Wednesday Night #1902

Written by  //  August 22, 2018  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Welcome back, Peter Berezin!
Peter’s latest weekly report is titled “Hot Dollar, Cold Turkey”. Highlights include:
• The dollar rally and EM selloff have further to go.
• The U.S. economy is firing on all cylinders, while the rest of the world is sputtering.
• Turkey is not an isolated case. Emerging markets as a whole have feasted on debt over the past decade, and now will be held to account.

Although the world is increasingly accustomed to the Trump trade wars, often seemingly launched on a whim, writing in the New Yorker,   suggests that even in trade wars (or perhaps especially), all politics is local: “Erdoğan and Trump have been exchanging public taunts—and economic sanctions—over Turkey’s two-year imprisonment of Andrew Brunson, an evangelical American missionary accused of espionage, links to terrorist groups, and involvement in the failed Turkish coup in 2016.. … Turkish officials have expressed surprised at how important Brunson is to the Trump Administration, considering that several other Americans, including the NASA engineer Serkan Gölge, are also jailed in Turkey. Turkish officials suspect that Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence, who have strong political support from evangelical Christians in the U.S., believe that Brunson’s release could increase Republican voter turnout in the midterm elections in November.” (Erdoğan, Trump, and the Strongman Politics Devastating Turkey’s Economy).

UPDATE: Ron Meisels was quick to point out that today, 22 August, is historic as the US bull market becomes the longest on record. But the New York Times underlines that most Americans aren’t at the party:
After 3,453 days, it ranks among the great booms in American market history. But as the stock market surged, prices for homes — the most important source and store of wealth for the American middle class — recovered much more slowly from the Great Recession and housing bust. Incomes, too, have barely budged.
One economics professor put it bluntly: “This is the decade in which wealth inequality has increased the most in U.S. history.”

We look forward to reaction to the recent commentary Trump is the unsung hero of the world economy by Dr. Michael Ivanovitch
“Looking for a negotiated settlement of American trade deficits with China and the European Union, Trump has allowed the U.S. to continue serving as the most powerful locomotive to the world economy. By the end of this year, the U.S. is likely to have contributed more than $1 trillion net to global demand and output since Trump took office in January 2017.That will raise America’s foreign debt, but it will also boost the Chinese, Japanese and European net foreign assets. Unwisely, those surplus countries love too much of a good thing, seem in no hurry to talk trade and are leaving Washington no choice but destructive trade warfare.” He continues: “The trade issue has now slipped into the realm of serious political and security problems, and there is no telling how — and when — it could be retrieved back to a more technical level. Meanwhile, the U.S. keeps piling on rising trade and budget deficits, while the deteriorating inflation outlook presents the biggest danger to market stability and sustainable economic growth”.

The Washington Post is no friend of Donald Trump. In Assessing the Trump economy. “A low unemployment rate, accelerating growth and robust stock markets are all objectively good news for Trump, his political base and the rest of the country. The hard-working staff here at Spoiler Alerts feels compelled, however, to point out some discordant notes in this upbeat economic narrative. The first is just how much Trump has to do with any of these positive numbers. Economists at the Center for Economic and Policy Research compared the actual performance of the U.S. economy under Trump to a “doppelganger” created by a “combination of other economies [that] matches the evolution of real GDP in the US before the 2016 election with the highest possible accuracy.” Daniel W. Drezner goes on to say: “Trump’s policies are having more subtle effects on the U.S. economy, however, and these do not look so healthy. First, the most powerful effect of the tax cut is to blow a hole through U.S. public finances. Earlier this month, the Office of Management and Budget conceded that the Congressional Budget Office was right and that the federal budget deficit will soar past $1 trillion in 2019. Needless to say, in a booming economy, the budget deficit should not — repeat, not — be widening.Well, at least the sugar high is fun, right? Except that, again, a peek under the hood reveals some serious problems with the distribution of economic growth. Bloomberg News’s Noah Smith looked at its effect on real wages.”

Jeremy Kinsman offers his  take on Trump v. mulilateralism in Moving On: The West Adjusts to a Rogue U.S. President and concludes “We can always hope America will so tire of the psychodrama and animosities Trump foments, that he will not have a second term. Soothing alternatives like Mitt Romney eye the Republican stage Trump has hijacked. Democrats are holding challenger tryouts. But Trump’s cultish loyalists seem unyielding. The world can’t count on an internal American solution. It is up to like-minded Europeans, Canadians and other internationalists to save ourselves as necessary. A counter-strategy to preserve the multilateral and cooperative rules-based order foreseen at the post-war moment of creation has become imperative.”

