June 18, 2018
Dow posts 5-day losing streak on lingering US-China trade tensions
- The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 103.01 points, as shares of Boeing and Caterpillar both fell 0.9 percent.
- On Friday, President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would inflict tariffs that would impact up to $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. Consequently, the move triggered China to retaliate, with Beijing announcing its own selection of duties on U.S. goods.
- Stocks “may continue to zig and zag through the summer as the Jekyll and Hyde sides of Trump struggle to dominate his persona,” notes one strategist.
- “On the one hand, there’s Trump, the Deregulator and Tax-Cutter—his benevolent Dr. Jekyll persona. On the other is Trump, the Protectionist—his dark Mr. Hyde.”
Stocks fell on Monday as a potential trade war between the U.S. and China — the world’s largest economies in the world — left Wall Street rattled.
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 103.01 points to close at 24,987.47, with Intel as the worst-performing stock in the index. The Dow also extended its losing streak to five days.
Shares of Boeing and Caterpillar both fell 0.9 percent. The two companies are seen as bellwethers for global trade concerns given their large amounts of overseas business.
On Friday, President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would inflict tariffs that would impact up to $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. According to Washington, the action comes “in light of China’s theft of intellectual property and technology and its other unfair trade practices.”
Consequently, the move triggered China to retaliate, with Beijing announcing its own selection of duties on U.S. goods. The Chinese State Council’s commission on tariffs and customs stated that a 25 percent tariff would occur in early July on $34 billion of U.S. products.
“There are many problems with tariffs. First and foremost is that they benefit far fewer people than they harm,” said Ed Yardeni, president and chief investment strategist at Yardeni Research, in a note. “They are intended to boost employment in the industries that benefit from such protectionism, but they immediately raise prices of the protected goods for all consumers.”
Still, stocks “may continue to zig and zag through the summer as the Jekyll and Hyde sides of Trump struggle to dominate his persona,” he said. “On the one hand, there’s Trump, the Deregulator and Tax-Cutter—his benevolent Dr. Jekyll persona. On the other is Trump, the Protectionist—his dark Mr. Hyde.”
International markets also fell on Monday, with Asia closing lower and Europe slumping. The Stoxx 600 index, which includes a broad swath of European stocks, fell 1 percent.
Treasury prices gained and yields fell as investors looked for safety. The benchmark 10-year yield held steady at to 2.92 percent, while the short-term two-year yield declined to 2.54 percent.
“Protectionism is a real risk and it’s a mounting risk,” said Eric Lascelles, chief economist at RBC Global Asset Management. “Both NAFTA and U.S.-China relations look worse than they did a few months ago. The question now is how big the impact on the economy will be.”
“No killer blow comes from what we have so far,” Lascelles said.
Shares of Disney fell 1.6 percent after being downgraded by Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser. In a note, Wieser said its battle for key Twenty-First Century Fox assets has placed the company in an unwinnable situation.
Intel dropped 3.4 percent after Northland Capital Markets downgraded the stock to underperform from market perform, citing growing competition from AMD and Nvidia and predicting slower sales growth in its data center business. Source
June 11, 2018
A Senior White House Official Defines the Trump Doctrine: ‘We’re America, Bitch’
The president believes that the United States owes nothing to anyone—especially its allies.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve asked a number of people close to the president to provide me with short descriptions of what might constitute the Trump Doctrine. I’ve been trying, as part of a larger project, to understand the revolutionary nature of Trump’s approach to world affairs. This task became even more interesting over the weekend, when Trump made his most ambitious move yet to dismantle the U.S.-led Western alliance; it becomes more interesting still as Trump launches, without preparation or baseline knowledge, a complicated nuclear negotiation with a fanatical and bizarre regime that quite possibly has his number.
