A Tweet For Everything: What Trump Said About the Stock Market Just Six Months Ago

The current President of the United States has shown repeatedly that he is an unstable and ill-informed custodian of the nation’s resources. Donald Trump has a tenuous grip on the complexities of economics, and reacts out of panic and vengeance more than careful study and reason. As a result the country has been burdened with policies that work against the interests of its citizens.

Donald Trump, Stock Market

About six months ago Trump joined with the Republican Congress to pass a tax reform bill that was widely criticized as a giveaway to the wealthy that would balloon the national debt by trillions of dollars. Trump celebrated the legislative victory at a White House ceremony where he reduced it to flagrantly personal terms saying that “It’s always a lot of fun when you win.” It didn’t get a single vote from Democrats.

Republicans, however, were swelling with pride, despite the unfavorable public response shown in most polls. The Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, said confidently that “When people see their paychecks getting bigger in February […] that’s going to change its popularity, I am convinced.” The GOP Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, gloated that “My view of this is, if we can’t sell this to the American people, we ought to go into another line of work.”

I hope he’s dusted off his resume, because the latest polling shows that the Trump Tax Scam is less popular now than ever. It currently has about thirty-four percent approval from the American people. Which isn’t surprising considering the fact that it was crafted to benefit corporations and the rich. Which makes this Trump tweet from December 14, 2017, all the more ironic and sad:

Well, that rosy scenario has wilted. Trump told reporters when the bill passed that “the results will speak for themselves.” Six months later it’s clear that his prediction is true, in the worst possible way. Workers have not received the benefits they were promised. Businesses are taking their profits and putting them into stock buybacks that benefit the executives. Harley Davidson announced today that is the latest company to be moving some of their operations (and jobs) out of the country.

On top of that, the stock market suffered a serious decline on Monday with the Dow Jones down 328 points (1.33%), and the Nasdaq down 160 points (2.09%). The market is negative by almost two percent year-to-date, and is down over 500 points since the tax bill was signed. Even more troubling is that it is off about 2,300 points from its high in January. You don’t hear Trump talking about any of that.

Short term movement in the market is never a good indicator of trends over time. But Trump’s boasting about the market’s performance has blown up in his face because he doesn’t understand it in even the simplest terms. And the trading in the wake of the tax bill, Trump’s punitive tariffs, and associated red flags in bonds and overseas markets are telling us a cautionary tale. At some point the markets are going to reverse course, as they always do, and it may come sooner rather than later. But Trump’s mismanagement of the economy has left us with few and/or weak tools with which to respond. The smart money is taking protective measures, and so should we all.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Feel The Bern: Wall Street Exec Blames Bernie Sanders For The Stock Market Decline

If you’re looking for signs that establishment players are getting nervous about the possibility that the privileged classes may soon have to share the wealth and be held accountable for their crimes, then watch for them to develop a paranoia about the fall of Western civilization and blame it people who advocate for fairness and equal opportunity.

sanders-fear-the-bern

This week Stephen Schwarzman, the CEO of Blackstone Group, a global private equity and financial advisory firm, was interviewed in Davos at the annual World Economic Forum. When the subject came of the recently volatile stock market, Schwarzman offered his opinion that it was caused by three factors. The first was his assessment that the U.S. economy is slowing a little and concerns about China, which he said were overdone. The second were destabilizing world events including international hostilities and terrorism. And then there was . . .

“The third reason that we have unsettled markets is the fact that Bernie Sanders has become a viable candidate, at least in Iowa and New Hampshire. And the reason why that’s troubling is that he’s really on the far left, and we have a Republicans, on the other hand, who don’t inspire enormous confidence in terms of their ability, perhaps, to handle that job. So all of a sudden – and it really keys on this market collapse with Bernie rising as a viable candidate – that the rest of the world looks at America not the way America looks at America. For us it’s a local election. For the rest of the world it’s a global election. They depend on America to do the right thing.”

So it’s Sen. Sanders who is exerting his omnipotent control over the world economy? This feat of dominance is occurring even though not a single vote has been cast in the Democratic primary. That is a truly impressive demonstration of power. Who knew that an obscure senator from Vermont could wield such commanding control over the captains of industry and finance?

Apparently all it takes to roil the markets, according to Schwarzman, is a champion of average Americans becoming a “viable” candidate for president. Why that is perceived as such a destructive force wasn’t clearly explained. It seems to me that a world that depends on America doing the right thing would appreciate someone who wants to expand prosperity to as many people as possible. Although Schwarzman may have a point about Republicans that aren’t able to handle the job.

