Could America just waltz back into the TPP?

The smartest insight and analysis, from all perspectives, rounded up from around the web:

President Trump can’t seem to make up his mind about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, said Natasha Bach at Fortune. Last week, Trump instructed his stunned economic advisers to look into re-entering the Obama-era trade pact with 11 Pacific Rim countries that he had effectively killed his first week in office. Pulling the U.S. out of the TPP was one of Trump’s few consistent policy positions on the campaign trail, where he’d repeatedly derided the pact as a “job killer” and a “disaster.” But he seemed to be waffling in recent weeks, after hearing complaints from farm-state Republican lawmakers that their constituents were going to suffer from his trade practices. By this week, however, the “brief flirtation” with the TPP appeared over yet again, said Shawn Donnan at the Financial Times. After meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago, Trump tweeted, “While Japan and South Korea would like us to go back into TPP, I don’t like the deal for the U.S.” That could just be Trump trying to play hardball on new concessions. Whatever the case, now that Trump’s “embroiled in an increasingly tense trade standoff with China,” which isn’t a party to the TPP, he’s probably beginning to see the logic of a pact with other Pacific countries.

Even if Trump wants to, rejoining the TPP “won’t be easy,” said Veronique de Rugy at National Review. When Trump “blew the whole thing up” last year, the remaining 11 nations didn’t just slink home empty-handed — they restarted negotiations and last month signed a new deal on their own, minus Washington’s hard-won demands on issues like intellectual-property requirements. Even though many of them would ultimately prefer the U.S. in the pact, because they want access to the American market and a balance against China, they have bristled at Trump’s suggestion that the U.S. could simply waltz back in, especially bearing new demands. Even if the U.S. gets a seat at the table, “it won’t come with the bargaining power and authority that it had the first time around.” Trump is proving to be “not a very good global economic chess player,” said Z. Byron Wolf at CNN​. He spent much of 2016 “railing against both China and the TPP and not realizing that one had everything to do …read more

Source:: The Week – Business


The price of procrastination

Here are three of the week’s top pieces of financial advice, gathered from around the web:

The price of procrastination
“Procrastinating on financial matters can cost you big in the long run,” said Russ Wiles at Arizona Central. Many Americans struggle with the pressure of planning for retirement, drafting a will, or developing a savings plan. Some are gripped by the fear of making a mistake, while others are intimidated by not knowing how to proceed. Delaying some matters can be especially costly. One of the worst financial behaviors is paying only the minimum on your credit cards, thinking that you will eventually ramp up payments. Compounding interest will just sink you further in debt. There’s also no better time than now to make sure that you have enough savings to cover three to six months’ worth of expenses, and to get serious about retirement. “Even individuals who start late with retirement planning can make headway if they just get going.”

Credit scores may jump
Tax liens will no longer be considered in your credit score, “a move that will make some risky borrowers appear more creditworthy,” said AnnaMaria Andriotis at The Wall Street Journal. As of this month, the three major credit-reporting companies will delete more than 5.5 million liens from consumers’ credit reports and “stop adding new tax lien information.” That means some consumers could see their credit scores go up, making them eligible for better loans and financing terms. The credit-rating firms have been “grappling with class-action lawsuits over their handling of consumers’ tax liens.” A number of suits accuse the firms of not updating information to reflect when the lien was withdrawn or paid.

Pushing back on property taxes
“If your property tax bills are increasing, you’re not alone,” said Ann Carrns at The New York Times. For most families, they’re the second-largest household expense after the mortgage. Property tax is calculated as a percentage of the average estimated market value of your area’s homes, usually between 1 and 2 percent, so rising prices can inflate your tax obligations. Many cities have also increased their rates, compounding the pain. Last year the average bill nationwide was $3,400, up 3 percent from 2016. If you feel your bill is too high, you can file an appeal. Check the details in your valuation report, such as the number of bedrooms. If anything is obviously wrong, call your …read more

Source:: The Week – Business


Cannabis could soon be a $100-million Edmonton industry, city official says

Edmonton could become the hub of a cannabis industry worth up to $100 million annually and employing 2,000 people in a couple of years, a city business official says.

“I do think the industry and its sectors will gravitate here because of the (provincial) privatization model and because the city is welcoming to all legal sectors,” senior business specialist Brad White said Friday.

“Industry is in our blood and agriculture is in our blood. I think we will be in a really good spot.”

White thinks transportation links, sunshine, plentiful water and good regulation mean Edmonton could become Canada’s main centre for the marijuana business.

This would help diversify the economy, with many local jobs expected in retail stores and creating products such as pot chocolates after Canada allows edibles next year, he said.

“The window of opportunity is only so big, and we want to get ahead of this,” said White, who has been working to develop an Edmonton medical and recreational cannabis industry since the federal Liberals were elected in 2015.

City council will hold public hearings next month to discuss proposed zoning changes to accommodate cannabis stores, which will be owned by private companies in Alberta, unlike some other provinces.

White, who spoke to the Edmonton chapter of NAIOP, the commercial real estate development association, said Canadian medical pot being exported to Europe is highly regarded and attracts premium prices.

Although the field has grown massively in Colorado since recreational weed was legalized in 2014 and now accounts for 18,000 jobs in Denver alone, banking restrictions are so onerous many companies must deal strictly in cash, he said.

He advised people setting up grow facilities in Edmonton to have $2 million available to cover delays in getting federal licences and high operating costs, such as upgraded ventilation systems and power consumption 10 times higher than other industrial buildings.

At the same time, more competition might lead to lower wholesale prices — a pound of pot has dropped to around $400 from about $1,200 since California allowed recreational consumption this year, he said.

Numerous niche businesses will develop in Edmonton once non-medical cannabis is legalized in Canada this summer, providing work for lawyers, engineers, real estate agents, distributors and quality testers, he said.

Pot tourism hasn’t grown as expected in Colorado, but many firms encourage visitors as part of the branding crucial to developing a loyal customer base, he said.

White, who sits on civic and provincial committees looking at …read more

Source:: Edmonton Journal – Business