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October 20, 2019 | Time for Investors to Recalculate Trump’s Reelection Odds

Rick Ackerman

Rick Ackerman is the editor of Rick’s Picks, an online service geared to traders of stocks, options, index futures and commodities. His detailed trading strategies have appeared since the early 1990s in Black Box Forecasts, a newsletter he founded that originally was geared to professional option traders. Barron’s once labeled him an “intrepid trader” in a headline that alluded to his key role in solving a notorious pill-tampering case. He received a $200,000 reward when a conviction resulted, and the story was retold on TV’s FBI: The Untold Story. His professional background includes 12 years as a market maker in the pits of the Pacific Coast Exchange, three as an investigator with renowned San Francisco private eye Hal Lipset, seven as a reporter and newspaper editor, three as a columnist for the Sunday San Francisco Examiner, and two decades as a contributor to publications ranging from Barron’s to The Antiquarian Bookman to Fleet Street Letter and Utne Reader.

The odds of a Trump victory in 2020 may have reached a tipping point last week, even if few will have noticed.  One influential conservative columnist who did notice was Peggy Noonan. Writing in the weekend Wall Street Journal, she speculated that the Democrats, helped by Trump’s increasingly erratic behavior, could conceivably change some minds about impeachment if they can resist the temptation to turn the hearings into a political spectacle. Slightly more than half of U.S. voters already favor impeachment, reports Gallup, but if that number were to increase in the weeks and months ahead, Noonan thinks it could sway some GOP votes against Trump in the Senate. Twenty Republicans would need to side with the Democrats to take down the president, but as Noonan, a former Reagan speechwriter, reminds us, stranger things have happened. These are not the musings of a never-Trumper or some TDS loony who froths at the mouth whenever the man’s name comes up. Like many Trump supporters, including your editor, Noonan finds little to like about him personally but will probably vote for him anyway because his opponents seem hell-bent on dismantling the Republic. For Trump’s supporters, this election unfortunately will not be about making America great again, but about protecting our nation from the depradations of a left-wing lynch mob that is keen to settle all scores once and for all.

‘Crazy’ in What Way?

Noonan measures her words carefully, but she is still forthright enough to consider that maybe Trump really is crazy. His enemies certainly think so, as they never tire of telling us. But they mean “crazy” in the certifiable, clinical sense of the word. How about crazy in the behavioral sense?  Trump’s own words make a pretty damning case, and Noonan has quoted them persuasively. There was the letter last week to Turkish President Erdogan that was alternately pleading (“You can make a great deal …I will call you later”) and threatening (“I don’t want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy — and I will”).  She also caught some disconcerting moments from the Cabinet Room meeting between Trump and congressional leaders.  “See you in the polls!” he called out, with an excess of confidence, as the session was ending. That was just before he tweeted, referring to Pelosi, “Pray for her. She is a very sick person.” Trump sent out a picture of the meeting just as the letter to Erdogan was released. He evidently thought it made him look good, wrote Noonan, only “[underscoring] the sense that he has no heavyweight advisers around him — the generals are gone, the competent fled, he’s careening around surrounded by second raters, opportunists, naifs and demoralized mid-level people who can’t believe what they’re seeing.”

The Boom Was a Fake

In any event, the exuberant MAGA theme of the 2016 campaign has ceased to reverberate and will ring increasingly hollow as Campaign 2020 unfolds. To the extent Trump’s rising fortunes fueled the stock market’s sensational rise, his fall from grace, particularly among supporters, will be a depressant. And so will a darkening reality. Noonan, not being an economist, missed a key aspect of the economic boom that has accompanied Trump’s term in office. For in fact, it was only financial assets and real estate that boomed — or, more accurately, inflated in value, albeit with little substance behind them. America may seem more prosperous, but it is only because both government and consumers have gone much deeper into hock to sustain extravagant spending levels that have far outrun wage growth. In the process, not only has Trump failed to reduce the burden of debt that has put the economy on a certain path toward collapse, he has cheer-led the expansion of public and private borrowing to unprecedented heights.  Fed by greed, stupidity and $2 trillion in corporate buybacks enabled by Trump’s tax “reform,” the stock market is in the grip of  insanity, perversely encouraged these days by downbeat economic news that supposedly will lead to lower interest rates. This is mass folly at its apex, an orgy of greed that is poised to end precipitously, as all bubbles must, with the ebbing fortunes of Donald Trump.

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October 20th, 2019

Posted In: Rick's Picks

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