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Paulh's rant about market forces, trade, sovereignty, attitudes toward money, Don Quixote, and, of course, Donald Trump

Post 1

paulh, not fond of Lord Mudpants

One or two of my online friends have an almost religious devotion to the idea that any economic problem can be solved by letting markey forces work on it unimpeded. Exhaustion of fossil fuels? Renewable energy sources will at some point become more
economical than fossil fuels, so don't send time worrying about it. That's easy to say if you aren't one of the people who will be displaced during the transition. Plus, the environmental problems, among them the fact that developing a machine to remove CO2 from
the air doesn't promise to be a money-making endeavor, hence the unlikelihood of its coming to the rescue. In any event, I don't wish to get mired in the existence or nonexistence of global warning/climate change. This is science, not theology, not politics. Scientists have gotten some things right and other things wrong regarding climate, and this is exactly what a reasonable person would expect science to do. Scientists are always on the lookout for mistakes that other scientists have made. It's in their job descriptions. Let's let them do their work.

I have other friends who think business [except for the mom and pop variety] is a dirty word. I'm afraid of discussing stock portfolios with them, even the neutral portfolios in index funds. And if you have to ask what index funds are, maybe you should not have the discussion with me. We'll agree to disagree.

But to make my apologia concise: I devoted three decades to saving and investing for retirement, using simple mathematical models to make it as likely as possible that bad guesses in one asset
category would not make me a pauper in old age, while good guesses would make me reasonably comfortable, though not a billionaire. It looks as though my work has been successful. Who knows how it will look a year from now? If I'm poorer than I am now, it's likely that others will also be poorer. But I will never be rolling in dough. And this doesn't bother me in the least.

I watched the Brexit campaign with interest. It seemed to represent a change of direction for the nationalism/globalism pendulum. The elevation of Donald Trump to the leadership of the U.S. seems to make a similar statement. Globalism may have gone a far as it can, and nationalist forces seem to be coming to the forefront. How far will the pendulum swing away from globalism? It's too soon to tell.

Sovereignty is a key element of nationalism. Japan could feed its people perfectly well by allowing them to eat non-Japanese rice, but it still protects its domestic rice farmers by slapping a 778%
tariff on imported rice. Don't believe me? Read this link:
http://www.agprofessional.com/news/Japans-protection-of-rice-is-a-big-problem-240343191.html Switzerland has traditionally mde it hard for foreigners to become Swiss citizens. Apparently this is
changing, but it remains to be seen how far they're willing to go.
http://deutschdrang.com/dir/swiss-oddities/become-a-swiss-citizen/
I have a friend from France who has bitterly criticised the European Union for interfering in the production of foods that have traditionally been produced in specific areas. Cheese, for example.
http://www.slowfood.com/sloweurope/en/small-scale-cheese-production-and-europe/ I noted with some satisfaction that, in late 2008, President Bush and Obama seemed to eb in agreement
that the U.S. government should intervene in the free-fall of the U.S. economy. This included bailouts of Ford and General Motors, though Ford seems to have rejected the help. In any event, a perfect system of free trade based on market forces would have allowed General Motors to fail. In this sense, the U.S. was just as nationalist in its policies as any other country would have been. Japan's rice, France's cheese, and America's auto industry.

Now i come to Donald Trump. He's not as ridiculous as some people seem to think he is. He remembers when the American steel industry was a major force in the world. If fossil-fuel pipelines are to be laid, why shouldn't they be made from American-made steel? Now that General Motors has recovered, why can't they make cars in the U.S. so American workers can get jobs making them?

many of us hav gotten used to watching the U.S,. adopt a more and more globalist approach to trade, as if the process could go only one way. But some of us remember when the work that our citizens did was a source of pride as well as a means of making a living. We could believe that what we were doing helped America become great or, if we thought it already was great, then it kept America great. Trump seems to be looping back to a set of assumptions from this earlier era. To be honest, I think market forces should be ignored so that the U.S. can still have a steel industry and an auto industry, etc. It doesn't have to be market forces or nothing. It can fall somewhere toward the middle of the spectrum.

Al those who haven't fallen asleep0 reaidng this, please raie your hands. smiley - smiley


Paulh's rant about market forces, trade, sovereignty, attitudes toward money, Don Quixote, and, of course, Donald Trump

Post 2

Icy North

Those are all fair points, paulh.

Someone once said 'Think globally, act locally'. I'm not sure what the exact context was at the time, but to me it means being economically pragmatic about global concerns (like climate change) and local issues (like employment). I see no reason we should be flying basic foodstuffs half way around the world, for example, when we have sufficient capacity to grow/manufacture them ourselves.

But the biggest benefit of a global outlook is that if we share some of the economics, we are less likely to go to war with each other. The EU has kept that zone peaceful.


Paulh's rant about market forces, trade, sovereignty, attitudes toward money, Don Quixote, and, of course, Donald Trump

Post 3

paulh, not fond of Lord Mudpants

As well it might, Icy.

