchased the bonds inexpensively on the secondary markets. Despite many court rulings, the two sides could not arrive at an agreement that normalized badly disrupted capital-markets relations.

The situation changed with the arrival of a new team in Argentina led by President Mauricio Macri, who took office in December. Armed with a new court ruling and a preliminary agreement with most of the holdouts -- and without waiting for the full blessing of multilateral institutions such as the International Monetary Fund -- the government tested the waters through a new issue of long-dated bonds. The result was headline-grabbing.

In what can only be described as a food fight among private creditors, about 2,000 orders were placed for the new bonds, resulting in a total notional demand of around $70 billion, a record number for emerging markets. Buoyed by the exuberant market reception, Argentina upsized its offering and made it less attractive for potential buyers by reducing the issuance yield by almost a full percentage point.

The result was a $16.5 billion emerging-markets bond issue and terms that were a lot more favorable to Argentina than the current market pricing for similarly rated debtors. And the markets' immediate reaction to the bonds added to the government's sense of triumph. Their prices went up, further widening the yield gap in favor of a serial defaulter compared with countries that are currently deemed similarly creditworthy, including those that do not have Argentina’s history of repeated broken promises. And for an overall marketplace that has repeatedly been through periods of liquidity strains, including in January and early February, the huge Argentine issue ended up receiving a liquidity bonus rather than the penalty it could attract.

This type of creditor behavior is not without precedent. The history of emerging-market debt contains other cases when creditors rewarded a borrower that had recently experienced an ugly default, sharp confrontations and hadn’t yet worked effectively with multilateral institutions (Russia after its 1998 default and Venezuela more than once). The creditors' relatively easy approval has both good and bad reasons.

Given Marci’s electoral promises and initial policy steps, including the bold liberalization of the foreign-exchange system and the decision to let the currency find its equilibrium level, there are reasons to believe that Argentina’s economic outlook could be different this time. Given that the latest episode of Argentine exclusion from capital markets was a particularly long one, it is easy to see how credit committees could convince themselves that the probability of sustained improvement in the country's creditworthiness and payment behavior is notably higher. And maybe this government could work better with the IMF in formulating and implementing a medium-term reform program.

There are also bad reasons. With the prevailing low and, in some cases, negative yields on government bonds, some investors were dazzled by the yields of 7.5 percent to 8 percent on the new Argentine 10- and 30-year bonds. Indeed, the Argentine book isn't heavily dominated by dedicated emerging-markets investors, but reportedly included significant “cross-over” interest, including investors who seldom venture into these markets. That includes buyers guided by short-term return expectations. They believe that Macri's Argentina has a stretch of safe economic and financial runway ahead of it, and they are comfortable that market liquidity will be available when they judge it is time to exit.

Others are taking an approach that is even more short term, given the extent to which this bond issue was hyped by the investment bankers. Their expectation of profits comes from the “flip” -- that is, selling the security for a gain shortly after they have been allocated their share in this highly over-subscribed event.

There are three conclusions to draw:

1. Argentina is being rewarded as much, it is hoped, for its future good behavior as it is for its recent actions. As a result, any notable setback on policy actions is likely to lead to a significant decline in bond prices.

2. Rather than signaling an improvement in the markets’ underlying liquidity conditions, the huge Argentine issue could worsen future pockets of illiquidity, especially when some if some of the current debt holders begin to behave more like fleeing tourists than resilient resident investors of emerging markets.

3. In a market where short-term behaviors often can diverge from longer-term sustainability, redemption will repeatedly be granted too easily to debtors whose historical record should demand far more discipline on the part of both lender and borrower.



Article Link to the Bloomberg View:

Monday, April 25, Morning Global Market Roundup: Asia stocks, dollar slip as markets await Fed, BOJ meetings

By Lisa Twaronite
Reuters
April 25, 2016


Asian shares and the dollar dropped on Monday as investors took profits from the currency's recent gains ahead of central bank meetings in the United States and Japan this week.

Financial spreadbetters expected mixed openings for European markets, with Britain's FTSE 100 .FTSE seen opening 0.1 percent lower, while both Germany's DAX .GDAXI and France's CAC 40 .FCHI were seen opening 0.1 percent up.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was down 0.4 percent, taking its cue from a mixed day on Wall Street on Friday.

Chinese shares were down, with the blue-chip CSI300 index .CSI300 slipping 0.5 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index .SSEC lost 0.6 percent.