We pay too little attention to what is happening in Africa (and, yes, we are more than aware that we speak of a continent and not a country), unless there is a governance crisis , act of terrorism or  murder of beautiful animals by poachers and/or rich, unprincipled trophy hunters, so we  draw your attention to this piece from Brookings . Smart power: Investing in youth leadership and development
“Of the many statistics that define Africa’s complexity, this may be the most important one: With 200 million people between ages 15 and 24, Africa has the youngest population in the world. This demographic is expected to double by 2045. The question is whether Africa’s youth population is a “ticking time bomb,” a concern expressed by Zambia’s finance minister, Alexander Chikwanda, or, if the continent’s demography will contribute to sustained economic growth and diversification. Despite fast economic growth from 2000 to 2015, the absolute number of poor has increased in Africa and about 70 percent of young people live below the poverty line.”
A quick footnote: how many of you realized that Swaziliand has undergone a name-change? The Kingdom of eSwatini Might eXasperate Copy eDitors

As the world mourns Aretha Franklin, the death of Kofi Annan, U.N. secretary general and Nobel Peace Prize laureate -and the first black African to hold the job- on Saturday generated less universal attention, but nonetheless some glowing tributes from many editorialists and people who had worked with him. One of the more critical assessments of his career is Kofi Annan’s Unaccountable Legacy by Philip Gourevitch which focusesses on the period when, as the head of the U.N.’s peacekeeping department, he “presided over the ignominious failures of the U.N. missions in Somalia, Rwanda, and Bosnia.”

Another death this week was that of Uri Avnery, Israel’s most durable, most persistent peace activist and taboo-breaker. His voice will be sorely missed.

Officially, the Quebec election campaign starts on Thursday (23 August). Unofficially it has been going on for weeks, if not months, with the PLQ courting the Anglo community with all sorts of promises. However, promises from Premier Couillard are being taken with more than a grain of salt, especially in view of the débacle in the Mercier riding. In fairness, according to La Presse M. Ouimet may have been the author of his own misfortunes.
Jennifer Maccarone to run for Liberals in Westmount–Saint-Louis riding
Maccarone currently serves as Quebec English School Boards Association president
Jacques Chagnon, the Speaker of the National Assembly, holding the position since 1994 when the riding was created.
Before that, he was the MNA for the riding of Saint-Louis for two terms. In June, he announced he would not be seeking reelection.
Kathleen Weil did not enhance the PLQ’s credibility with the Anglo community in her incredibly pathetic interview with Mike Finnerty.
On a positive note, while we are very sad to see Rita de Santis step away from politics, we are pleased that Wednesday Night guest, Paule Robitaille, is poised to succeed her as the Députée de la circonscription de Bourassa-Sauvé.

Summer reading lists
Former president Obama recently published his. “This summer I’ve been absorbed by new novels,” the former president wrote Sunday, “revisited an old classic, and reaffirmed my faith in our ability to move forward together when we seek the truth.” The Washington Post adds “As usual, the former president’s summer reading list is a model of diverse voices and concerns, without a whiff of that synthetic intellectuality that frequently hovers around politicians’ alleged bedside reading. (Let’s be honest, nobody is really enjoying Thucydides’s “History of the Peloponnesian War” and Thomas Piketty’s “Capital” this summer.) Obama’s choices are books that one can easily find at most bookstores or libraries.”
Oh, yes, you can also check out Trump’s reading list on CNN  – we wonder how the books are reduced to bullet points for him.

“The Husband Hunters” by Anne de Courcy recounts the fates and fortunes of the women who helped prop up the British aristocracy, leaving behind the savage competitiveness of New York for the English countryside, male-dominated politics — and a lot of rain. NYT’s review of this glittering history should be an entertaining addition to the end-of-summer reading list.

Have you ever wondered about how names of beloved characters from fiction are translated? The author of this website gives a quick survey of what happens to Winnie the Pooh, Eyeore, Tigger and others when they become Danish, Finnish, Hungarian, or Portuguese. Noteworthy: Portuguese Piglet is Leitäo. We wonder how Quebec’s Minister of Finance feels about this.

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