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Europe Warns Of An Upcoming “Trade Apocalypse”

As European officials struggle to do everything they can to save the WTO, which appears headed for an all-but-certain demise thanks to President Trump’s aggressive trade policies, EU leaders have apparently circulated an “internal memo” drafted by the European Commission that accuses the US of deliberately instigating the collapse of the global trade order, and warns of an upcoming “trade apocalypse.” In short, if this document is any guide, the trade war is about to get worse – as if Trump’s threat to impose 20% tariffs on all cars coming into the US last week wasn’t bad enough.

EU

According to Bloomberg, the EU warned that the “rules-based system of international commerce” could revert to an trade environment where “the strong impose their will upon the weak,” the memo said.

Our world will go back “to a trading environment where rules are only enforced where convenient and where strength replaces rules as the basis for trade relations,” according to the memo.

The flirtations with a return to an environment of “mercantilist deals” have intensified as President Trump has been determined to narrow the trade deficit at any cost – even if the price is the collapse of the multilateral trade order.

Specifically, the memo, which was obtained by Bloomberg, spells out three complaints raised by the EU:

  • Gaps in the rulebook of global trade “leading to distortions, many of which associated with non-market policies and practices in major trading nations, that the WTO does not seem able to address adequately”
  • Aggressive unilateral actions by the US targeting allies and foes alike with punitive tariffs
  • The US’s decision to block appointments of members to the World Trade Organization’s Appellate Body that serves as the final arbiter in trade disputes.

The EU also complained about the US’s practice of blocking appointments to the appellate body that would help render a judgment in a WTO trade dispute.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Trump’s Doomsday Gamble in China Trade War

Trump’s Doomsday Gamble in China Trade War

Trump’s Doomsday Gamble in China Trade War

President Trump dramatically resumed a trade war footing this week with Beijing, threatening to impose tariffs on virtually all imported Chinese goods to the US.

After earlier negotiations this month appeared to avert a clash, the Trump administration is back to full trade war mode. With fiery language, the US president and his trade advisors said they have run out of patience with what they claim to be “predatory practices” by Beijing.

For its part, China quickly hit back, condemning “unacceptable blackmail” by Washington. Beijing said it will not hesitate to respond in kind with counter-tariffs on American exports.

Markets in Asia, Europe and America tumbled, with companies and investors panicked by the prospect of a full-blown trade war between the world’s two largest economies, and the uncertain repercussions from such a titanic clash.

Trump is gambling big time. He is betting that China will be the “first to blink”, as the New York Times reported. That’s because the Trump administration reckons that with China’s huge trade surplus, Beijing has much more to suffer financially if it goes toe-to-toe with the US in a trade showdown.

“China has a lot more to lose than we do,” said Trump’s trade advisor Peter Navarro, who is a hawk when it comes to dealing with Beijing. Navarro, like Trump, has continually accused China of ripping off the American economy and workers through alleged unfair trade practices and theft of intellectual property from US tech companies.

During his election campaign, Trump fired up voters with tirades slamming China for “raping America”. Recently, the president railed against “China taking $500 billion out of our economy every year”.

But typical of Trump, the emotive charges and figures are not what they appear to be.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How the US, Under Obama, Created Europe’s Refugee Crisis

How the US, Under Obama, Created Europe’s Refugee Crisis

How the US, Under Obama, Created Europe’s Refugee Crisis

The current US President, Donald Trump, claimed on June 18th, that Germany’s leadership, and the leadership in other EU nations, caused the refugee-crisis that Europe is facing:

“The people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition. Crime in Germany is way up. Big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!”

