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Axis Capital unveils $1 billion share buyback program, raises quarterly dividend by 8%

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 08:35

Axis Capital Holdings Ltd. said Friday it's board has approved a share buyback program of up to $1 billion. The new authorization will replace the existing one, which has $264.9 million available. The company is also raising its quarterly dividend by 8% to 38 cents a share. The new dividend will be payable Jan. 17 to shareholders of record as of Dec. 30. Shares were not yet active in premarket trade, but are up 12% in the year to date, while the S&P 500 has gained 10%.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.

1,001 People Killed by Police in 2016

LibertarianInstitute - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 08:30

“America cannot have an empire abroad and a Republic at home.” 

What sort of America-hating, lowlife, disreputable commie would utter such a statement?!

Mark Twain. Yes, that Mark Twain.

And you know what? He’s right.

As of this writing, 1,001 individuals have been killed by American police in 2016.

So far.

As the American Empire expands and lashes out abroad, its brutal police forces at home are staffed more and more by returning Marines, soldiers, and other military personnel.

This is what happens when law enforcement views itself as an occupying force, surrounded by enemy combatants, and is committed to intervening in every aspect of the lives of average folks.

I’ve written about this previously here, here, here, here, and here.

The post 1,001 People Killed by Police in 2016 appeared first on The Libertarian Institute.

1,001 People Killed by Police in 2016 was first posted on December 9, 2016 at 7:30 am.

Coty raises dividend, moves to quarterly payout schedule

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 08:11

Coty Inc. said Friday that it was increasing its dividend payout by 82%, as the fragrance, hair and cosmetics products seller moves to a quarterly payout schedule. The first quarterly dividend of 12.5 cents a share will be payable Dec. 28 to shareholders of record on Dec. 19. Based on Thursday's closing price of $19.07 for Coty's stock, the expected annual dividend of 50 cents a share implies a dividend yield of 2.62%, compared with the aggregate S&P 500 dividend yield of 2.07%, according to FactSet. "The increase in our dividend, and the transition of the timing to a quarterly payout schedule, enhances the company's ability to return cash to shareholders throughout the year," said Chief Financial Officer Patrice de Talhouet. The stock, which slipped 0.4% in premarket trade, has plunged 26% year to date through Thursday, while the S&P 500 has gained 9.9%.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.

Charter jumps 5% premarket after fund manager picks stock as key call

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 08:10

Shares of Charter Communications Inc. jumped 5% in thin premarket trade on Friday after a top European hedge fund manager recommended buying the stock. Chris Hohn, founder of TCI Fund Management, said Charter shares could double or triple in coming years as the company continues to grow "its top-line strongly through subscriber growth and pricing." Hohn was speaking at the Sohn conference in London on Thursday. The TCI manager also said Charter is likely to buy back 35% of its shares in coming years at higher prices than where they are today.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.

Cheniere Energy ends talks to acquire Cheniere Energy Partners LP

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 08:08

Cheniere Energy Inc. said Friday it has ended talks to acquire Cheniere Energy Partners LP Holdings LLC after failing to reach agreement with the board and a specially created conflicts committee. Talks had stretched over six weeks, during which time Cheniere Energy raised its offer to 0.54 shares for each share of Cheniere Energy Partners owned from an original offer of 0.50 shares. "Cheniere has determined that no acceptable definitive agreement can be reached with the conflicts committee at this time," the company said in a statement. Neither stock was active in premarket trade.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.

400 migrants storm border at Spanish enclave of Ceuta

MiddleEasteye - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 07:49
Language Undefined

At least 400 people have broken through the border fence between Morocco and the tiny Spanish enclave of Ceuta

Kellyanne Conway Plunges Into the Mommy Wars

RealClearPolitics - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 07:34
Ruth Marcus, Washington Post
As if she didn't have enough on her hands with the president-elect, Donald Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway has plunged full-force into a topic at least as emotionally charged: the Mommy Wars. Speaking at a Politico "Women Rule" event Wednesday, Conway cited her four young children as the reason for declining a White House job. "My children are 12, 12, 8 and 7, which is bad idea, bad idea, bad idea, bad idea for mom going inside," she said. "They have to come first and those are very fraught ages."

