Hail to the Grief: Another Flip … or Possibly a Flop.

Dear, Donald…

I’m worried about you.

I see you on TV and, while you generally look OK (maybe cut back a wee bit on the chocolate cake when playing Nintendo’s new “Bomb the Shit Out Of’em” late at night on your Wii), your actions speak to a White House version of Gotham’s own Harvey Dent. You might know him as Batman villain, “Two Face.”

If you’re not flipping one week, you’re flopping. And if you’re not flopping the next week, you’re back to flipping. I struggle to keep up.

America struggles to keep up, and we’re not a dumb country.

So, I know this pace of mental gymnastics has your brain spinning.

I feel for you. We had a slow kid in my class back in elementary school. He, too, struggled to hold to a consistent point of view, always agreeing with the person he talked to last.

I see today that you told the fine cheese-eaters of Wisconsin that “We are going to get rid of Nafta once and for all.” But just last week, a letter circulating among the Swamp Dwellers you claim are running government suggested that your administration seeks a less-extreme approach to negotiating with Canada and Mexico. The world was quite pleased with you, even if commentators took a mocking tone in congratulating you for finally tacking away from your rash, facts-light and uninformed decision making. You were coming to your senses.  If you can’t fool’em, join’em – am I right?

But now this backslide? So disappointing, Don. Sad. Big league.

So, which is it? Are we tweaking Nafta … or are we tearin’ that bitch up, to hell with the promises we made to the Mexicans and the Canucks?

Truly, we on Wall Street need to know.

I don’t mean to be bother you with this, Donny. I know you have a nuclear war to plan, and a tax code to fuck up. And I’m sure you’re deep into your moist ode to Geraldo Rivera for stroking your ego so flatulently on Fox & Friends after you (let your generals with little oversight from yourself) bomb the shit out of Afghanistan with ordinance so large it leads one to wonder if someone is overcompensating for small, um hands.

Really, though, we on Wall Street kinda sorta need to know what direction you’re leaning. Your constipated stopping and starting aren’t healthy for the stock market – and I know you watch the stock market, DonDon. I heard you take credit for booming stock-market valuations recently as proof that investors believe in your brand of economic dry-humping (never mind that the bond market suggests your policies will lead us into a flaccid economy … those bond guys, very not nice for America. The worst! Losers, big league. BAD!).

See, businesses and the investors who own them, want some certainty, Donarino. Really hard to plan and prognosticate when one day the sun rises in the East and the next day the Earth is Flat. Mental stability in D.C. lets Wall Street focus on what Wall Street cares about most – investing in wildly inflated stocks and pretending their not. Investors don’t need the added ambiguity of a vacuous leader vacillating on key policies that will help or harm the economy.

If you’re ultimately gonna play nice with our bordermates, we need to know that.

That will ease a great deal of economic tension we feel right now. Will probably reverse the current slide on Wall Street, too, and give investors hope that you’re finally building yout economic agenda on common sense and rationality. Always a plus, that rationality thing. I bet even the bond jockeys will show you some love.

But if you’re really gonna tear up Nafta, we especially need to know that because you’re gonna fuck up trade and we investors want to get to going before the carnage gets to us.

You’re also gonna jack up inflation…

And degrade the earnings prospects of America’s big exporters…

And really screw up big importers such as Wal-Mart that need low-price goods to pull in the crowds…

And you’re gonna cause so much hurt across the farm belt that Farm Aid will once again be more than just another concert.

And it’s gonna give the Federal Reserve an aneurysm trying to balance inflationary impacts of higher costs in the system and the deflationary effects of increased joblessness as multinationals struggle under your trade attack, as farmers fire their field hands, and as auto companies struggle to get the parts they need at competitive prices and, thus, scale back production…

All of which is only going to scare the crap out Wall Street. That Trump Bump you love in the stock market risks turning into a Trump Slump you’re gonna hate … but I bet you have that eventuality already covered, right? You do know that when an autocrat causes financial distress, he always blames sleazeball “speculators,” right? They’re easy targets; no one knows who they are. Or if they even exist. But they sound like exploitative assholes, just the kinda scumbag who would employee illegal workers to build a hotel in D.C. and then rail against illegal workers. But I digress. These are the bad hombres keeping America from being great!

Look, I get it.

You’re Donald Fucking Trump!

You are the goddamned Man! You demand respect. What you say goes. You’re the big swinging dick on campus, and if those Mexicans and Canadians disrespect your words, well, then you gotta show those apprentices you’re the boss, baby. Let’s get to the firing! Hallelujah and a hearty amen.

But … just so you go into the boardroom better informed:

Nafta has actually helped keep inflation at bay here in the Good Ol’ U.S. of A. by lowering manufacturing costs. I know you’re pissed at (the alternative fact) that Chevy makes the Cruze in Tequilaville and then ships the cars back home to sell in America and you think they should pay a big ass tax for doing so. Meddling facts aside, I get your point. But just in case you’re questioned on this: Imagine how much more those Cruzes would cost if General Motors had to pay U.S. autoworkers who earn six times more than Mexican workers. Yeah, we might have more autoworkers earning what we currently think is a middle-class salary … but that $17,000, base model Chevy Cruze would cost double or more because of the added labor costs. So, you know, probably not as middle-class as one might suppose. But pluses, minuses and all that.

And think about all the other junk we import from Mexico.

I know you’re not a fan of U.S. statistics, being that government manipulated all the the data before you donned the sheriff’s badge … but the U.S. trade folks tells us that, aside from cars and car parts, we import from Mexico:

  • Refrigerators and air conditioners ($4.1 billion a year).
  • Tomatoes, avocados, beer and other comestibles ($15 billion or so annually).
  • TVs, phones and electronics ($62 billion).
  • Medical instruments ($13 billion).
  • Furniture and lighting ($11 billion)

Consumers love low prices, you know. Pretty much the only thing keeping them happy while they cheer on your promise to “stay the hell out of Syria.” Wait, did I get that wrong?

Skip it. My point is, if you get rid of Nafta once and for all, then Americans in the middle class and below will probably feel the sting of Trumpflation. Your second term might be in jeopardy.

You don’t want to hear this, I know, but Nafta has actually been, well, kinda good for America overall. It actually boosted economic growth by an estimated 0.5% annually. And when our economy is growing at between 1% and 2% a year, that 0.5% is big league, baby. Big time! #doesntsuck

I could go on, but I know you’re attention span is … squirrel!

So, I’ll leave it there.

Seriously, DJ, give it some thought. Let us know what you’re really up to. And stop all this flip-flopping. People might start thinking you’re Mitt Romney.

P.S. What’s your strategy for grabbin’em by the … squirrel!

Comments

  1. Bill Lush

    It took me a while to locate you after your departure from Total Wealth Insider, where you were the only one that made sense. I have subscribed to many newsletters and had cancelled every one of them except yours. I am looking forward to having you around again, I truly missed you. I just loved your “Hail To The Chief” article. It is refreshing to follow you writings.

    I would recommend that if any one out there is looking for a straight forward,
    down to earth, honest and profitable newsletter yours is that one.

    All the best,

    Bill

    1. Post
      Author
      JD Opdyke

      Thanks, Bill. I really appreciate those sentiments. Because I came of The Wall Street Journal, and because I’ve seen so much the world on my research trips, I tend to come at issues inside and outside of the U.S. with a more nuanced and level-headed approach than those who are just reporting the news based on a very insular viewpoint. I am now writing frequently over at SeekingAlpha.com. I encourage you to find me there and follow me for free. Thanks, Jeff

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