The unemployment insurance stimulus package of $600 is running out this month. What happens next is up for debate at Congress beginning today. President Donald Trump wants payroll tax relief included or else he might not sign the bill.
Stimulus Package If Payroll Tax Relief Isn’t Included
Determined to include the provision, the President said: “I want to see it. I’ll have to see but, yeah, I would consider not signing it if we don’t have a payroll tax cut, yes.”
Related Article: Trump Wants Payroll Tax Cut, What That Means For You
Payroll Tax Cuts Determine The Next Stimulus Package
Payroll tax cuts first surfaced last March, during the start of the pandemic. The President asked lawmakers March 9 to enact a payroll tax cut and financial aid bill for workers. There were little details shared at the time, as the President said it was for discussion.
Payroll taxes are the main source for programs such as Social Security and Medicare. For workers, the payroll tax consists of both employer and employee shares. They are different from federal and state income tax withholdings.
Trump believes that a payroll tax cut can help stimulate the economy. The President said: “We are going to be asking tomorrow, we’re seeing the Senate. We’re going to be meeting with House Republicans … McConnell, everybody discussing a possible payroll tax cut or relief, substantial relief.”
Support for the measure is lukewarm at most. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow has been an advocate of payroll tax relief. But, this view is not shared by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and others. The latter believes that any such measure will encounter opposition from Democrats. While the two have been at odds over this, they both agree for a need for stimulus packages.
Garret Watson, the senior analyst of the Tax Foundation, says that both parties do not find it helpful. He said: “The benefits primarily would accrue to folks who already are working, and we currently have record unemployment.” June’s unemployment rate is 11.1%, lower than previous months but still high.
With Congress resuming today, the priority item on the agenda is the next stimulus bill. Since the coronavirus pandemic, Americans received benefits from three earlier stimulus packages. The provisions of the last one will run out by month’s end, but the coronavirus crisis is still ongoing. This early, the GOP and the Dems have differing views on the next bill.
$1.3 Trillion Starting Number
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will start by presenting a draft stimulus bill. The GOP’s beginning proposal is $1.3 trillion, which is lower than previous stimulus funds. Expectations are high that this bill will contain a one-time payment like the CARES Act. How much the check will amount to remains up for debate.
Another item for deliberation is whether the new bill will contain unemployment insurance. With the $600 welfare expiring July 31, Republicans felt that the amount last time was too much. In some cases, the latter said that laid-off workers made more money compared to their jobs. As such, it disincentives workers from finding and getting a new job.
Meanwhile, Democrats have pushed for a continuation. They believe that with unemployment rising, more workers will need help. They said that with little to no jobs available, people can’t go back to work even if they wanted to. The rising number of coronavirus cases are shutting down opportunities at increasing levels.
Instead of $600, Trump and senior Republicans are considering $200-$400 weekly. Or, have a system in place that does means-testing future federal unemployment benefits.
“We Need Protections”
Ina Fox News Sunday interview, host Chris Wallace posed a question to the President. He asked: “The stimulus bill is running out at the end of this month. The Republicans say they want liability limits, which the Democrats don’t like, you say that you want a payroll tax cut, which even some Republicans are cool too. Will you only sign a bill with those two provisions?”
Trump said that businesses need help managing liabilities caused by the outbreak. He said: “We’re going to see, but we do need protections because businesses are going to get sued just because … you don’t know where this virus comes from, they’ll sit down at a restaurant, they’ll sue the restaurant, the guy’s out of business.”
He continued with: “So we do need some kind of immunity. Just like you need immunity for the police whether they like it or not, you need immunity for the police. But they do need a form of immunity.”
While the provisions of the next stimulus are still up in the air, both sides agree on a basic framework. The coronavirus crisis is raging on, and Americans will need all the help they can get. With time running out, Congress needs to get it to act together and enact a new relief package. With Trump already making his stand known, the ball is with the US Congress.
Watch this video of Trump considering not signing the next stimulus package:
Do you support a payroll tax holiday? Why or why not? Share your views in the comment section below.
Gold ‘Frenzy’ To Build Around Election, Platinum Could Soar 50% By Year-End
Peter Hug, head of the precious metal division at Kitco, believes the Fed’s decision to hold interest rates at near-zero through at least 2023 is bullish for precious metals and particularly gold. He also mentioned the road platinum can head to by the year’s end.
“About three Fed meetings ago they indicated they would hold rates at pretty much zero through the end of 2021 into early ‘22, today they’ve extended that by an additional year, there have been some analysts that are suspecting they will keep rates at zero right through 2024, so we’ve got another almost four years of zero interest rates to look forward to,” said Hug.
“The Fed being a bit more accommodative on inflation indicates to me that it’s a very positive environment for hard assets in general but I think the metals as well will continue to move higher over the next period of time based on the dovishness of the Fed, global central banks and the uncertainty of the US election coming up in about six weeks.”
