BALTIMORE – “You’re entitled to your own opinions,” quipped American politician Daniel Patrick Moynihan sometime in the last century, “but not your own facts.”
But come the 21st century, and everyone has whatever facts he wants. Fake facts. Altered facts. Facts that are specially tailored to broaden the reader’s shoulders and tighten his waist.
When we were growing up, we sat down to the news at 6 p.m.
There was the national news, available on the three channels: ABC, NBC, or CBS. There was little difference between the three.
When Chet Huntley gave you the “facts,” few people doubted them. Americans had their myths and misconceptions, but all had the same ones.
Now, news and opinion are available from hundreds of different websites, blogs, and “news channels.” An internet user is “fed” news that he wants to see. There is no effort to deliver impartial “news.” Instead, the new media merely stroke the prejudices of their target audiences like a pet owner caressing his cat.
Fixed ideas are no longer challenged; they are embellished… justified… and reinforced.
And it was in this new world of fake news, fake money, fake statistics, and fake policies that Donald J. Trump saw his opportunity. Politics is more important to the financial world than it has been for generations. And Trump is more important to politics – for good or for bad, we don’t yet know.
This is partly because he will take office at a critically dangerous period, with a $35 trillion bubble in excess debt…
Clinton, Bush, and Obama were all able to kick the can down the road. But Trump may have run out of road. For an investor, that is the most important question of 2017.
We predict, through no fault of his own, that the can will blow up on “The Donald.” How and why are the subject of many of these Diary entries as well as our monthly newsletter, The Bill Bonner Letter.
Of course, we could be wrong. But we’re walking on the sunny side of the street here. In this case, being wrong would mean an even worse disaster.
Either that $35 trillion bubble explodes on Donald Trump, or it blows up on his successor… in an even bigger explosion. Because it can only be booted down the road by adding more debt… making it bigger and more dangerous.
But let’s begin by looking at how Donald Trump has changed the political system of the United States of America…
Whatever other talents Mr. Trump may have, he has a keen instinct for showmanship. He realized that he could use this talent to bypass the traditional parties, traditional media, and traditional ideologies… speaking directly to the people in language the Twitter Age understands.
In particular, he targeted a part of the population that had been neglected by both parties… people with a grudge against the insiders… and a beef with the whole system.
Then, he reduced complex issues to simple symbolic or demotic messages that seemed absurd to the elite media but that rang so many bells with his target audience, they put him in the White House.
Academics and commentators could discuss forever the problems of working-class America: globalization, technology, low wages, job losses, inequality, drug abuse, and even shorter lifespans. “On one hand, this…” they would say. “On the other hand, that…” another would counter. Blah… blah… blah…
A professor would hold up statistical evidence proving that more job programs were needed. A columnist would suggest that the issues could be deconstructed along Freudian lines. An education lobbyist would look more carefully at the consequences of lower spending on education; “we need to increase primary school outlays,” he would conclude.
But Trump cut through the chatter and nonsense.
More important, he saw that the traditional media had lost its role as gatekeeper of news and opinion.
Trump saw that he didn’t have to analyze issues carefully or come up with coherent and defensive policy positions; he didn’t want to sound like another blah-blah candidate. This was a new world that called for a new kind of approach.
He proposed building a wall along America’s southern border. He called out China for unfair trade practices… and walloped both parties for letting foreigners take advantage of us.
He was a billionaire, he reminded voters; he knew how to make a deal. And he was a businessman, not a politician; he knew how to make money and hire people. No need to get into the details.
As for terrorism, he promised a quick and decisive policy. No jabbering. No confusion about which terrorists we should support and which we should oppose.
Instead, he made it sound as though he would go after them all… torturing people as necessary, killing innocent family members as appropriate, and bombing the hell out of ISIS, whoever they were.
The New York Times could point out his fallacies and logical inconsistencies all it wanted. So what? His supporters didn’t read the paper.
This left critics and detractors wrestling with a whirlwind. They wanted to grapple with him, prove him wrong. They wanted to pin him down… put his shoulders to the ground.
But they could get no purchase on him.
More to come…
BY Nick Rokke, CFA Research Analyst, Bonner & Partners
Large companies are setting themselves up for a big fall.
In the chart below, we are looking at non-financial companies and how much cash is being returned to shareholders through dividends and buybacks.
When the bars surpass the red line, it means these companies are returning more cash than they make.
Companies can only do this by burning excess cash or issuing debt.
Either way, these companies are leveraging up their balance sheets. This makes these companies more risky. When times get tough, companies with higher leverage will fall further than those with healthier balance sheets.
You can see the last two times this happened was right before the tech crash of 2000 and the Great Recession of 2008. These were two of the largest crashes in the history of the U.S. stock market
Some Investors Are Making Huge Profits in a Controversial Industry
The U.S. elections didn’t just decide who occupies the White House… They also opened up a potential tidal wave of profits to smart investors.
The U.S. Isn’t the Only Country With a Debt Bubble
Our neighbors to the north are setting their own debt records. Low rates have allowed households to go deeper into debt than ever before… and led to huge bubbles in real estate in Vancouver and Toronto.
What to Watch for in Today’s Electoral College Vote
We’ve never had more than one elector vote for someone other than their candidate. But one republican elector already said he would not vote for Trump. Will others join him?
In today’s Mailbag, some enthusiastic responses to Bill’s Diary essay from last Friday – “Debt Frankenstein Threatens Trump.”
LOVE your Diary! I look forward every single day to seeing it in my inbox, sharing the contents with my spouse, and then thinking about it all the rest of the day. Even when I don’t agree with you, it’s still a great read!
– P. Griebner
I very much enjoy both Bill’s ramblings and also his more serious insightful observations on the World. But I wonder if he can answer a problem I have. Janet Yellen comes to the fore now and then, mainly to change her mind but occasionally to effect a change in interest rates. This would not need to take up more than a few seconds of her time. What on Earth is she doing for the rest of the year??
– David M.
Greetings from California. With regard to Jack Welch and possibly other appointees, the next six months and perhaps longer will be a trial-and-error period. Some of these people will undoubtedly be dropped by the wayside as the Trump juggernaut steamrolls through eight years of the legacy he’s been handed by an imposter president. Good writing, as always, Bill. Even when you write stuff that has me livid, I nevertheless admire the skill with which you hammer together words.
– Marilyn G.
Was Bill right on the money with today’s Diary? Did the prevalence of partisan news sources now available influence your decision in the presidential race?
Share your thoughts with Bill and the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On his first day of presidency, Donald Trump will issue an executive order that will wake a sleeping giant… and send this tiny stock through the roof.
The Casey Report Editor E.B. Tucker just put together a video with all the details of this opportunity. Click here to watch it now.