ECB President Christine Lagarde Blames Less Focus On Job Retention During COVID For High U.S. Inflation

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European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde appeared for an interview on CBS’ Face The Nation(04/24/22) to discuss the current global inflation brought about by covid and the Russsia-Ukraine war. During her interview, President Lagarde made an interesting observation, telling host Margaret Brennan that inflation is higher in the U.S. because unlike Europe, the U.S. focused more on issuing covid stimulus/relief checks than on job retention. Europe’s primary focus during covid was on job retention. She said the resultant labor shortage in the U.S. is driving up wages, which are in turn, driving up costs. Hmm, interesting.

Host Margaret Brennan(video at 4:53):“In this country there’s a lot of debate around how much the government is to blame versus the central bankers for the inflation that we are experiencing. The U.S. spent $6 trillion on covid relief, $2 trillion of it on President Biden’s watch last Spring when the economy was already recovering. Do you think some of this spending in the U.S. exacerbated inflation, because Europe didn’t spend like this?”

President Lagarde:“We in Europe spent less in stimulus, and I think we spent differently. We spent pretty much half as much as what the U.S. government spent on stimulus, and heating up the economy. But we also spent differently because I think the focus was predominantly on keeping the jobs, not necessarily sending the checks, and as a result of that, people who managed to keep their jobs alive, while not necessarily going to work because covid stopped everybody from going to work at some point in time, they had their job. So when covid was over, they went back to their job. So, I think that the labor market that you have currently in the U.S., which is incredibly tense, where you have a lot of jobs that are not filled, where you have plenty of vacancies, we don’t have that in Europe at the moment, and the current situation you have on the labor market here in the U.S. is clearly contributing to possible strong inflation and second round effect, where prices go up, wages go up, short supply of labor, wages continue to go up, and that feeds back into prices. That’s one of the differences between our two economies.”

There’s no other way to interpret ECB President Lagarde’s remarks other than(I’ll be happy to stand corrected of course), the current strong inflation in the U.S. is largely driven by the fact that the government did not do enough to help people keep their jobs during covid. In other words, even though a lot of people could not physically go to work during covid, more should have been done to make sure their jobs would still be there for them after the pandemic–propping up their employers to keep them afloat. According to President Lagarde, this is precisely what Europe focused on–propping up the employers, and is the reason Europe is not seeing the high levels of inflation as the U.S.

For the record, this does not mean Europe did not hand out covid stimulus/relief checks to workers like the U.S. did. What President Lagarde is saying is that the primary focus in Europe was job retention. It’s also worth pointing out for the sake of fairness, that the entire U.S. covid response, and the resultant high inflation, cannot be pinned solely on the Biden administration. Reasonable people will agree that the Trump admin is equally to blame.

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Why Is Putin’s Mistress Living A Life Of Luxury In Switzerland Amid Sanctions?

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President Vladimir Putin with former Olympic Gymnast Alina Kabaeva, believed to be the mother of his four children, and currently living in Switzerland

An interesting segment on CNN’s Outfront w/Erin Burnett show(04/06/22) delved into Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s very secretive family ties, and the effect the recently imposed economic sanctions may have on them. According to Russia expert Alina Polyakova who was a guest on the show, Putin has two adult daughters, Katerina Tikhonova and Maria Putina, from his previous marriage to Lyudmila Ocheretnaya, who currently resides in the Netherlands. Alina Polyakova also dropped a bombshell on the show saying Putin’s current mistress, former Olympic Gymnast Alina Kabaeva, who he put in charge of a powerful Russia media group, is apparently living in luxury with his four children in Switzerland. Alina rightly wondered why the West has not targeted Kabaeva with the kind of stiff sanctions they’ve meted out to Russian Oligarchs worldwide?

She told host Erin Burnett: “Alina Kabaeva has been kept really like a state secret from the media, from everyone else. Reportedly, in her role as leading this media group, she makes something around $11 million a year, quite significant. There are reports that she lives in Switzerland with four of Putin’s children, supposedly two boys, and a set of twin girls that were born in Switzerland, presumably have Swiss passports, presumably she does as well. Putin as a former KGB agent sees close ties and personal connection as a potential vulnerability, which is why he is likely hiding her…he is keeping her as protected as possible because he knows that she can be used as leverage against him, so certainly, this in my view, is absolutely the time to hit Putin where it hurts, where he fears it the most, where he sees his vulnerability. The war in Ukraine is absolutely brutal and it’s frankly absurd that his closest partner, the mother of potentially four of his children is getting to live a luxurious life in Switzerland. That just doesn’t make sense.”

Spot on, Alina Polyakova, it makes zero sense. Switzerland should immediately revoke Alina Kabaeva’s citizenship and deport her, with her children, back to Russia. Whatever financial assets she has in Switzerland should remain in Switzerland, or preferably be used to assist with humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.

Bottom line folks, the Biden administration and indeed all the democracy-loving Western governments, need to see to it that Putin’s family is not allowed to live in luxury overseas, as he butchers and maims Ukrainian families. As Alina Polyakova correctly stated, “this is absolutely the time to hit Putin where it hurts, where he fears it the most, where he sees his vulnerability.”

