We will start 2018 with strong economic performance numbers from 2017. Looking at some key economic factors, we find the following:
The stock market - The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up over 32 percent since November 2016. On November 30 this year, the Dow closed at over 24,000 points for the first time, and has continued to rise in December, closing at 24,726.65 on December 20. The Dow has achieved dozens of new closing highs in 2017. And for the first time in its 121-year history, the Dow gained 5,000 points in a single year.
Unemployment – Standing at 4.8 percent in January, the U-3 unemployment rate of 4.1 percent on December 1 is at a low not seen in years, and the Federal Reserve is expecting that number to drop below 4 percent in 2018. The more dependable U-6 seasonally adjusted rate has dropped from 9.3 percent in November of 2016 to 8.0 percent last month.
Gross Domestic Product – GDP in the first quarter of 2017 was a paltry 1.2 percent, but grew in the second quarter to 3.1 percent and to 3.2 percent in the third quarter.
Retail Sales - The economic forecasters at the Commerce Department had predicted that November’s retail sales would increase by 0.3 percent, but were embarrassed at the actual increase of 0.8 percent, a miss that amounts to three-quarters of a billion dollars of economic activity.
Tax cuts - The new tax rates passed by Congress will give individuals, families and businesses more money to spend.
Welch & Forbes, LLC in its December “Economic Outlook,” had this to say: “The news on the economy had previously been good, but it just got better. … Consumer confidence is at a 17-year high, unemployment is at a 17-year low and businesses are flush with cash amid improving profits. Banks and other financial companies are doing especially well as they have accounted for two-thirds of the increase in third-quarter U.S. corporate profits.”
North Korea - The North Korean despot and his continued effort at developing nuclear weapons and rockets that can reach the USA and many of its allies raises tensions around the world.
Israel - Formal recognition by the United States of the ages-old reality that Jerusalem is indeed the capital of Israel has been met by objections, and violent demonstrations against the U.S.
Russian interference investigation - The investigation into supposed Russian “collusion” in the election has generated a year of Congressional investigation, and now months of a special counsel investigation that have come up empty. The only charges so far have had nothing to do with the Russians, the reason for a special counsel being appointed, and have already cost millions. This is a harmful distraction to the administration.
These events and activities do not bode well for positive effects on the country.
Some FBI agents and Department of Justice employees appear to allow political concerns to affect their sworn duty to the American people, apparently believing that their idea of who ought to be president is more important than the decision American citizens made at the polls.
Two FBI agents, Peter Strzok and his mistress Lisa Page, who were assigned to the special counsel’s team investigating Russia, had texted with each other during the 2016 campaign about protecting the country against Trump.
Interestingly, Strzok, had also led the FBI’s Clinton email investigation, and softened language in documents that had accused Hillary Clinton of criminal behavior.
In August of 2016, Strzok referred to an idea that appears to be intended to thwart Trump’s election during a meeting in FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s office. “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” he texted to Page. In the August 15, 2016 text, he said, “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”
Earlier that month, on August 6, Page had texted Strzok: “Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace.” He responded, “I can protect our country at many levels.”
And, there are more such texts.
Strzok was demoted or transferred to Human Resources from the special counsel’s investigative team.
Each of us has the right to their opinions, so this may be evidence of criminal intent, or may not be. However, even the most enthusiastic Democrat and/or liberal ought to understand and agree that this is not what the work that employees of the federal government, especially the FBI, are hired for.
There is also the question of whether the fake Trump dossier – the research for which was partly funded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, according to The Washington Post - was used to persuade the FISA court to issue wiretapping warrants against certain members of the Trump campaign and/or transition team.
Just how deep does this misbehavior of federal officials go?
All things considered, next year might be a very good one, or not.