News Roundup 12/9/16

LibertarianInstitute - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 07:32
  • Trump’s pick to head DHS, General Kelly is strongly against the legalization of marijuana. Kelly believes it undermines the war on drugs. [Link]
  • A former colleague of General Flynn writes an article explaining why he believes that Flynn will push the US towards war with Iran. [Link]
  • Trump picks Linda McMahon to head the Small Business Administration. McMahon is the co-founder of the WWE and a former Senate candidate. Trump is a Hall of Fame member of the WWE. [Link]
  • An Australian study shows that aggressively enforced speed limits cause drives to struggle to focus on what is going on around them. [Link]
  • Georgia’s Secretary of State sends a letter to DHS asking why someone with a DHS IP address attempted to hack into the state’s voter database. [Link]
  • Rep Tulsi Gabbard introduced a bill that would prevent the US government from arming, training, supplying or providing intelligence to terrorists groups or countries that provide support to terrorist groups. This would prevent the US from selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. [Link]
  • The US approves $7 billion in weapon sales to Saudi Arabi, UAE, Qatar, and Morocco. [Link]
  • A Greek court rules to not extradite two of the Turkish military officers that Turkey has requested extradited of. Turkey accuses the men of being involved in the July coup. [Link]
  • The US claims that the US-coalition to combat ISIS in Iraq and Syria has killed 50,000 ISIS militants. [Link]
  • Russian halts the military offensive in Aleppo to give civilians time to leave the combat areas. [Link]
  • With no evidence, the US tries to convince Turkey that Iran is responsible for an attack that killed four Turkish soldiers in Syria. Turkey initially believed that Syria was behind the attack, but after reviewing evidence with the Russians, Turkey came to the conclusion that it was an ISIS suicide bombing. ISIS took responsibility for the attack. [Link]

The post News Roundup 12/9/16 appeared first on The Libertarian Institute.

News Roundup 12/9/16 was first posted on December 9, 2016 at 6:32 am.

TGIF: Trump, Carrier, and the Corporate State

LibertarianInstitute - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 07:23

Should free-market advocates applaud the deal Donald Trump brokered to keep some Carrier jobs from being transferred to Mexico? I believe the right answer is no.

A virtue of the market process is precisely its impersonal nature. People are free to engage in exchanges subject only to the freedom of others to refuse offers they do not like and to make competing offers. The constraints that this freedom produces are called market forces. (See my “Market, State, and Autonomy.”) In a freed market no one could make arbitrary decisions on a large scale the way government can in a managed economy (whatever its precise form) because no one can command others to obey on pain of imprisonment or worse.

The Trump-Carrier deal represents something different. Having been reminded of his vow to stop Carrier from moving a manufacturing facility to Mexico, the man who is about to take control of the powerful executive branch intervened in disclosed and undisclosed ways. The deal reportedly consists in $6 million in Indiana tax relief over 10 years and $1 million in direct grants. (The vice president-elect, Mike Pence, is still the governor of Indiana. Characteristically, Trump exaggerated the number of jobs saved, just as he fibbed about his election being the reason SoftBank was investing in the United States.) But we also know that during the “negotiations” Trump invoked Carrier parent United Technologies’ status as a major military contractor. What threats or promises were made with respect to future government contracts? We don’t know, but the IndyStar‘s sources say that factor played a larger role in the deal than the modest tax relief, which amounts to $600,000 a year versus the $65 million a year the move would have saved the company. No wonder Carrier had turned down earlier offers of tax relief from the state economic-development agency. “I was born at night but not last night,” United Technologies CEO Greg Hayes told Jim Cramer of CNBC. “I also know that about 10 percent of our revenue comes from the U.S. government.”

The military-industrial complex strikes again. Free-market advocates should be concerned that the government can use military contracts to influence decision-making in the civilian economy.

Further, we must not ignore Trump’s campaign threat to impose a punitive 35 percent tariff on any American company that moves a factory out the country expecting to export its products to the United States. When Trump appeared at the Carrier plant in Indianapolis to bask in the workers’ gratitude, he declared that no longer will American companies be allowed to move offshore “without consequences.” (Fortunately, congressional Republicans are pushing back against this policy. Also, it’s not clear that a president has the authority to sanction particular American companies.)

So how could a market advocate cheer this deal? A few have managed to do so by focusing, out of context, on a single component: tax credits. But as noted, the tax credits were a small and inconsequential part of the deal. Moreover, tax credits have systemic effects that should concern free-market advocates. To name one, if spending isn’t cut to match the credits, the government may make up the lost revenue with higher taxes or fees on others or through borrowing, which would prompt higher taxes later. There’s no free lunch, even with tax credits. (More on this below.)

Market advocates sympathetic to Trump’s deal point out that he promises general tax and regulatory reform designed to lighten the burden of government, freeing up enterprise to generate economic growth. The promise of general reform, it is said, means that the Carrier deal is not a sign of things to come.

