Sree Iyer: Hello and welcome to PGurus Channel. This is Episode Number 92, the 5th of February and I’m joined by Sridhar Chityalaji. Sridharji, namaskar and welcome to PGurus Channel.
Sridhar Chityala: Namaskar and good morning to everybody.
Sree Iyer: We start today with the headline item the US Stimulus, looks like there has been an agreement reached people have been working late into the night yesterday, to come up to an agreement. What are the Salient Points, sir?
Sridhar Chityala: I think that the first and foremost salient point is that Harris steps in to break the tie. Because it’s a 50/50, so, the question was asked whether she would step in but, she has come in and voted it so that in the Senate to break the Time. The features are that $1,400 is now on, $400 unemployment allowances is on till 10 September, 70 billion dollars is 50 plus 20 for Covid and expanded vaccination program for 20 billion hundred and 350 billion dollars, which is for the local school’s administration that encompasses also the small business administration support. Remember, there’s also 350 billion or 400 billion dollars worth of unused load sitting in the treasury and so, you have that. Then you have the 170 billion dollars for schools, K-12 schools for the reopening just on that point, they’re still dispute going on between school unions and the state in terms of opening are not opening the schools and Biden has also weighed in on that. Then, 30 billion dollars is rental supplements. So, these are the kind of salient features. They have passed into a resolution bill and which means that the Senate debated and there are quite a few amendments that were discussed. Just to make the point it has nothing to do with the pandemic such as immigration, such as taxation, such as abortions, such as schools Etc., but, they became kind of the marquee political scoring points, but Democrats used their vote to get it through, they were very much in support of their Progressive agenda.
So, where we saw some amendments? We saw some amendments in three specific areas, one, they realized that at this pandemic stage, it’s not appropriate to raise the minimum wage to $15. So, therefore that is agreed. Second, the $1,400 people seem to have buckled and said that this is only for low income that is those who have a combined family income of greater than 150 thousand dollars, they may not be eligible. So, I think that those two things seem to have got in as an amendment. So, seven Democrats opposed Biden’s ban on fracking and two Democrats post cancellation of the Keystone XL. They may be some support coming for that in the House, when it goes back to the House for the final vote, basically, because there are some very vulnerable House Representatives from those States and would get impacted, when the polls happen in 2022 the next elections, some of these House seats come up for voting, so, that would have an impact.
Also, I think that the other important facet that is being looked at as part of this is the 50,000 dollar increase or waiver from $10,000 to student loans, whether that will be tacked to these packages, we don’t know but, that very much seems to be part of it. But, there is a very key item that people must recognize is namely 42 Senate Democrats supported the direct payments to illegal aliens. So, illegal aliens being given money on a covid relief are being supported by 42 Democrats. What happens in the House remains to be seen? There are 12 million of them, of which it may not be all 12 million are eligible. But, that’s kind of a substantive issue. Democrats have also made it a point to mention that they will be another reconciliation budget passed later this year, for things such as Environment Green, Green energy and Paris Accord Etc., would be passed. So, we now have gone past this scenario of all executive orders and reconciliation recognizing that’s the only way the progressive agenda of the Democrats is going to get through not a good precedence, but that’s where we are.
Sree Iyer: What is the top line now, is it still 1.9 trillion?
Sridhar Chityala: Yes, the top line is on 1.9 million.
Sree Iyer: Let’s move on to the impeachment circus, I say a circus because it’s now established beyond doubt that it is unconstitutional. It has never happened before not only that this also paves way for the impeachment of many other presidents. It could be Democrat. It could be Republicans. Where do things stand out?
Sridhar Chityala: Where things stand now is the Trump attorneys effectively started this whole thing is unconstitutional. So, therefore they would not want President Trump to be in person deposing in the trial, so that’s number one. Number two, their strategy is very simple to display timeline, images, speeches Etc. to make their case that there is nothing that a President Trump has stated is unconstitutional and he is within the rights of the First Amendment. And so, therefore, this whole thing is a quagmire or a sham that is being created by Democrats.
Now the story is whether they will feature four specific videos which fox and few other channels have been featuring. For example Maxine Waters statement, for example, Chuck Schumer statement, for example, Nancy Pelosi statement, for example, Alexandria Cortez statement on their provocative kind of speeches in front of people captured on public television, whether those features will be used as instances, to say where does this say or should this also, therefore, qualified where they are not part of the First Amendment. So, whether they would be featured we don’t know but that’s that could be a pleasant surprise and it’ll be interesting to see how the Democrats defend that particular piece. Effectively, this is a no-show, there are not enough votes but it’s a drama that will happen.
Sree Iyer: Well, the drama is playing out much to the detriment of President Biden in my opinion because there are so many other things that need his kind attention, for instance, the belligerents of China and we will come to that in just a moment. Sir, there has been a very interesting development as far as a Hunter Biden case is concerned the FBI agent Alphin who is investigating this, was killed yesterday in Florida, when he was executing a warrant, isn’t it? Can you share a little bit of details?
