From CONTRARIAN journals over the past week

Economy and markets daily, Nov 12/16

“May You Live in Interesting Times” Never in my lifetime has this proverb rung so true. Trump’s stunning victory shocked the world on Wednesday morning. I can’t say I’m surprised. Our tax, healthcare, retirement and political systems are a disgrace.  The top 1% now control 50% of the wealth. The middle class… one of the things that made us great as a nation… is in freefall.  Our elected representatives have all been so bastardized by special interests and lobbyists that they’re no longer working for the greater good. Only a complete economic and social reset by way of this type of voter revolution will bring about the necessary change to the political and financial landscape we so desperately need. And that’s just here in the U.S. The same theme is echoing across the developed world as we speak.

Doug Casey, Casey Daily Dispatch, Nov 11/16

The Trump victory is very good news for the US—relative to a win for Hillary, which would have been an unmitigated disaster. So I’m happy he won. Will Trump winning mean a real change in direction for the US? Unlikely. Don’t mistake Trump for a libertarian. ——- On the bright side, he has real business experience —– He’ll mainly be able to set the tone, as did Reagan. But, hey, something is better than nothing.

A brief word on US political parties. I’ve said for years that the Demopublicans and the Republicrats are just two wings of the same party. One says it’s for social freedom (which is a lie), but is actively antagonistic to economic freedom. The other says it’s for economic freedom (which is a lie), but is actively antagonistic to social freedom. Both are controlled by members of the Deep State.

The creatures who control the Republican Party are one thing—and they were massively repudiated by the victory of Trump. Good riddance. But the people who gravitate towards the GOP are something else. To them, the GOP mostly represents a cultural club they belong to. — (they) —- don’t have any cohesive philosophy binding them together. They’re just sympathetic to “traditional” values. They like the picture postcard version of America. The 1950’s style “Father Knows Best” family. The world of “American Graffiti”. A house in the suburbs, or a small, neat farm. Thanksgiving dinners with relatives. The exchange of Christmas cards. Going to church on Sunday. The husband having a job that allows him to support the wife and kids. Chevrolets and Fords. A relatively small, non-predatory government. A friendly neighborhood cop. A basically decent and stable society, which doesn’t tolerate crime, or overly outlandish behavior, where social norms are understood and observed. You get the picture. It’s a cultural thing, not an ideological or political construct. Unfortunately, it’s no longer a reality. It’s more and more just an ideal, about as dated as a Norman Rockwell painting on the defunct Saturday Evening Post.

The Democrats are quite different in outlook. They see themselves as hip and sophisticated, and see traditional values as “square”. They’re for globalism, not American nationalism. —- Political correctness rules. White men are automatically despised. Black is beautiful. Women are better than men. The very idea of America is in disrepute, and held in contempt. Multiculturalism overrules home-grown values. Etc. Etc. The Democratic party is a cesspool filled with leftist social engineers, academics, busy-body pundits, the “elite”, cultural Marxists, race baiters, racial “minorities” who see race as their main identity, radical feminists and LBGT types, entitled underachievers, statists, the soft-headed, the envy-driven, the stupid, professional losers, haters of free markets, and people who simply hate the idea of America.

A real battle for the soul of the country is shaping up. But I fear it won’t be heroic, so much as sordid. The knaves versus the fools. The Dems are the evil party, but the Reps are just the stupid party

Don’t forget that Trump wasn’t the only protest candidate in the primaries. There was Bernie. His supporters know that Hillary and the Dem insiders stole it from him, and they’re still very unhappy. Many abstained from voting for Hillary because of the theft. A few probably voted for Trump out of spite. Or because they wanted to burn the house down. Perversely, they’ll get their wish. The Greater Depression will deepen under Trump, even if he makes the right moves.

But let’s look at the bright side. All things considered, we’re in for some wonderful free (kind of) entertainment.

Wall Street Daily, Nov 10/16

Trump’s First Task: Close the Wall Street-Washington Wormhole

  • Donald Trump is president-elect of the United States of America.
  • His ascension is a function of Establishment corruption — left, right, Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative.
  • We’re witnessing the final throes of the postwar Washington Consensus that dictated the second half of the 20th century, loosened in the aftermath of the Cold War, and unraveled with the advent of the global war on terror.

Jeff Bauman, The Bauman letter weekly, Nov 9, 2016

First, I want to acknowledge that I got the election outcome dead wrong — along with practically every U.S. pundit. I genuinely believed that despite the widespread desire for fundamental change, most Americans would balk at putting Donald Trump in the Oval Office. Boy, was I wrong.

