Good morning. Here’s your Daily SITREP for Tuesday, 22 August 2023.
- READ TIME: 5 Minutes, 8 Seconds
- Inside the Beltway
- (1) Second Government Shutdown Alarm Sounding
- (2) Biden Taps Veteran Union Official as Top Labor Advisor
- Domestic INTSUM
- (3) S&P Global: Car Loan Default Alert
- (4) U.S. Discount Retailers Dominating
- (5) Blue States Expand Immigrant Police Hiring Laws
- Global SITREP
- (6) Poland Approved for $12 BLN U.S. Apache Helicopter Buy
- (7) U.S. Navy is Rushing to Field Hypersonics
- (8) U.S. and E.U. Citizens Urged to Leave Belarus Immediately
- (9) BRICS Looks to Expand Economic Alliance
- (10) Israel Hits Iranian Targets Near Damascus
INSIDE THE BELTWAY
- (1) SECOND GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN ALARM SOUNDING: In a press release yesterday, the House Freedom Caucus said it would oppose a “clean” Continuing Resolution (CR) unless the CR includes the Secure the Border Act of 2023 and ends “woke” Pentagon policies.
- The Freedom Caucus added that they would oppose an attempt to use multiple CRs to “push Congress up against a December deadline” to force the passage of an omnibus spending bill without cuts.
- Why It Matters: The second indicator that Goldman Sachs analysts, and Forward Observer, identified as a sign that we are headed towards a government shutdown is now occurring. Democrats have less to lose than Republican leadership and allies in the House and have said they will wait and see what Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) can get to the floor before they step in to avert a shutdown. – R.C.
- (2) BIDEN TAPS VETERAN UNION OFFICIAL AS TOP LABOR ADVISOR: President Biden picked longtime union official and former Transportation Department aide Brendan Danaher to join the National Economic Council to replace Celeste Drake as his top labor policy advisor.
- NEC Director Lael Brainard said, “Brendan’s deep experience and relationships in government and the labor movement will make him a tremendous asset as the National Economic Council’s Labor Deputy.”
- Why It Matters: The Biden White House likely picked Danaher to help manage the possible United Auto Workers strike that could hit at the same time Congress and the White House will be negotiating spending bills or a Continuing Resolution to stave off a government shutdown. – R.C.
- (3) S&P GLOBAL: CAR LOAN DEFAULT ALERT: Borrowers with low credit scores are missing car payments at the highest rate since 2008.
- The average new car loan has a monthly payment of $750 – over a 40% increase since 2018.
- Since early 2020, more than a third of new car buyers had student loans, and after a 3-year grace period, these loan payments will resume in October.
- Why It Matters: Starting this fall, consumers already squeezed by high car payments will struggle even more. Expect falling consumer confidence and calls for more government intervention in the economy, allowing D.C. politicians to “ride to the rescue” and score political points for their reelection bids. – H.B.
- (4) U.S. DISCOUNT RETAILERS DOMINATING: Americans have flocked to discount stores with rapidly rising living expenses.
- Walmart beat revenue, and earnings estimates and now expects annual net sales growth of 4-4.5% – up from previously expected sales growth of 3.5%.
- Ross Stores reported a 6.5% increase in year-over-year sales for Q2 2023.
- Why It Matters: During the 2008-2009 recession, Walmart’s sales boomed, and the company even opened 150 new stores across America. While many companies will suffer in the next recession, which we expect in 2024, Walmart and other discount stores should do well. – H.B.
- (5) BLUE STATES EXPAND IMMIGRANT POLICE HIRING LAWS: State legislation passed in California, Colorado, and Illinois authorizes state and local police agencies to hire non-citizen immigrants who are protected from deportation by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policies or who have work permits issued by the Department of Homeland Security.
- Lawmakers in Nevada, Wisconsin, and New Jersey have also considered state laws allowing non-citizens to serve as law enforcement officers.