I am skeptical. When Mike Pence was asked if the personal intervention in Carrier case would be typical in the Trump administration, the vice president-elect  said, “The president-elect will make those decisions on a day-by-day basis in the course of the transition and in the course of the administration.”

That’s hardly reassuring.

But who can be surprised? Highly visible personal intervention — and the accolades it inevitably brings from beneficiaries — suit Trump’s temperament perfectly. He may well push individual and corporate tax-rate cuts through Congress (let’s hope so), but it’s a mistake to expect him to be satisfied with that.

After his election Trump could have tweeted, “Hold on, Carrier. General tax and regulatory reform is coming,” But he did not do that. It’s not his style. Even if Trump gets his legislation passed, the praise for dry tax and regulatory reforms will soon fade, and the cable networks will stop showing scenes of the bill-signing ceremonies. Knowing what we know about the narcissist Trump, we can reasonably expect him to crave the rush provided by the public adulation that only his personal intervention in business affairs would bring.

About Trump’s visit to the Carrier plant Pence said: “It was one of the most emotional experiences that I’ve had in my public career, the way people reached out, grabbed our president-elect by the hand and just said thank you.”

Who thinks Trump won’t want to repeat that experience often? Wide public support for the Carrier deal will surely encourage him. According to a Politico poll, a strong majority supports the president’s negotiating with private companies, offering tax incentives not to move jobs offshore, offering contracts to companies for the same purpose, and negotiating with companies case by case. Republicans supported these things by even larger margins.

A corporate state would be nothing new in America, but we’re likely moving to something worse: a corporate-state-cum-cult-of-personality. That is an unsavory prospect indeed.

Let’s return to the subject of tax credits, a cause of heated discussion between free-market opponents and free-market proponents of the Carrier deal. Of course we may distinguish tax credits from subsidies. A credit represents the government’s abstention from taking money from a taxpayer or company that it otherwise would have taken. A subsidy is an allocation of tax revenues already collected. But is the difference substantive or superficial? I say it’s superficial (except perhaps in the case of a recipient who never paid taxes).

To see my point, ask yourself: what’s an income-tax refund? It’s not a tax credit because the government has taken the money before giving it back. But does that make it a subsidy? If not, why not? If one answers that it cannot be a subsidy if it’s refund, then why isn’t a subsidy actually a refund if the recipient previously paid taxes? The difference between a credit and subsidy is not what I once thought it was. It is formal rather than a substantive.

I leave that point now to take up something more important and egregiously overlooked. Even if you think the difference between a credit and a subsidy is substantive, one should at least acknowledge that credits can be as effective a tool of central economic planning as subsidies, taxes, and regulations can be. Any outcome that a politician could effect through direct intervention could also be effected indirectly through tax credits. Imagine a government that imposes a 100 percent income tax. (For my purpose, let’s ignore the Laffer effect.) Imagine further that this government will let you keep increments of your money if you do certain things it regards as desirable. Back in my days at the old Council for a Competitive Economy we called tax-credit rules “hoop laws”: you got to keep some of your money if you jumped through a government hoop. Is that better than accomplishing the same objectives directly? I don’t see it.

Decisions on where to locate factories should not be influenced by the government. Remember, Trump’s wish to stop companies from moving offshore is based on the protectionist-nationalist fallacy that jobs currently exist in the United States should remain there at all costs. Why? Because they are “American jobs.” It is reactionary nonsense saturated with ignorance of — or perhaps self-conscious demagogy regarding — the workings and benefits of trade, comparative advantage, and the division of labor. The Carrier jobs kept in Indiana (for how long before robots “take” them?) are the immediate, seen benefits of Trump’s intervention. But free-market advocates, having digested the wisdom of Bastiat, regularly admonish the public not to overlook the unseen subsequent harmful consequences of government intervention. When the government directs investment (no matter the method), it diverts labor and resources that would have gone to satisfying consumer preferences. Politicians are in no position to know how best to make such determinations. Their criteria will be irrelevant, and hence their decisions will leave us worse off. But favored interests will flourish (for a while).

We don’t have a free market today, of course, but that is no reason to move even further from the ideal through executive discretion over the economic decision-making. We have no grounds to believe that Trump or any government bureau could selectively intervene in order to accomplish what the free market would have accomplished. The Hayekian knowledge problem stands in the way. The market process reveals what otherwise cannot be known.

I certainly don’t begrudge anyone’s seizing an opportunity to keep or regain some of their money. But free-market advocates should no more applaud a system of discretionary tax credits than they should applaud a system of subsidies. Discretion is power. Since taxation is theft, the moral ideal is no taxation. The next best thing is low taxes without discretion.

The post TGIF: Trump, Carrier, and the Corporate State appeared first on The Libertarian Institute.