Markets in Australia were closed for the Anzac Day holiday.

Japan's Nikkei stock index .N225 ended down 0.8 percent as the yen pulled off its lows. Investors also locked in gains after the index on Friday soared to an 11-1/2 week high following a report the Bank of Japan will mull another easing step at its two-day policy review that begins on Wednesday.

Japan's central bank is likely to cut its price forecasts and debate whether a strong yen, weak global demand and soft consumption have hurt inflation expectations enough to warrant another blow of stimulus.

"We've had a strong 20 days and now is the point where the index will break out or move sideways in anticipation of further catalysts," said Martin King, co-managing director at Tyton Capital Advisors.

"We are also seeing the yen recapitulate against the U.S. dollar following word of the Bank of Japan's consideration of offering bank loans with negative rates similar to the ECB in the Euro zone," he said.

Bloomberg reported on Friday that the BOJ is considering applying negative rates to its lending program for financial institutions.

But some investors still believe the central bank might opt to hold steady as it assesses the impact of the negative interest rate policy it unveiled on Jan. 29.

A semi-annual report on the country's banking system issued on Friday by the central bank said the policy has caused some disruption in fund flows and will hurt financial institutions' profits for the time being.

Against the yen, the dollar slipped 0.6 percent to 111.11 yen JPY= after it earlier rose as high as 111.90, its loftiest peak since April 1.

"The wide interest rate differential between the U.S. and Japan make it costly to be long yen without momentum," Marc Chandler, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York, said in a note to clients.

"Momentum and trend followers appear heavily represented in the futures market, and they have been caught the wrong way. This may see the tone shift from selling dollar rallies to buy dips," Chandler said.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six rival currencies, fell 0.2 percent to 94.931 .DXY.

The euro added 0.2 percent to $1.1243 EUR=. Last week, the European Central Bank held its policy rates at historic lows, as expected.

The Fed, which lifted its benchmark overnight interest rate in December for the first time in nearly a decade, meets on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Its policymakers are expected to hold interest rates steady, but may tweak their description of the U.S. economic outlook to reflect more benign conditions, leaving the path open for future rate rises.

A Reuters poll showed on Friday showed that economists expect the Fed to stand pat and deliver a rate hike in June, followed by another before the end of this year.

Crude oil prices slipped after rising on Friday and notching their third straight week of gains as market sentiment turned more upbeat amid signs a persistent global supply glut may be easing. [O/R]

Brent LCOc1 fell 1 percent to $44.64 a barrel, while U.S. crude CLc1 shed 1.3 percent to $43.16.


Article Link to Reuters:

Republicans Cruz, Kasich reach 'stop-Trump' deal

By Emily Stephenson
Reuters
April 25, 2016


Republican White House rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich announced a deal on Sunday to stay out of each other's way in some upcoming state primaries in hopes of blocking front-runner Donald Trump from winning the party's presidential nomination.

Cruz's campaign said in a statement he would focus on the Indiana and give Kasich a clearer shot in Oregon and New Mexico, states where the Ohio governor expects to do well. Kasich, in turn, agreed to shift resources west and away from Indiana.

The Indiana primary is on May 3, Oregon's is May 17 and New Mexico's June 7.

Trump has won the most state nominating contests, but he has a tough path to earn the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination. The Cruz and Kasich campaigns believe their agreement to cede states where the other candidate appears strong could help limit Trump's ability to win more delegates.

Some Republican strategists who oppose Trump have been calling for such a deal for weeks. The question for Cruz and Kasich is whether their agreement is too late.

If no candidate has enough support by the first vote at the Republican National Convention in July, many delegates will be allowed to switch sides on subsequent ballots.

Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe said Trump, who has offended women, Hispanics and other groups with controversial statements, would lose a general election contest against the eventual Democratic nominee in the Nov. 8 election.

"Our goal is to have an open convention in Cleveland, where we are confident a candidate capable of uniting the party and winning in November will emerge as the nominee," Kasich chief strategist John Weaver said in a statement.

Late Sunday, Trump tweeted his reaction to the deal: "Wow, just announced that Lyin' Ted and Kasich are going to collude in order to keep me from getting the Republican nomination. DESPERATION!"

Trump has frequently complained that the Republican Party's nominating process is "rigged" against him because establishment party members oppose him. Party officials argue that the delegate selection rules have been known for some time.

The stop-Trump group #NeverTrump welcomed news of the pact.