Trumpian chaos is, in fact, undergirded by a comprehensible worldview, a number of experts have insisted. The Brookings Institution scholar (and frequent Atlantic contributor) Thomas Wright argued in a January 2016 essaythat Trump’s views are both discernible and explicable. Wright, who published his analysis at a time when most everyone in the foreign-policy establishment considered Trump’s candidacy to be a farce, wrote that Trump loathes the liberal international order and would work against it as president; he wrote that Trump also dislikes America’s military alliances, and would work against them; he argued that Trump believes in his bones that the global economy is unfair to the U.S.; and, finally, he wrote that Trump has an innate sympathy for “authoritarian strongmen.”
Wright was prophetic. Trump’s actions these past weeks, and my conversations with administration officials and friends and associates of Trump, suggest that the president will be acting on his beliefs in a more urgent, and focused, way than he did in the first year of his presidency, and that the pace of potentially cataclysmic disruption will quicken in the coming days. And so, understanding Trump’s foreign-policy doctrine is more urgent than ever.
The third-best encapsulation of the Trump Doctrine, as outlined by a senior administration official over lunch a few weeks ago, is this: “No Friends, No Enemies.” This official explained that he was not describing a variant of the realpolitik notion that the U.S. has only shifting alliances, not permanent friends. Trump, this official said, doesn’t believe that the U.S. should be part of any alliance at all. “We have to explain to him that countries that have worked with us together in the past expect a level of loyalty from us, but he doesn’t believe that this should factor into the equation,” the official said.
The second-best self-description of the Trump Doctrine I heard was this, from a senior national-security official: “Permanent destabilization creates American advantage.” The official who described this to me said Trump believes that keeping allies and adversaries alike perpetually off-balance necessarily benefits the United States, which is still the most powerful country on Earth. When I noted that America’s adversaries seem far less destabilized by Trump than do America’s allies, this official argued for strategic patience. “They’ll see over time that it doesn’t pay to argue with us.”
The best distillation of the Trump Doctrine I heard, though, came from a senior White House official with direct access to the president and his thinking. I was talking to this person several weeks ago, and I said, by way of introduction, that I thought it might perhaps be too early to discern a definitive Trump Doctrine.
“No,” the official said. “There’s definitely a Trump Doctrine.”
“What is it?” I asked. Here is the answer I received:
“The Trump Doctrine is ‘We’re America, Bitch.’ That’s the Trump Doctrine.”
It struck me almost immediately that this was the most acute, and attitudinally honest, description of the manner in which members of Trump’s team, and Trump himself, understand their role in the world.
I asked this official to explain the idea. “Obama apologized to everyone for everything. He felt bad about everything.” President Trump, this official said, “doesn’t feel like he has to apologize for anything America does.” I later asked another senior official, one who rendered the doctrine not as “We’re America, Bitch” but as “We’re America, Bitches,” whether he was aware of the 2004 movie Team America: World Police, whose theme song was “America, Fuck Yeah!”
“Of course,” he said, laughing. “The president believes that we’re America, and people can take it or leave it.”
“We’re America, Bitch” is not only a characterologically accurate collective self-appraisal—the gangster fronting, the casual misogyny, the insupportable confidence—but it is also perfectly Rorschachian. To Trump’s followers, “We’re America, Bitch” could be understood as a middle finger directed at a cold and unfair world, one that no longer respects American power and privilege. To much of the world, however, and certainly to most practitioners of foreign and national-security policy, “We’re America, Bitch” would be understood as self-isolating, and self-sabotaging.
I’m not arguing that the attitude underlying “We’re America, Bitch” is without any utility. There are occasions—the 1979 Iran hostage crisis comes to mind—in which a blunt posture would have been useful, or at least ephemerally satisfying. President Obama himself expressed displeasure—in a rhetorically controlled way—at the failure of American allies to pay what he viewed as their fair share of common defense costs. And I don’t want to suggest that there is no place for self-confidence in foreign policymaking. The Iran nuclear deal was imperfect in part because the Obama administration seemed, at times, to let Iran drive the process. One day the Trump administration may have a lasting foreign-policy victory of some sort. It is likely that the North Korea summit will end, if not disastrously, then inconclusively. But there is a slight chance that it could mark the start of a useful round of negotiations. And I’m not one to mock Jared Kushner for his role in the Middle East peace process. There is virtually no chance of the process succeeding, but the great experts have all tried and failed, so why shouldn’t the president’s son-in-law give it a shot?
