Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Question of the Day

     B and I have had several discussions about this topic, but we have not come up with any convincing answers. Maybe you can do better.

     The question is: If everything is so terrible, why are things so good?

     Donald Trump has taken over the presidential reins, and he has seemed to make nothing but enemies, both for himself and the country. His approval rating by some accounts is below 40%.

     The president of Mexico refused to meet with Trump because of what he considers to be rude, aggressive and boorish statements Trump has made about the country and its people.

     The Canadians are appalled at Trump's refugees policy. The Germans are worried about Trump slapping on tariffs as well as his seemingly close relationship to Vladimir Putin. Europeans in general think that Trump is rude and boorish, that he is self-centered and only cares about money, that he is uncultured, racist and sexist.

     In just one article on Sunday's New York Times our president was described as laughable, terrible, deluded, petulant, vulgar, boastful, narcissistic, and spectacularly wrong -- a freak who screams, hurls insults, makes fictitious claims, flings lies, colludes with the Russians, hallucinates, suffers meltdowns, and who is in "palpable trouble."

     Meanwhile, other newspapers have questioned Trump's sanity and reported on whispers of impeachment -- all in just a month or so since he's taken the job!

     A lot of Americans feel the same way. There were large crowds of women who descended on Washington, as well as multiple other cities, the day after the inauguration to protest what they perceived as Trump's assault on women's issues. Protests have sprung up in American streets and airports over the issue of immigration.

     As the Washington Post sums up: "We've seen an immigration order stopped in its tracks by a federal court, a national security adviser resign amid questions about his contact with Russia, several contentious confirmation battles in the Senate and a sudden reversal in Trump's approach to China. And there's more -- don't forget Trump's Supreme Court nomination, his awkward phone calls with world leaders, escalating criticism of the media, or persistent, evidence-free claims of voter fraud during the election."

     And yet . . . if everything is going to hell in a handbasket in Washington, then why is the American stock market at all-time highs, signaling a more robust economy than we've seen in years? It's easy to say the stock market is controlled by the one percenters on Wall Street -- except in large part the stock markets are not controlled by Wall Street financiers, but by the people running pension funds for teachers, firefighters and other state employees, by nonprofit organizations and university endowment funds, and by the millions of people who invest in IRAs and other retirement accounts -- all of whom presumably see a bright future ahead of us, either despite or because of Trump.

     Meanwhile, the unemployment rate is just 4.8%, the lowest in years. And consumer confidence, which measures how regular consumers feel about the economy in general as well as their own personal financial situation, hit its best rate in December in 15 years.

     Now I realize that a political situation is not the same as the economic situation. Look at the Chinese, for example, who suffer from an authoritarian government yet enjoy increasing economic prosperity. But are there any countries that suffer domestic turbulence and social dissolution that also enjoy record-high consumer confidence and a growing economy?

     Something is wrong here. Either consumers and investors are living in fantasyland, or political commentators in the newspapers, on facebook and all around our communities are the ones who are deluded and spectacularly wrong.

     I realize that not everyone is anti-Trump. Maybe some people rail against Trump's personality and some of his policies, but really agree with him on a number of issues -- or they think the political issues don't really touch them on a personal level. Or maybe Trump's critics just don't "get" what he's doing and they're suffering from hysteria. But it seems like the country is split in two -- and Trump supporters do not comprise the larger part.

     I don't know. I can't explain it. Just seems like a curious situation to me.


Trudi said...

I believe that many of the "good" things you cite... are left over from the last administration. The policies of the new administration have not yet had effect. Turning an aircraft carrier is not done in ten seconds.

For example, with the mass deportations of undocumented persons, pretty soon restaurants, hotels and resorts (probably including Mr. Trump's) will be short staffed. Meaning they will not be able to do as much business as formerly...

Anonymous said...

Let's revisit this in two to four years. Our economy is like a big cargo ship already in motion. Even if someone just throws it in reverse it will take a while for the momentum to turn around. The new president and his cabinet haven't been in office long enough to have an affect on the economy or job market.

Tabor said...

DT had been in office only one month and he cannot do all the things he wants. Most will have to be done legislatively and this Congress has bills that will not take effect for months. Job growth, as he claims, will take a year to show if not more. I have talked to my broker and he explains that the market growth is due to emotional optimism over the claims that the GOP are going to cut regulations all over and therefore business can grow without pause. The market runs as much on emotion as it does on fact.

Anonymous said...