"Whether you support Ted Cruz or John Kasich, a second ballot at the Convention is imperative to stopping Donald Trump. We're happy to see the Kasich and Cruz campaigns strategically using their resources to deny Donald Trump delegates where they are in the strongest position to do so," said the group's senior adviser, Rory Cooper.


Article Link to Reuters:

Oil falls as traders cash in after three weeks of gains

Singapore | By Henning Gloystein

Reuters
April 25, 2016


Oil prices dipped on Monday as traders took profits after three weeks of gains and as a jump in the dollar late last week was priced into fuel markets.

Front-month Brent crude was trading at $44.80 per barrel at 0710 GMT, down 31 cents from its last settlement.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were down 35 cents at $43.38 a barrel.

Analysts said the price drops were a result of cashing in after three weeks of rising prices.

"I guess (there's been) some profit taking after a strong rally into the end of last week," said Virendra Chauhan of Energy Aspects in Singapore.

Market data shows that the amount of open positions betting on rising WTI prices rose to levels last seen in June 2015 last week, while bets taken out in expectation of falling prices fell close to 2016 lows.

Traders also said oil fell on a jump in the dollar on Friday against a basket of other leading currencies on expectations that Japan will further extend its aggressive monetary easing through negative interest rates.

A stronger dollar, in which oil is traded, makes fuel imports for countries using other currencies more expensive, potentially hitting demand.

"Fundamentals remain bearish and are set to deteriorate further, especially if prices move higher," Morgan Stanley said on Monday.

The bank said that a recent rally was largely fueled by investment by hedge funds and that the price gains resulting from these inflows were not supported by fundamentals as production by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was likely to increase while slowing economic growth, including in emerging markets, could hit oil demand.

"A macro unwind (of its positions) could cause severe selling given positioning and the nature of the players in this rally," Morgan Stanley said.

Barclays bank said it was "not yet convinced that prices will remain here or go even higher" as fundamentals remained weak.

"Still-elevated inventory levels, the return of some disrupted supply, further boosts to Saudi and Iranian supply, and increased non-OECD product exports all have the potential to move prices lower over the next several months, especially if broader macro sentiment shifts," it said.

That said, Monday's oil price decline came despite another cut in the U.S. rig count that brings activity down for a fifth straight week and to levels last seen in November 2009.

A total of 343 rigs were drilling for new oil last week. That compares to over 700 this time last year, according to oil services company Baker Hughes on Friday.


Article Link to Reuters:

'Trump Reminds Us Of Assad'

Donald Trump reminds some Syrian-Americans of a very controversial leader—and they like him all the more for it.


By Betsy Woodruff
The Daily Beast
April 25, 2016


Perched on a hard orange seat high above the dirt floor of the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center, waiting for the Harrisburg Trump rally to start, Pastor Joseph Moussa told me Donald Trump gives him hope, in part, because he reminds him of Assad.

Yes, that Assad—Bashar al-Assad—the one whose army is accused of killing upwards of a quarter-million Syrians. In some important ways, Moussa said, Trump and Assad sound similar. And he likes it.

Besides appreciating Trump’s plainspokenness and apparent invulnerability to pressure from lobbyists, Moussa and other Syrian-American Christians living in Pennsylvania like Trump for a unique reason: They think he will do the least to undermine Assad—and, by extension, the most to protect their fellow Christians back in Syria.

“Mr. Trump, he is the only candidate that ever said, ‘I am an Evangelical and I am proud of it, and I am gonna protect the Christians,’” he said.

Like any other ethnic group, Pennsylvania’s Syrian-American community isn’t a monolith. And describing it in sweeping terms is as foolish as it is uninformative. But conversations with numerous Syrian-American leaders in the Keystone State indicate that Trump may find many devoted supporters among their numbers. Many of these Christians fervently back Bashar al-Assad, as they feel he treats Syria’s Christians fairly and is their best protection against spreading Islamist extremism in the region. So they like Trump, as they feel he’s their best hope for limiting Western intervention on behalf of the rebels seeking to take down Assad. To an extent, they see Trump and Assad as two of a kind when it comes to protecting the region’s Christians.

Christians in Syria have long called for the U.S. government to oppose anti-Assad efforts. Leading Syrian Christians came to Washington in January 2014 to lobby in Assad’s defense, as Time magazine detailed, arguing that he protected their community from radicalized Islamists. They didn’t quite push for America to aid Assad, but rather argued against any U.S. support for rebels.