Sanders was asked about this revelation of his heretofore unknown dominion over the financial universe by Martha Radditz of ABC News. He literally laughed at the question and said…

“The reason that I am laughing is I fully admit to having a big ego, like many other politicians. But the idea that Bernie Sanders’s candidacy, because it has growing support all over this country, is unsettling world markets is absolutely absurd.”

Indeed it is. There are many reasons that the stock market has been antsy in the first weeks of this new year. What most credible economists cite is the dropping price of oil, a commodity whose value is determined by worldwide supply and demand. In that regard, what I have heard nobody mention, is what a great decision it was to decline to approve the KeystoneXL pipeline. The project’s advocates claimed that it would have substantially boosted the production of oil. That, we know now, would have exacerbated the current situation wherein there is a glut of oil that has caused the price to tank. So Keystone would have made things even worse.

What’s more, those who are panicking about what they regard as a stock market collapse are failing to put it into perspective. Even after the declines (of about 8%) in the past couple of weeks, the markets are still twice what they were when President Obama took office. That’s typically referred to as “correction” territory and not a crisis. Unless there is a Democratic president and Fox News is reporting on it, in which case it is a full-blown catastrophe.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

The Wall Streeters may actually have something to worry about if Bernie Sanders is the next President of the United States. For that matter, they should worry about Hillary Clinton too. But their worries should have nothing to do with whether the world economy is going to crash. The truth is, as Clinton said recently, “The economy does better when we have a Democrat in the White House. That’s just a fact.” And therein lies the problem. Republicans are, by nature, averse to facts. They are far more likely to explain things by ascribing supernatural powers to their villains as well as their heroes. Maybe they should start a draft Voldemort campaign. Or maybe not. They already have Donald Trump.

Generation Zero vs. Capitalism: A Love Story

Last Night Sean Hannity devoted the entire hour of his Fox News program to the documentary “Generation Zero.” This morning Fox Nation featured it on their web site as a “Must-See” film.

Generation Zero recently made its public debut at the Tea Baggers Ball in Nashville and was subsequently screened at CPAC, where it was introduced by the terminally choleric Andrew Breitbart. The film was produced by David Bossie of Citizens United, the plaintiff in the recently decided Supreme Court case that granted corporations unprecedented financial participation in federal elections. It was directed by Stephen Bannon who, in another life, produced the Sean Penn directed “The Indian Runner.” Don’t tell Bill O’Reilly, who is boycotting Penn’s films.

I haven’t seen this film (it’s not actually been released yet), but its pedigree and cheer leaders reveal something of its intended mission. The web site says the film is not about the failure of capitalism, but it goes on to say that it will “change everything you thought you knew about Wall Street and Washington.” That assertion makes it difficult to separate the movie’s message from the tenets of capitalism. From reviews and discussion of the film, it seems the basic premise is that the current economic meltdown we find ourselves struggling through was caused by the selfishness and egocentrism of the children of Woodstock. This is a peculiar and illogical theory.

It’s a peculiar theory in that it presumes to blame the “Baby Boom” generation for today’s economic catastrophe. But in doing so, the film is really blaming the poor parenting skills of the “Greatest Generation” who, in their zeal to shield their kids from the pain of depression and war, acceded to their every material want and raised them to be shallow and self-indulgent. That’s a pretty harsh condemnation of the generation that survived decades of trauma in the first half of the last century. The filmmakers are essentially charging the generation that fought its way through the economic disasters of the 1930’s and the worldwide conflagrations of the 1940’s with raising their children to be so socially decadent as to lead the nation into near economic collapse. Do the filmmakers really believe that these parents passed no lessons on to their kids about the hardships they endured?

It’s an illogical theory in that it attempts to create linkage between the hippies of the 1960’s and the financial barons of the 1990’s. So much of the rhetoric of right-wing history revisionists relies on castigating the youth movement of the 1960’s. They are portrayed as drug-addled degenerates and dropouts who contributed nothing of value to society. Their preoccupation with trivialities like civil rights, peace, and free love, permanently labeled them as subversive and anti-social. Since when did their reputation get rehabilitated to the point that they are now seen as captains of industry and finance with the blood of our capitalistic empire on their hands? Surely many former hippies went on to successful careers, but I would venture to say that not one of them became the CEO of AIG or Merrill Lynch.

The Baby Boomers that took the helm of big business were the ones that kept their hair short and listened to Pat Boone in the 60’s. They were the hall monitors and the narcs at their prep schools. They were born to wealth and privilege. It was they, who were already inbred with self-indulgence and egotism, who held the reins of power in the 2000’s. It certainly was not a bunch of idealistic, public school, counter-culture, former flower children who somehow grew up to be greedy sociopaths.