But what is mainly interesting about “We’re America, Bitch” is its delusional quality. Donald Trump is pursuing policies that undermine the Western alliance, empower Russia and China, and demoralize freedom-seeking people around the world. The United States could be made weaker—perhaps permanently—by the implementation of the Trump Doctrine.
The administration officials, and friends of Trump, I’ve spoken with in recent days believe the opposite: that Trump is rebuilding American power after an eight-year period of willful dissipation. “People criticize [Trump] for being opposed to everything Obama did, but we’re justified in canceling out his policies,” one friend of Trump’s told me. This friend described the Trump Doctrine in the simplest way possible. “There’s the Obama Doctrine, and the ‘Fuck Obama’ Doctrine,” he said. “We’re the ‘Fuck Obama’ Doctrine.” Source
June 13, 2018
This tour of a child prison for boys torn from their immigrant parents is breathtakingly horrifying
I would say there are no words to describe the horrors of this child prison in Brownsville, TX, but that’s not true. Really, there are no printable words to that do justice to this unconscionably evil center of injustice.
The video and photos, which ran on MSNBC and Twitter tonight, are not easy to look at. But it’s absolutely necessary. There are 1500 boys ages 10-17 who are more or less incarcerated in an old Walmart. It’s horrifying.
There are more on Soboroff’s Twitter feed. That Trump mural alone should be enough to inspire mass outrage. He acts like Hitler more and more every day. And it’s important to note that things will only get worse. This camp is run by a licensed non-profit; it won’t take a license to run the tent cities that Trump and Sessions want to build to imprison kids.
There are so many things we have to do to fix this situation, both this November and in the long-term. We need systemic changes in our government and in our national attitude. Short term, we have to call our lawmakers and demand action. And we need to fight to overthrow the lawmakers who bask in these deplorable conditions.
A few weeks back, I highlighted some of the lawmakers, both nationally and in Texas, who we need to try to dispose of this November. Steve King — known Nazi-sympathizer — is one of them. Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado is next in line to chair the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security with Rep. Raul Labrador retiring to run for governor of Idaho. Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas is the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security Committee. They’re all in favor of the Border Wall and have not complained one bit about Sessions’ immigration policy — in fact, they openly support it.
Look at what Buck said about separating children from their parents:
I think it’s unfortunate when families are separated. But it’s also unfortunate when families make a decision to break the law [by coming here.] And there are consequences in this country. We are a country of rule – a country of laws. And we believe in the rule of law. And I think it’s just a sad reality that there is going to be some unfortunate separation of individuals when crimes are committed.
McCaul, meanwhile, introduced an immigration bill last year that massively expanded detention space.
June 12, 2018
Let’s not forget all the horrible things Kim Jong Un has done in North Korea
But only months ago Trump branded him “little rocket man” in front of other world leaders at the United Nations, and called him out over a laundry list of human rights violations.
The young dictator — who took over after his father’s death in 2011 — has indeed come under fire for his leadership of North Korea, where citizens are subjected to military rule. The Human Rights Watch said last year the country is “one of the most repressive authoritarian states in the world,” and has been sanctioned multiple times by the UN.
Here are some of the terrible things Kim is said to have done:
Executions, family style
The North Korean dictator is reputed to have ordered hundreds of executions, and his family hasn’t been spared from his merciless rule.
That includes his maternal uncle, Jang Song-thaek, who was killed in December 2013 after the high-ranking military leader was convicted of treason. Rumors have spilled out of the tightly guarded nation in the years since Jang died a messy death, with some speculating he was blown away with machine guns or fed to a pack of dogs.