Sridhar Chityala: I think that they were the two FBI agents who had to go to serve the subpoenas, were caught in the melee and in a shootout. Both of them were killed. We don’t want to sound conspiracy. We do not want to kind of put any conspiracy theories here, but the fact is that it seems too coincidental that the guys who were serving on what they believe to be, a couple of potential witnesses who seemed to have been featured in this videos, which they have discovered on this computer on a paedophile. So, where is cause we just have to be cautious? when this goes we need to be this whole thing seems to be around not only around corruption, but the whole slew of paedophile type of issues and trafficking and so on. So, we need to wait and see as more evidence comes out to be very specific but it’s quite alarming that the FBI agents could be killed in the process of serving a subpoena to witnesses who they were identified as part of the investigation.
Sree Iyer: We have predicted this at the beginning of the Biden term that this will hang on his neck like a Democrat’s word the sooner he gets this thing out. The sooner he is going to be able to effectively govern we will wait and see how this plays out. In the meantime, there is an interesting development that is coming up in the state of California. You all may remember in the 90s Gray Davis the California governor who was a Democrat was recalled and that paved the way for Arnold Schwarzenegger to become the governor of California. He was the last Republican governor if I remember correctly. Then, there was the era of Jerry Brown and now Gavin Newsom. The stage is been set now to make a recall of the governor for his handling of the covid crisis. So, these things do have a backlash. I don’t know if the state laws of New York allow for the recall of your Governor Sridharji, but certainly, in California, we have a very short leash for Governors. You just wait and see how this thing plays out. It is extremely possible that there could be a backlash and that Republican may come back as a governor of California. So, we have to wait and see. Now, tet’s take a look at the global events. What do you have for us are on the global stage?
Sridhar Chityala: Global stage, I believe that, there’s are a lot of things that have happened. Let me start with Biden, Biden made a policy speech around Asia, which is around, inclusive approach working with allies and all these grandiose statements that go with any kind of presidential initial speech around the policy framework. He consulted and spoke with a number of leaders that includes, France UK, Japan Mexico, then you know Korea and so on the most conspicuous absence in India. India has been a significant part of the Quad, it has been a significant fulcrum of the indo-pacific and the Asia strategy. So, I have blogged on this, which is to say Hey, you know, is it because you have very strong vested interest group from the Indian neighbourhood or is it because you have pressure from China or is it because you have the so-called Indian Americans 20 of their much-touted plus some of the other South Asia members in the cabinet, who have made sure that India is not included. India was not included at least based on what I have seen in the Press reports that India was not consulted. So, I think that that’s a telling sign. The second is that he also was apparently very subtle and silent on the Myanmar situation. So, there have been press reports coming from Asia, which is to say is this Obama three, not Biden, is this Obama-Biden three-show? Is he going to commit the same mistakes that he committed in the Obama 1 & 2 administration which saw a spurt in activity in the South China Sea? So this is a report coming from Asia based on what they call a very passive response by Mr Biden with regard to the events unfolding. But on the positive side, on the very positive side, on February 4th, which is yesterday, the US Navy again passed through the Taiwan Strait for the first time under Biden giving a clear signal that Taiwan is a red flag or a red line, at least this red line is different to the red line that President Obama drew with regard to Syria during his tenure. So that’s good news in terms of Taiwan being marked and protected. So that’s a very positive development on the events in Asia.
Sree Iyer: Let’s take a quick look at the immigration policy that the Biden Administration is pursuing now. Can you please share some numbers on the number of immigrants allowed into the United States? Because there is a news item that 11 Iranians were caught trying to illegally cross into the United States and this is just tip of the iceberg. There are many other people trying to illegally come into the United States, you all read about the Caravan that has started from Honduras and this Tamasha, this spectacle continues and what is the update on that? And do you advise students to pursue GRE GMAT and other things to come into the United States or are there easier profitable ways to enter the United States?
Sridhar Chityala: If I remember correctly, the H1 annual quota is about 84,000 number of which Indians get a small percentage and gets exhausted very very fast. So Biden’s policy announcement is dealing with the refugees, and not yet on the H-1B1 or H-1B quotas. They have increased the refugee from October 1st, 125,000. This is a formal approval number within the policy framework of the Biden Administration. Under Trump, this was reduced to about 17,000, the number ranged from 17 to 25 thousand during Trump’s tenure. Proceeding that during Obama-Biden tenure, it was roughly around a 107,000. So this is a big number that is formally exceeded as a number of refugees that we allowed in, 125,000. So, therefore, you have that number increase. Then, the two important decisions that have happened. One is, it is no longer Zero tolerance. It is complete tolerance. So, therefore, if you are able to sneak in, you have made it. They are also going to set up a special asylum-seeking officer. So, those who are crossing the border and make it and they are not going to be prosecuted as illegal. They will be going through due process and assimilated. That seems to be the trend right now. So what’s my message to many of these backpackers and this great American Dream aspirants, I’m not advocating it but there seem to be a much easier path which is, if I can get across to the Border you can make it in and you can say look I’m a master’s in so and so, I’m an engineer, I feel I can contribute to US economy, the normal process doesn’t so I thought I will try this, and I came in. You know that maybe they’ll say okay, we may need you and you can be relevant to this because you have made all the effort to cross. So why to go through all these interviews and the examinations and so on. I’m trying to be facetious here, but that’s where we seem to be heading in terms of all this immigration, border crossing, border patrol, refugees etc. And this also goes back to my earlier point that if you happen to be an illegal alien, we will also give you health care and if there is an austerity package like the stimulus package we will also give you money. So it’s not everything is like a package that comes under the Democratic setup.
