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10.28.2022 by David Robinson

Britain and China Seize the Headlines

Britain Gets New Prime Minister (Ready for Rishi?): In a prior newsletter, we noted that Liz Truss, the successor to the mercurial Boris Johnson as Britain’s Prime Minister, had rattled Britain’s and the global financial markets by announcing tax cuts for Britain’s wealthiest taxpayers and corporations. The financial markets viewed these tax cuts as fiscally imprudent, forcing Britain’s central bank to intervene in the British bond market to support British bonds and its currency. This policy debacle led to Truss’ resignation. Rishi Sunak is Britain’s new prime minister. Our initial reaction is that Sunak will provide more leadership stability to Britain at a critical time. BBC Washington Post

China and U.S. Facing More Direct Competition: Xi Jinping has consolidated his control of China by seizing a third term as its leader and installing more loyalists in key positions. Some global capital fled China in response. Xi’s policy statements reflect the expectation that there will be increased future competition with the U.S. Likewise, the Biden administration has announced restrictions on China’s ability to import U.S. advanced microchip technology and moved to confront Chinese technology espionage in the U.S. Axios Wall Street Journal Vox

War in Ukraine Will Increase Our Winter Heating Bill: The military combat is in Europe, but the economic repercussions are being felt globally. New Englanders will experience higher heating costs this winter as a result. Putin is betting that the tolerance for higher energy costs in the U.S. and Europe will translate to weaker support for Ukraine. We hope not. Press Herald Axios

U.S. Education Test Scores Fall: The Covid-19 pandemic has done a number, literally, on the latest U.S. reading and math scores for 4th and 8th graders. If we cannot reverse this trend quickly, it becomes deeply concerning as we become collectively less skilled as a country. CNN Axios

Is the U.S. Economy Better Off Than Most Think? A recent survey of economists by Reuters indicates that the U.S. economy grew 2.1% in the third quarter. The latest GDPNow model is showing 2.9% growth. Atlanta Fed CNN Or Not? In the latest Wall Journal survey, most of the economists surveyed predict a U.S. recession within the next twelve months. Wall Street Journal

Favorable Tax Bracket and Deduction Adjustment in 2023: You can expect to get some income tax relief in 2023. The IRS has announced its inflation driven adjustments to the standard deduction and to the income tax brackets. The standard deduction for an individual increases to $13,850 and for married couples to $27,700. The brackets move up too, meaning that more income will be taxed at lower marginal rates. These favorable adjustments are the highest for taxpayers since 1985. Washington Post

The Rise of TikTok: Apparently, TikTok, the social media video site, is taking over the internet (a small exaggeration) with a meteoric rise in on-line viewing market share. What got my attention is reading that it gets more visits than Google. TikTok Washington Post While geared to a younger audience, older internet users are getting their TikTok game on too. AARP has leaped into the breach with a user guide for the senior. AARP Note to self: ask Rosie, my 12-year-old granddaughter, to explain TikTok to me.

Lifestyle Notes:

  • Walking As a Magic Elixir: Walking on average close to 10,000 steps a day reduces your risk of dementia by 50% per a new study. If that information fails to move you (pun intended), walking also slashes your risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer proportional to the number of steps you take and your walking speed. SciTechDaily
  • Get High on Mindfulness Training: New research shows that mindfulness training boosts theta waves in the brain, leading to a “natural high”. The mindfulness technique is based on a simple breath awareness meditation. Apart from the “feel good” that most anyone can enjoy, the impact on the brain offers a promising path to the treatment of various types of addictions. Neuroscience News
  • Understanding Ukraine: Professor Timothy Snyder is a preeminent expert on understanding modern Ukraine. Credit Gerrit Petersons, RSWA Advisor, for alerting me to these fascinating and free YouTube videos of his Yale lectures on “The Making of Modern Ukraine”. YouTube
  • Military Leadership Tip for Personal Effectiveness: The linked article talks about how the military effectively separates the roles of strategic thinking (the general) and action (the soldier). On reflection, I think it’s a useful distinction, probably because the roles engage different parts of the brain. Entrepreneur
  • Reducing Your Phone Addiction: Anyone who thinks that we do not have an issue with phone addiction (for want of a better term) should look around in the waiting area of an airport terminal and see what percentage of waiting passengers are on the phones. 90%? The linked article offers some remedies. I plan to experiment more with “greyscale”, a simple technique for making the screen less visually appealing. New York Times
  • Top 100 New England Restaurants: My advice is to avoid reading this one on an empty stomach. It must be almost totally subjective, but this is still a fun list. The Elephantine Bakery in Portsmouth comes in at #4. Hot Suppa, the Portland breakfast place, shows out at #5. Bite Into Maine, which is in Cape Elizabeth, and is new to me also makes the top 10 at #7. Yelp
  • Martha Stewart Hits Up Portland Bakeries and a Dave “True Story”: For those who missed this one, this is a cool story about Martha recently visiting Norimoto Baking and Standard Baking in Portland. Press Herald Now for the true story. I once found myself standing behind Lyle Lovett, the singer-songwriter, while making a cookie run at Standard Baking. As much as I was dying to ask him how he and Julia Roberts got together, I exercised self-restraint (another interpretation would be that I wimped out) and respected his privacy. For the very few who may be curious: “Lovett married actress Julia Roberts after meeting her on the set of The Player. Following a three-week romance, they eloped and married in June 1993 in Marion, Indiana. In March 1995, they divorced after less than two years of marriage. People magazine reported that the breakup was caused by career demands. They remained friends afterwards.” Lyle Lovett - Wikipedia
  • The #1 Soft Skill Predicting Children’s Success? One parenting expert says that the skill is perseverance. I believe it. The expert offers some terrific tips on how this trait can be taught. CNBC

A Quote to Consider:I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

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