The US Government is clearly lying about this. The US Government itself caused this crisis that Europeans are struggling to deal with. Would the crisis even exist, at all, if the US had not invaded and tried to overthrow (and in some instances actually overthrown) the governments in Libya, Syria, and elsewhere — the places from which these refugees are escaping? The US Government, and a few of its allies in Europe (the ones who actually therefore really do share in some of the authentic blame for this crisis) caused this war and government-overthrow, etc., but Germany’s Government wasn’t among them, nor were many of the others in Europe. If the US Government had not led these invasions, probably not even France would have participated in any of them. The US Government, alone, is responsible for having caused these refugees. The US Government itself created this enormous burden to Europe, and yet refuses to accept these refugees that it itself had produced, by its having invaded and bombed to overthrow (among others) Libya’s Government, and then Syria’s Government, and by its aiding Al Qaeda in organizing and leading and arming, jihadists from all over the world to come to Syria to overthrow Syria’s Government and to replace it with one that would be selected by the US regime’s key Middle Eastern ally, the Saud family, who own Saudi Arabia, including its Government, and who are determined to take over Syria.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Big Oil’s Man in Foreign Policy

Big Oil’s Man in Foreign Policy

The Koch brothers’ extremist political agenda of empowering multinational corporations to reign as sovereigns has always been inextricably entwined with the profiteering agenda of their wholly-owned, $100-billion-a-year industrial conglomerate.

The brothers’ plutocratic view of business-as-government even has a name: Pompeo. As in Mike Pompeo, the Trump regime’s latest secretary of state.

Years ago, while living in the billionaire brothers’ hometown of Wichita, Kansas, Mike got lucky when they pumped a load of Koch capital into a business he’d started, turning him into a millionaire. Then, they partnered with him in another business that essentially made him a Koch Industries subsidiary: politics.

In 2010, they turned this business asset they’d created into a political asset, providing the money from KOCHPAC and the backing of their right-wing front group to elect Pompeo to serve as “the Congressman from Koch.” The brothers even installed a Koch Industries lobbyist to run his congressional office.

So, Mike’s been a loyal Koch-head, conferring with them and backing bills to advance their corporate and political fortunes. Their investment in Mike became a bonanza last year when he became Trump’s yes-man as the head of the CIA. And now, they’ve hit the political jackpot, with Pompeo becoming head of the State Department.

On everything from international oil deals that profit multinational giants like Koch Industries to relentless opposition to all global efforts that would restrict fossil fuel profiteers from causing more climate change, the Koch’s personal political insider is now their global corporate asset.

To keep up with how Pompeo converts Koch-headed corporatism into U.S. foreign policy, go to PR Watch.

Singapore, Trade and Geopolitics

Singapore, Trade and Geopolitics

The Western media was incredulous. The Donald had disregarded diplomacy, scuttled out of the G7 meeting in Canada without endorsing the G7 agreement, and ended up shaking hands with a previously avowed enemy in Singapore. The formally leisurely pace of global diplomacy, where all is pre-agreed before the photo-op showing unanimity of leadership, was ditched in favour of the Art of the Deal. Foreign correspondents for the established media were confused and obviously out of their depth, particularly over the deal with President Kim Jong-un.

As a female journalist pointed out at the press conference after the meeting, Kim has proven to be ruthless and untrustworthy, killing members of his own family and imprisoning and torturing his own people. How could Trump possibly come to terms with him, and concede, apparently without consulting South Korea, to suspend joint exercises, and agree to the objective of a complete denuclearisation of the peninsular, which is the implication of the eventual withdrawal of American forces entirely from the South?

The Singapore deal was in fact not a deal, but an endorsement of the earlier agreement between the two Koreas at Panmunjom on 27th April. And this is the point, Singapore was the US confirming it accepted Panmunjom.

The razzmatazz of a Singaporean summit plays well to Trump’s electoral base, as did his disdain for G7 and his trashing of Trudeau, who he described as “very dishonest and weak” over trade. Trump’s supporters also buy into his fake-news accusations, conveniently placing him beyond criticism so far as they are concerned. Now they are seeing concrete results from the man they elected President, ahead of the mid-term elections in November.

We need to look into the North Korean situation with greater objectivity, before commenting on recent trade policy developments.

