The Myth of the Trump Economy

I think it’s time to put a pin in the Trump balloon about his success with the economy. He and his supporters have used the relatively good economic metrics that exist as rationale for his poor behavior as president and as the primary rationale for his reelection. Many Trumpers seem to think that Donald is a resurrection of FDR saving us from a depression or worse. I’m surprised that Trump did not take credit for the US Women’s Soccer Team In winning the World Cup.

Listed below are five considerations when viewing the economy:

#1 The unemployment rate is 3.5% which is excellent. There are more jobs than qualified people to fill them. I’m not quite sure what credit the president or Congress can take for that result. I’d give more credit to America’s entrepreneurs, small business owners and CEOs for the job success. Trump inherited a growing economy from the Obama administration. Trumpers need to remember that the unemployment rate went from 10% to 4.8% during Obama’s tenure. The fate of the economy was much more tenuous in 2009 when Obama assumed the presidency than it was on January 20, 2017. In addition, Obama did not have the favorable political environment where his party possessed the numbers or clout to push through his agenda or bidding, at will. Obama did the heavy lifting for the economy. Trump was the relief pitcher in the ninth inning protecting a 8-0 lead.

#2 The passage of the 2018 Corporate tax bill helped promote an increase in the Dow Jones industrial average by 49%. This is great metrics – – if you are fortunate enough to have invested in Dow Jones companies. So Trump and the Republican Congress made a decision – – they helped improve the fortunes of the large investors to buy new mansions, and new yachts. At whose expense? Our country badly needs improvements in our infrastructure – – we need to fix up roads, bridges, airports, etc. The federal debt has gone up $2 billion under Trump and is now 78% of this nation’s entire gross domestic product. The Republicans have approved the credit card  and issued an unlimited credit limit and our gleefully spending it. This is the party who wanted to cut up the card and freeze spending when the previous President was a Democrat. The problem is that the bill will be paid further down the road by future generations.

#3 The fed funds rate is 1.75%. Why is this important? For consumers, it affects the borrowing rate for your car, your mortgage and any other consumer debt that you may have. Currently, you are able to borrow money relatively cheaply. However, if you are interested in saving money, you are in a conundrum. Anyone who has a checking account, money market fund or certificate of deposit is probably realizing an annual rate of less than .05%. In order to make money or get the best return on your investment, you probably have to enter the financial casino known as the stock market or equities. One of the primary reasons why the Dow, S&P and NASDAQ have and continue to do well is that consumers are investing their money in stocks, bonds and mutual funds. There is no other game in town. If you are a retiree and on a fixed income, you will earn about as much money stuffing it under your mattress as you would depositing it in a bank. One last point, the president expressed he “could get used to” in a  negative interest rate environment. Under this scenario, depositors would pay banks to maintain their cash deposits. If the country enters a recession, the Fed has very few options to bolster the economy given the very low interest rates now. A negative interest rate environment is not impossible.

#4 Remember the President’s promise during the 2016 election to replace Obamacare with a better healthcare program that was cheaper and more efficient? I do. The only thing that the president and the Republican Party have tried to do is to eliminate Obamacare. You never heard what program they were proposing to a replace it. During the Trump administration, the number of people lacking health insurance rose by 2 million. Prescription costs continue to rise and many people each day struggle to gauge whether to eat or to use the money for drugs they need to stay alive or healthy.

#5 Strangely enough, there are consequences to a full employment economy. For this observation, I will speak from several recent personal experiences in trying to conduct business with various companies. First, due to the lack of attracting qualified applicants, many companies are forced to hire unqualified or less than qualified people. Many of these employees require extensive training and follow-up. Second, there is a huge turnover in personnel particularly among businesses that are unable to provide competitive salaries and benefits. In various instances, applicants who accept job offers don’t show up for their first day at work and don’t have the decency to notify the employer that they have accepted another position or simply lost interest in the job they accepted. Third, dealing with combination of unqualified and unmotivated employees is a horrible experience for those of us trying to conduct business with a company. Because many employees do not possess good business judgment or have the ability to resolve issues on their own, they are forced to follow a script. Beyond reading the script, many frontline employees are clueless in resolving billing, delivery and service issues. 

