Thursday, December 8, 2022

Speed Brake

Speed Brake

If ever there was a speed brake on the economy, it is the ironically titled "American Rescue Plan." The keystone language in this travesty of a Bill is the issuance of 1099-Ks for "transactions totaling a cumulative of $600 per year." Think about this for a moment. What better way to kill small business, prevent new business, and ramp up the police state than searching for needles in the haystack? Meanwhile, the barn door is wide open out back with government spending giving drunken sailors a good name.

Similar to the laughingly false "Inflation Reduction Act," which promises to reduce inflation by spending more, the "American Rescue Plan" aims to HELP Americans by raising their taxes, lowering taxable thresholds, and adding 87,000 more enforcement agents to "help" them. Cue up the Ronald Reagan quote of the nine most dangerous words in the English language: "I'm from the Government, and I'm here to help."

Let's get serious people! As readers of this blog well know, we are big believers in the Laffer Curve. This economic principle illustrates that there is a strong relationship between taxation and tax returns. As so elegantly illustrated above, when you squeeze the lemon too much you don't get more juice. In fact, you get less juice.

Consider for a moment the contribution of Small Business to the American Economy. Small Businesses account for two-thirds of new jobs and half of all existing jobs. The Small Business sector generates almost HALF of this country's GDP.  So what happens when the jackboot of government is on the throat of Small Business? Well, nothing good happens. Productivity crashes. Output contracts. The lemon shrivels up.

There is little doubt this has been a coordinated effort to reallocate capital. Congressional bills don't write themselves. They are typically written by lobbyists paid by special interests. So if Small Businesses are the losers, who are the winners? Winners would be those who typically don't need or have a Small Business or side hustle. They would be those with local, State, and Federal government jobs, labor unions, and big business executives. Collectively 15% of the population will seemingly reap significant benefits from the other 85%, but there is a flip side to this coin.

To have Government welfare programs and an expansive state, it is first necessary to have a thriving economy. Not many people know JFK passed some of the largest tax cuts in American history. He knew that a thriving economy is based on a free-market with light regulation. Light regulation does not mean no regulation, ie bad actors like Samuel Bank-Fried and the beneficiaries of his largess need to be held to account. The French coined this approach best with the term "Laissez-Faire."

What is an investor to do? Until there is a regime change, investors not plugged into the political gravy train need to stay in their foxholes; consider dividend paying large companies with monopolistic pricing power and brand recognition. If their products are vital or addictive, so much the better. The landscape for startups is barren as the moon, never mind Mars. Raising capital in an increasing interest rate environments during a recession is pointless. Cash in this environment sits in risk-free Treasury Bills.

When the Laffer Curve is ignored, or even mocked, and a turn is taken into a socialist regime then the capitalist must look for safety, income, and muted growth until an opportunity emerges to make a move into pro-growth, low-tax, and economically sound policy. It might be a while.
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