The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is a human tragedy of epic proportions. And due to Donald Trump’s negligence, incompetence, and sometimes deliberate mishandling of the federal government’s response, more than 83,000 Americans have lost their their lives. Current estimates indicate that the number of fatalities is going to increase to 147,000 by August.
However, this isn’t just a public health crisis. The nation’s economy has taken a historic hit as the country is virtually shutdown in order to mitigate the spread of the virus. More than 20 million people have lost their jobs, and small businesses are struggling to remain viable. The stock market is currently in bear market territory, down about 23% from its recent highs.
The mitigation efforts have been working, but because Trump is worried more about the economy and his floundering reelection prospects than he is about human lives, he is pushing to force people back into dangerous workplaces far too soon. And in the midst of all of this, Trump took time away from his Fox News viewing on Wednesday morning to post a tweet whining about people who are making money trading on the volatile swings in the stock market:
When the so-called “rich guys” speak negatively about the market, you must always remember that some are betting big against it, and make a lot of money if it goes down. Then they go positive, get big publicity, and make it going up. They get you both ways. Barely legal?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 13, 2020
Seriously? There is so much wrong in that brief twantrum that it demands further analysis. First of all, who are these “so-called ‘rich guys'” Trump is complaining about? Wouldn’t they actually be the sort of people that he associates with on a regular basis? And what’s wrong with traders placing bets on the market, which is exactly what they always do, pandemic or not?
What’s more, Trump’s complaint is glaringly incoherent. He begins by implying that there’s something wrong with people trying to drive stock prices down in order to make a profit. This is his way of attempting to make excuses for the recent declines. But then he immediately reverses course, noting that the same people are also driving prices up. That would make their efforts a wash. So what the heck is his problem? He is, as usual, not making any sense. But he thinks this blather will persuade the dimwits who follow him that there’s nothing wrong with the economy.
This sort of trading is common on Wall Street. And there isn’t anything illegal about it. Every stock transaction is a “bet” and experienced traders know that. If Trump were truly interested in unlawful activities, he might have said something about the Trump-fluffing GOP senators – Richard Burr and Kelly Loeffler – who sold off millions of dollars of stocks that were plainly at risk before the markets collapsed. Those sales were also after they both had attended hearings that outlined the coming pandemic risks, but turned around and told their constituents that everything was fine. They are currently being investigated by the Senate ethics committee.
In addition to that, Trump and his family were also invested in pharmaceutical companies that stood to gain from the pandemic’s turmoil. Among those investments was the company that manufactures hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug that Trump was irresponsibly promoting as a treatment for the coronavirus.
Trump’s interest in the markets has been ongoing throughout this crisis. He has taken a personal interest in seeking to prop up the markets artificially by pressuring the Federal Reserve Board to lower interests rates. But for some reason he failed to mention that in doing so, he would save millions of dollars on the outstanding variable interest rate loans he owes to foreign banks. Trump was also surely concerned about the fact that revenues for his own real estate holdings were down 30% since the pandemic began. That may explain in part why he’s so anxious to get everyone back to work.
So if anyone was trying to manipulate the markets, it was Trump. His coercion of the Fed and his relentless and misguided happy-talk were all designed to increase his own wealth and to juice his reelection campaign. In light of that, his question as to whether the actions of traders was “barely legal” takes on a whole new meaning. Most likely, Barely Legal was the just the name of the last magazine the Trump subscribed to.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.