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Pyatt: The fun for Trump has just begun

By now it seems obvious that few people both in the United States and particularly around the world take Donald Trump very seriously. He is our version of a leader we have to throw some money at to satisfy our constitutional responsibilities — he was legitimately elected — and at the same time allow him and his family to plunder away, but the value is largely symbolic and becoming more so. I would characterize this as somewhere between Queen Elizabeth II and Oscar the Grouch. Instead of dementia by age he suffers from a condition of acute narcissism which is equally debilitating.

It would be a good idea if Trump would “cough up” a permanent chief of staff. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

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It is also obvious that Trump’s original plan was to initiate a war with Iran, which he seems to be rather heavy-handedly and ineptly achieving. This is part of his “to do list” for re-election. At least he has outsourced this effort to the “Defense Department” who has all of the fire power. This is akin to a posse in the old Western movies we once watched. Bring me a few Iranian scalps, and we’re good to go.

Or larger concern is the wasted opportunity to build diplomatic bridges to at least push the American agenda forward. Everybody knows we can defeat Iran, but to what avail? China and Russian are advancing their agendas without much opposition from this hamstrung and manpower-shortened administration. Most of Trump’s inner circle either go to jail or end up being subpoenaed by Congress yet cited for contempt — possibly ruining one’s career — for being told in no uncertain terms not to testify. Serious candidates aren’t interested in key White House positions.

Nobody seems to understand the wisdom and efficacy of tariffs, except that they don’t work particularly well, they are abetting an international economic slowdown, and they are costing American jobs.

I got a 23-page financial analysis from my brokerage firm this week with lots of charts and graphs, but the central message is that there is a slowdown in the world economy ahead and to be cautious about stocks. But there was an editorial in USA Today last week that says if you’re a frustrated investor, you’re essentially doing OK. I have yet to see a responsible financial analyst say anything positive about the value of tariffs.

I also just started a book on Life after Google and am still reading “From Guttenberg to Google.” Both of these books describe the technological developments and the resulting upheaval of major breakthroughs, e.g. railroads, telegraph, and computers. These breakthroughs cause massive loss of jobs and the creation of new ones. Life After Google is more on what’s to come. Many financial analysts are using this to be cautionary about buying or trading high technology stocks.

It was fascinating to read about chicanery regarding who got the recognition for past breakthroughs. Samuel Morse, for example, was not the telegraph “inventor” per say but made some risky and high stakes gambles to develop the first telegraph system along the railroad lines and had to go back and re-engineer some of his mistakes to meet his contractual obligations.

I initially bought Trump’s line, like a lot of my peers, that he was good for the economy and deserved a pat on the back for stock price increases and job creation. On the other hand, the back side of this economy has ballooning deficits and tax cuts with false rosy projections to justify these cuts that will make it difficult for the incoming administration in 2020.

I’m not overly excited about any of the Democratic candidates running. The next President will have a difficult job and the long bull market may have run its course. There is a good chance our next President, even if he or she does a commendable job, may be a one-termer but able to hang their head up high. On the other hand, Mr. Trump may well win re-election.

An article in the June 20 Washington Post infers that Trump has outsourced the functions of most of the federal government. As a career federal employee, this has been going on piecemeal for the past several decades, perhaps longer than that. The federal government is informally known as the “Fourth Branch.” At the moment, Feds’ morale in general isn’t too bad as fewer meddling Congressional Committees currently stalemated.

What really causes me to wake up at night, however, is that most of the political and economic checks and balances that have been painfully added slowly and systematically to our economy and policies are now being unplugged one by one or in some cases two or three at a time just to satisfy the ego and dementia of one incredibly charismatic person. Some pruning is not a bad idea. And perhaps at the moment we’re OK. But we know the game and fun for Trump has just begun. It won’t end well.

I think there is fertile material for a successful presidential candidate — how to manage technology changes, a better engagement with China other than through a blunt instrument, and how to manage our financial institutions, e.g. not bullying the Fed to cut rates to cover your blunders.

Immigration is kind of like North Korea — a conundrum but not something to take drastic steps on that will leave everlasting social scars.

Dave Pyatt writes from Mount Airy.

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