Tuesday Reads: Trump Delusions Vs. RealityPosted: February 6, 2018
Can I just spend the day looking at art work on Pinterest and browsing books on Amazon? The real world has become unreal. Is anyone ever going to stop this insanity? Yesterday Trump actually claimed Democrats committed treason because they didn’t cheer enthusiastically for his idiotic SOTU speech. NBC News reports:
President Donald Trump on Monday called Democrats’ stone-faced reaction to his State of the Union address last week “treasonous” and “un-American” during a visit to a manufacturing plant in Cincinnati.
Trump described Republicans as “going totally crazy wild” during his remarks last Tuesday, while expression-less Democrats remained seated for the majority of the speech. “They were like death,” Trump lamented. “And un-American. Un-American.”
But their reaction, he said, was also something much worse.
Vaguely noting that “someone” called the Democrats’ reactions “‘treasonous,'” Trump said he agreed. “I mean, yeah, I guess. Why not? … Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean, they certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much.”
In Trump’s mind, “our country” means *Trump.* This moron thinks he’s a dictator and he can’t understand why he doesn’t get robotic fealty like Kim Jong Un. If he could get away with it, would he murder his critics like Kim does? I don’t want to live in a tin-pot dictatorship, thank you very much.
While Trump was busy tearing down the First Amendment, the stock market that he constantly touts took a record nose dive. Oddly, he’s suddenly gone silent on that front.
The New York Times: How Deep Is the Hole the Stock Market Just Stepped In?
After the Dow Jones industrial average index shed 1,175 points on Monday, extending a rout that began in earnest last week, investors will be wondering what size hole the market has just fallen into.
Of course, it’s impossible to tell exactly where a bottom is, but there are ways to assess whether a sell-off will gather steam or burn out.
Nearly all the economic news has been good in recent weeks, but in the often-neurotic world of investing, the news has perhaps been too good. Two reports last week that wages are growing at a solid pace, for instance, helped prompt the latest selling.
Investors fear that an increase in wages, especially at a time of low unemployment, might lead to higher inflation, which in turn could prompt the Federal Reserve to increase interest rates more quickly than expected. The higher borrowing costs would then crimp companies’ investment plans, leading eventually to lower economic growth over all. There is no evidence that this chain reaction has begun, but when the stock market is in a skittish mood, it does not wait around for the next economic release.
The market is still fluctuating today. The New York Times: Wall Street Unsettled After a Global Rout.
The sometimes-panicky global market sell-off eased somewhat on Tuesday morning, as the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index bounced between positive and negative territory in early trading in the United States.
After steep drops in Asia and significant declines in Europe, investors assessed whether Wall Street’s violent decline on Monday — when the S.&P. lost more than 4 percent, its worst decline since August 2011 — reflected actual fundamentals or was merely a long-overdue outbreak of investor jitters
For months, markets seemed to sleepwalk ever higher, as measures of volatility — the ups and downs of stock prices — hit remarkably calm levels. Investors appeared to grow accustomed to an economic backdrop of lackluster growth and inflation, a state of affairs that ensured powerful global central banks would continue to support markets with a range of policies.
But the peaceful climb ended in recent days. Investors have become worried that the solid economy in the United States could be showing early signals of inflation pressure. Those concerns drove yields on long-term Treasury bonds sharply higher in recent weeks, as economic data — such as the Labor Department’s jobs report last Friday — showed wages growing at their fastest clip in years.
The Washington Post: Trump and Republicans discover the perils of touting the stock market.
President Trump and congressional Republicans have spent much of the past year trying to connect a giddy stock market rally with their economic agenda, but stocks’ precipitous plunge in the past five days has delivered a sobering reality: What goes up can come back down — quickly and with little warning.
With Monday’s steep fall, Trump has presided over the biggest stock market drop in U.S. history, when measured by points in the Dow Jones industrial average. The free fall began in earnest Jan. 30 and snowballed Friday and Monday, for a combined loss of almost 2,100 points, or 8 percent of the Dow’s value.
It is also unclear if the past week will amount to a small correction or the beginning of a painful slide that many investors said was overdue.
Trump’s economic team is largely untested in periods of economic uncertainty. Many investors and lawmakers are watching the actions of Trump’s newly sworn-in pick for Federal Reserve chairman, Jerome H. Powell, to see how quickly he is willing to raise interest rates in the face of rising inflation.
It’s already obvious that Trump and the GOP have no clue how to deal with the economy. Just look at the predictable results of their irresponsible tax cuts. The Washington Post: The U.S. government is set to borrow nearly $1 trillion this year, an 84 percent jump from last year.
It was another crazy news week, so it’s understandable if you missed a small but important announcement from the Treasury Department: The federal government is on track to borrow nearly $1 trillion this fiscal year — Trump’s first full year in charge of the budget.
