Posts tagged with "Budget"

Who do you trust? Trump claims a wall made El Paso safe; Mayor Margo disagrees

February 12, 2019

As President Donald Trump confirmed plans for a Monday night rally in El Paso, Texas, the city’s mayor, Dee Margo, asserted that the lower incidence of crime that the area has enjoyed in recent years has not been the direct result of fencing at the southern border.

The president is expected to exhort his base for a wall at what amounts to a major campaign event—being held just days ahead of the deadline for Congress to hammer out a deal on the budget and border security, NBC News reported on February 11.

“The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime—one of the highest in the country, and considered one of our nation’s most dangerous cities,” Trump said in his State of the Union Address on February 6 “Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities.”

But the statistics don’t back him up. Mayor Margo notes. According to law enforcement data, the city had low crime rates well before a border barrier was constructed between 2008 and mid-2009.

Indeed, NBC News reports, violent crime has been dropping in El Paso since its modern-day peak in 1993 and was at historic lows before a fence was authorized by Congress in 2006. Violent crime actually ticked up during the border fence’s construction and after its completion, according to police data collected by the FBI.

Democratic officials immediately took issue with the picture Trump painted, saying the president was using their city to justify a pointless and unnecessary wall.

“The facts are clear. While it is true that El Paso is one of the safest cities in the nation, it has never been ‘…considered one of our Nation’s most dangerous cities,'” the city’s sheriff, Richard Wiles, a Democrat, said in a statement after Trump concluded his address. “And, El Paso was a safe city long before any wall was built.”

“I believe he was given some misinformation,” Mayor Margo told CNN in an interview, adding the idea that El Paso was a lawless and dangerous place before fencing was built is “not factually correct.”

Margo said he’d correct the president if he reiterated falsehoods about El Paso on Monday. “The geography of Texas won’t allow a fence from El Paso to Brownsville even if you wanted to do it,” Margo said.

When pressed on the inaccuracy of the president’s claims, the White House said the high rate of crime in the city directly across the border—Juarez—proved that the barrier was responsible for the low crime rate in El Paso.

Research contact: @janestreet

Pot luck: If New York legalizes marijuana, who would cash in?

December 20, 2018

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo knows what he wants in his Christmas stocking: Funding to pay for crucial subway repairs. And while he has never been an advocate for legal marijuana, Cuomo now thinks that statewide recreational use by adults could be the best way to “sweeten the pot.”

Indeed, the Big Apple is looking for about $37 billion to upgrade its antiquated underground system of trains, tracks, and tunnels—and  Cuomo now has been convinced that he can raise the revenue by legalizing adult-use recreational marijuana within the next year, according to a report by Real Money.

Justifying his sudden turnaround on legalizing pot, the governor said in a speech before the New York State Bar Association on December 17, “The fact is we have had two criminal justice systems: one for the wealthy and the well-off, and one for everyone else,” Cuomo said in describing marijuana laws that he maintains “for too long [have] targeted the African-American and minority communities.”

During the midterm elections, the New York state government shifted to Democratic control and it was expected that the new lawmakers would fully legalize cannabis, after approving medical marijuana last June. So, Cuomo really is just getting ahead of this expected move, Real Money notes.

Financial experts agree that legalization could raise much-needed revenues for the state. Last May, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer published a report estimating that the New York statewide cannabis market could see up to $3.1 billion in annual sales, with up to $1.1 billion generated in New York City alone. In terms of tax revenue, legal cannabis could generate up to $436 million for New York state and $336 million for New York City.

Other states already have profited immensely off their marijuana sales. In 2015, Colorado collected $135 million in legal marijuana tax revenue. And during the first five days of sales in Massachusetts, the state’s two pot shops pedaled more than $2.2 million worth of legal marijuana products.

Cuomo probably isn’t thinking just about the tax dollars, but also is looking at job creation. A study published by Joblift shows that cannabis career growth in California is steadily declining, while New York State is experiencing a strong market. New York is now third in terms of gross domestic product and is experiencing a “surge in medical marijuana job postings,” with the study saying it could hold “the most potential for overall growth in the sector.”

Cuomo does not want New York to lose these jobs to neighbors, such as New Jersey and Massachusetts, which also are legalizing cannabis use.

Next comes the question that investors want answered: Who is poised to capitalize on the New York market?

Cannabiz Media is a company that tracks license holders in states around the country. According to its data, it looks like MedMen Enterprises is poised to be the big winner as a result of its acquisition of PharmaCann, which had the highest number of permits awarded in the state. MedMen acquired PharmaCann for $682 million in an all-stock deal back in October. The transaction not only doubled the reach for MedMen, but expanded its presence in New York.