Korea and its economic role in Asia

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Eagle, the Dragon, and the Bear

The Eagle, the Dragon, and the Bear

Does Trump recognize the limits of US power?

Trump’s new world order comes straight from The Godfather. There are three global powers: the US, Russia, and China. None of these powers can militarily defeat either of the other two, and even an alliance among two of them would have trouble defeating the third.

Like Don Corleone, Trump is dividing up the larger territory into smaller, great-power controlled sub-territories. He is tacitly recognizing Russia and China’s dominance in their own spheres of influence, and holding them to account in their territories. The implicit agreement among the three is apparently that each power will, in their, “sphere of influence…enforce peace.”

Trump’s New World Order,” SLL 3/20/18

In one week President Trump confirmed that his first concern is the United States, that he has what may be a workable vision for its place in the world, and he loathes globalism and the globalists. A good measure of his efficacy is the outrage he generates. By that measure, that week was his finest hour…so far.

Europe won’t have a seat at Trump’s great-power table. Its welfare states are addicted to their handouts, deeply in debt, rely on uneven trade arrangements with the US, and have below-replacement birth rates. They are cowed by Soros-sponsored propaganda—Immigration is the answer!—and haven’t shut off the immigrant invasion. Refusing to spend on their own militaries, they’ve used what they save on defense to subsidize welfare spending and state bureaucracies.

They’re ignoring a lesson from history: nations that rely on other nations for their defense generally come to regret it. Instead, they’re wedded to the globalist acronyms: NATO, EU and UN. They have frittered away their power and their glory—Europe’s heritage and civilization—opting for overrun masquerading as assimilation by dogmatic and implacable foes.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Murder of Julian Assange

The Murder of Julian Assange

It was a fool’s errand.

On the day Donald Trump was elected his supporters asked him to pardon the founder and frontman of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange. They flooded social media demanding Assange be allowed to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London without arrest and extradition to the United States. 

Stone silence from Trump and his administration. 

A few months before the election, WikiLeaks released a searchable archive of over 30,000 emails and attachments taken from Hillary Clinton’s not-so private email server. 

Trump held no aversion to exploiting the emails. He called them the Crooked Hillary emails and said they endangered the national security of the United States. 

Democrats called foul, said Assange had colluded with Putin and the Russians. 

In April, they filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Russian government, the Trump campaign, and WikiLeaks. They argue there was a widespread conspiracy to swing the 2016 election.

They have zero evidence of this. Evidence is no longer required. Accusations alone now serve to take down leaders and destroy careers. 

Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are no longer of use to Donald Trump. 

He dished out pardons to ex-Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and neocon leaker Scooter Libby. Trump mulled other pardons, including a posthumous one for Muhammad Ali to wipe out his draft dodging conviction. It was reported in June Trump insiders are pushing to pardon the junk bond king Michael Milken and reverse his conviction on securities fraud. The Milken pardon is being pushed by Goldman Sachs alumnus and current Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. 

Meanwhile, Julian Assange is left to twist in the wind. 

Both Trump’s attorney general and his former CIA director, now secretary of state Mike Pompeo want Assange extradited to the United States where he will face trial and possible execution for espionage. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How the New York Times Lies About Lies: Obama v. Trump as Example

How the New York Times Lies About Lies: Obama v. Trump as Example

How the New York Times Lies About Lies: Obama v. Trump as Example

Although the New York Times says that President Donald Trump lies vastly more than did President Barack Obama, the definite liar in that comparison — based on the factual record, to be presented here — is the New York Times itself. It lies in alleging this, which isn’t to say that either President lies more frequently than the other, but instead, that the Times’s calculation fails to count, at all, but instead altogether ignores, some of President Obama’s very worst lies — ones that were real whoppers. These were lies that were essential to his maintaining support among Democrats (such as the owners of this corporation, the NYT, are), and that would keep Democrats’ support only if they failed to judge him by his actual decisions and actions (such as the NYT’s owners do — or else they secretly know the truth on this, but prevent this truth from being published by their employees). Even to the present day, Obama is evaluated by Democrats on the basis of his lies instead of on the basis of his actions. He’s admired for his stated intentions and promises, which were often the opposite of what his consistent actual decisions and actions turned out to be on those very same matters, on which he had, in retrospect, quite clearly lied (though that was covered-up at the time — and still is).

