BALTIMORE – Investors seem to be holding their breath, like a man hiding a cigarette from his wife.
It’s just a feeling… and it’s not the first time we’ve had it… but it feels as though it wouldn’t take much to send them all running.
We’re coming to a deep (and to many readers disagreeable) conclusion. Yes… we are closing in on profundity, struggling to hold on to the rim lest we fall into the well.
It has to do with Mr. Trump’s plans… and how he really could Make America Great Again…
…and how nations and individuals should conduct their lives, including their financial lives: not by guessing about the future, but about doing the right thing in the present.
Each day brings new headlines. Trump does this. Trump does that. Good? Bad? Now we have a formula to judge.
“Trump Plans to Undo Dodd-Frank,” says The Wall Street Journal this morning.
Win-win? Or Win-lose? The answer is simple: Win-win! How do we know? Because Dodd-Frank was not voluntary. You couldn’t say “no.”
How about this, also from the WSJ: “The Trump administration is set to impose fresh sanctions on dozens of Iranian entities.”
Win-win? Or Win-lose? You know the answer: Iran has no choice – win-lose.
Monster or Mozart?
Should you invade Russia if you think you can win?
Should you shoot your neighbor and sleep with his wife if you think you can get away with it?
Should you force interest rates down if you think it will stimulate the economy?
We have seen that only win-win deals add to the world’s satisfaction. And we’ve seen that there is only one criterion you need to ask: Did the parties – like bride and groom – enter it of their own free will?
They may or may not get what they are looking for, but they’ll certainly get what they deserve.
Of course, any union is as likely to bring forth a monster as a Mozart. But we can’t sterilize every female or hold the future at bay.
Tomorrow always comes. And it is always full of surprises – aborted missions, dead bodies, and unexpected losses.
A representative from a dirt-poor region in Greece makes an impassioned speech in the assembly… the hot air gushing from his mouth collides with the cool breeze coming from Mount Olympus… and torrential rains cause flash floods in California.
All we know – only imperfectly – is what kind of deal is going down today.
Win-win? Or is it win-lose? Is it consensual? Or is it rape? Is it “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”? Or is it merely “do unto others”?
“Doing unto others” has its delights, as Genghis Khan notes above.
You could burn Hillary Clinton at the stake during halftime at the Super Bowl. At least 100 million Americans might gawk in pleasure. Many would believe it was a good thing.
The U.S. government puts the value of a human life at $10 million. The ad revenue alone might make that one of the best investments of all time.
But win-lose deals do not add to real wealth. And once you go down that road, you are headed to poverty… if not to hell.
As we have seen, regulation, legislation… crony deals and zombie payoffs financed with fraudulent money… have hit the heartland hard. “Flyover” America loses; the winners are in the coastal swamps.
So, let’s look at a couple more of “The Donald’s” proposals.
He’s proposed a tax cut, for example.
On the face of it, that’s a win-win. The feds take less of your money. You have more left over for win-win deals.
Wait… You say he’s also proposing to take away the deductibility of business interest?
So, let’s move on – to bridges, dams, roadways, and docks. The president says he wants to spend more on infrastructure.
Will it pay off? Who knows? Some projects will be useful. Some won’t.
Politicians, contractors, and insiders will surely benefit. Some people who use the facilities will benefit by accident. Everyone else pays for things they don’t want or don’t use.
But we don’t have to guess. We only have to ask: Can we just say “no”?
If not, it’s another boondoggle for the swamp critters… and a bamboozle for the rest of us.
BY CHRIS LOWE, EDITOR AT LARGE
Cybersecurity stocks are on a tear…
These are stocks in companies that protect government, military, and private companies from attacks by computer hackers.
Today’s chart is of the world’s first cybersecurity ETF, the PureFunds ISE Cyber Security ETF (HACK).
As you can see, HACK is up 12% since the start of 2016.
– Chris Lowe
How to Spot a Gold Company Takeover Target
In an unsure gold environment, it’s important to pinpoint the right gold stocks. And one of the best ways to do that is to know when a gold company is a prime takeover target.
Immigrants Have Made America a Tech Powerhouse
Immigration has gotten a bad rap. But America’s position as a global leader in technology innovation is inseparable from its tradition of welcoming people from other countries.
How to Disagree
As the recent Diary Mailbags show, folks disagree about whether President Trump is the right man for the job. That’s perfectly normal. But if we’re all going to be disagreeing more, we should learn to do a better job at it…
Yesterday, Bill asked: Are President Trump’s deals win-win or win-lose? Here are some of your responses…
I love how people discuss the wall and how much it will cost. The lack of a wall and the lack of control is already costing us in how much money is spent on health care, etc., taking care of illegal immigrants. Compare the two, and the wall may very well be cheaper to build.
– Chris R.
I’ve enjoyed exploring your win-lose formula. Unique events may be fairly easy to place in the win-lose theory. But as your many questions in the last letter suggest, it is impossible to know who will be the ultimate winner and loser of most things at the time the single event takes place.
The people killed or injured in the Yemen raid clearly lost. Right now, I think most of us see this as a lose-lose event. But if a “Muslim Hitler” was killed, something we’ll never know, most would agree it was a win-lose – with the win being a huge one for all of mankind.
The election is an example of American voters reversing what looked like an inevitable Clinton victory. I consider that event to be a win-win. But about half of the country thinks it was a lose-lose.
– Brian B.
In today’s essay, you made a few comments about Trump’s wall. Some, about paying for the wall, are valid. But when you started talking about illegals, you seem to think they have a right to be here. They don’t have that right. They have broken our laws.
And what about the drugs coming in? Don’t we have right to stop the drugs from killing our people? And what about the people coming here to kill as many of us as possible?
– Ron B.
I note that many who object to Bill’s views on the Trump presidency express qualified approval for Trump on grounds he is a disrupter, as though that were sufficient to recommend him.
Alas, history is filled with disrupters who were anything but good in any respect (I’ll omit examples, as they are all too frequently viewed as extreme).
As for those who criticize critics of Trump, too many assume such critics are supportive of the status quo, despite clear arguments to the contrary. It’s a complicated world out there. Dismissive reactions will never make it less so.
– Dave H.
As a resident of Canada, a nation that depends on trade and who is a good neighbor to the USA, I have been greatly enjoying your analysis about the implications of win-win policies versus win-lose policies. The concept is simple but profound. It is really a refinement of the cost-benefit principle, the foundation principle behind most good decisions in all aspects of life.
– Richard F.
I do not think a rational, tuned-in U.S. citizen can remain undisturbed when it comes to who is now running (roughshod) over this country.
Particular shame goes to the spineless, wormy Republicans who have neither the integrity nor grit to stand up to “The Donald.” By not taking the high road now when it counts the most, many will be replaced at the first opportunity. Even the previously clueless, loyal constituents will change leadership when they see how much this circus has personally cost them.
It’s imperative that you publish what you feel is the truth and not give in to the Kool-Aid drinkers.
– Laura S.
Thank you so much for your fabulous daily posts. As an outsider and mere observer of U.S. politics – born in Europe and living in Australia – I absolutely love your political insights exposed with such irreverent humour.
Please keep up the good work. Keep making us laugh, cry, cringe and, most important, think outside the box. You’re a grandmaster at it and a humble one at that. So, I thank you for sharing your thoughts day in, day out.
– Marlyse C.
In Case You Missed It…
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