All posts by Peter Jefferson

Peter Jefferson

About Peter Jefferson

Peter Jefferson is a full-time researcher for www.businessdistrict.com, a task he took on in 2011 when the site was launched. He brings to the position a wealth of practical experience in the field of fiscal policy, having consulted with various government bodies on revenue collection, expenditure and economic growth. Contact Peter at peter[at]businessdistrict.com

As US Violence Escalates Countries Warn Citizens to Take Care

In what is either a sign of the dangerous level of violence now plaguing the US or an overseas overreaction to that violence, three countries have issued travel advisories to their citizens planning on traveling to the United States.

The embassy of the tiny Middle Eastern island nation of Bahrain in the US issued a warning to its citizens visiting the US to “be cautious of protests or crowded areas occurring around the US.”

The Caribbean nation of Bahamas, where the majority of citizens identify as having a black African heritage, advised its people to be cautious when visit US cities which have had “shootings of young black males by police officers.”

“In particular young males are asked to exercise extreme caution in affected cities in their interactions with the police. Do not be confrontational and cooperate,” Bahamas foreign ministry said in a travel advisory.

Students and other citizens of the United Arab Emirates visiting the US have also been warned to practice caution during their travels. The warnings are evocative of the comparable warnings issued by the US State Department to citizens traveling to countries where extremists have perpetrated violent acts against their own citizens as well as visitors.

“Please be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid crowded places when possible,” the UAE embassy said, urging people to stay away from any U.S. demonstrations. “Exercise particular caution during large festivals or events, be alert and stay safe.”

US Business Urging Obama and Congress to Engage PM Modi on Economic Issues

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi at Government Buildings, Dublin on September 23, 2015. Picture courtesy of Narendra Modi.

The Alliance for Fair Trade with India is pressing President Obama and Congress to move forward with the US economic relationship with India, taking advantage of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US scheduled for June.

The Alliance, which represents a broad rand of businesses from manufacturing to pharmaceuticals, has sent letters to the president and congressman saying that Modi’s visit is an important event which should include discussions about crucial commercial issues which are harming India’s ability to grow its trade economy.

“We hope you will use this visit to engage with the Prime Minister to advance both discussions and concrete action to produce a stronger and more-promising U.S.-India commercial relationship,” the Alliance wrote.

“A strong and vibrant U.S.-India relationship is beneficial not only to our two countries, but also to greater growth and opportunity throughout the world.”

Inflation-Plagued Venezuela to Print Larger Denomination Bills

Aerial view of Caracas from Plaza Venezuela.
Aerial view of Caracas from Plaza Venezuela. Photo by Paulino Moran

 

With inflation at 181 percent, Venezuela has the highest inflation in the world. A top finance official in the government said that due to the runaway inflation, Venezuela will be force to print paper money of larger denominations. Right now the country’s largest bill has a value of only ten cents.

The first confirmation that Venezuela will be issuing larger notes came from Central Bank President Nelson Merentes in an interview with the Associated Press. Rumors have been circulating for months that Venezuela was planning such a step.

Market economists believe that larger bills will only quicken the already nightmarishly skyrocketing inflation, make it more difficult to bring under control.

Merentes, disagreeing with that assessment, said the new money will reduce panic in the public, reducing price pressures since “you’re going to have less bills circulating.”

This is a big project that will take us to a monetary system more in line with the Venezuelan situation,” Merentes said.

Hysteria Grips US Malls as Thousands Evacuated in Multiple Bomb Scares

Saturday was a crazy day at the mall in America as thousands of Christmas shoppers were evacuated in light of bomb and other threats of violence.

The evacuations come on the heels of a highly publicized terrorist attack in San Bernardino in which 14 were killed and over 20 people injured.

At the outdoor Largo Mall near Tampa, Florida 500 people were told to leave after an empty suitcase caused concern. In Hackensack, New Jersey the two-floor Riverside Mall was evacuated when someone noticed a bomb threat written on a bathroom wall. Across the country in New Mexico, at the Animas Valley Mall in Farmington, another restroom message caused the police to evacuate and close the mall as they searched for the threat. On San Francisco’s iconic Embarcadero an ownerless backpack sent the police into suspicious mode, clearing the area and carefully examining the lone backpack for bombs or other threats.

No bombs or other threats were found in any of these incidents. The disruption and delays caused by the threats did interrupt the smooth flow of commerce on what was one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

US Companies Training Foreigners to Replace Homegrown Workers

Toys “R” Us at Vaughan Mills. Photo by Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine

According to an investigation conducted by the New York Times, some US companies are training foreign workers in the US using temporary visas and then sending them offshore to work.

Companies like Toys ‘R’ Us and New York Life Insurance bring foreign employees into the US to train them to do the jobs which are done in their home offices in the US. After the worker has learned the job of the American employee, the US worker is then fired. The foreign worker goes home and begins his new job there.

The NY Times reports one example of a former employee of Toys ‘R’ Us who stated that a woman from India on a temporary visa sat with her for a month this past spring while she performed her job as an accountant at the toy company’s headquarters in Wayne, New Jersey.

“The woman…studied and recorded the accountant’s every keystroke, taking screen shots of her computer and detailed notes on how she issued payments for toys sold in the company’s megastores,” according to Julia Preston, the New York Times’ National Immigration Correspondent.

Many of the foreign workers were in the US on a special visa program known as H-1B. This program lets American companies hire foreigners if they are professionals with “highly specialized knowledge” which the company needs. However, the federal guidelines for the program say that the employers must sign a statement that declares that the hiring of the foreign workers “will not adversely affect the working conditions” of Americans or lower their wages.”

The fired workers stated that the foreign workers did not have specialized skills, and their employers forced them to train the foreigners, threatening to force them to resign if they refused.

“At the very least, those are violations of the spirit of the law,” Christine Brigagliano, a lawyer who advises companies on obtaining visas..  “Those contractors are signing on the bottom line, saying we will not undercut the wages and working conditions of Americans. But, in fact, they are.”