Vireo Health is next on the list, Real Money reports. Vireo is a physician-led multi-state medical cannabis company that says It is “committed to safely alleviating pain by providing patients with best-in-class cannabis products and compassionate care.” This company is still private, although it did raise $17 million back in August and said it is planning on going public at some point.

And number three would be Columbia Care, which isn’t public yet but soon will be following a merger with Canaccord Genuity Growth. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019. Columbia Care was selected to be one of five licensees in Virginia and became the first U.S. company licensed in the European Union. It was recently awarded one of the six new licenses in New Jersey.

To date, eight U.S.  states have legalized recreational marijuana use: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Washington, D.C., also allows the recreational use of marijuana.

Research contact: @WallandBroad

Passing the buck: Trump says ‘I won’t be here’ when debt crisis blows up

December 7, 2018

Payback is a “bitch.” But Donald Trump is not worried about the $21 trillion national debt—up from $19.9 trillion on January 20, 2017—that the nation now owes, according to a December 5 report by the Daily Beast.

Sources close to the president say he has repeatedly shrugged it off—implying that he doesn’t have to worry about the money owed to America’s creditors, because he won’t be around to shoulder the blame when it becomes a crippling issue.

The friction came to a head in early 2017 when senior administration officials offered Trump charts and graphics laying out the numbers showing a spike in the national debt in the not-too-distant future, the online news outlet said.

“Yeah, but I won’t be here,” the president bluntly responded, according to a source who was in the room when Trump made the comment.

For those who have worked with Trump, the Daily Beast says, it was no surprise. Several people close to the president, both within and outside his administration, confirmed that the national debt has never bothered him in a truly meaningful way, despite his public lip service. “I never once heard him talk about the debt,” one former senior White House official attested.

What’s more, in Trump’s view, cutbacks aren’t even necessary. Instead he is focused on economic growth: Indeed, one current senior Trump administration official vented to the news outlet that Trump “doesn’t really care” about actually attacking the debt “crisis,” and prefers simply “jobs and growth, whatever that means.”

Rather than placing blame, Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesperson, passed the buck to the legislative branch. “While the president has and will continue to do everything in his power to rein in Washington’s out-of-control spending,” he said in an interview, “the Constitution gives Congress the power of the purse and it’s time for them to work with this president to reduce the debt.”

For the most part, the Daily Beast reports, the Republican Party has gone along—noting, “ Over the first two years of the Trump administration, congressional Republicans have slashed taxes dramatically while increasing defense and discretionary spending; all without giving much indication that they’re going to take a stab at dramatically gutting certain popular entitlements.”

In the end, right-leaning reformers shouldn’t stake their reputations on decreased spending. After all there is still a wall to build—and that will cost billions. A former Trump official added, “It’s not like it’s going to haunt him.”

Research contact: @swin24

Bigger isn’t better: Why a smaller engagement ring may signify a longer marriage

September 21, 2018

When you are trying to “size up” a woman’s relationship, don’t calculate in the size of her diamond ring. Recent research shows that couples who spend shrewdly and realistically on their engagement ring and wedding reception are more likely to have long-lasting marriages, according to a report by NBC News.

The ‘“A Diamond Is Forever’ and Other Fairy Tales” study—co-authored by Andrew Francis-Tan, a visiting associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore and Hugo M. Mialon, associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Economics at Emory University— examined the association between wedding spending and marriage duration using data from a survey of over 3,000 “ever-married adults” in the United States.

The researchers said that their goal was to establish whether spending a fortune on a ring and a wedding, (as we’re frequently inclined to do, often to our own regret) impacts the longevity of a marriage.

“Wedding industry advertising has fueled the norm that spending large amounts on the engagement ring and wedding is an indication of commitment or is helpful for a marriage to be successful,” Mialon told NBC News. “In either case, the general message [put out by the wedding industry and eagerly accepted by couples worldwide] is that wedding spending and marriage duration are positively correlated.”

But that’s not the case. In fact, there’s a sweet spot for how much a ring should—or shouldn’t—cost.  Through their research, Francis-Tan and Mialon found that men who spent between $2,000 and $4,000 on an engagement ring had a higher rate of divorce (of about 1.3 times) than men who spent between $500 and $2,000.

But the pendulum swings the other way, too. Spending less than $500 on an engagement ring was found to be associated with higher divorce rates in the sample of women surveyed.

However, the academics assert that these findings  “[do]not prove that high expenses on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony cause divorce;  only that high expenses on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony are positively correlated with divorce, holding constant a number of demographic and relationship characteristics, including income.

Their overall recommendation: It’s not about the price tag; it’s about what you can afford, NBC News reports. Do not spend your whole bank account on one day in your life, no matter how special. Your focus should be on the long-term health and vitality of your relationship.

