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January 18, 2017 | Farewell, Welfare State

BALTIMORE – The tweet was never sent and never received… “Lying Otto von Bismarck set us up for bankruptcy! What was he thinking? Sad!!” Instead, Mr. Trump said last weekend that, far from trying to curb the promises and cut the costs of the welfare state, he was nearly ready to unveil a plan to […]

January 17, 2017 | A Role Model for Trump

Build the Fatherland. Kill a student. – Pro-Perón graffiti on buildings in Buenos Aires, circa 1952 BALTIMORE – “I’m not superstitious.” The answer showed such charming insouciance and in-your-face bravado that it might have come from the mouth of America’s president-elect. Instead, it was the reply given by former Argentine President Juan Domingo Perón – […]

January 16, 2017 | The Age of “Trumpismo”

BALTIMORE – “Trumpismo,” we said to a colleague on Friday. “That’s all you have to know.” We are looking forward to the next four years with a mixture of curiosity, dread, and rank voyeurism. Not that we know WHAT will happen. Not at all. But we have a hint about HOW it will come about. […]

January 14, 2017 | Does the Deep State Have It in for Trump?

BALTIMORE – Two things. One we understand. The other we don’t. First, you gotta hand it to Wall Street. The financial elite were 1,000% behind Hillary. Then, when Donald Trump won the White House, within minutes, they were in his cabinet. During the campaign, not only were they loading Hillary up with millions of dollars […]

January 13, 2017 | The End of Obamacare? Not So Fast…

BALTIMORE – “The Donald” – still in Manhattan, and still largely ignorant of the nasty critters and perverse ecosystem on the banks of the Potomac – is catching whiffs of swamp gas. Talking to the New York Post, the president-elect said he expected to repeal Obamacare “sometime next week.” Its replacement, he said, would come […]

January 11, 2017 | The One Thing Team Trump Will Fight Hardest to Prevent

BALTIMORE – Bloomberg reports that a panel of Nobel Prize-winning economists has given Donald Trump’s economic policies the thumbs down. Professor and former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz summed up the views of the panel, which “included his fellow Columbia University professor Edmund Phelps and Yale University’s Robert Shiller”: There is a broad consensus […]

January 10, 2017 | The Man Who Could Have Stopped the Bubble

BALTIMORE – Again, the Dow was scheduled to go over the psychologically important 20,000-point mark yesterday. And again, it backed off. We are studying the life and times of former Fed chief Alan Greenspan. Not that we expect to discover anything new. We were more or less awake and alert during his entire public career; […]

January 9, 2017 | It’s Not “Morning in America”

BALTIMORE – So far, so good. 2017 is shaping up nicely… at least from the point of view of an amused cynic. Rarely have so many people believed so much that isn’t true. Dangerous Delusions Telling companies where to put their factories will not really protect or create jobs… …Ramping up the stock market won’t […]

January 6, 2017 | Try to Imagine Your Own Funeral…

“210 people were shot in America on the first day of 2017,” reads a headline on news website Vox. Baltimore did its part… Shortly after midnight in Ellicott City [a Baltimore suburb], Maryland, a 15-year-old boy broke into the house of a 16-year-old girl and shot her and her 52-year-old mother, killing the girl and […]

January 5, 2017 | Trump’s Trade Catastrophe?

It is worse than “voodoo economics,” says former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers. It is the “economic equivalent of creationism.” Wait a minute… Larry Summers is wrong about almost everything. Could he be right about this? “Trade Cheaters” Summers is referring to the paper written by two members of Trump’s trade team: his pick for secretary […]

January 4, 2017 | Trump Can’t Beat THIS Trade Deal

BALTIMORE – People can believe whatever they want. But sooner or later, real life intervenes. We just like to see the looks on their faces when it does. By that measure, 2017 may be our best year ever. Rarely have so many people believed so many impossible things. Worst in Class Automaker General Motors (GM) […]

January 3, 2017 | Start the New Year with a Bang

BALTIMORE – In southern Italy, on New Year’s Eve, people used to throw things they no longer needed out of the window. This allowed them to start afresh, without the impedimenti of the past getting in the way. In Germany and Austria, the Feast of Saint Sylvester on December 31 is marked by bonfires… dancing… […]

December 23, 2016 | The Fakiest News Story of the 21st Century

BALTIMORE – We spent yesterday down at the farm getting ready for Christmas – hooking up an old wood stove… setting up the Christmas tree… cleaning up the house. The children are arriving. One from California. One from France. One from Switzerland has been here since Thanksgiving. And two from Florida, bringing a fiancée and […]

