Wednesday Night #1959 with Alan Hustak & Peter Berezin

Written by  //  October 2, 2019  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Shanah Tovah to all our Jewish friends!

Featured this week – authors, global economy/governance, politics

We are delighted that Alan Hustak will be with us to unveil the new (Canadian) edition of Magnetic North: The unauthorized biography of Justin Trudeau: Canada’s selfie PM. The new edition was published too early to include references to the blackface/brownface scandal du jour, or the series of promises including the much-mocked camping-trip-in-every-pot. Of course, Alan’s opinions and knowledge are not limited to Canadian politics, although he brings valuable perspective from the West – particularly Andrew Scheer’s riding –  so we look forward to hearing his views on a range of topics.

We hope to again celebrate Guy Stanley whose book Rebuilding Liberalism Social Justice with Individual Freedom was published in July, and Diana Bruno, author of Lexique français-anglais de la cuisine et de la restauration, Lexi to friends. Diana is speaking at the Westmount Library Wednesday evening, but hopes to join us afterwards.

What a talented and diverse group of authors we gather!

For many, Climate Change Action was the big story of the past week, with  impressive demonstrations around the world, and Greta Thunberg front and center addressing the astonishing 500,000 participants in the Montreal strike (not much of a strike, as most schools and many other institutions gave students and adults permission). Favoured with a magnificent Fall day, it was both an impressive and happy event that left the demonstration route cleaner than before. Greta’s sang froid was in full evidence as she chastised Justin Trudeau ahead of the event.
Of all the punditry surrounding the global Friday for Future, one of the more intriguing is fellow Scandinavian Bjorn Lomborg’s long piece in Project Syndicate  How Climate Policies Hurt the Poor. He argues that “We must tackle climate change effectively, efficiently, and at the appropriate scale. The most sustainable policy would be a dramatic increase in research and development spending to drive the cost of green energy below that of fossil fuels through innovation.As matters stand, however, the world is in great danger of spending scarce resources on climate policies that hurt rather than help its poorest people. Governments should instead focus on growth-enhancing measures such as trade liberalization that provide a pathway to increased welfare and greater equality.”
The NYT highlights another fallout from the climate crisis which could affect homeowners in some areas of Montreal: Climate Risk in the Housing Market Has Echoes of Subprime Crisis, Study Finds
“Banks are shielding themselves from climate change at taxpayers’ expense by shifting riskier mortgages — such as those in coastal areas — off their books and over to the federal government, new research suggests. The findings echo the subprime lending crisis of 2008, when unexpected drops in home values cascaded through the economy and triggered recession.” See Mortgage Finance in the Face of Rising Climate Risk

For others, THE big story was, is and will be the Impeachment Inquiry. Nancy Pelosi has made it clear that the impeachment inquiry would — for now, at least — focus exclusively on the president’s dealings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. (Pelosi Says Impeachment Inquiry Is All About Ukraine – for Now). There is another critical fallout from the story. The resignation of  special envoy for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, has exposed the persistent undermining of US diplomats and diplomacy by Donald Trump and his political operatives, and the consequent mistrust of the professionals in the countries to which they are accredited, not to mention the ever-increasing distrust of any ‘policy’ pronouncement (tweet) from the White House. See How diplomatic pros lost in Ukraine

Peter Berezin wrote on 15 September “We remain bullish on global equities and spread product but acknowledge a variety of risks to our thesis. One such risk involves a scenario where a weaker U.S. economy hurts President Trump’s re-election prospects, causing investors to price in an Elizabeth Warren victory…. A Warren presidency would likely be bad news for drug makers and health care insurers, defense contractors, banks, oil and gas companies (especially frackers), and tech stocks. Infrastructure and home builder stocks would probably benefit at the margin.”
Given Peter’s well-known pro-Trump bias, we expect a skeptical and/or gloomy reaction to the cheery analysis of Donald Shribman: Bernie Sanders’ biggest problem is Elizabeth Warren.
On the 20th, Peter wrote: “Globally, the growth picture remains shaky. Looking out, the sharp easing in financial conditions should boost activity.The nascent de-escalation in trade tensions, if sustained, should also help. As such, we continue to expect global growth to stabilize in the coming months and accelerate into year-end.”
However, on Tuesday, The WTO lowered its trade forecast “as tensions unsettle global economy.”
“Risks to the forecast are heavily weighted to the downside and dominated by trade policy. Further rounds of tariffs and retaliation could produce a destructive cycle of recrimination. Shifting monetary and fiscal policies could destabilize volatile financial markets. A sharper slowing of the global economy could produce an even bigger downturn in trade. Finally, a disorderly Brexit could have a significant regional impact, mostly confined to Europe.”
There was no report on the 27th due to BCA’s 40th Annual Investment Conference in New York, so we eagerly anticipate an update on Wednesday.
We are also curious about his reaction to the news that
Euromoney Reviews Institutional Investor, Other Asset Management Units
Euromoney did not provide any details of the review, but said it will provide further information in due course. The company’s asset management businesses consists of BCA Research, Ned Davis Research and Institutional Investor. See more on BCA Research se cherche un propriétaire

Other news stories on which Peter/Alan/others may comment.