“What could explain the observed negative association between wedding expenses and marriage duration? Perhaps those couples who tend to have lavish weddings are simply those couples who tend not to be the best match for each other,” Mialon told NBC.

“On the other hand,” he points out, “it is also possible that having an expensive wedding burdens [a couple] financially in a way that may later strain their marriage”

Research contact:  sppamft@nus.edu.sg

Secret shame: When FOMO drives you into debt

April 10, 2018

Do you spend in response to social pressure or FOMO (fear of missing out)? Whether it is the cost of an after-work drink, a new outfit for a party, tickets to a concert, the latest smartphone, or an Uber ride, we all ante up in order to be “included” in the experiences of our closest groups of friends.

In fact, nearly 40% of Millennials have spent money they don’t have and gone into debt to keep up with their peers, based on findings of a poll of 1,045 U.S. adults conducted by Credit Karma/Qualtrics.

What’s more, they’re afraid to admit it.

When a friend suggests doing something they can’t afford, 27% of Millennials feel uncomfortable saying “no.” And out of the 39% of Millennials who’ve gone into debt to keep up with their friends, nearly three-quarters (73%) have kept it a secret.

What they may not realize is that some of their friends may feel the same way. Two-thirds of Millennials regret spending more on social situations than they had planned, and one-third (36%) doubt they’ll be able to sustain this lifestyle for another year without going into debt.

This is especially concerning given that Millennial Credit Karma members in the United States each already have $46,713 in debt on average. 

Specifically, what do Millennials spend on because they’re afraid to miss out?

  • Going out with friends and having a good time is one of the top types of FOMO spending, with nearly 60% buying food, while 33% buy alcohol.;
  • Fully 21% of Millennials admit they feel pressured to spend money they don’t have for parties or nightlife.
  • Four out of 10 Millennials who overspent to keep up with their friends made travel purchases. That could include a two-week vacation, a weekend trip with their significant other or a trip to attend a friend’s wedding.
  • One-quarter of Millennials who have spent too much to keep up with their friends purchased tickets to a music event, while 17 percent attended a sporting event.

But it’s not all about experiences. Many M feel pressured to buy items such as clothes (41%), electronics (26%), jewelry (18%) and cars (16%) even when they can’t afford them.

However, there is some good news: Credit Karma found that more than half of respondents seemed to have their FOMO spending habits under control. Fifty-three percent of Millennials say they make purchases they can’t afford to keep up with their friends no more than once a year, while 25% of respondents say they never make FOMO purchases.

But there’s room for improvement: 25% of Millennials who have a FOMO spend several times each year, while 21% of respondents admit to making these purchases at least once a month.

Credit Karma also looked at how much young Americans typically spend each weekend when they’re hanging out with their friends: Most (69%) spend $100 or less over a typical weekend; while 15% spend between $101 and $250; 16, more than $250; and 7%, more than $500.

These responses don’t account for differences in the cost of living across the country. So while $100 might be a lot to spend in some areas, it doesn’t go as far in other places.

According to Expatistan’s cost of living index, a fancy dinner for two would cost $119 in New York City compared to only $74 in St. Louis. And a cocktail out on the town would cost $16 in New York City but only $8 in St. Louis.

Finally, Credit Karma found that 78% of Millennials who responded have a budget, but 20% of them go over their budget on a monthly basis to keep up with their friends.

Research contact: @Greg-Lull

Brands that backed away from NRA have seen big increases in word-of-mouth

March 2, 2018

Despite a significant increase in the number of people talking about the brands that have cut their ties with the National Rifle Association (NRA) following the February 14 mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, overall, consumer perceptions of those brands has remain unchanged, according to the findings of a YouGov BrandIndex released on March 1.

However, although brand perceptions remained the same, during the past week, the 17 brands that backed away from the NRA—among them, Delta, and Hertz, Enterprise, Avis and National Car Rental—have seen big increases in word-of-mouth.

Delta moved up from its previous word-of-mouth score of 9.3 to a current score of 15.3, according to YouGov. Hertz followed (1.5 to 5.5); as did Enterprise (3.7 to 6.9), Avis (1.0 to 3.5), National (0.3 to 2.6), United Airlines (9.4 to 11.2), and Budget Car Rental (1.2 to 2.9).

However, in measuring overall consumer perception, none of the 17 partner brands tracked has moved in a statistically significant way—which, YouGov states, may indicate that American consumers are applying equal positive and negative pressure, depending on their politics and position on gun control.

One brand did turn up high on two key metrics: United Airlines. The airline made the biggest gains in both buzz and general brand impression.

Research contact:  ted.marzilli@yougov.com