One reason I discounted a President Trump is that I paid close attention to what sort of “change” he — or his handlers — actually proposed. The truth is that other than immigration and trade policy, most people don’t really know his positions on a variety of issues. They relied on his promise that “our movement is about replacing a failed and corrupt political establishment with a new government controlled by you, the American people.” The reality appears to be quite different. Let’s look at that reality — and how it might affect you. To begin with, Trump’s transition team, headed by Governor Chris Christie (R-N.J.), is a who’s who of corporate influence peddlers. It includes energy adviser Michael Catanzaro, a lobbyist for Koch Industries and the Walt Disney Company; Eric Ueland, a Senate Republican staffer who previously lobbied for Goldman Sachs; and Transition General Counsel William Palatucci, an attorney in New Jersey whose lobbying firm represents Aetna and Verizon. Rick Holt, Christine Ciccone, Rich Bagger and Mike Ferguson are among the other corporate lobbyists helping to manage the transition effort. The transition team has already quietly met with corporate lobbyists who promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Trump claims to oppose. Other transition meetings have included briefings with the Financial Services Roundtable and the Investment Company Institute — two lobby groups that represent Wall Street interests, as well as with the BGR Group, a lobby firm that represents Saudi Arabia and the South Korean government. That’s entirely consistent with Trump’s quiet abandonment of his pledge not to accept corporate cash, which he started taking in after the GOP convention. So, those are the sort of “American people” who already have the Trump administration’s ear. What sorts of policies do they have in mind, and how might they affect us?

  1. Based on Trump’s official proposals, my taxes will go up, thanks to Trump’s plan to eliminate all personal and dependent exemptions. Households earning a bit more than mine, on the other hand, will see a large drop in taxes, since the top marginal rate will be 33% compared to today’s 39.5%. Single parents and large families with low or moderate income would likely pay more tax, however, because the plan would eliminate head-of-household filing status and end personal and dependent exemptions. Trump also plans to eliminate estate and gift taxes entirely.
  2. If your income derives from a pass-through entity like a C corporation, limited liability company (LLC) or partnership, your taxes will fall dramatically, since Trump plans to set a flat corporate tax of 15%. You’ll likely pay a lot less tax than your employees and customers.
  3. On the spending side, Trump promises not to cut Social Security or Medicare, so there won’t be any savings there. He also plans to spend a trillion dollars on national infrastructure and to spend substantially more on the armed forces. There will be some savings as Trump abolishes most environmental, labor and other federal regulations, but overall, federal government spending will increase very substantially under Trump.
  4. If Trump’s proposals produce $6.5 trillion less in federal revenues and increase federal outlays by $323 billion, we face a combined deficit of between $6.8 and $11 trillion over the next decade. That means the federal deficit will increase to 7.6% of gross domestic product (GDP). Total national debt as a share of GDP will double, rising to 105% of GDP over the next 10 years, compared to current predictions of 85.6%.
  5. On the other hand, Trump proposes cutting the existing $19 trillion U.S. debt by giving Treasury bondholders less than the face value of the money owed to them, as he did in his four casino bankruptcies. If you’re one of the 55% of Americans whose retirement plans holds Treasury’s, your retirement kitty will shrink accordingly.
  6. Trump’s determination to tear up NAFTA and other trade deals suggests that import prices will rise, but it’s impossible to say by how much. Loss of access to U.S. markets will seriously harm foreign exporters. Demand for U.S. exports will fall accordingly, and the global economy will probably slow overall. Your offshore investments will therefore produce significantly less income.
  7. I predict that the combination of the foregoing will undermine the dollar much more quickly than otherwise. The collapse will be slow-motion at first, possibly producing a run on the currency sometime during Trump’s first term. That will allow the Fed to raise interest rates, which they will definitely do since they need wiggle room to address the next recession.
  8. As for the U.S. stock market, it’s anybody’s guess. The market is already overpriced, so it isn’t likely that we’ll see any gains other than in industries that will benefit from a Trump administration, like security and surveillance and possibly civil engineering. Given the likely increased influence of corporate lobbyists, however, industries like energy and telecoms will see stock gains since they will be able to entrench their monopoly positions and charge higher prices for their services. Overall, 2017 will be a weak year as investors look for security and companies withhold investment until they have clarity on Trump’s agenda.

I realize many people are happy to see Trump in the White House. He promises to fulfill “real Americans’” wishes one way or another. But as my dear grandma used to say, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” Chances are that when it comes to enacting his agenda, there will be “many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip,” We face the great unknown.

 Louis James, editor of International Speculator, reported in Casey daily dispatch November 15/16

Trump might not be as much of an “outsider” as people thought… Trump’s tone has changed since he won the election:

[I]nstead of mustering his new power to declare war on the Establishment that had done everything it could to stop him, he declared peace. He asked his former opponents to work with him. He dropped the insults, bigotry, and boorish behavior. He sounded… presidential.

Then, as the week went on, Trump started backpedaling on repealing Obamacare and other measures. Perhaps most telling of all, he started tapping Washington insiders for his team. That’s a far cry from his pledge to “drain the swamp.”

 From ‘The Millenials Money’, by J D Ault, quoted by David Dittman in the Wall Street Daily, Nov 18/16

If the forest is not healthy, however, the mature trees are highly vulnerable to certain events. Windstorms and ice storms, for example, can bring down huge swathes of what appeared to be strong, mature trees overnight. In this light, we would have to say, in retrospect (although we’ve certainly sensed it for some time now), that the “neoliberal American forest” was not in good health. Under its bark, its hidden structure was eaten away by the doubts, worries and insecurities of the 99% of the population whose incomes and quality of life were headed in the wrong direction.