For example, among the list of lies that the NYT counts from Obama, is excluded Obama’s having asserted on 20 May 2009, at the signing into law of both the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act and the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act: “This bill nearly doubles the FBI’s mortgage and financial fraud program, allowing it to better target fraud in hard-hit areas.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood

Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood

Still from “The Post.”

The media nowadays are busy congratulating themselves for their vigorous criticism of Donald Trump. To exploit that surge of sanctimony, Hollywood producer Steven Spielberg rushed out The Post, a movie depicting an epic press battle with the Nixon administration. Critics raved over the film, which the New York Post enthusiastically labeled “journalism porn of the highest order.” Boston Public Radio station WBUR called it the “most fun you’ll ever have at a civics lesson.”

Spielberg, touting his movie, claimed that “the free press is a crusader for truth,” But the media hoopla around The Post is akin to geezers boasting of having shown moments of courage when they were almost 50 years younger.

The Post is built around the Pentagon Papers, a secret study begun in 1967 analyzing where the Vietnam War had gone awry. The 7000-page tome showed that presidents and military leaders had been profoundly deceiving the American people ever since the Truman administration and that the same mistakes were being endlessly repeated. Like many policy autopsies, the report was classified as secret and completely ignored by the White House and federal agencies, which most needed to heed its lessons. New York Times editor Tom Wicker commented in 1971 that “the people who read these documents in the Times were the first to study them.”

Daniel Ellsberg, a former Pentagon official, heroically risked life in prison to smuggle the report to the media after members of Congress were too cowardly to touch it. The New York Times shattered the political sound barrier when it began courageously publishing the report despite a profusion of threats from the Nixon administration Justice Department. After a federal court slapped the Times with an injunction, the Washington Post and other newspapers published additional classified excerpts from the report.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Trump Takes Italy by Storm: the Rise of Matteo Salvini and of the Italian Right

Trump Takes Italy by Storm: the Rise of Matteo Salvini and of the Italian Right

Matteo Salvini, the leader of the Italian League and Minister of the Interior since June 2018. During the past few weeks, he has gained political prominence in Italy by adopting Trump’s style and policies. Here, you see him together with the slogan “Italians First.”

During the past few weeks, we have seen a true political revolution in Italy. Matteo Salvini, leader of the Italian League, has successfully exploited his new position of Minister of the Interior to gain personal prominence. The M5s movement had won the elections, this year, but it has been emarginated to a secondary role, while Salvini acts and looks like if he were the real Prime Minister. If new elections were held now in Italy, Salvini and the League would win hands down

All politics is, after all, about blame shifting. So, political success means simply finding someone to blame. Matteo Salvini was successful by adopting the same style and content that made the political fortune of Donald Trump. Both Trump and Salvini found a good target to blame with immigrants and foreigners in general. Both used harsh language, insults, callousness, and plain racism. Both found that the more shrill and violent their utterances were, the more they were approved by the public. It took a remarkably small effort to convince a large majority of Italians that all their troubles are caused by immigrants and, in particular, by the Roma people (less than the 0.2% of the Italian population). Salvini also capitalized on demonizing the Euro and the European Union, although he can’t afford (so far) to exaggerate with insults and threats in that field. In any case, right now, it seems that 72% of Italians approve Salvini’s actions

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Trump, Tariffs and Trade Deficits

Trump, Tariffs and Trade Deficits

“The Chinese are raping us” and “Canada is killing our farmers”! Such melodramatic claims from Trump resonate with many Americans, because the effects of globalization have been devastating for half the population. To his credit, Trump has been harping on trade deficit for thirty years – he was complaining about the Japanese in the 1980s. However, he’s vastly oversimplifying the issue and the solutions. This is an important topic that requires serious thought.