The compromises that looked pretty good ten years ago might not look so good now, though. No system lasts forever, such is our changeable world. And nationalism was never dead, just somewhat dormant.

I saw Trump on TV the other day. He was talking to Justin Trudeau, Canada's prime Minister. Trump was warmly complimentary toward Canada's relationship with the U.S. It's Mexico that Trump gets upset about. But our chagrin about Mexico is longstanding and bipartisan.
There's also mucho hypocrisy in high government circles. Too many high-level people use illegal aliens [mostly Mexican] as nannies for their children and landscapers for their estates.

I'm fine with trump building that wall along the mevican border -- as long as he hires Americans to do the work. If he doesn't, then he's just as hypocritical as anyone else.


Paulh's rant about market forces, trade, sovereignty, attitudes toward money, Don Quixote, and, of course, Donald Trump

Post 4

Icy North

Trump's probably realised he needs friends, and fast. I'm not sure how far Canada will be prepared to side with him, but I suspect they will be deeply suspicious at the outset.


Paulh's rant about market forces, trade, sovereignty, attitudes toward money, Don Quixote, and, of course, Donald Trump

Post 5

paulh, not fond of Lord Mudpants

It's a steep learning curve for every new president, not just Trump.


Paulh's rant about market forces, trade, sovereignty, attitudes toward money, Don Quixote, and, of course, Donald Trump

Post 6

paulh, not fond of Lord Mudpants

Tourism is off, apparently as a result of Trump's travel ban. Then again, maybe bad weather played a part. smiley - shrug


Paulh's rant about market forces, trade, sovereignty, attitudes toward money, Don Quixote, and, of course, Donald Trump

Post 7

ITIWBS



Commentary on Donald Trump, he is authoritative (capable of considering and reconciling opposing needs and views), he is fair minded and I think he's going to come out strongly for rights of self-determination.

The economic and labor relations issues are among the reasons for his stance on the Mexican NAFTA issues and among the reasons for Trump being endorsed by the Teamsters Union.


Paulh's rant about market forces, trade, sovereignty, attitudes toward money, Don Quixote, and, of course, Donald Trump

Post 8

paulh, not fond of Lord Mudpants

I continue to wait for the dust to settle, and for Trump to begin revealing the details of his proposals. After that, Congress will get their turn to accept, reject, or amend his proposals. Can Trump handle amendments? I wait to see if that will happen.


Paulh's rant about market forces, trade, sovereignty, attitudes toward money, Don Quixote, and, of course, Donald Trump

Post 9

paulh, not fond of Lord Mudpants

"The economic and labor relations issues are among the reasons for his stance on the Mexican NAFTA issues and among the reasons for Trump being endorsed by the Teamsters Union." [ITIWBS]

I see the point, and I wish them well. Many years ago I read Trump's "The art of he deal." Leaving aside the question of whether it was written by Trump or someone else, I see some wisdom in coming to the negotiating table with some tough proposals, knowing that as a deal takes form, you'll give a little and the other side will give a little as well. I negotiated three labor contracts as president of my collective bargaining group. I appreciate that many Trump voters hoped he would be a tough negotiator who would get terms favorable for America and for Americans in general. Demonization of Trump has not worked at all, has it? We need to be calm as we go along. When people have approached Trump in a reasonable manner, he has often been reasonable and civil in return.


Paulh's rant about market forces, trade, sovereignty, attitudes toward money, Don Quixote, and, of course, Donald Trump

Post 10

paulh, not fond of Lord Mudpants

Trouble is, it'as hard to be calm when I pick up "The Boston Globe" from my doorstep every morning. There's always some doom and gloom article about Trump on the front page, as if life as we know it can't last much longer.

There isn't anybody on Trump's team who can restrain him when he has bee in his bonnet? Well, he's been in office for less than a month. You can't even retrain a dog in such a short time, and a human being is pretty complicated. The dust should eventually settle. Maybe someone will emerge and arrange something that works. Or, maybe people will increasingly tune Trump out.

Scientists are marching in Boston about Trump's ignorance on climate change? Well, George W Bush was little different from Trump on that issue, and Obama had eight years in which to make a difference. The Globe also had an article about building a huge sea wall across the entrance to Boston Harbor- - more expensive even than Trump's Mexican wall.

I don't see Trump's agenda for global trade helping our economy much, if at all. A stock market crash would be in the cards if the business community smelled economic disaster. Let's see how badly the slump in tourism [if it's real, or a Globe mirage] pulls the economy down. The market went up in reaction to Trump's election.

Let's see how perturbed China gets in response to Trump's disrespect for it. China owns tons of U.S. bonds and bills. Watch the fun if they start selling their stash.


Paulh's rant about market forces, trade, sovereignty, attitudes toward money, Don Quixote, and, of course, Donald Trump

Post 11

paulh, not fond of Lord Mudpants

A propos of nothing, but just because I like it a lot, here's an Allen Sherman song:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RubhncZRFeg


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