The State of the Gold and Silver Markets
Hug said the current consolidation phase is a great sign of the overall health of the gold and silver markets. This comes after the frenzy in the gold and silver markets about a month ago.
“The market has been consolidating, which is a very good sign, especially for gold. Gold has been consolidating between our support level of 1925 and 1975 for the better part of two weeks. Silver seems to be between $26.50 – $27.50 range and consolidating as well. The fact that people are not selling into a market that is as frenetic as it was a month or six weeks ago, indicates to me that this market is setting up for the next leg higher once we get through this consolidation phase.”
Availability and Premiums
The gold and silver markets are taking a bit of a breather and the mania has slowed a bit. With this, Hug said the availability of gold and silver coins is getting better. He said premiums are coming down as well.
“On the gold and silver side, dealers are starting to show inventory. That’s not a result of increased production, it’s more a result because of this consolidation phase, retail investors have started to pull back on the markets so there’s not as much buying frenzy in the physical space right now, I think that changes if gold gets north of $2,000 again. But this consolidation of $50 range in gold and the $1, $1.50 range in silver has basically dried up the demand at these levels.”
“So production is still coming on board and dealers are starting to build inventory. And because of that you are seeing premiums come down. Silver maple leafs you can get, again, depending on quantity, somewhere between $5-6 over spot, Eagles are down somewhere between $5-7 over spot, so you are starting to see as this market stays sideways and we don’t see another rush into the buying side from the retail investor, you give it another 2-4 weeks and I think there will be reasonable inventory on the market and premiums should come down.”
Volatility to Return Soon?
Hug said that if you are looking to acquire gold and silver coins, you shouldn’t wait long as we could see volatility return very soon.
“I caution that past October 15 the market is going to be very volatile as we go into the election.”
Other than gold or silver, Hug sees a huge opportunity in the platinum space. There, he expects prices to climb 50% by the end of the year.
“I’m constructive platinum. It is also consolidating in the $900-950 range, but I do anticipate platinum to be north of $1000 and then look to $1200 possibly $1400 before year end.”
Dalio: Capitalism Needs Fixing, US Dollar Upended In Next 5 Years
In a recent interview with MarketWatch, Ray Dalio, the billionaire founder of Bridgewater Associates, covered a wide range of topics. These include his thoughts on capitalism, China, the US dollar as the world reserve currency, and much more.
Dalio says the US is facing three distinct problems and is losing ground to China in many ways.
“There are three problems that are coming together,” said Dalio. “So it’s important to understand them individually and how they collectively make a bigger problem,” said Dalio.
“There is a money and credit cycle problem, a wealth and values gap problem, and an emerging great power challenging the existing dominant power problem. What’s going on is an economic downturn together with a large wealth gap and the rising power of China challenging the existing power of the United States.”
“It’s a fact that there has been a weakening of the competitive advantages of the United States over the last couple of decades. For example, the United States lost a lot of the education advantage relative to other countries, our share of world GDP is reduced, the wealth gap has increased which has contributed to our political and social polarization.”
Challenges the U.S. Face
To illustrate the challenges that the US faces as it attempts to stay ahead of China and remain a world power, Dalio says we need to look at Britain and how they eventually lost their position as the world’s reserve currency.
“If you look at British history, the development of rival countries led them to lose their competitive advantages. Their finances were bad because they had accumulated a lot of debt. So, after World War II those trends went against them. Then they had the Suez Canal incident and they were no longer a world power and the British pound is no longer a reserve currency. These diseases almost always play out the same way.”
“The United States’ relative position in the world, which was dominant in almost all these categories at the beginning of this world order in 1945, has declined and is exhibiting real signs that should raise worries. There’s a lot of baggage. The U.S. has a lot of debt, which is adding to the hurdles that typically drag an economy down, so in order to succeed, you have to do a pretty big debt restructuring. History shows what kind of a challenge that is.”
“The United States is a 75-year-old empire and it is exhibiting signs of decline. If you want to extend your life, there are clear things you can do, but it means doing things that you don’t want to do.”
Capitalism Needs Improvements
Dalio is a capitalist (he didn’t become a billionaire through handouts). However, he does acknowledge that the system needs to be improved so that everyone has a chance at financial freedom.
“What has been shown is that capitalism is a fabulous way of creating incentives and innovation and of allocating resources to create productivity. All successful countries have uses for it. For example, communist China has chosen capitalism, which has been essential to its growth.
“But capitalism also produces large wealth gaps that produce opportunity gaps, which threaten the system in the ways we are seeing now.
“We have to be in this together. The system needs to be reengineered to do this. But if we don’t do this engineering well, we’re going to spend in an unlimited way and deal with that by creating debt that won’t ever be paid back, and we will risk losing the reserve currency status of the dollar. If we get into that position — and we’re very close — things will get much worse because we are living on borrowed money that’s financing our consumption.”