What is Trade Deficit?

Simply put, trade balance is the difference between our exports and imports. If we export more than we import, we have a trade surplus; but if we import more than we export, alas, we have a trade deficit!

Why Trade Deficit is Bad

Trade deficit is transfer of wealth.

Since our Federal Reserve Bank creates fiat money out of thin air, it’s hard to see the adverse effects of trade deficits. However, imagine for a moment that all trade happened with gold. Every year that we have a trade deficit, our gold reserves will shrink, and we can then clearly see that perpetual trade deficit is unsustainable.

Another facet of trade deficit is its impact on the money supply. Say you spend $1000 on jewelry at a local store. That’s not a one-time transaction. The jeweler may spend that money on a furniture store, whose owner uses that money to pay his employee, who uses that to pay his rent, which the landlord uses to buy groceries, and so on. Thus the economic effect of $1000 is multiple times its value.

Now imagine the catalytic effect of $9 trillion! That’s the tremendous economic stimulus we have lost in the last two decades alone due to trade deficit.

Symptom of Jobs Lost

A corollary of trade deficit is that Americans are not producing the goods that we import. Of course, no country is 100% self-reliant, but everything we import potentially represents a lost American job.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

White House Accuses China Of “Persistent Economic Espionage And Aggression”

In what Bloomberg billed as the White House’s “latest salvo in the trade war between the world’s two largest economies”, the Trump administration released a 35-page report late last night fleshing out its national security concerns emanating from China’s theft of intellectual properties as well as economic policies that shield domestic Chinese companies from competition.

The report, titled How China’s Economic Aggression Threatens the Technologies and Intellectual Property of the United States and the World“, accuses China of achieving its brisk economic growth through “aggressive acts, policies, and practices that fall outside of global norms and rules (collectively, ‘economic aggression’)” (surprisingly, not through nosebleed levels of debt issuance), before it lists two categories of said “economic aggression” that are the focus of the report; they are:

  • Acquire Key Technologies and Intellectual Property From Other Countries, Including the United States.
  • Capture the Emerging High-Technology Industries That Will Drive Future Economic Growth15 and Many Advancements in the Defense Industry.

The cites comments from the US intelligence community, which note that “Chinese actors are the world’s most active and persistent perpetrators of economic espionage” and that China covets technology in key industries like “electronics, telecommunications, robotics, data services, pharmaceuticals, mobile phone services, pharmaceuticals, satellite communications and imagery and business application software.”

When thefts of technology are reported, China does everything it can to stymie investigations. Indeed, economic espionage is a main focus of China’s intelligence services, and the US believes that China’s Ministry of State Security has no fewer than 50,000 intelligence officers operating abroad – and no fewer than 40,000 operating domestically.

China

The report also offers details about how China violates US export-control laws by exploiting the growth in “dual-use” technologies (aka those that have civilian and military purposes). As an example, the report cites a conspiracy involving a naturalized US citizen who was born in China.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Kass – Risk Happens Fast

Risk Happens Fast

  • Risk happens fast – Trump trade policy whacks futures this morning
  • We remain in a trading sardine market – not an eating sardine market
  • Hastily crafted policy that conflates politics is dangerous in a flat and networked world
  • The return of an untethered Orange Swan is market unfriendly … brace yourselves
  • The Supreme Tweeter will likely “Make Uncertainty and Volatility Great Again” (#MUVGA)

The First Half of 2018

The first half of 2018 has been a tale of two markets. Maybe three markets.

January brought a market fervor – in which global equities rose dramatically, likely in response to the expected stimulative contribution and impact of the Administration’s reduction in statutory tax rates.

As interest rates began to climb in January, bullish investor sentiment crested and the risk parity trade went array.

Stocks fell violently in February and the new regime of volatility commenced – in a market revealed as increasingly illiquid.