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Mitt Romney Says Second Trump Presidency Would Hurt NATO, Help Putin

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In an interesting interview on the brand new CNN Plus show, The Source w/ Kasie Hunt, Senator Mitt Romney(R-UT) made a bombshell admission that if former President Trump were to win the presidency again in 2024, that would hurt NATO, and help Vladimir Putin, something that should frighten every democracy-loving person in the free world. As Kasie Hunt correctly pointed out, the fact that Sen Romney brought up this issue, shows that it is a huge concern among establishment Republicans(Trump winning in 2024)

Romney told host Kasie Hunt: “I think if President Trump were to return as President, that the nations of the world would say they have to really rethink their own national security, and the extent to which they want to be aligned with us, and instead be aligned with someone else, and you saw that happened during the time President Trump was there. I’ve had conversations with leaders of other nations now, members of NATO, and they raise this question–We’re happy to see you committed to our mutual defense, but we don’t know whether you’re just committed short term, or whether this a long term and permanent commitment? I think this is a long term commitment. “

There is no other way to interpret Senator Romney’s remarks other than, him and fellow Republicans are very concerned about a second Trump presidency, and specifically, the disastrous effect that would have on NATO, while at the same time helping Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. This is a serious problem, not just for establishment Republicans, but also for the cause of democracy worldwide. Simply put, a Trump win in 2024 is a win for Vladimir Putin and other autocrats worldwide.

Bottom line folks, the Russia-Ukraine war has demonstrated very clearly that there is a global battle currently playing out between free, democracy-loving countries, and autocratic dictatorships like Russia, China, Turkey, et al. If Putin prevails in Ukraine, it will represent a win for autocrats, and as Senator Romney correctly points out, a second Trump presidency will be a major boost to Putin and other autocrats. Trump has already demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt(DC insurrection, friendship with autocrats), that he should never ever occupy the White House again. The only question now is whether his Republican Party will see to it that he is kept on the political sidelines.

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Hillary Clinton Slams GOP’s “Naivete” Re Putin’s Russia

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Secretary Hillary Clinton discusses Russia-Ukraine conflict on MSNBC’s Morning Joe (02/25/22)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe show (02/25/22) where she slammed GOP’s seeming praise of Russia’s President Putin, even as he continues with his invasion of neighboring Ukraine. Secretary Clinton called this the height of “naivete”, saying Putin, who “takes no prisoners”, would similarly kill, poison, and imprison those in the GOP who think he’s their friend. Secretary Clinton was on Morning Joe to discuss her bombshell piece on The Atlantic titled, “A State of Emergency For Democracy.”

Clinton told hosts Mika and Joe(video at 7:25 onwards): “Starting with the ascent of Trump, there has been, sadly, a total loss of spine and conscience among too many Republicans who at first saw no harm in echoing and parroting the kind of crazy stuff that Trump would say, totally against history, against common sense…and now they are kind of caught in a bit of a downward spiral, where they are afraid to stand against even the most outrageous comments. ”

She added, “There’s also another element which is, these people are naive in such a dangerous way. They somehow believe that because Putin presents himself as a strong leader on behalf of certain values that are anti-gay, that are anti-freedom and democracy that is so messy, that somehow. that corresponds with the views of certain members and elements of the Republican Party. They could not be more mistaken. This man takes no prisoners. He kills them, he poisons them, he imprisons them…The naivete that we saw starting with Trump, but which has now been accelerated, is really hard to understand but nevertheless, we have to deal with it. We have to call it out.”

Secretary Clinton singled GOP Senator Ben Sasse (Nebraska) for praise, for his unequivocal denunciation of Putin and his thuggish regime. Senator Sasse appeared on Morning Joe right before Secretary Clinton’s interview.

Secretary Clinton concluded her interview by imploring the Biden administration to deal ruthlessly with the Oligarchs who Putin relies on to move his ill-gotten wealth around. She said, “We need to call the Oligarchs out. We need to call them out by name, we need to go after their assets, whether it’s temporary suspension of access to assets like yachts and huge houses…bank accounts, because if we don’t up the pressure now, whatever we are doing…will take longer, and Ukraine will be burning. Ukraine will be devastated.” She gave kudos to this U.K. MP for calling out Putin-allied Oligarchs in Parliament.

Bottom line folks, Secretary Clinton is absolutely right. One only hopes the Biden admin will heed her advice and (1) find a way to counter Putin’s propagandists on Fox News and elsewhere, and (2) squeeze his Oligarchs out of financial relevance. Then, and only then, will Putin come to the negotiating table in good faith.

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VP Kamala Harris’ Biggest Moment(Yet) On The International Stage

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U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris delivered the keynote address at the Munich Security Conference in Germany on 02/18/22. The Munich conference is arguably VP Harris’ biggest moment on the international stage, and her most consequential speech to date, given it’s timing–the looming Russia-Ukraine conflict. It’s also impossible to ignore the historical significance of the moment, given the fact that she addressed the Munich conference as the first female VP of the United States, and the first woman of color to represent the United States in that capacity.

VP Harris traveled to Munich Germany with a bipartisan group of lawmakers and foreign policy heads. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky also attended this important international conference, even as Putin’s Russia is on the cusp of invading his country. The Russians skipped the Munich conference.

VP Harris laid out the seriousness of the moment in her opening remarks: “I’m certain we all recognize, this year’s gathering is unlike those of the recent past. Not since the end of the cold war, has this forum convened under such dire circumstances. Today, as we are all well aware, the foundation of European security is under direct threat in Ukraine. Let us remember from the wreckage of two world wars, a consensus emerged in Europe and the United States. A consensus in favor of order, not chaos, security, not conflict…That the rule of law should be cherished, that sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states must be respected, and that national borders should not be changed by force.”

There is no question that the text of VP Harris’ historical speech in Munich will feature in many political science and history classes in years to come, as one of the defining moments in the relationship between NATO countries and Russia.

Bottom line folks, as Yours Truly said earlier, this is easily VP Harris’ biggest moment on the international stage, and reasonable people will agree, she shone bright. With the eyes of the world trained on her, she delivered a great speech, that clearly conveyed the danger Putin’s Russia poses to Europe and the rest of the world, without sounding alarmist. All in all, VP Harris, you represented President Biden, and America, exceedingly well in Munich!!

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