It wasn’t a cabal of aging hippies who invented credit default swaps. It was a cooperative of Wall Street pirates and their Washington patrons. It wasn’t the result of permissive parenting, but of submissive regulators and legislators. While Generation Zero dwells way too much on an unrealistic Leave It To Beaver version of the 1950’s, it actually does approach this part of the problem as well. The movie does not neglect the culpability of an entrenched financial class that has no historical memory whatsoever.

Ironically, that’s exactly what Michael Moore presented in “Capitalism: A Love Story.” Moore’s film was an indictment of the coziness between Wall Street and Washington. And it assailed the notion that solutions had to be afforded to the tottering financial institutions, rather than to the suffering citizens who were the victims. So some of the themes in Generation Zero that are now being heralded by the rightist media were previously explored by Moore. But while there are clear parallels between Moore’s Capitalism and Bannon’s Zero, it is unlikely that either side will acknowledge it. The chasm is far too wide to cross. Even on Hannity’s show there was an exchange that came close to recognizing this ideological affinity, but it was ultimately ignored as they broke away to a commercial.

Sean Hannity: Is it the political system that is more corrupt? Because I believe Capitalism works. Capitalism is the answer.
David Bossie, Producer: Clearly Capital Hill is corrupt. Capital Hill is the problem, not Wall Street here.
Stephen Bannon, Director: I think it an inextricably linked network between Capital Hill and Wall Street. […] You’ve had the American taxpayer, the average, middle-class American, paying taxes to bailout these big firms, and there’s been no change in behavior, no change in structure no change in regulation.

It’s interesting to see Bossie quickly suck up to Hannity and absolve Wall Street of any liability. It’s even more interesting to see Bannon contradict both of them and spread the blame evenly across the econo-political spectrum. But most interesting would be if all the people that go to see Generation Zero would pick up a copy of Capitalism: A Love Story as well. They may realize that Michael Moore is not the demon he’s made out to be by the right. And conversely, Moore might take a look at Generation Zero. If it isn’t stuffed with right-wing polemics and denunciations of 60’s “radicals,” perhaps he could promote it alongside his own movie.

If both of these films tell the same story of overarching corporate greed and government complicity, it would make a compelling double bill.

Wall Street More Worried About Democrats Than Terror

If you need more proof that greedy, nationless, corporations and the parasitical appendages that analyze and enable them are detrimental to our country, look no further than this study of Wall Street’s investment professionals.

Wall Street WorryWhen asked what their “single greatest economic worry is for 2008,” did they choose recession, or sub-prime loans, or the national debt, or oil prices, or the trade deficit, or the falling value of the dollar? Of course not. The thing these elitist moneychangers fear the most is a Democrat in the White House. They are so consumed with their own partisan, selfish greed that 22% of them consider a president elected by the American people to be worse than even a terrorist attack, which was only chosen by 13%. To compound the extremism of their blind self-interest, 81% of them also cited a capital gains tax increase as their greatest tax concern. That shouldn’t really come as a surprise to the vast majority of Americans who pay only income taxes. The ruling class is always angling for the tax burden to be further shifted to ordinary citizens.

What is surprising is that these supposed financial wizards are so ill informed about their own business and history. A little research would enlighten them to the fact that Wall Street traditionally performs better during Democratic administrations:

“…the Dow Jones industrial average has returned an average of 6.4% under Republican presidents and 9.1% under Democrats since 1901.”

This study underscores the reasons why the Wall Street constituency deserves to be ignored with regard to public policy. They are so thoroughly removed from the mainstream of society as to be irrelevant and even harmful. This is also an affirmation of the candidacy of John Edwards who has made challenging these powerful special interests an integral theme of his campaign. If nothing else, he needs to be there representing a point of view that the other candidates dismiss.

The study should also serve as a wake up call to politicians and activists who are concerned about the undue influence of these Capitalists Gone Wild. We must be much more aggressive in advancing lobby reform and public financing of elections. As long as these jackals use their wealth and connections to shape Washington to their liking, the people’s voice will be drowned out and disregarded.

Cavuto/ClintonThe people’s voice is already being lost in the din of propagandists like Rupert Murdoch who now owns the daily Bible of these market mavens, the Wall Street Journal, as well as his own disinformation vehicle on cable TV, the Fox Business Network. FBN was launched with the promise that it would a more “business friendly business network.” And that’s on top of the already prominent friendly coverage that is broadcast on the Fox News Channel. Note this graphic evidence that last October Fox News was already laying the groundwork for Wall Street’s fear of Democrats.

The graphic of the survey results above was also featured on Fox News. If people aren’t already anxious about the economy, jobs, mortgages, health care, and terrorism, Fox is devoted to manufacturing anxiety in every way they can. They are fully committed to the use of dire threats of catastrophe in order to advance their agenda. And isn’t that the definition of terrorism?