The S&P Index fell from nearly 2900 and successfully tested the 2550 level twice. Several meek rallies commenced but the S&P had 2-3 more successful tests at about 2600 and stocks recently closed in on 2800 (S&P Index).

1Q-2018 corporate revenues and profits didn’t disappoint but the complexion of the market had clearly changed – and valuations (the S&P Index’s price earnings ratio expanded by almost 3 points in 2017) began to contract. Wall Street, which outperformed Main Street in 2017 – reversed roles in the first six months of 2018.

While the stock market reeled with volatility since January 1, the FAANG stocks generally stood tall throughout the year as the market narrowed and investor interest focused on the 5-10 anointed stocks.

The first half of 2018 was also characterized by a series of questionable and controversial presidential policies (the most recent being trade/tariff decisions) at the same time the Federal Reserve was pivoting on monetary policy. By overtly playing to his base, having little sense of economic history, Trump has contributed to even greater volatility in a market without memory from day to day.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

China’s Currency Manipulation Does NOT Harm Its Trading Partners

China’s Currency Manipulation Does NOT Harm Its Trading Partners

Americans are being told that China’s currency manipulations are causing harm to its trading partners, America being the main victim. Nothing could be further from the truth. China’s currency manipulations certainly cause harm, but to China itself!

No country can cause harm to another by adopting any economic intervention. All economic interventions cause harm only to the country that adopts them. This applies to subsidies of home industries, quotas restricting import volumes, tariffs imposed on imports, and currency manipulations.

A nation typically manipulates its currency by giving more of its own currency in exchange for the currency of other countries. Thus foreign importers can buy more goods per unit of currency exchanged. In other words, if the free market exchange rate between the dollar and the yuan is six yuan per dollar, an importer would be able to buy goods costing six yuan by tendering one dollar. If the Bank of China arbitrarily decides to boost imports, it can give eight or ten yuan for each dollar presented. Chinese goods drop in price on the American market.

Protectionists such as President Trump view this as harm, but where exactly is the harm? A Chinese good that previously cost a dollar now may be purchased for sixty or eighty cents. Our American standard of living goes up at China’s expense! The extra money in Americans’ pockets may be used to consume or invest more. This is a very strange definition of harm.

The real harm occurs in China. The Bank of China sets off price inflation in its own country. It may try to mitigate this inflation by raising the interest rate on its own debt in order to withdraw the extra yuan from circulation. This is known as “sterilization”. It then appears as if China has achieved greater exports with no price inflation. However, China’s debt rises.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

India Joins the Tariff War: The Party is Just Starting!

In response to Trump’s tariffs on steel, India will put tariffs on Harley motorcycles, lentils, and almonds.

Following the well-established belief that “trade wars are easy to win”, India counters Trump tariffs, to hike duty on US bikes, almonds, apples.

India has proposed to raise import duty on 30 products, ranging from motorcycles and certain iron and steel goods to boric acid and lentils. The customs duty on some of the items may be raised up to 50 per cent, in a signal that New Delhi will hit back at America’s protectionist policies that range from a tighter visa regime to higher import duties.

The additional duty proposed to be hiked on these items ranges from 10 per cent to 50 per cent. Those at the lowest include almonds, walnuts and fresh apples – which will cost a little more for consumers as an additional duty of 10 percent is proposed to be imposed.

But the real impact will be on products such as motorcycles over 800 cc – a move targeted at Harley-Davidson – where an additional duty of 50 percent has been proposed. This is seen as a real counter to President Donald Trump who had demanded a reduction in tariff on the cult bike brand.

The government threatened further action. “India reserves its right to further suspend substantially equivalent concessions and other obligations based on the trade impact resulting from the application of the measures of the US,” it added.

Let It All Hang Out

Party Just Starting

It’s so easy when it’s all easy. As Trump says “Trade Wars are Good and Easy to Win

The party is just starting. Who’s next?

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