- Why It Matters: Officials are citing a hiring crisis for why they need to expand hiring to non-citizens, but Democratic state and local officials have created conditions that incentivize cops to retire or resign. It is difficult to see how hiring non-citizens, especially those who entered the country illegally, to police American streets wouldn’t undermine the legitimacy of state and local law enforcement. – R.C.
- (6) POLAND APPROVED FOR $12 BLN U.S. APACHE HELICOPTER BUY: The U.S. State Department approved a $12 billion Apache attack helicopter buy on Monday.
- Poland will reportedly buy 96 of the advanced attack helicopters to equip six attack helicopter squadrons.
- The buy includes Stinger and Hellfire missiles, spare AH-64E engines, and Advanced Precision Kill missile guidance systems.
- Why It Matters: This is a big sale for Boeing and its AH-64E plant in Mesa, Arizona. The purchase also signals that Poland is serious about concerns about Russian expansion into the Suwalki Gap following a potential victory in Ukraine. – M.M.
- (7) U.S. NAVY IS RUSHING TO FIELD HYPERSONICS: The USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) entered Ingalls shipyard this past weekend to have hypersonic missiles installed that will not exist until 2025.
- The Government Accountability Office said if the missile is not ready by 2025, the destroyer’s yard period will have to be extended.
- Why It Matters: This strongly indicates the Navy believes they will need the weapon before they would finish a normal testing schedule. Forward Observer has warned that China will likely move on Taiwan before the West’s 2027 timeline. The Navy may have indicators that China will initiate a war much sooner. – J.V.
- (8) U.S. AND E.U. CITIZENS URGED TO LEAVE BELARUS IMMEDIATELY: The Biden administration, along with the U.K., France, and a handful of European Union countries, urged their citizens to immediately leave Belarus.
- The urgent travel warning comes after Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia closed their borders with Belarus.
- The U.S. State Department warned travelers leaving Belarus to avoid transiting through Russia and Ukraine.
- Why It Matters: The urgent nature of the warning indicates that the Biden administration believes there will be a significant change in the status quo in Eastern Europe. The warning could be tied to escalating tensions between Poland and Belarus. The U.S. State Department ominously stated that U.S. citizens remaining in Belarus should not rely on the U.S. government for assistance. – M.M.
- (9) BRICS LOOKS TO EXPAND ECONOMIC ALLIANCE: Leaders from BRICS countries kicked off their annual conference today in South Africa to discuss reinforcing their alliance as a counterweight to the West.
- China plans to use the BRICS summit to build a broader anti-West coalition and to advance its de-dollarization agenda for world trade.
- Why It Matters: Despite the current baked-in dollar dominance in international trade, a number of countries are looking for an alternative to the global financial payments system. China is pushing for de-dollarization as a way to advance its Global Security Initiative through the Eastern alliance and the developing world. While a BRICS alternative currency to the dollar is unrealistic right now, a shift to commodity-based and local currencies will likely chip away at the reserve currency status of the U.S. dollar. – M.M.
- (10) ISRAEL HITS IRANIAN TARGETS NEAR DAMASCUS: Israel launched two missile strikes against Iranian-linked targets near Damascus, Syria, late Monday night.
- Syrian government officials said the strike caused some material damage and minor injuries.
- The Iranian-linked targets are likely Iranian-backed militias fighting on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the ongoing civil war.
- Why It Matters: Israel is increasing attacks on Iranian-linked groups that Tehran could use to attack Israel. An ongoing low-level Israeli fight against Hezbollah could break into full-scale open warfare as Hezbollah is currently building infrastructure on the approaches to Israel’s northern border. Israel has repeatedly warned that it will prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapons capability, and these attacks are likely defensive, shaping operations ahead of a potential Israeli military strike inside Iran’s borders. – M.M.
— END REPORT
M.S. indicates analyst commentary from Mike Shelby
M.M. indicates analyst commentary from Max Morton
J.V. indicates analyst commentary from Jared Vaughn
R.C. indicates analyst commentary from Robert Cook
H.B. indicates analyst commentary from Harrison Burge
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