It's very sad Tom to see that you are a victim of Fake news. You are citing the NY Times who boldly stated each and every day on their front page that Hillary was going to win at 85% and Trump's was going to lose the election at 15%. And yet you still continue to read that crap newspaper?
First off, Trumps approval record is at 55%
Trump has already spoken and gotten an agreement with Mexico over the wall. Trump has already signed executive order to start building and yes, Mexico will be paying for that wall. probably in fees, etc.
As for the refugees, immigrants, Trump is only going after the criminals. He is deporting those most dangerous to American citizens. Don't like it? Tough. Time people stopped supported drug dealers, murderers and thieves.
As for the Woman's Day March on DC, you mean to tell me you support Madonna, Ashley Judd and the likes of Lena Dunham (who announced she is getting pregnant just so she can have an abortion) and other women who dressed up like vaginas and paraded up and down 1600 PA Ave? Did you not know that the following week, pro-life women, in the millions also marched on DC? No? Because there was no fake news coverage of them.
As for what the Europeans think of Trump, I am certain they think a whole lot more of Trump than they did of the bowing, docile, repentant Obama who received a nonsensical Nobel peace Prize before he even got into office. That's how ridiculous those Europeans are.
Europe is lying to themselves and to the rest of the world. Particularly Sweden. They are lying about what the rush of immigrants have done to their country, i.e the rise in rapes against their own women, to the tune of which 77% of those rapes have been done by Muslim men.
Wake up and smell the coffee.
People are so busy bashing Donald Trump they don't even know what the heck is going on around them. The rise in the stock market is 10000% Trump. Corporations around the world love this man so much, the stock market is zooming. And that good news affects every single one who has one penny invested in the market. And that includes the police, fire department, teachers and the like. Don't like Trump? Then withdraw every single dollar you have invested in Wall Street. I dare you.
I was at the Trump Florida rallies, and the people absolutely adore and love this man Donald Trump! I wouldn't believe a single thing that comes out of the fake news room. Every night Trump releases a Facebook statement and a Twitter statement. I only believe what comes out of Trumps mouth directly. People seem to forget that Trump is not a politicians. It'll take him a while. But he will get it right. And perfect.

Tom Sightings said...

Well, Cindi, you're clearly in the camp saying that Trump's critics just don't "get" it and they are the ones who are deluded and wrong. But you are in the minority according to the polls. The Rasmussen poll has him at 51% approval, but most others peg him at 40 to 42%, with the Jan. 26 Quinnipiac poll at 36%.

So the question remains for the majority: Why would you invest your IRA money in the stock market if you think Trump is going to lead the country to disaster? Or, I saw today that Jan. existing home sales are the highest since 2007. Why would you buy a house if you think Trump's protectionism etc. will soon bring on a recession? What am I missing?

Trudi said...

Cindi... you are correct... Trump is not a politician. However if I and probably you also was scheduled for brain surgery, I'd want a doctor, a surgeon who was trained and experienced in doing that type of operation... not somebody who had watched a couple of YouTube videos on the subject.

Why should I trust the running of my country to somebody who is unfamiliar with the constitution, politics and international relations?

JudyC said...

Because despite the fact that he is petulant, vulgar, boastful, narcissistic, and has a problem with impulse control some of his policy proposals will be good for business and the economy. So we hold our nose and hope for the best. But we are still scared to death of his craziness.

Stephen Hayes said...

The stock market expects Republicans to roll back most of Obama's environmental protections so the market is expecting future growth. I suspect this won't last long.

Linda Myers said...

My goodness, Tom. That was a risky post!

I am pretty much with you. I admit I am comforted to see that our checks and balances are holding. And there have been a couple of things 45 has done so far that I agree with. For right now, that is as good as it gets.

I do wonder how we're all going to feel when it's harder to harvest fruits and vegetables because of lack of workers. Prices will go up, of course, and then we'll be complaining about something else.

Barbara - said...

I think we have an issue where people THINK that the economy needs to be improved.I agree that some of the stock market hype is because of trump but more of it is because of Obama, frankly. and while four percent unemployment SOUNDS nice, almost all new jobs that have been created are minimum wae or what we called in the old days "mommy jobs". often less than thirty or thirty five hours a week, no benefits and little salaries.

If you look beyond the economy though, things are not good. period. Every right and protection we have as a nation is slowly being desmanteled. check out house bill 109 (i think thats the number) that basically defunds public education and makes the states subsidize private schools at their own expense. Today Trump rolled back protection for gays and transgenedered follks. He will attempt to limit reporductive righs at every turn. Hate crimes are up exponentially, with the administration taking a no comment approach for the most part.