December 22, 2016 | Government and News Are Part of the Same Myth

BALTIMORE – We hit only one of our two big milestones yesterday. The winter solstice passed, as expected. For the next six months, the days will get longer, not shorter. The stock market, though, did not hit the Dow 20,000 mark we were looking for. But wait. What is the Dow? Is it a proxy […]

December 21, 2016 | The End of the Trend Is Nigh

BALTIMORE – Today, we celebrate two important events. First, and without a doubt, we will raise a glass to the victorious sun. Second, the Dow rose within 25 points of the 20,000 mark yesterday. Most likely, it will hit the milestone today. Both of these events are cyclical, not permanent. Where’s the Pin? A reader […]

December 20, 2016 | Fake News? It’s All Fake!

Life is one long struggle in the dark.   – Lucretius BALTIMORE – In January of this year, the Empire Herald reported that a “meth-addled couple” had eaten a homeless man in New York City’s Central Park. Later, Now8News reported that a can of cookie dough had “exploded in a woman’s vagina”; the woman was […]

December 19, 2016 | How Showmanship Won the White House

BALTIMORE – “You’re entitled to your own opinions,” quipped American politician Daniel Patrick Moynihan sometime in the last century, “but not your own facts.” But come the 21st century, and everyone has whatever facts he wants. Fake facts. Altered facts. Facts that are specially tailored to broaden the reader’s shoulders and tighten his waist. When […]

December 16, 2016 | Debt Frankenstein Threatens Trump

BALTIMORE – Stocks hesitated on Wednesday after the Fed announced its puny rate increase. Then, yesterday, they continued their march to glory, coming to rest just 150 points shy of the Dow’s 20,000 mark. And the dollar hit a 14-year high as cracks widened in the huge emerging-market bond market. But our thoughts turn to […]

December 15, 2016 | The Fed’s “Debt Monster” Is Calling the Shots

BALTIMORE – The funny money gets funnier in the U.S., too… Yesterday, as expected, the Fed raised its key short-term lending rate by 25 basis points to 0.75%. Stocks fell. Bloomberg Markets: Federal Reserve officials raised interest rates for the first time this year and forecast a steeper path for borrowing costs in 2017, saying […]

December 14, 2016 | Funny Money Is Getting Funnier

BALTIMORE – Funny money is getting funnier and funnier. Our challenge is to figure out who’s the butt of the joke. We have a brother who is a realtor in Virginia. This past weekend, he was busy entertaining a group of Chinese visitors. “What are the Chinese doing in rural Virginia?” we wondered. The answer […]

December 13, 2016 | How You Become a Crony

BALTIMORE – Who’s the biggest winner so far? “Government Sachs!” Fortune magazine reports that the winningest person since Trump’s election is Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein. Goldman’s stock price is back to where it was just before the last crash in 2008. And Blankfein is back in high cotton, too; his holdings in the firm […]

December 12, 2016 | Can Trump End the Reign of “Bubble Finance”?

BALTIMORE – When we left you Friday, we were in the middle of describing the crooked hind leg of crony capitalism. We used billionaire businessman Wilbur Ross – Donald Trump’s pick for the Department of Commerce – for illustration purposes. Not that there is anything wrong with Mr. Ross. He plays the game, just as […]

December 9, 2016 | The Crony’s Recipe for Building a Fortune

BALTIMORE – “Behind every great fortune is a crime,” said French novelist Honoré de Balzac. Even our modest little pile owes much to a crime, though not our own. But what is behind Wilbur Ross’ billion-dollar fortune? In this series, we are describing how crony capitalism works. The cronies don’t break the law; instead, they […]

December 8, 2016 | How Do You Destroy a Business?

BALTIMORE – We are looking ahead. And coming together is not only a clearer picture of how Trump’s reflation might turn out… but also a better understanding of what has gone wrong with the whole economy. Over the next three days, we’ll look at a few of Trump’s money men. Then, we’ll conclude the series […]

December 7, 2016 | The Key to Men, Women… and Everything

BALTIMORE – Pearl Harbor Day. The strain of trying to figure out what Donald J. Trump will mean to the U.S. economy and its markets has worn us out. So today, we have some bits and pieces… It’s too bad our father is not still alive,” said a sister recently. “He would have enjoyed going […]

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