Afghanistan‘s elections on Saturday saw a low turnout because of the threat of attacks, a muted campaign and concerns over fraud. Don’t hold your breath for the results – they are not expected until October 19.

Tuesday, October 1st, China celebrates 70 years of Communist rule How will this anniversary affect the increasingly violent situation in Hong Kong?
David Kilgour writes “This piece from the Ottawa Citizen is a reduced version of my talk in NYC last week:” On the 70th anniversary of communism, China’s bloody record only worsens -The regime has continued to direct a vast network organ-harvesting from prisoners of conscience — primarily Falun Gong –– since 2001, but also from Tibetans, Christians and Muslim Uyghurs.

After Israel‘s President Rivlin asked Netanyahu to try to form a unity government last week, negotiations broke down on Sunday and, with no apparent solution, the possibility of a third national poll over the coming weeks exists. Not a happy prospect for Israel or the Middle East. The only hopeful piece we have read recently (and it was published as the negotiations broke down) is Micah Goodman’s How an Israeli Unity Government Could Shrink the Conflict

Canada’s election campaign
The Liberal Party released its full campaign platform on Sunday and our good friend Tyler Meredith has played a major role in putting it together.
The party released independent costing reports prepared by the Parliamentary Budget Office for the platform’s major planks, though not all elements of the platform were reviewed by the PBO. The main revelation in the platform is that the Liberals’ proposed new investments would total $9.3 billion in 2020-2021, rising to $17 billion in the fourth year of a second mandate. The federal deficit would increase to $27.4 billion in 2020-2021, declining to $21 billion in 2023-2024.
The first installment of CBC’s The National Presents: Face to Face with the Federal Party Leaders aired Monday night. Five undecided voters get five minutes to ask one of four federal party leaders about an issue close to their hearts as they go about making up their minds about whom to vote for.It’s an innovative and appealing format. Well worth watching.
Poll Tracker On Tuesday morning, CBC’s Eric Grenier’s analysis shows The Conservatives hold a narrow lead over the Liberals, but the Liberals are better positioned to win more seats. A minority government headed up by one party or the other is somewhat more likely than a majority government at this stage.
Nik Nanos differs very slightly: Conservatives 35, Liberals 32, NDP 14, Greens 11, BQ 4, PPC 3.

Good reads
All books by Wednesday Night friends!

Global China: Assessing China’s Growing Role in the World
In recent years, China has emerged as a truly global actor with far-reaching influence. To address this reality, experts in the Foreign Policy Program at Brookings have launched a two-year project intended to furnish policymakers and the public with a new baseline for understanding China’s regional and global ambitions.
Jill Repore’s review of Edward Snowden’s new autobiography “Permanent Record” in The New Yorker magazine of 23 September
Bjørn Lomborg: How Climate Policies Hurt the Poor (Project Syndicate)
From Brookings Institute Press: Leave No One Behind -Time for Specifics on the Sustainable Development Goals
[E]xperts from Japan, the United States, Canada, and other countries address a range of challenges faced by people across the globe, including women and girls, smallholder farmers, migrants, and those living in extreme poverty. These are many of the people whose lives are at the heart of the aspirations embedded in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. They are the people most in need of such essentials as health care, quality education, decent work, affordable energy, and a clean environment. No learner left behind: Embracing the leapfrog mindset to achieve the SDGs
Read and/or listen
Adam Gopnik on the fate of liberal democracy in the Trump era
Excerpt:” The thing about Trump — and this is one of the things that makes him so uniquely dangerous and toxic — is that his impulses are much greater than his ideology. His impulses are his ideology. Now in some ways that can be a perversely saving trait, because it means on something like Iran, he fired John Bolton because his impulses told him it might not be a good idea to get involved in a full scale shooting war with Iran. But there’s no consistency to that. … he’s wholly hostage to his impulses. If the Iranians said something nice about him tomorrow, he would fly to Iran and take up Sharia law. If they said something mean about him, they’d start another war.”

My rant this week:
Les croisières au temps de l’urgence climatique

This is so outrageous. I do not understand how it can be allowed to happen. One would think that Quebec’s status as a UNESCO heritage site could protect it from the greed, stupidity and bureaucratic dishonesty, but presumably, it only serves to attract more tourists on these behemoths that sully our shores and ports.

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