That’s almost double what the government borrowed in fiscal 2017.
Here are the exact figures: The U.S. Treasury expects to borrow $955 billion this fiscal year, according to documents released Wednesday. It’s the highest amount of borrowing in six years, and a big jump from the $519 billion the federal government borrowed last year.
Treasury mainly attributed the increase to the “fiscal outlook.” The Congressional Budget Office was more blunt. In a report this week, the CBO said tax receipts are going to be lower because of the new tax law.
Oh, and remember that trade deficit that Trump is always complaining about? Bloomberg: U.S. Trade Deficit Is Wider Than Any Month or Year Since 2008.
The U.S. trade deficit widened to the biggest monthly and annual levels since the last recession, underscoring the inherent friction in President Donald Trump’s goal of narrowing the gap while enjoying faster economic growth.
The deficit increased 5.3 percent in December to a larger-than- expected $53.1 billion, the widest since October 2008, as imports outpaced exports, Commerce Department data showed Tuesday. For all of 2017, the goods-and-services gap grew 12 percent to $566 billion, the biggest since 2008.
The trend may extend into this year: Solid consumer spending and business investment — assuming they hold up amid the recent stock-market rout — will fuel demand for foreign-made merchandise. While improving overseas growth and a weaker dollar bode well for exports, Trump’s efforts to seek more favorable terms with U.S. trading partners remain a work in progress, and his tax-cut legislation may cause the deficit to widen further.
Meanwhile, as Republicans try to recover from Devin Nunes’ failed attempt to help Trump stop the Mueller investigation, we’re headed for another government shutdown. NBC News: Government shutdown deadline looms Thursday as lawmakers try for DACA deal.
The latest deadline looms as a deal on DACA, which in part forced the last government shutdown, has yet to emerge that will get the support of the White House….
The House is expected to vote on their version Tuesday. It would extend government funding until March 23 but fund the Defense Department for the remainder of the fiscal year, which would appease the conservative Freedom Caucus and defense hawks.
It would also fund community health centers for two years, which is something the Democrats have been demanding. It’s unclear, however, if the Senate would support the House measure.
But House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi was critical, calling Republicans “incompetent.”
“Republicans control the House, the Senate and the White House but they have to rely on five stop-gap spending bills in a row to keep government running? Republicans must stop governing from manufactured crisis to crisis, and work with Democrats to pass the many urgent, long overdue priorities of the American people,” Pelosi said in a statement.
Sigh . . . remember those long-ago days when we didn’t have an insane “president” who triggered three or four major crises every day? Oh wait. That was only a little more than a year ago.
The Nunes memo was a joke, but the internet crazies and Fox News are still trying to make something of it. Who knows where that nonsense is going–I don’t even want to think about it. Yesterday the House intel committee voted to release the Democratic response to the memo, but it will be up to Trump to decide if that happens. Politico: Schiff warns White House against political redactions from Dem memo.
Rep. Adam Schiff predicted Tuesday that the White House would not block the release of a Democratic memo related to the Russia investigation, but he warned the administration against trying to obfuscate the document by redacting portions that could embarrass President Donald Trump.
The memo, drafted by Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, is intended to rebut one released last week from committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). The Nunes memo alleges that the FBI improperly sought a surveillance warrant against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page based on a dossier of unverified intelligence….
“What I’m more concerned about … is that they make political redactions,” the California Democrat said. “That is, not redactions to protect sources or methods, which we’ve asked the Department of Justice and the FBI to do, but redactions to remove information they think is unfavorable to the president. That could be a real problem, and that’s our main concern at this point.”
Though all the insanity that our politics has become, Robert Mueller doggedly continues his work. Garrett M. Graff at Wired: Bob Mueller’s Investigation Is Larger–and Further Along–Than You Think.
Last summer, I wrote an analysis exploring the “known unknowns” of the Russia investigation—unanswered but knowable questions regarding Mueller’s probe. Today, given a week that saw immense sturm und drang over Devin Nunes’ memo—a document that seems purposefully designed to obfuscate and muddy the waters around Mueller’s investigation—it seems worth asking the opposite question: What are the known knowns of the Mueller investigation, and where might it be heading?
The first thing we know is that we know it is large.
We speak about the “Mueller probe” as a single entity, but it’s important to understand that there are no fewer than five (known) separate investigations under the broad umbrella of the special counsel’s office—some threads of these investigations may overlap or intersect, some may be completely free-standing, and some potential targets may be part of multiple threads. But it’s important to understand the different “buckets” of Mueller’s probe.
The five “buckets” are: 1. Preexisting Business Deals and Money Laundering, 2. Russian Information Operations, 3. Active Cyber Intrusions, 4. Russian Campaign Contacts, 5. Obstruction of Justice. Read detailed explanations at Wired.
What else is happening? What stories are you following today?