OUr president is no longer the leader of the free world-hell England may not even let him in. That person is now Angela Merkel. He's friends with one of the evil empires, and I give thanks every day that my brother in law is retired military because sure as shooting we are going to war.

Put simply, the stock market is a divsersion. Hitler made the economy better and made the trains run on time, if you know what I mean.

still the lucky few said...

Wow, Tom, you are brave. I live in Canada, and I believe our news outlets are not 'fake'. Our CBC has a sterling reputation, and we feel we can confidently believe 99% of what it says. I watch CNN almost every day, and check in on at least 10 newspapers and online articles each day. I am relatively well educated—nobody's fool. The news about Trump is unanimous. He is all of the terrible things the news is saying about him, and does every dreadful deed reported. I can't explain the stock market, except to say that it is not representative of ordinary people. But I do believe that it will react as DT's agenda unfolds. The market does not like uncertainty, and there is plenty of that coming. Hold on to your hats. It's just beginning.

Janette said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
retirementreflections said...

As Still-The-Lucky-Few said, "brave post, Tom"!
I don't know the answer to your question...but time will surely tell.

Kathy @ SMART Living said...

Hi Tom! Wow! What a clear example of how divided our country is and how delusional we can all be if we want to be. I am in the camp that says our economy is like a HUGE train set in one direction and it takes more than one month in office to derail it. (although I think DT is doing his best) but I am continually AMAZED at the confirmation bias of the opposing side. People believe what they want to believe regardless what is happening in the world outside of their heads. ~Kathy

Janette said...

I forget how unwelcome different viewpoints are.

Stephanie Faris said...

Republicans: the rich get richer, the poor get poorer. The wealthy voted for Trump BIGLY. They know what's up. They're well aware their bank accounts are gonna benefit. I will expect the economy to stay strong throughout. I'm not worried at all about the wealthy people I's the rest of us! But the unemployment rate has hovered around 4.6-5.0 for a while. It dropped down to 4.6 in November but started climbing back up again to where it was before the election.

Keep the Faith said...

There is talk about interest rates going up and the proposed Federal Budget hasn't been released, so I don't think I can say we're okay yet. Time will tell once the debates start over spending and how the money will be raised to pay for Trump's agenda.
Until then, I am a very cautious retiree who is starting to think about going back to work. I for one do not have faith in Trump's leadership skills or that he will even finish his 1st term. My faith is in a power greater than him.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure it makes much difference who is in office. As long as Congress fails to do anything about the long term fiscal outlook of the USA (like they have for the last couple of decades), the future looks like very slow GDP growth and significant increases in taxes going forward. The Federal Reserve can't raise interest rates significantly because it would add to the national debt and/or take away from Uncle Sam discretionary spending. You can read it here:

Jim Serrett said...

The level of delusion is just amazing.

After watching two power hungry narcissistic neo-cons fight over the presidency, you still think that this two party system represents anyone but billionaires and their special interest groups?

They have blinded you with shiny objects, distracted you from the real problem.

Joey J said...

No.1 Trump won the Presidency.
No.2 Republicans took control of the House.
No.3 Republicans took control of the Senate.
No.4 Republicans now dominate state government, with 32 legislatures and 33 governors.
No.5 Republicans will elect the next Supreme Court Justice.

What part of he’s not our President do you not get?

Anonymous said...

The housing market is up because people are buying before the interest rates go up. The jobless rate is down because instead of layoffs companies are giving you furlough days without pay not laying you off. people are working sometimes 2 or three days a week this is not enough to make your bills. The stock market is up because of online retailers and marijuana stocks.This will end when crops don't get picked and fast food places lose employees due to deportations Immigrants are an important part of our society!Trump only cares about himself and his family and his business! His travels and his family security details and his three residences are already costing more than any other president did!

panzer said...

I would urge you to stop watching all mainstream corporate media, and eliminate all yahoo, google and msft web searches. Try to break free of the chains that you feel so comfortable with. There is a whole world waiting for you, once you realize how most of your life has been a lie, filled with mind control from the MSM, which owns the paper on your life. Try to get virtually all of your information from Utube, which is running the corporations out of business, from drudge and from breibart. You will love the taste of freedom.

Anonymous said...