On Dollar as the World Reserve Currency
Dalio says we could see the US lose reserve currency status as soon as the next five years.
“Within the next five years you could see a situation in which foreigners who have been lending money to the United States won’t want to, and the dollar would not be as readily accepted for making purchases in the world as it is now.”
“The United States doesn’t have a good income statement and balance sheet in dealing with the rest of the world. It is running a deficit to the rest of the world that is financed by borrowing money so that we are producing liabilities.”
There is uncertainty in the markets ahead of the November election. With this, Dalio says there are two steps investors can take to protect their wealth.
“First, worry as much about the value of your money as you worry about the value of your investments. The printing of money and the debt should make you aware of that. That’s why financial asset prices have gone up — stocks, gold — because of the debt and money creation. You don’t want to own the thing you think is safest — cash.”
“Second, know how to diversify well. That includes diversification of countries, currencies and assets, because wealth is not so much destroyed as it shifts. When something goes down, something else is going up so you have to look at all things on a relative basis. Diversify well and worry about the value of cash.”
US Billionaires Got Richer During Pandemic by $845 Billion
US billionaires got richer during the pandemic by a tune of $845 billion. This represents a 29% increase from the time the Covid-19 lockdowns started until now. While the stock market crashed during the early days of the pandemic, it has since recovered. Along with recovery are net worth increases for America’s billionaire. Among the pandemic’s big winners of 2020 were Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg. Also in the list were investor Warren Buffett, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, and ex-NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
RELATED: Jeff Bezos Is Now Worth $200 Billion
In a report released Thursday, the Institute for Policy Studies and the Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) said the total net worth of 643 of the nation’s richest people rose from $2.95 trillion to $3.8 trillion.
This is equal to a 29% increase between March to September. The report based the numbers on Forbes’ annual billionaire’s report and real-time data.
Jeff Bezos, the founder, and CEO online retail giant Amazon is now the world’s richest man. The pandemic forced people indoors and played right into Amazon’s online strategy. As millions switched to online shopping, demand for Amazon’s services skyrocketed. Amazon shares zoomed along with 40% in 2020, as the company racked up billions in orders. People bought groceries, medicine, household products, and entertainment items on Amazon’s sites. As the company grew richer, so did its CEO and majority stockholder. On August 19, as stock prices of Amazon went up, his net worth exceeded $200 billion. As of September, Amazon stock has fluctuated and Bezos’ current worth is $184 billion.
Another rich guy that got even richer was Tesla’s founder and CEO Elon Musk. Tesla’s value grew five times its January price. By August, the company’s stock split pushed his personal shares to $104 billion. This allowed him to join the coveted centibillionaire club. Compared to his March net worth of $24.6 billion, he’s now over four times that. As of September, with Tesla dropping value, Musk’s worth has dropped as well to $88 billion.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who was worth $107.6 billion in August (now down to $93.7 billion). Facebook stock rose from $209 in Jan to $303 in August, making his 13% stake worth over $100 billion. Like Musk, he also joined the centibillionaire club this year.
“COVID crisis supercharges inequalities”
Chuck Collins, director of the Institute for Policy Studies’ Program on Inequality, and co-author of the report said he was somewhat shocked by the figures. He added that the COVID crisis is “supercharging America’s existing inequalities.” He said, “I would have thought maybe six months into this that things would have shaken out – that everybody would take a hit.”
“The difference is stark between profits for billionaires and the widespread economic misery in our nation. It sort of dramatizes the unequal sacrifice and profiteering element of the wealth accumulation at the top.”
Meanwhile, Covid-19 infected 6 million Americans and killed more than 200,000. As businesses collapse, the economy outside of Wall Street is in recession. More than 50 million jobs vanished in the pandemic. At present, 14 million Americans remain unemployed. Even those lucky enough to still have jobs got hit. Average work income fell by 4.4.%, per Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Outbreaks are still prevalent, even as a vaccine remains under development.
As such, the economy’s reopening remains slow.
Even local governments are feeling the pressure. States and cities are hamstrung with crippling deficits. California declared a $54 billion deficit, while New York City is looking at a $9 billion loss in revenue. From now until 2022, state budgets face a $555 billion deficit. This is according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
COVID-19’s unique effect made those with better plans during the pandemic fares better than most. In the case of Amazon, people flocked to their site when going out posed safety issues. For the others, the rise in stock reflected more on how they handled their business during the crisis. Some people are just quicker to seize on opportunities, even those coming from a crisis.
Watch this as Bloomberg reported last July 2020 on how billionaires got $637 billion richer during the pandemic:
Should we begrudge the rich getting richer, especially at a time like this? Do they deserve this success? Let us know what you think by leaving your thoughts on the comment section below.
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