At the time, some powerful American Christian leaders backed them up. Tony Perkins, who heads the socially conservative Family Research Council, argued against U.S. military intervention back in September 2013, saying it would endanger Syria’s Christians. The National Journal reported that Rev. Michael Neuroth of the United Church of Christ and Gradye Parsons, then the highest elected officer of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., also shared Perkins’ concerns.

The vast majority of the Syrian civil war’s victims are Muslims, including countless innocent civilians and children. But Christians there also face great peril. Anti-Assad fighters allied with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have bombed churches and driven Christians from their homes. Assad, in contrast, gave Christians privileged treatment and even made one his ambassador to France, as PBS has detailed.

Joseph Moussa, who leads Arab Christian Evangelical churches in York and Harrisburg, told me his first cousin was recently found dead by his relatives in Syria. ISIS fighters had kidnapped him, along with co-workers. They let the Sunni Muslims they kidnapped survive, Moussa said, but they killed the Alawites and Christians—his cousin among them. He told me his family back in Damascus buried his cousin on the same day we talked before the Trump rally.

For Moussa, Trump’s campaign promise to protect Christians sounds very personal. Other candidates talk about their faith, Moussa said. But only Trump promises to actively protect Christians—just like Assad.

Many Christians in Syria fear that the weaker Assad becomes, the worse things will be for them. And many Syrian-Americans in Pennsylvania share that fear. They’ve protested U.S. intervention with signs that read “PEACE LOVE DIGNITY SYRIA.”

Our site once dubbed Allentown “Assadville, USA.” And Assadville loves Trump.

“The majority of them are [pro] Trump,” said Ayoub Jarrouj, a Syrian-American Christian who heads the Allentown-based Syrian Arab American Charity and who backs Hillary Clinton.

To some Syrian evangelicals, even if they’re not actively backing Trump, he’s seen as a better choice than the former Secretary of State. Anthony Sabbagh, who pastors the St. George Orthodox Church in Allentown, said he himself supports Bernie Sanders, as do many in his congregation. They see Sanders and Trump as being equally acceptable on foreign policy questions, Sabbagh said. And if it’s Trump v. Clinton in November, he added, he will definitely vote Trump. That’s because he believes Trump will limit U.S. involvement in Syria.

“I think they do not want Syria to progress—they want to bring it down,” he said of the Obama administration’s view of the nation. “They brought Iraq down. They did in Vietnam. Tell me a country that America went to they didn’t leave it in shambles.”

Sabbagh said he hopes Assad stays in power—and he believes a President Trump would keep him there.

“Leave us alone, we will care for ourselves,” he said of the country. “We would like [Assad] to stay because for Christians, he is our protection.”

Ghias Moussa, a Christian who immigrated from Syria and who heads the New Jersey and New York chapters of the Syrian American Forum (and a relative of Joseph Moussa), also backs both Trump and Assad. He lives in New Jersey and has close ties to Pennsylvania’s Syrian-American community—and he said the Syrian-Americans he interacts with share his views.

“You can see that day by day the whole Syrian community is moving towards Mr. Trump,” he said. “He’s been gathering big support. We are hoping that Trump is going to have a big win in Pennsylvania because of the Syrian community. All of them are galvanized around what Trump is saying.”

Given Trump’s commanding lead in the RealClearPolitics average, he may not need the Syrian-American vote in the April 26 Republican primary there. Still, they have more clout there than in most other states; Boston.com found that the Keystone State has the third-highest number of Syrian-Americans per capita of any state. And City-Data.com reports that the Allentown suburb of Hokendauqua (pop. 3,378) has the highest percentage of Syrian-born residents of any American town or city with a population of more than 500 people. Rep. Charlie Dent, who represents much of the Lehigh Valley (and has endorsed John Kasich), estimates that his district has one of the highest—if not the highest—concentrations of Syrian-Americans in the country. He noted that they’re predominantly Christian.

“When a lot of Americans hear discussions about Syria, they maybe have a perception of ISIS and radical islamists, when in fact, the Syrians in my community are Christian and secular and fiercely opposed to radical Islam,” Dent said.

“Many of my Syrian Christian constituents tend to be more sympathetic to the [Assad] regime,” added Dent, who called for Assad to step down in 2011. “And there have been pro-Assad rallies in my district over the last few years.”

From 2014 to 2015, about 112 Syrian refugees moved to Pennsylvania, according to PennLive.com. While some Syrian Christians welcomed the refugees—who are predominantly Muslim—others suggested terrorists could have infiltrated their ranks.