No one really knows what Trump will actually do..Pence is doing a lot for Trump and many advisors rush in after his disasterous news conferences. Spicer is not a fan of the newsmedia who hired this guy anyway??? Trump did..oh, my goodness sakes, Trump is a wealthy uber wealthy businessman he isn't gonna lose sleep or money for being elected he gave the public of the USA a bunch of yahoo to get elected he doesn't care one iota he is more wealthy and he is making his kids more wealthy such a sham of a person..I doubt he will stay the course too many will get fed up and something will happen..Not holding my breath this year but what a fella the people who voted for him got not make American great again, more like make me more wealthy again!

Anonymous said...

"Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their backs on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters." Abraham Lincoln

joared said...

There's a definite disconnect as you describe it. I quoted the above Lincoln thought on my blog last year and it's still true -- even more so. I think we're riding for a big fall -- can hardly wait 'til Dodd-Frank regulations reduced, other consumer protections so financial world can run awry again. Wall St looking forward to tax rate lowering, less oversight, and more benefits they'll receive so can make hay while their sun shines. Will "trickle down" work this time? Isn't it madness repeating the same mistake over and over again? Not if some folk can make a lot of money at the expense of others less fortunate which is DJT's business specialty.

Anonymous said...

What I worry about is the Medicare voucher system, proposed by the GOP.

Morgan said...

I do agree with some of the others: Time will tell. The low employment predates Trump, as do many of the other factors you mentioned. The stock market is up... but it's almost tax time. I don't know about you, but many people are making last minute stock market purchases through their retirement funds. They are required to make them at this time of year or lose the opportunity. Finally, I think that the same things that erode social platforms are often financially beneficial for major companies, the ones that stock markets are based on the value of.

Is Trump 'my' president? No. I find him laughable at best but I also think that until the results of the changes and the policies become felt, we don't actually know what they will do. I agree with some of his positions, disagree with most of them, and in general find him distasteful but this is the situation we find ourselves in. We need to stop the mindless protesting (300,000 women dressed as vaginas wandering around in city squares in the most progressive and well off cities in the world is a colossal waste of time) and be ready to reach to an actual change, an actual crisis.

Finally, if one more woman says to me 'we had the popular vote' I'll be forced to slap them with my shoe. By the rules of the game, our democratic system, we lost. The whining and moaning weakens both our position and the greater good. One woman said to me, after dressing as a vagina and circling downtown Portland with other vaginas, "They have awoken the beast!" which is simply embarrassing.


GMLBG said...

People say that history repeats itself. If you look back to the 1920's, many of these same factors were in place. A long war(a more satisfying conclusion), a president that people made fun of( Coolidge), a new president that was going to change things (Hoover), a tremendous stock market, tariffs, more isolationists-type policies, there are some scary scenarios that are possible. I believe that you know how that played out. It will be interesting to see if our system of checks and balances can prevent the apple cart from turning over.

Anonymous said...

Anyway you slice it. Trump or no Trump. My 401(k) balance, my Roth IRA balance, and my brokerage accounts have never looked better.

Anonymous said...

"The market runs as much on emotion as it does on fact." No, it runs mainly on emotion.

I think I know how the common woman felt in Germany in the 1920s-1930s.

To "M", I reply: the soft sciences folks tell us that the wisdom of the many is greater than the wisdom of the one. I've observed this to be true in my nearly 80 years on earth. Gross numbers should mean more to us than the rigged system that was set up by the land owners - the wealthy of their day - allows.

Anonymous said...

Fact: Trump can't be trusted...
He said, a wall will be paid 100% by Mexico, but he now plans to move forward with Americans funding the construction.
His comment about groping women makes him a person I wouldn't want near my female family members.
He lied about a situation in Sweden and then says the news is fake... the words came out of his mouth.
He condemned a US business, Nordstrom for not selling his daughters foreign made products.
He has a secretary of education that got the job because of her contributions to the Republican Party not her qualifications. I live in Michigan, two of my daughters are teachers so I know what an actual failure Betsy DeVos's vouchers system is.
Trump has declared the news to be the enemy of the American people...if that's true should we go after them the same as ISIS?

Mr. Trump is in embarrassment to our country!!

Barbara said...

You really hit a nerve Tom. What is interesting is that the emotion involved - hate or respect - is so strong in each comment. You cannot have the "good old days" when so much disrespect for the other persons thoughts are shouted out. I'm not a fan of Trump but I want our country to prosper. I listened to all the hate about Obama and now I want to espouse the same hateful words against Trump. If we really want our country to get better we - and Trump - need to learn to moderate our tone and get on better with the people who do not think like us.