TGIF: Trump, Carrier, and the Corporate State was first posted on December 9, 2016 at 6:23 am.

The Law Already Allows Trump to Build the Wall

RealClearPolitics - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 07:13
Byron York, Washington Examiner
There's no shortage of people telling Donald Trump he can't build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. And maybe, in the end, he won't do it. But at the moment Trump takes office, he will have the legal authority and the money he needs to get started on the wall. Yes, there will be obstacles â?? what's the over/under on the number of lawsuits that will be filed trying to stop it? â?? but the fact is, the law is already in place that will allow Trump to go forward. As in other areas of immigration enforcement, Trump will be able to effect radical change simply by following the law. In this case,...

"Godspeed John Glenn"

RealClearPolitics - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 07:12
David Shribman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
John Herschel Glenn Jr. — twice an astronaut, four times elected to the Senate, once a presidential candidate, 149 times a combat fighter pilot and forever an American symbol and hero — died Dec. 8, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. He was 95. Mr. Glenn was a test pilot, a Mercury astronaut, an advocate of moderation in the Senate and in the Democratic Party, a prescient voice of warning against nuclear proliferation, a space shuttle payload specialist and a symbol of the vigor that Americans — whether as youthful dreamers or active seniors — brought to the 20th century. In...

On Media Lies and Political Lore

RealClearPolitics - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 07:12
Ace, Ace of Spades
Lore is kind of communal bullshit -- bullshit about your family legacy (how many people have "family lore" that tells them they're one thirty-second Cherokee, for example*), bullshit about sex, bullshit about how not to get pregnant, bullshit about how to increase your sexual potency (oysters! powdered rhino horn! gorilla dick jerky!). There is of course political lore -- a tradition of bullshit passed from one partisan to another, never really sourced to anything a rationalist would call an authority or proof. Just stuff that "everyone knows."

Eli Lilly to pay AstraZeneca $30 million as part of a collaboration on an Alzheimer's treatment

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 07:12

Eli Lilly & Co. and AstraZeneca PLC announced Friday an agreement to develop a potential treatment for Alzheimer's disease that is currently in Phase 1 trials. As part of the agreement, Lilly will make a $30 million upfront payment to AstraZeneca. Lilly will record a 2 cents-a-share charge to earnings in the fourth quarter as a result of the payment. The agreement builds on a current collaboration related to a potential treatment currently in Phase 3 trials. "We are pleased to be expanding our alliance with AstraZeneca to further build our pipeline of potential medicines and diagnostic agents," said Jan Lundberg, president of Lilly Research Laboratories. AstraZeneca's stock climbed 1.4% in premarket trade, while Lilly shares were still inactive. AstraZeneca's stock has tumbled 23% year to date through Thursday, while Lilly shares have dropped 20%, the SPDR Health Care Select Sector ETF has shed 5.6% and the S&P 500 has gained 9.9%.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.

Republicans and the Future of Racial Politics

RealClearPolitics - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 07:12
Kotkin & Cox, RealClearPolitics
From its inception, the American experiment has been dogged by racial issues. Sadly, this was even truer this year. Eight years after electing the first African-American president, not only are race relations getting worse, according to surveys, but the electorate remains as ethnically divided as in any time of recent history. Donald Trump has emerged in most media accounts as the candidate of Anglo voters, with a margin of 21 percentage points over Hillary Clinton among that segment of the electorate. Clinton’s embrace of “identity” politics may have played a role...

Reid, Dems' Dogged Senate Leader, Bids Farewell

RealClearPolitics - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 07:12
James Arkin, RealClearPolitics
For 77 minutes on Thursday morning, Sen. Harry Reid reflected on his life, family, hometown and career in Washington as he spoke for the final time on the Senate floor after 30 years in the chamber. Then, hours later, as his official Senate portrait was unveiled, Reid – the quiet but hard-nosed Democratic leader of the last decade – was honored with speeches from pre-eminent politicos from both sides of the aisle: Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Reid’s successor, Sen. Chuck Schumer.

Trump's EPA Will Make Obama Regret His Overreach

RealClearPolitics - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 07:12
Patrick Michaels, The Hill
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s nomination for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency is as clear a signal as the incoming administration can send with regard to its environmental policies. It is also a sign that the administration is far more meticulous, internally consistent and thorough than its detractors have thought, and that it is on a clear mission not just to stop, but to reverse many of the actions of Obama’s EPA.

Trump's Federalist Revival

RealClearPolitics - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 07:12
Kimberley Strassel, Wall Street Journal
The president-elect’s EPA pick will restore balance to the federal-state relationship.