I haven’t had time to think seriously about a single topic this week so I thought I’d offer my take on a few of the major news stories. Last week I posted an entry entitled “What a Mess”. This week wasn’t any better.
- Daniel Pinto, J.P. Morgan’s co-president, warned that the stock market may lose 40% of its value within the next couple of years. A great deal of investor unease, according to Pinto, is caused by the tariffs announced by President Trump and the possibility of trade wars with our major trading partners. It appears that nobody pays much attention to history. In 1930 Congress passed the Smoot-Hawley Act imposing tariffs on our trading partners and the consequence was a prolonged and more severe Great Depression. The law had an impact on trade for decades. I assume President Trump’s chief economic adviser Gary Cohn understood history since he resigned over the tariff threat.
- Eleven countries signed the Asian-Pacific Partnership in Santiago, Chile this week. The partnership includes about 500 million people in those countries who will benefit from the agreement’s reduced tariffs and open trade. The United States withdrew from this agreement last year. Just remember that open trade has historically been supported by the Republican Party (it has opposed high tariffs) and President Trump’s tariffs are not supported by a good number of Republicans in Congress.
- President Trump agreed to visit North Korea and meet with Kim Jong Un, possibly soon. Maybe sanctions and President Trump’s strong rhetoric (little rocket man, etc.) are actually paying off. It is also very likely that Kim is just playing one of his well known games to gain attention. Kim says he might be willing to give up nuclear weapons. I doubt it.
- A former Russian spy, his daughter, and nineteen others are being treated for exposure to a nerve agent. This is being treated as attempted murder by British authorities. In many ways Russia has not changed at all in centuries. There appears to be very little difference between czars, Communists, and current leaders. Does anyone doubt the source of this attack?
- We learned this week that the number of American opioid overdoses increased by 30% during a 14-month period ending in September last year. Almost 16% of ER visits were for opioid overdose. Larger metropolitan areas experienced a 54% increase in overdoses and two states, Wisconsin and Delaware, suffered an increase of more than 100%. We are losing the “War on Drugs”. It is time to try something new. I’ll gladly offer ideas if anyone is interested.
- Every day I think things cannot get any weirder in the White House, but the Stormy Daniels story is about as weird as it gets. Anyone believing President Trump did not have an affair with Ms. Daniels while married to his current wife is probably drinking too much of the Kool-aid. And I think it is stretching the imagination to believe President Trump had nothing to do with the $130k paid to her by his attorney the month before the 2016 presidential election. Are the folks supporting him even though he is a self-admitted philanderer the same folks who wanted Bill Clinton impeached for infidelity? Are evangelical Christians who continue to support President Trump hypocrites? My cynical side believes President Trump’s announcements on tariffs and North Korea are meant to deflect our attention from the Stormy Daniels story
- LeBron James has narrowed down to four the list of teams with which he might sign as a free agent. I could not care less.
- Serena Williams is back on the tennis circuit after giving birth to her first child last year (and almost losing her life in the process). She won her first match. I do care about this.
- Martin Shkreli will be sentenced by a U.S. District Court judge in New York today for defrauding investors. You may recall Shkreli as the drug company CEO who increased the price of a life saving AIDS drug by 5,000% making it difficult or impossible for some folks with AIDS to purchase the drug. I hope the judge takes Shkreli off the streets for the maximum number of years (15).
- European Union trade commissioner Cecila Malstrom announced that if President Trump goes forward with the steel and aluminum tariffs the EU will increase tariffs on bourbon, denim, bicycles, Harley Davidsons, and a number of other products. Such tariffs would result in Americans paying more for each product targeted by the EU. Sorry to keep coming back to this topic, but President Trump’s proposed tariffs are almost certainly a very bad idea.
- Former President Barack Obama is in the process of signing a deal with Netflix. This would be a major deal for Netflix and would give President Obama a major platform with which to reach millions of people (and an even fatter bank account). I still say that Jimmy Carter is the model former president (though he was a weak sitting president).
I have several topical posts in mind, one addressing “cultural narcissism”, one discussing liberalism and conservatism, and the other on national versus state political power. Riveting stuff! I’ll try to find time over the weekend to think more clearly about at least one of those topics.
I am also interested in your ideas for topics I could explore on this blog. If you have any ideas let me know. And if you like my blog please share with others.
Thanks for following my blog and thanks for your patience when life and work keep me from writing. I just need to retire and write blog posts!!