Sree Iyer: Well, we must also mention now that the average time for an immigrant from India to get his or her green card is now inching up to 15 years and I don’t even want to mention the numbers for the Philippines. It’s upwards of 25. So basically you come in as a child by the time you are old you will become a green card holder as far as the Filipinos are concerned. So this is a very uneven situation and I have heard some numbers of close to 300,000 people who are going through the normal formal legal process to become permanent residents and I think that the Biden Administration should also open the gates and bring everybody and then formulate a new policy. Anyway, you wouldn’t need a new policy if you are going to say that the borders are open, but at least do the right thing, give them also the green card and then paves the way for citizenship. Why not? Because after all these are the people who come in legally, they pay for the college’s here to study, their work here, they pay taxes, they abide by the rules and laws of the country and I think they deserve just as much a break as all the illegals who are crossing into the country. This is just my observation, sir, I don’t know what you think. I’ll let you answer to this one and then we’ll go to the next item.
Sridhar Chityala: Well, I think that, to the credit of Biden Administration, this one of the first things that they announced which is they are trying to adopt a two-tier or two-track approach. I think one is five years, the other is eight years as a one-off in absorbing these people who are sitting in and standing in this queue. I have not looked at the details, but they clearly address this issue that you are bringing as adjacent to this absorption of these 12 million illegal people who are here. So normalization, acceleration of the conversion of the those current H-1B holders or other types of people who are in various stages of the legal process, also the family reunions, that also is likely to be in favour of absorbing the people, plus they are also doing something which is very good which didn’t happen during Trump Administration is the spouses. Many of the spouses of people who are here, who could not work and be gainfully employed, they are trying to see that they can also be given Visa status or change in Visa status, which allows them to work. So these are all very positive schemes, which are much needed and which are canvased very heavily and or lobbied very heavily both with Trump and Biden as a pre-election strategy. But it’s good to see Biden recognizing it and making it happen.
Sree Iyer: And in other Global News, Taiwan has opened a diplomatic office in Guyana and this is considered to be a diplomatic win. We will see more such offices open and that would certainly mean Taiwan is beginning to come out of under the shadow of the RC. That is a very significant development. Sridharji, we are running out of time, if you could quickly wrap up Global and then let’s move on to covid and then a minute for the market sir.
Sridhar Chityala: So, I think we’ve got a lot of items on global. So just in the interest of time, this one specific or one significant development is CGTN, which is China Global Television network has been banned in the UK. I think it’s a very bold move. If you recall, we had talked about the UK policy of, wherever there are human rights violations, they will not be doing business with them and those countries will be looked at differently. So they have established that there are human rights violations, CGTN is nothing but curated content directly connected to the Chinese government through the communist party. So, therefore, CGTN is now banned. On the back of this BBC has also published reports of rape and torture in the concentration camps or on the camps, I will not use the word concentration, though they use the word concentration in the camps like Uygur etc so when you combine these two, I think the UK has made a very positive statement.
The last piece of that is Emmanuel Macron has gone public and stated he is totally displeased and this will be a growing trend. He is totally displeased with this Tech platforms suppressing, especially Trump and he pointed out Trump to be kept still out, is a very unhealthy practice. So he has expressed his displeasure. That’s on the global side.
On the market side, the markets shot up yesterday 335 points reflecting three important principles. One, earning season is looking good. We already just touched on a couple of them. The second, the stimulus seems to be now done and the third is which is even more relevant and important is the pandemic seems to be getting in control even in the United States with the vaccine programs getting rolled out.
So, finally, the oil prices as we said has gone past $56. As of last night, it’s $56.45 and ten year T bonds are at 1.139. 1.117 was yesterday. It’s already gone up. Both reflecting that the economy is really going to be pushed up with so much cash floating into the system. $56 is not great news for any of us who fill the gas tanks every day, every week, but that also shows potential gyrations in the Biden policy in terms of the fracking and cancellation of licenses.
Sree Iyer: Thank you very much, Sir. Viewers, we will be back in about two hours time to look at the various stimulus packages that have been rolled out during the Trump Administration and now during the Biden Administration. Sridharji will take a critical look at the numbers, what the numbers say, which stimulus approach was better because all we are looking for is how quickly this additional money that is being put into the system is going to be recovered and what kind of improvement in lifestyle it is going to create. Where to put the money where to not put the money all that stuff will be discussed. It’s a very very interesting talk and I hope everyone will join us and give us your support. As I said before we will be back again in two hours time. Please subscribe to our channel. Sridharji, as always a pleasure to have you on our channel. We will be back again in two hours time. And then of course on Monday. Namaskar
Sridhar Chityala: Namaskar and Thank you.