To Build or Not to Build the Wall

Since before he was elected to the White House, President Trump has promised Americans he will build a “big beautiful wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border, a barrier he says is needed to secure the United States from dangerous intruders entering the country illegally. But the money for the project has been elusive. Democrats on Capitol Hill have done everything in their power to block his demands, and Trump himself has changed his mind on the price and construction of the wall multiple times.

Now, after almost two years of tense back and forth, the president and Congress have secured a deal that would keep the government fully open through September and provide for 55 miles of physical barriers to be built along the southern border.

But the wall saga is far from over. The president has declared a national emergency on the southern border, which he says will allow the government to redirect funds from other projects to add many more miles of border barriers. Legal challenges are all but certain to follow. If all this leaves you feeling a bit confused, some history on how we reached this point may help. Continue reading “To Build or Not to Build the Wall”

Three New Football Leagues Compete for Survival

The NFL season may screech to a halt after Sunday, but football fans won’t have to wait months to get their next gridiron fix. A new professional football league kicks off next weekend, featuring a 12-game schedule with teams in eight medium-to-large markets across the U.S.

The Alliance of American Football, founded by TV and film producer Charlie Ebersol and longtime NFL executive Bill Polian, features teams in two cities already home to NFL clubs: Atlanta and Phoenix. CBS will broadcast the league’s inaugural games on Saturday, Feb. 9, after which the CBS Sports Network will carry one AAF game a week throughout the season. The championship game is slated for the weekend of April 26-28. Continue reading “Three New Football Leagues Compete for Survival”

Shutdown Will Haunt Federal Workforce for Years

While the federal government has fully reopened, at least through mid-February, its recent partial shutdown is poised to inflict significant long-term harm to its workforce.

The shutdown has tarnished one of the main attractions of working for the federal government: Job stability. Unlike the private sector, the federal government can’t go out of business and doesn’t typically lay people off. But with the threat of future shutdowns always a possibility in the current political climate, that perk is now greatly diminished. Continue reading “Shutdown Will Haunt Federal Workforce for Years”

What’s the Deal with the Green New Deal?

Freshman House Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and some of her colleagues have made news recently by calling for a “Green New Deal” to combat climate change. Hearkening back to President Franklin Roosevelt’s aggressive countermeasures designed to pull the country out of the Great Depression, the Green New Deal sounds bold and dramatic. Speaking at a town hall meeting in December, Ocasio-Cortez called the plan “the New Deal, the Great Society, the moon shot, the civil rights movement of our generation.”

A draft bill calls for “meeting 100% of national power demand through renewable sources … eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from, repairing and improving transportation and other infrastructure … [and] eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from the manufacturing, agricultural and other industries.” What’s more, the bill calls for achieving these goals by the year 2030. Continue reading “What’s the Deal with the Green New Deal?”

How Apple is Gearing Up for A New Era in the Smartphone Market

Have you been hanging onto your smartphone for longer than two years? You’re not alone. More and more folks are holding off on upgrades as new models come with eye-popping price tags and old models last longer. By traditional industry metrics, a phone three to four years old is downright ancient. And if the phone in your pocket is from 2014, you’re giving smart phone executives serious heartburn.

With the market saturated, folks upgrading less frequently, and sales declining in all-important China, vendors can’t count on strong sales growth in coming years. Long after the U.S. and other developed markets had seen sales plateau, China was still going strong with its rising middle class scooping up phones at a rapid clip. Now growth in China has dried up. Quarterly sales in the country have been declining for more than a year. Continue reading “How Apple is Gearing Up for A New Era in the Smartphone Market”

Breakthrough Cellular Upgrade Sets Up Wireless Sector for Rapid Growth

Every December The Kiplinger Letter publishes a Year-End special issue that dives deeply into one topic, ranging from demographic changes to robotic advancements. Last month, we focused on which segments of the economy will do well over the next five years.

For Alerts subscribers, we wanted to share some of that analysis. Below is an overview of 5G’s rise through 2023.

This year marks the start of commercial 5G, the next global standard of cellular communications after 4G. Hype around 5G is already intense. But make no mistake: 5G technology is a real breakthrough.

Over the next five years, the wireless upgrade will add tens of billions of dollars to the economy and create hundreds of thousands of jobs. 5G promises speeds 10 to 100 times faster than today’s networks, the capacity to connect 100 billion things to the internet and far less lag time for applications that require near-instant communications. Continue reading “Breakthrough Cellular Upgrade Sets Up Wireless Sector for Rapid Growth”

Texas Ruling Puts Obamacare in Flux

Millions of Americans’ health insurance is in jeopardy now that a federal judge in Texas ruled the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. If upheld, it would wipe out not just protection for those with pre-existing conditions, but also a host of very popular features, including coverage for young adults, low-income subsidies, the closing of the “donut hole” for Medicare Rx drug coverage and Medicaid expansion. For employers, it could mean the end of the hated employer mandate and the looming Cadillac tax on employee health plans.

The judge determined that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and, since it can’t be severed from the rest of the ACA, the entire law is invalid. Eighteen Republican state attorneys general and two GOP governors brought the suit.  Continue reading “Texas Ruling Puts Obamacare in Flux”

Two High-Tech Sectors Poised for Rapid Growth in the Coming Years

Every December The Kiplinger Letter publishes a Year-End special issue that dives deeply into one topic, ranging from demographic changes to robotic advancements. This year, we focus on which segments of the economy are positioned for strong growth over the next five years.

For Alerts subscribers, we wanted to share some of that analysis. Below is the first installment looking at high-tech sectors set to register rapid growth through 2023. Keep an eye out for other tech-focused Alerts that cover high-flying tech sectors.

Drones Will Be Unleashed for an Array of New Business Uses, Including Package Delivery

Look for commercial drones to soar as red tape is cut and technology improves. The fleet of small commercial drones will grow from 111,000 in 2017 to nearly 500,000 in 2022, according to projections by the Federal Aviation Administration. If regulations are updated faster than expected, which is a real possibility, growth will be even stronger. Continue reading “Two High-Tech Sectors Poised for Rapid Growth in the Coming Years”

Mortgage Lending Will Decline Next Year as Demand for Refinancing Falls

Mortgage lending at U.S. banks will decrease in 2019 as rising borrowing costs reduce demand from homeowners to refinance their current homes.

Despite higher mortgage rates, demand for home-purchase loans will increase slightly in 2019 because of rising wages and slower home-price growth. Home-purchase loan originations should increase next year about 4% from 2018, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. This year, purchase loan originations should increase around 3% from 2017. Continue reading “Mortgage Lending Will Decline Next Year as Demand for Refinancing Falls”

Fed Puts Fewer Interest Rate Hikes in Wall Street’s Stocking

The stock market rallied strongly on Nov. 28 as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell made a dovish comment. Powell said that rates are “just below” the Fed’s targeted neutral level, which most Fed watchers consider to be 3%. This came after Powell called rates a “long way from neutral” on Oct. 3, provoking a major reaction in the financial markets.

Wall Street read his latest remark as a signal that the once-a-quarter rate hikes will stop sooner than expected. The Fed plan was to raise rates four more times. We expect hikes for sure in December and March, and likely in June. But the September 2019 hike looks to be off the table. Continue reading “Fed Puts Fewer Interest Rate Hikes in Wall Street’s Stocking”