The neoliberal trees may have honestly thought they were feeding the 99%, but in fact they were starving them. A case in point, which has never been adequately accounted for, is the fallout of the American mortgage crisis. The fact that on the day of the election, 3.2 million families were still underwater in their mortgages — paying more each month to a corrupt banking system than their houses are worth, unable to sell, unable to move to make a new beginning and find a new job, constantly threatened with a downgrade in their credit rating, unmotivated or unable to make repairs or upgrades, living in neighborhoods blighted with empty windows and unkempt yards — the magnitude of that reality alone should have suggested there might be a lot of voters not much interested in maintaining the status quo. The fact that the neoliberal Obama-Clinton coalition, from day one of the Great Recession, didn’t understand (or simply ignored) the devastating and insidious impact the housing collapse was going to have on the lives of the American middle class is still, from my perspective, one of the greatest miscues of modern American politics.


The Rebel, Nov 10/16

So the Saudis cut a $25 million dollar cheque to the Clinton Foundation, as you know. I mean, it’s a ruse: governments don’t need to donate to charities. They don’t need tax receipts, which is what a charity would offer a regular donor.

It was a $25 million dollar down-payment on a Hillary Clinton presidency. It was influence-buying. A legal bribe, though I don’t think it would have been legal for anyone other than a Clinton.

Anyways, the Saudis were pretty pleased with themselves. Every poll and every expert said Clinton was going to win. And then she lost.

Saudi Arabia’s best known billionaire prince, Prince Al-Waleed Talal hates Trump, because Trump is against terrorists. And Saudi Arabia is a global exporter of terrorism. But here’s what I’m really glad about: He doesn’t own Trump, like he owned Clinton.

Trump’s attitude? He tweeted:

”Dopey Prince @Alwaleed_Talal wants to control our U.S. politicians with daddy’s money. Can’t do it when I get elected. #Trump2016”

“@Michael2014abc: @Alwaleed_Talal @realDonaldTrump Has your country, Saudi Arabia, taken ANY of the Syrian refugees? If not, why not?”

Who would you rather have as America’s commander in chief? Someone like Trump who slaps down any uppity prince with zingers?  Or the oily Clintons, who saw any foreign leader as a source for cash, and preferred to take tens of millions of dollars from foreigners behind closed doors?

 Colin Brown, National citizens coalition, Nov 10/16

Thoughts on the Trump Train
The “basket of deplorables” has spoken.

The liberal intelligentsia is reacting in horror to the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. No doubt Hillary Clinton regrets the use of the “basket” phrase to insult her opponent’s supporters. Today her presidential aspirations lie in the rubble of an unprecedented political earthquake. However, the Trump victory should not come as a surprise to long-time supporters of the National Citizens Coalition.

One of the first political ads my father, Colin M. Brown, ran for our fledgling organization in 1970 stated “What this country needs is a group who doesn’t think that big government and big unions have all the answers.” Soon after, the NCC began to feature a cartoon character, drawn by the late Trevor Hutchings, we affectionately called “the little guy.” He was a poor soul who had no money and was looking for a way to make his voice heard against the powerful elites of the day. The NCC was born not because my dad was a deep-thinking small-c conservative academic. He simply had a gut instinct about what was wrong and unfair to the average hard-working Canadian. He became a well-read advocate of conservatism because he saw that socialism didn’t work.

It has been fascinating to watch Donald Trump attacked on the left and right for the past year. The left called him Hitler. On the right, National Review devoted an entire issue to a gang attack by “conservatives-who-know-better” saying he was an ideological fraud. And Trump ignored them all, and just kept going.

Through all the hysteria, the laid-off worker in Ohio, worried about his kids’ future, was quietly paying attention. He had little time for Obama’s lofty worldview and careless economics. He didn’t like losing his family doctor. He felt the system was rigged against him. Like the NCC’s little guy, he felt that he needed a voice. And he didn’t give a hoot who came along to speak for him, as long as somebody did. So on November 8th, he quietly voted for this most unquiet candidate, a swaggering billionaire businessman. Did this Ohio worker “identify” with Trump? Likely, no. But between two unattractive candidates, Trump was his best shot.

There are enormous problems besieging our great neighbour to the south. The legacy of Barack Obama and irresponsible Republicans before him is disastrous. Trump seems willing to cut taxes and tackle the quagmires of healthcare and immigration, where his opponent clearly presented no alternatives. His stand on trade is worrying for Canada and I hope that his policies will be less severe than his campaign bluster. He supports building the Keystone XL pipeline and Prime Minister Harper’s prediction that its construction was “inevitable” may be correct after all.

Like the Brexit vote in the U.K., Trump’s election is a welcome surprise vote for sovereignty. I think the election shows many Americans prefer a president who believes their nation should be strong and independent, not the diluted Euro-state promoted by Obama and the Clintons. A generation ago, the liberal elites rolled their eyes when Ronald Reagan called America a “shining city on a hill.” Trump is no conservative (and no Reagan) but spoke plainly about “making America great again.” That is the powerful language of American exceptionalism. You will not see Donald Trump flying Air Force One to distant lands to apologize for his country.

We wish President-elect Trump the very best as he confronts the great challenges before him.




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