Here's some potentially VERY good economic news that was lost amid the weekend news flurry.  Those…
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Some Potentially VERY Good Economic News

Here's some potentially VERY good economic news that was lost amid the weekend news flurry.  Those with "skin in the game," and who likely possess the best perspective, are betting heavily on an upturn, as highlighted by Friday's Wall Street Journal:

Corporate insiders are buying stock in their own companies at a pact not seen in years, a sign they are betting on a rebound after a coronavirus-induced rout.  More than 2,800 executives and directors have purchased nearly $1.19 billion in company stock since the beginning of March.  That's the third-highest level on both an individual and dollar basis since 1988, according to the Washington Service, which provides data analytics about trading activity by insiders."

Here's why that's important:

Because insiders typically know the…[more]

March 30, 2020 • 11:02 am

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U.S. Postal Service Must Reduce Waste and Address Growing Threat of Counterfeit Parcels Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, March 22 2018
[T]he USPS remains far less effective at spotting suspicious packages. ... It's therefore no surprise that international counterfeiters and illegal merchants have moved en masse to shipping their dangerous and defective goods via small parcel USPS mail.

No bureaucracy symbolizes government waste and incompetence like the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). 

That reputation is well-earned, which is unfortunate because postal delivery is one of the few federal government activities actually empowered by the Constitution's text. 

To address that longstanding problem, Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) over a decade ago in 2006 to reform a bureaucracy saddled with an atrocious reputation for inefficiency and waste. 

Here's how the Post Office's own official website describes the PAEA: 

The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 significantly changed how the U.S. Postal Service operates and conducts business.  In part, the Act provided new flexibility, particularly in competitive pricing for shipping services, enabling the Postal Service to respond to dynamic market conditions and changing customer needs for packages. 

So how has that worked out? 

Well, since 2007 the USPS has accumulated additional losses totaling $65.6 billion.  Mission not accomplished. 

And just last month, its latest financial report (required under the terms of the PAEA) for the first quarter of the 2018 fiscal year reported losses totaling $540 million.  Since 2014 alone, USPS expenses from all of its operations have increased from $66.3 billion to $70.5 billion in fiscal 2017. 

Thus, despite the PAEA's requirements and the USPS's own claim to have "significantly changed" how it operates, its fiscal tailspin has only accelerated in recent years. 

Making matters worse, the Post Office's difficulties are hardly limited to fiscal waste. 

This month, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee conducted a hearing on the growing threat to American consumers from counterfeit goods, particularly via e-commerce and USPS delivery. 

Small parcel delivery via the USPS stands particularly vulnerable to counterfeit goods, including dangerous narcotics, as detailed by Kasie Brill from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC): 

Cross-border e-commerce is growing exponentially.  Consumers can purchase products from all over the world and have them delivered straight to their doors with just the click of a button.  In fact, the U.S. Postal Service's (USPS) international small parcel business increased 232% from 2013 to 2017, when it received nearly half a billion packages. 

Out of those half a billion packages, USPS only had critical safety information on 36% of them.  In other words, millions of packages reached American consumers with little or no security screening at all.  Though most of these packages contained exactly what the consumer ordered, counterfeiters have discovered that small parcels are an easy means to distribute fake and often dangerous goods. 

Here's the problem.  Under the federal Trade Act of 2002, private commercial delivery services must gather and provide data on every package received to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).  That includes such information as the sender, recipient and content of the package.  International senders, however, can exploit the USPS to deliver their packages without similar scrutiny. 

Consequently, the USPS remains far less effective at spotting suspicious packages.  Moreover, the USPS remains under legal obligation to deliver its packages within a prompt window, so the likelihood of illicit parcels slipping through is exacerbated.  It's therefore no surprise that international counterfeiters and illegal merchants have moved en masse to shipping their dangerous and defective goods via small parcel USPS mail. 

Among other threats, that facilitates the growing fentanyl and other opioid abuse epidemic here in America. 

But as Ms. Brill explains, the threat from small parcels delivered via USPS extends beyond dangerous drugs: 

Each year, international counterfeiters ship more than $400 million worth of counterfeit goods to unsuspecting American customers.  Counterfeit brake pads for cars and airbags that fail;  counterfeit batteries and chargers that melt and catch fire;  and counterfeit clothing and toys that contain harmful chemicals are just a few examples of the dangerous counterfeit goods streaming into the U.S. largely as direct-to-consumer small parcels. 

Fortunately, the USPS's fiscal trajectory and small parcel vulnerabilities can be corrected if Congress, the White House, the private sector and the USPS itself work together. 

First, Congress and the White House can demand that foreign nations sending packages to U.S. consumers undertake greater care to identify and eliminate counterfeit and dangerous parcels headed our way.  As noted above, private U.S. delivery services already do so. 

More broadly, lawmakers can require the USPS to redirect its resources from experimental product areas like weekend package deliveries, same-day deliveries and even handling groceries to its core competencies like traditional mail.  That USPS reform can also include more effective tactics and technology to detect and remove counterfeit and dangerous parcels arriving on our shores for delivery to American consumers. 

Congress and the Trump Administration should act swiftly to correct the USPS's course and restore fiscal sustainability, before further damage is incurred and more American lives are lost. 

Question of the Week   
In which one of the following years did Congress first meet in Washington, D.C.?
More Questions
Quote of the Day   
 
"New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called on the federal government to take control of the medical supply market. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker demanded that President Trump take charge and said 'precious months' were wasted waiting for federal action. Some critics are even more direct in demanding a federal takeover, including a national quarantine.It is the legal version of panic shopping. Many seem…[more]
 
 
—Jonathan Turley, George Washington University Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law
— Jonathan Turley, George Washington University Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law
 
Liberty Poll   

Who is most to blame for the delay in passage of the critical coronavirus economic recovery (or stimulus) bill?