Tottering Financial Markets

Alan Zendell, February 5, 2018

When I heard our president claim that “everyone is in love with our wonderful tax cuts” in Ohio, today, I had to wonder how many more lies have to be told before the working class part of his base figures out that getting a tax cut barely large enough to buy a Costco membership means they’ve been royally screwed. What will they think when those reductions disappear in a few years to pay the interest on the national debt that’s making billionaires richer?

After the worst two days equity markets suffered since early in the Obama administration, Americans who have bet their retirement portfolios on Trump’s economic boom today found their valuations back where they were last Christmas. The last five weeks of sharp increases based on investors’ belief that the new tax law will fatten corporate earnings were wiped out in just two trading days.

The S&P 500 index is down nearly eight-and-a-half percent since last Thursday. Whether this is the beginning of a more serious decline or the markets stabilize later this week, this is a clear warning sign of the fragility of the overall investment climate, which was supposed to be the central pillar of Trump’s economic boom. Interest rates are rising, the value of the dollar relative to the Euro and Asian currencies is down (perhaps by design), and market pros now fear rising inflation.

Every investor knows that the things markets hate most are instability and uncertainty. With the president’s clearly desperate attempts to undermine the investigation into collusion with Russian interference and obstruction of justice, current market instabilities can only worsen.

If that’s not enough, Trump continues to play chicken with North Korea, Iran, Europe, most of the Middle East, the shithole nations of the southern hemisphere, and here at home with anyone who doesn’t take a knee and swear fealty. He called the Democrats’ response to his State of the Union address treasonous, but if reasonable dissent and disagreement by the loyal opposition is treason, how should we label ego-driven rants by a president who shamelessly lies about everything and puts the future of our country on the line with every tweet?

Many Americans are more concerned about North Korea than any of our domestic problems. There are varying opinions about whether Trump’s intemperate Twitter war with Kim Jong Un have increased tensions or pushed North Korea toward normalizing relations with South Korea, Japan, or the United States. But assuming for a moment that Trump’s bellicose threats have been at least partially responsible for the relative thaw in relations between North and South Korea, what possible reason could he have for trying to disrupt that?

North and South Korea have agreed to march in the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics as a single team under the banner: “Korea.” And today the women’s Korean hockey team, comprised of players from the North and the South played its first united practice game against Sweden. Who would have imagined either of those things happening a few months ago?

Yet our president has dispatched Vice President Pence to South Korea with the express intention of delegitimizing participation by the North Koreans. The White House says his real mission at the Games is “to apply maximum pressure on the North Korean government, and keep the regime from securing a rapprochement with their more sympathetic southern neighbors.”

What kind of insanity is that? It makes me think he would rather exchange nuclear missiles with Kim than have the two Koreas peacefully reunite unless everyone gives our Narcissist in Chief full credit for making it happen. That may not count as treason, but I don’t think there’s a strong enough word in the English language to describe how cynically irresponsible it is.

While all this is going on, Trump is touting Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes as a great American hero while calling Nunes’ Democratic colleague Adam Schiff a liar who is guilty of criminally leaking sensitive information. Clearly expecting the Republican majority to rally around his attacks on Schiff, Trump must have been shocked when the Committee unanimously voted to support Schiff’s request to release the Democratic response to Nunes’ controversial memo that Trump claims exonerated him from any collusion with Russia or obstruction of justice.

With actions like these, it’s anyone’s guess how the shaky financial markets will react. If history is our guide it could get very messy before things settle down.

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1 Response to Tottering Financial Markets

  1. A. L. Kaplan says:

    Lets not forget that he also wants to spend a bunch of money on a parade.

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