Ouch. If you own stocks, how did you feel when Wall Street suffered its worst week in two years? The S&P dropped six percent.
Donald Trump had been pestering the media to report more on the stock market, up since his election. Now at least one TV financial pundit was joking about Trump’s crazy trade policies and the possibility of The Donald shorting stocks after pumping them.
You could say, “Oh, that was just the action of the week, a mix of tariff worries and jitters over rising interest rates. Things will be fine.” But not so, long term, if Trump remains in the Oval Office.
Elections have consequences for your wallet, and I’ve got a two-word economic solution for American investors of all ideologies, from the Koch Brothers to multimillionaire Nancy Pelosi. Impeach now.
I’m not deluded that the House Speaker Paul Ryan and the other powers in the Republican-dominated Congress will see this column, much less act on it—they’re too busy reading ring-wing publications and watching Fox News and soliciting Koch-style plutocrats for campaign cash. Still, we can at least fantasize and maybe even look forward to a Democratic Congress willing to do the obvious.
Even if I were one of the Koch Brothers, Trump would scare me. I would be funneling as much campaign cash as possible to Red state congress members in danger of getting primaried by fanatical Trumpists, and along the way I would be ditching my economic dogmas as well. I would also join billionaire Tom Steyer in running anti-Trump commercials, and if I were a Fortune 500 CEO I would threaten Rupert Murdoch with an ad boycott of Fox and urge other corporate leaders to do the same if the network continued to encourage and even advise an aspiring dictator.
Many advertisers ran away from Breitbart News. It’s time to do the same to all of Fox, beyond specific programs—not just for reasons of morality but also practicality. Cut Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal a break for the virtues of the news side. Hooray even to the editorial page for not giving Trump a free pass on tariff issues. Still, the WSJ really needs to go all the way with a passionate call for impeachment, based on general lack of fitness for officer, of which Trump’s Dow-busting tariff tantrums are just one example. Immediately deserving a full-fledged ad boycott is Sinclair Broadcasting, which inserts Trumpist propaganda into local news programming.
Why my strong views, especially since I normally dislike the idea of advertising boycotts? Civic reasons count most—these are “Fire in a crowded theater” times. But not everyone on Wall Street and executives suites will care. So in considering ad boycotts of Fox, Sinclair and the like, here are ten reasons why Donald Trump is a long-term threat even to billionaire plutocrats. Yes, exceptions could exist. While Jim Cramer was joking, Trump cronies just might be playing shady market games for real, such as shortening the S&P via straws, based on inside information.
Reason #1: Trump is Warren Buffett in reverse—a 71-year-old child focused on his emotions and on the short term, as the threatened trade war with China shows. The Chinese have been shafting us in areas such as intellectual property. But Trump’s bellicose talk, mainly meant to appeal to his die-hard supporters, not solve the problem, made the Chinese seem like good guys by comparison. Outbursts like this are doing major damage to America as a brand, not just for now but perhaps for years to come.
Reason #2: Sleaze is bad for business. If you were a foreigner, which would you rather invest in—a banana republic or an America with a regulated Wall Street? The longer Trump remains in power, the less chance of the Securities and Exchange Commission being able to do its job. Tobacco and healthcare-related stock buys did lead to the resignations of the Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, after the media caught on. She was hardly Trump’s BFF. But then consider other Trump people such as investor Carl Icahn, who resigned as a Trump advisory amid concerns over an energy-related conflict. With conflicts of interest galore, the Trump and Kushner families are hardly setting examples for the rest of Washington, and regulatory agencies such as the SEC may ultimately suffer. In fact, they are at already at risk at the expense of investors, savers and the country at large.
Reason #3: Trump loves to portray himself as King of Debt and in his business life ran away from creditors. Republicans shouldn’t let him treat the country the same way. Of course, with tax cuts for the rich bloating the deficit, Capitol Hill itself is no small part of the problem. Trump and the GOP Congress, alas, are each other’s enablers. Thank you, Trump and friends, for increasing the likelihood of rising interest rates, as deficits grow. Economists overwhelmingly agree that growth won’t be enough to make up for the massive tax cuts.
Reason #4: Nuclear war is bad for business, even if you’re a Koch. Wall Street loves certainty. Trump and his new national security advisor, John Bolton, worship war and chaos.
Reason #5: Climate change isn’t so helpful, either. Granted, the Koch brothers are heavily invested in fossil fuel and related industries. But eventually mass anger may prevail over political donations. We’re starting to see this now in the area of gun control. The fossil fuel interests may in time be the new NRA, especially as massive flooding and other horrors of climate change become even more visible than now and insurance companies pay out still more billions. Let’s not expect immediate miracles in either area. But in the Koch Brothers’ place, I would be looking ahead and phasing in renewables in a major way even if fossil fuels, chemicals and the like are their major show now. Solar and wind are opportunities, as shown by employment figures, and yet Trump is fighting them at every turn.
Reason #6: Trump doesn’t understand technology, especially dependent on free trade. The parts in your tablet or laptop come from all over, and not all the raw materials are available in the U.S. In a related vein, see Reason #8.
Reason #7: He can’t even figure out the blue-collar economy, as shown by his lack of appreciation of the damage that mindless tariffs can do to our industries reliant on affordable steel.
Reason #8: As first bigot-in-chief, Trump is making America less inviting for ambitious immigrants whose hard work in the end will create more American jobs in tech and elsewhere. Capitalize the J word and we’re talking Jobs indeed—yes, Apple founder Steve Jobs, the biological son Abdulfattah “John” Jandali, a Syrian-born Muslim.
Reason #9: America’s wealth distribution is already horrific, and Trump and his friends seem keen on worsening it through tax scams and attacks on Social Security and the rest despite all the populist rhetoric to the contrary. On the surface, the looting would appear to be billionaire-friendly. It is not. The tax cut money instead could have gone for better roads and other infrastructure to make American business more competitive. But that’s not all. Without a thriving middle class to buy goods and services, the corporate investments of the wealthy are worth less in the end. Moreover, when enough voters wake up, there may be calls not just for stiff estate taxes but also huge taxes on the actual wealth of living billionaires, beyond their dividends, capital gains and other income. Ready for the guillotine, dear billionaires? Not your necks, but your holdings.
Reason #10: Trump, regardless of rhetoric, couldn’t care less about health insurance costs and the healthcare system in general. By bringing so much chaos to the insurance marketplace, the policies of Trump and the GOP are reducing job mobility and making the U.S. economy less efficient. Also, workers could spend more on good and services in general if 18 percent of our GDP didn’t have to go to healthcare industry.
Photo: CC-By-SA licensed. Carlos Delgado was the photographer.