Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Drug Regulations and Fed Moves

I'm once again too busy to give this blog the attention it deserves, but I didn't want a day to slip by without highlighting some of the news we might be missing.

We've all gotten the news about Neil Gorsuch.  There's little that I can add to this discussion other than to point out he's been nominated and that President Trump has encouraged the GOP to "go nuclear" in terms of his confirmation process.  Here's an Op Ed basically arguing that he won't be so bad from a liberal POV.  I am in no way saying I agree with same.  I file this Op Ed under "food for thought" and nothing more.  It's always good to read a different perspective, even if you don't agree with it.

It's of historic note that Neil is the son of Anne Gorsuch, who was the head of Reagan's EPA.  Ronald Reagan famously said “trees cause more pollution than automobiles do,” and that if “you’ve seen one tree you’ve seen them all.”  It's a shame that an entire party insists on living in the dark when it comes to environmental issues, but what can you do?  Yeah, trees!  Those things that provide us with oxygen!  Who needs 'em?

Anyways, President Trump met with drug makers to assure them that he'd ease up on the onerous regulations under which they'd been suffering.  To make a long story short, apparently the President thinks that it is taking too long for new drugs to hit the market.  Surely, doing away with the requirement that drugs be tested for safety before they hit the market would speed things up a hair.

More intriguingly, the President made vague threats towards the pharmaceutical industry that he may allow Medicare to negotiate directly with the drug markets, which would likely radically reduce prices for prescription drugs.  I would be thrilled if he followed through on this threat, but so far it's all talk and no concrete action.  Prove me wrong, Mr. President!

There's lingering suspicion that Donald Trump doesn't really mean it when it comes to his economic populism; that that was all talk to win the election and nothing else.  It is very interesting that he's chosen to lead with the Muslim Ban and the Wall and not with his big infrastructure plan.  That suggests that perhaps his infrastructure plan is very much up in the air.  The business community has had a tepid reaction at best to the concept of tariffs.  Will the President stand up to the business community as he has to a handful Muslim-majority nations that exclude the most populous and radical ones?

President Trump could greatly allay concerns about his populist sincerity by swiftly moving to allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies directly concerning pricing.  Now: will he do that?

I'm going to keep it short today and sign off for now, but I note that the Fed today did not raise rates.   That is good news, since inflation appears to be slowing, meaning fewer hires and fewer raises.  Until we actually get a highly stimulative infrastructure plan, let's hope the Fed keeps those rates down and angers the "strong dollar" people.

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