The Institute for National Security Strategy estimates Kim’s regime has executed at least 340 people since he came into power in late 2011.
Imprisonment and forced labor
Another hallmark of North Korea’s authoritarian society has been imprisoning supposed spies, putting them on show trials and often subjecting them to unforgiving harsh labor.
As many as 120,000 people are held in North Korean political prison camps, according to UN estimates, where they’re believed to receive little food and medical care but plenty of abuse.
A North Korean defector who charged through the demilitarized zone and into South Korea last year offered a glimpse into the nation’s health crisis.
Doctors found parasitic worms in the soldier’s stomach, which experts argued at the time underscores greater issues in North Korea. And because soldiers are believed to be treated better than the average citizen, the picture could be grimmer for the rest of the population.
June 10, 2018
Trump’s improvisation faces decades of North Korean preparation
(CNN)Donald Trump’s gut-check negotiating style and fragile patience face a supreme test in his summit with Kim Jong Un of North Korea, a nation that long ago mastered the diplomacy of delay, obfuscation and illusory promises of disarmament.
Kim will do his homework
Intelligence on Kim
June 6, 2018
Europe to impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. imports
BRUSSELS — The European Union says it will start imposing duties from July on a list of U.S. products in response to President Donaldon steel and aluminum imports from Europe. European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic said Wednesday that formalities in finalizing the list should be completed this month and that “the new duties start applying from July.”
The EU says it will introduce “rebalancing” tariffs on about 2.8 billion euros’ ($3.4 billion) worth of U.S. steel, agricultural and other products, including bourbon, peanut butter, cranberries and orange juice.
The European Union exported some 5.5 million tons of steel to the U.S. last year. European steel producers are concerned about a loss of market access but also that steel from elsewhere will flood in.
Key Senate Republicans, meanwhile, are pushing longshot legislation that would require Congress to sign off on President Trump’s import tariffs, a rare attempt to stand up to the administration on a bedrock issue that once defined the GOP.
Trump took office promising to rip up trade deals and crack down on unfair trading practices. But that campaign slogan is at odds with Republicans’ longstanding preference for free markets and open trade. The standoff is raising an uncomfortable question: If Republicans can’t confront Trump on trade, can they challenge him on anything?
“For Republicans, this is who we are,” said Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. “If we believe our own rhetoric — on trade, tariffs and congressional prerogative — I hope it does come to a vote.”
The idea being pursued by Corker, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and others who have been meeting privately — and with Democrats — would be narrowly crafted legislation requiring congressional approval of the tariffs Trump has imposed in the name of national security.
They’re targeting Trump’s reliance on the so-called 232 authority, named from Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which allowed the administration to impose tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum from Mexico, Canada and the European Union, some of the U.S.’s top allies. The senators are also hoping to halt Trump’s threat to slap tariffs on auto imports, including those from Japan. Source
June 2, 2018
Canada is slapping tariffs on $12.8 billion of US goods — here are the states that stand to lose the most
- Ohio would be the hardest hit. The state sent $1.75 billion worth of goods to Canada in 2017 that could fall under the tariffs.
- Michigan would be close behind, with $1.17 billion in goods that could be subject to tariffs.
- They are followed by New York ($1.17 billion), Pennsylvania ($1.14 billion), and Illinois ($1.02 billion).
The tariffs will go into place on July 1, Canada’s government said, and will stay in place until the US removes the steel and aluminum restrictions.
May 31, 2018
Trump pours kerosene on the global trade wars
May 30, 2018
Melania Trump hasn’t appeared in public for 20 days
Washington (CNN)It’s been 20 days since the public has laid eyes on first lady Melania Trump.
Her own pace
May 28, 2018
Veterans group rips Trump tweet: Self-promotion on Memorial Day is ‘appalling’
A progressive veterans advocacy group ripped President Trump‘s Memorial Day tweet bragging about the economy under his administration.