For what it’s worth, three GDP-forecasting models are consistent in their results that 2018’s Q4 annualized growth rate will come in at the range of 2.4 percent (Oxford Economics), 2.48 percent (New York Federal Reserve), 2.6 percent (Bloomberg Consensus), and 2.7 percent (Atlanta Federal Reserve). Bloomberg Consensus has downgraded its forecast for 2019 Q1 to 2.16 percent, which is expected. The general feeling among financial analysts is that 2019 will see an economic slowdown, but remain well short of a recession.
Shutdown: 28 days. Yesterday, President Trump cancelled Speaker Pelosi’s Congressional delegation to Belgium and Afghanistan while Democrats were sitting on the bus waiting to go to Andrews Air Force Base. Both Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) were reportedly furious. He also cancelled the U.S. delegation to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum. Both trips were cancelled due to the partial government shut down. But after Pelosi disinvited him from giving the State of the Union Address in the House chamber, President Trump showed that she’s not the only one capable of giving short shrift. As far as shut down talks go, according to one Hill reporter, Pelosi had not planned further negotiations until Congress reconvened later this month. Congress is scheduled to be out all of next week. The next move for Pelosi is to use House appropriations bills to stop Trump’s agenda priorities, a near certainty now. The rest of 2019 is likely to become even uglier.
On a related note: The Department of Defense is fully funded through September, although some military contractor companies are also paying employees who provide support outside the Defense Department. Many of those contracts aren’t being paid. That means the viability of these contractor companies is being put at risk. Adversaries know this, and financial need is a key motivator for U.S. officials to conduct espionage on behalf of the foreign governments that pay them. At this point, the shutdown represents a dire and growing counterintelligence risk.
Impeachment: It’s Buzzfeed, so take this with a grain of salt, however, they’re reporting that according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in the investigation (presumably the Mueller investigation), President Trump directed his former attorney to lie to Congress about a real estate deal in Moscow. This could be a bit of circular reporting: Michael Cohen was the first to describe this series of events, so the two law enforcement officials could be acknowledging the Cohen accusation instead of confirming their own new evidence. But, still, this development is already fueling House talk of impeachment for obstruction of justice. Here’s the thing: for Democrats at this point, the accusations piling up give the perception of wrong-doing and they may not even require proof before they move to impeach. I’ve long thought that Democrats would bring an impeachment vote, and the case for impeachment, as many House Democrats see it, is bulletproof. Still, Pelosi — so far — has maintained that any impeachment proceeding would be bi-partisan.
Border Wall: The Justice Department recently published a job posting for two attorneys based in McAllen and Brownsville, Texas. The two attorneys will be providing support to “border wall civil litigation” for the DOJ in South Texas — a signal that President Trump might pursue the national emergency option to seize property to build the wall.
Thanks to Forward Observer.