Recession?

August 19, 2019

As a former investment advisor, I think all the time about what I would advise my former colleagues and clients about whether a recession is coming and how to deal with it. In the spirit of full disclosure, I was confident two years ago regardless of who won the election that we were facing a slowdown after eight years of growth under the Obama administration. Interest rates were low, and labor markets were tight. Inflation was under control, but there was no place to go but down. What I didn’t predict was a massive, deficit-increasing tax cut at exactly the wrong time in the economic cycle, which poured gasoline on the fire.

Now the bills are coming due, and Trump, as his his fashion, doesn’t want to pay them. In his mind, which is dominated by conspiracy theories, he thinks that the Federal Reserve and the media are conspiring to thwart his recovery. In the words of Bill Belichick, they are just doing their jobs.

It has been a long time, but the stock market does not owe you anything. Be careful, be diversified, and be liquid. No one ever got hit by a bus they saw coming.

Advertisements

The Arms Race

August 14, 2019

After the last two mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, I had a reasonable friend say that he might have to start carrying his weapon. He is an avid outdoorsman, and believes in reasonable gun restrictions like most Americans. However, I was struck by how gun violence fuels an arms race by well-meaning people fearful for their safety. It is not unlike the international arms race between the great international powers. If the US and Russia could halt and roll back the arms race, why can’t we as regular citizens?

The US and Russia believed that mutual self-destruction was possible, and not a favorable outcome. We are getting to this point, but we are not there yet. I am not sure what it will take, but I am not sure I want to know. The superpowers had to trust each other, but they also insisted on the ability to verify. We don’t trust each other, which is fed by our politicians and the NRA. Trump and others gin up divisive issues that are not supported by the majority of Americans.

We need a government that we can trust, and one that can unite us. We need one that will support disarmament without trampling on Second Amendment rights. We also need to believe that we have no choice.

Statue of Liberty

August 14, 2019

There is an old vaudeville joke that goes something like this:

Judge: “You are guilty of statutory rape.”

Defendant: “Judge, if I had known it was a statue, I wouldn’t have raped it.” (Rim shot)

I don’t think it is too strong to say that Donald Trump, through Acting (like an ass) Immigration Director, Ken Cucinelli, just raped the Statue of Liberty. Cucinelli, an Italian-American like me, took issue with the Emma Lazarus quote, “give me your tired, your poor.” Cucinelli is now Trump’s membership director at his newest private club, the United States of America. Only wealthy white people need to apply unless you are looking for a job in housekeeping, in which case papers are optional. What other statues, monuments, morals, and democratic norms and values are left to attack? It only takes a little imagination to come up with a list, but I guarantee that we will never have to worry about anyone attacking a statue of Donald Trump or twisting one of his historic quotes.

Spin Doctor vs. SoulCycle

August 9, 2019

I cannot believe my good fortune that this story fell in my lap. Joaquin Castro, brother of presidential candidate, Julian Castro, “doxxed” a list of prominent people, who were supporting Trump’s candidacy in 2020. One of the people on the list was Stephen Ross, billionaire owner of SoulCycle and Equinox. I am a spin instructor in a non-political wellness center, but I do have strong progressive leanings, which I do try to keep to myself, but not always successfully. Occasionally, I will say something like “spin shorts like golf reveal a lot about a man,” which is a quote from Rick Reilly’s book, “Commander in Cheat.”

The reality is people come to class to for a healthy workout, a modicum of entertainment, and some “me” time. For the spinners at SoulCycle studios, politics has changed the calculus. Politics now hangs like a black cloud. Ironically, Michelle Obama is an avid SoulCyclist. As I have said in class, “Donald Trump goes to Crush Your SoulCycle.” There are numerous spinning studios everywhere these days. I would encourage SoulCyclists to boycott (or quit) SoulCycle, and find another studio. You can no longer ignore where your money goes. I will not play golf at a Trump golf course. I do not shop at LL Bean. Politics does and should have consequences.

Fighting Over the Scraps

August 5, 2019

Fighting Over the Scraps

Congratulations to the 1%. They, through their vessel, Donald Trump, have created a situation where poor, white people attack and murder poor, brown people because they fear they are losing ground. The 1% continues to get wealthier, and the poor whites, browns, and blacks fight and kill each other over the scraps. Trump gave the 1% a massive tax cut, and he uses the politics of division to distract from the fact that everyone else got crumbs. Now you see your healthcare and your social security; now you don’t.

P. T. Barnum said there is a sucker born every minute. Everyone is a sucker in TrumpWorld. The 1% is the circus, and Trump is the carnival barker. He entertains while he distracts. People say he is one of them. Really? He is a charlatan. Unless you are a member of the Mar-a-Lago, 1% club, he doesn’t want to know you. You don’t exist. Why can’t you see this? The 1% is a three card monte dealer on the streets of Manhattan. While you are trying to find the pea, Trump is the shill in the audience, who is there to distract. While you are distracted, they and your money disappear. They are taking your money, and leaving you to fight over the scraps.