Jarrouj’s group worked to help some refugee families adjust to life in Pennsylvania.

“Even though there are a lot of Christian that hate them, I want them to know that a lot of Christian love them, that we don’t look at them as Muslim—we look at them as Syrian, and they are welcome,” he said.

Sabbagh also called for members of his flock to welcome the refugees, and for the state to accept more of them.

“You have to take chances in life, and this is one of the chances you take,” he said last November.

But other Christians urge caution. Joseph Moussa told The Daily Beast that he worries refugees coming here could have terrorist sympathizers in their midst. And he said he appreciates that Trump shares that concern.

“I agree and I support Mr. Trump [a] hundred percent,” he said, of the candidate’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration. “America always has opened its doors for people that are hurt, but we’re not working with people that are hurt only—we’re working with people that are militant, and they really want to hurt us. We need to be wise how we vet these people, and to make sure we got the right people inside America.”

He said that a “hundred percent” of the Arab Christians he preaches to share that view.

“I believe he’s a person that knows that to have someone like Assad to fight terrorism is more important than bringing down Assad and having the country turn to be a terrorist country in the hands of the militants,” he said.

One Syrian-American leader in Pennsylvania who didn’t want to discuss the matter on the record said the antipathy between Muslims and Christians in Syria still exists in some corners here in the United States. So some Syrian-American Christians wouldn’t be troubled whatsoever by Trump’s call for a moratorium on Muslim immigration.

Besides appreciating Trump’s non-interventionist foreign policy views, Syrian-American Christians said they believe Trump will be neutral on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict (many also back Sanders because they believe he would handle it similarly).

“I think the man is reasonable and open-minded,” Sabbagh said, “and I think the Palestinians are a people like any other people and they have rights also like any other people.”

Sabbagh added that this makes for a sharp contrast between Trump and Cruz.

“He doesn’t care for the Palestinians,” Sabbagh said of Cruz. “He doesn’t care but for only one thing: himself. And also he puts his cards on the table: He is for Israel 100 percent. Whatever Israel dictates to him, that is what he’s going to do.”

Though Evangelical Christians in the United States tend to be adamantly pro-Israel, their fellow Christians in the Middle East are much more conflicted. Ross Douthat wrote that Arab Christian feelings on Israel “range from the complicated to the hostile.” It’s a long story, but Christians from Syria feel quite differently about Israel than Christians from Alabama do.

And many of those Arab Christians are openly hostile to Cruz. In 2014, the Texan made headlines—some fawning and others irate—when he addressed a group of Middle Eastern Christians in Washington D.C. The senator drew boos by telling attendees that Israel was their best ally and that he would not support them if they didn’t “stand with Israel.” Since then, the perception that Cruz cares more for Israel than for Arab Christians has persisted among American Christians with roots in the Middle East.

“They were our patriarchs visiting the capitol,” said Sabbagh. “He insulted everybody, he insulted them without any respect. That, we never forgot either, that you keep in mind. Because he has no wisdom whatsoever, even in talking to his guests in his own home the way he did it, I mean that’s disgraceful as a human being.”

“No one could stand Cruz,” he added. “I don’t think he will have one vote from us, not even one.”

Joseph Moussa said Cruz shouldn’t have been surprised by the frigid reception.

“When you only stand on one side, period, justify that side, regardless of what wrong that side has done, they’re going to boo him,” he said. “Thousands of Christian families in Israel or in other countries, they have been hurt by the policy and the politics of the United States. We need to stand with Israel, but we need also not to allow Israel to be aggressive and taking the right of the innocent people.”

“The first word he tells us is, the Israelis are better than you,” said Ghias Moussa. “And we tell him, we’re not talking about the Israelis. We’re Americans. We want you to be a good conservative president or senator in America.”

These Syrian Christians think Trump would much better fit the bill. Moussa said that when Arab Christians ask him who to back, he’s unequivocal.

“When they ask me—because many of them are new immigrants and they don’t know much the politics in America, so they come to the pastors and take the pastor’s opinion—I usually tell them that Mr. Trump is a person that we believe is gonna bring back America to be a great nation and is going to deal with the issues of the world in general,” he said.

For Moussa, voting Trump is easy.

“The only hope, I think, for us is to see Trump go to the White House,” he said. “And honestly, I’m not gonna vote if it’s not gonna be for him.”


Article Link to the Daily Beast: