No Defense Secretary, no problem!
It's good to know that Trump doesn't need "Mad Dog" Mattis to run his Department of Defense, he's just one more guy between Trump and THE button, just another guy who sometimes had the balls to say "no" – not that Trump listened anyway as we are suddenly pulling out of Afghanistan and Syria which, coincidentally, are both places Russia is very happy to see us pull out of. Maybe the President isn't lying when he says there is "No Collusion" and it's just a coincidence that his foriegn policy happens to be Putin's foreign policy – maybe.
Russia is increasing their troop levels in Tajikistan, along the Afghan border and our withdrawal leaves Putin in charge of "Peace Talks" and you can imagine how those are going to go – especially if you paid any attention to Putin's ongoing "Peace Process" in Crimea. In fact, Trump ordered our withdrawal from Afghanistan only hours after Vladimir Putin said in a live broadcast that the US keeps promising to leave the country but never does! It doesn't get more direct than that – does it?
And of course we know Syria is all about Russia and, as Forbes said this morning: "Ignoring History, Trump Hands Russia Yet Another Win in Syria" along with good analysis in the "failing" New York Times: "Syria Pullout by US Tilts Mideast Toward Iran and Russia, Isolating Israel." THIS is not something we should ignore – most of these marke wounds are self-inflicted with rising rates (we can stop), runaway debt (we can reduce) and Government Shudowns (Trump can stop being a child throwing a temper tantrum) so I'm not really inclined to get shorter on the market down here (our expected 20% correction levels) UNLESS Trump is even crazier than he's already shown himself to be – then we have to fear for our entire nation – not just the Nasdaq.
There's a line from a Batman movie where Alfred tells Batman a story of an African warlord who his British Troop unit had tried to bribe off to stop his violent rampages but the diamonds they gave him were tossed on the side of the road and the violence continued. Alfred says to Batman:
“…some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”
Alfred was talking about the Joker, a psychopathic villian who liked violence for violence's sake but not all psychopath's have to have the same motivation. Violence may not be Trump's thing but certainly money and absolutely he seeks fame and, while it does seem very simple to buy him, reasoning and negotiation have consistently failed. In another parallel, Alfred says about the criminals in Gotham "In their desperation, the turned to a man they didn't fully understand" and now he's out of control, taking over the party and causing nothing but chaos. Kind of sums up the GOP's past two years very nicely, doesn't it?
You can brush this off and say I'm a liberal (I am) and I just don't like Trump (I don't) but the point is you can see how other people might have this takeaway from Trump and his actions and those people might have to decide whether or not to invest in the United States and it's markets, much like you had to decide whether or not to invest in the Soviet Union before Glasnost (not that it's much better today) – based on how worried you are about their leadership, not just the companies you are investing in.
On that basis, very few Americans and very few Europeans and very few Asians put their money into the Russian markets back in the day – because they seemed to have crazy leaders with a radical government that could change policies on a dime – so it wasn't worth the risk. Isn't that what the US is becomming – not just to the rest of the World but to half of its own citizens.
We're already past Ford, Nixon or Carter on the bad Presidents scale, we're way past GW Bush – and he really sucked! The markets collapsed even worse under Bush Jr's watch than they did under his father's. At this point, we're dangerously close to Herbert Hoover territory and THAT Presidency almost destroyed the country and it took us more than a decade to recover from – and he only served one term too! That's why he's hiding in the back on this picture Trump likes so much – one day they'll have to hide Trump too!
THIS is the only reason I'm not gung-ho bullish on the markets – I really feel that Trump is capable of causing MASSIVE damage to our country and I know that the rest of the World is beginning to feel that America is a pariah nation, representing the worst that the World has to offer – no longer the best and that is simply driving Yen, Yuan, Euros and Pounds out of US equities – into more stable countries and markets.
As you can see from the chart on the left, down 15% for the Quarter (not over yet) is the 6th worst quarter since 1945 and note that only Dec 2008 and June of 2002 (both Bush Jr) were followed by another significantly down month though it is worth noting that, other than Bush Jr starting wars under false premises – the only other time we had a full down year after a manjor correction was December of 1973, when Watergate engulfed the nation and everyone lost faith in America and their leadership. What Trump has allegedly done is much, Much, MUCH worse than Watergate – much worse.
In Watergate, it wasn't the crime (breaking into the Democratic headquarters at the Watergate Hotel and stealing some files), it was the cover-up that caused Nixon to resign. In Trump's case, the crimeS begin with election-fixing, campaign fraud, sexual assault, rackateering and escalate up all the way to Obstruction of Justice and Treason – the cover-up is an ongoing issue – we haven't even gotten to that yet!
You can pooh-pooh these charges and imagine it's all some Liberal hoax and that's easy to imagine since the Republicans certainly spent 8 years investigating Hillary Clinton and it all turned out to be BS, but are you willing to bet your future on it? Are you willing to invest in Donald Trump's America? Are you willing to bet your life savings that he will be exhonerated and the country will quickly recover and companies will quickly get back to their all-time highs because America is GREAT again? Even if you are – can you not see that possibly a lot of people won't share your confidence?
The difference between the Trump scanadals and Benghazi or Hillary's Email is that even the Republican investors knew it was all a sham and all they were doing is trying to hurt Hillary and stop her from becoming the next President. Well, mission accomplished there but, as Alfred warned – in their desperation, the Republican leadership turned to a man they didn't fully understand and gave him control of the party and now we have chaos and soon we may have anarchy and this time it's not some pretend game to score political points - this time it's real and investors are running from the US markets.
God help us – everyone!