Why Trump will be Re-Elected

It may be hard to believe that a President currently experiencing an impeachment hearing in the Senate and with favorable poll numbers no higher than the mid to high 40s would be a favorite to win reelection. However I see trends that support my belief that Trump will be reelected and it’s not because of any great achievements by his administration.

First, after watching the Democratic debates, I don’t see a winning candidate that can roll in the mud with Trump and come out victorious. All the Democratic candidates are genteel, proper and appropriately reserved in their speech and conduct. In other words, they are all roadkill for Trump. Trump will bully, bluster and lie his way around opposition campaign strategy. Debating Trump is a waste of time. Anyone who watched the three Trump-Clinton debates realized that she wiped the floor with him. He was inarticulate, ill prepared and totally outclassed on knowledge of foreign and domestic policies. Yet he was elected President after three disastrous debate performances.

Second, the number of no and low information voters may be higher than those who have a grasp of current events and policy considerations. These voters are more influenced by memes and insults which are Trump’s forte. Many Trump voters do not wish to be informed, they wish to be entertained. They also want a spokesman who will confirm and support their prejudices, feelings of religious persecutions and class oppression.

Third, there is very little long range thinking in government and that also applies to many voters. They are content to kick the cans of global warming, income inequality, affordable health care for all, immigration reform and education reforms down the road. Trump voters show little concern for the impacts of regulation pullbacks and corporate tax cuts on future generations.

Fourth, Trump has a united cabal behind him called the Republican party. He faces no internal opposition from Congress and no serious political opponent emerged to contest his nomination. The Democrats, on the other hand, are showing signs of fracture between the moderates (Biden, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Klobuchar) and the liberal/socialists (Warren and Sanders). This division and the resultant lack of enthusiasm, support and turnout will doom the Democratic ticket.

Fifth, the role of the press has been critical in past elections. The press would uncover scandals and other stories that could doom a candidates’ chances. In 2016, the Access Hollywood tapes did not change the minds of many Trump supporters. His moral failings and bizarre behavior did not hurt him at all, especially among white Christian evangelicals. The press has been marginalized. Today a Republican woman senator refused to answer an appropriate question about the impeachment proceedings from a reporter labeling him a “liberal hack.” Trump has deflected many of the charges against him by citing “fake news.” It appears that many voters have bought into this fraudulent tactic.

Today there are no editorials calling for Trump’s resignation of removal from office. Democrats have failed to go after Trump like he has attacked them. There is no Democratic spokesperson with the exception of Nancy Pelosi who has blunted Trump’s attacks. I don’t see things changing by November. Four more years…

12 Things That No Longer Interest Me

As one gets older, one tends to downsize interests, activities and that one pursued or took part in throughout their life. Here is an initial list of things that were important earlier in my life but not so much now…

  1. Advertising: As my need to buy and own things lessen so is my interest in advertising or sales pitches. I hate commercials on TV and ads when I’m watching something on Youtube.
  2. Gossip: I’ve pretty much lost the ability to be shocked even surprised by the behavior of people especially celebrities, athletes and politicians.
  3. Long books and articles: I don’t have the same mental stamina that I had years ago. I tend to avoid books over 300 pages.
  4. Snow since I don’t go to school and I don’t have to drive to go to work, snow has become largely irrelevant except when I have to shovel it
  5. Winning At Contests Or Competition: When I play pickleball, I can’t tell you what my wins and losses were that day. My ultimate criteria is whether I had fun.
  6. Making New Year’s Resolutions While there are things I need to improve, I don’t need to formalize or plan how to do it.
  7. Diets: Too old, too late for me to discipline my taste buds and eating habits.
  8. Local Sports Talk Radio: The dumbest things ever said are mentioned on political social media sites and sports talk radio shows.
  9. Expensive Meals: A great tasting pizza can blow me away more than the priciest lobster. Dining out is the opportunity to socialize and connect with friends. Food is often incidental.
  10. Attending professional sporting events: With the exception of high school sports, I have lost interest in attending pro and college football, baseball and basketball games at the various venues. No interest in paying for parking and squeezing my big butt into an expensive seat when I could be comfortable at home watching the game.
  11. Ego: I no longer feel the need to impress. I don’t need to worry about what people think of me. I feel more authentic, more comfortable with who I am.
  12. Wealth: Health and time are more important than money. One always needs money but if your health is bad and you are not enjoying time due to pain, loneliness, boredom or infirmity, your life is poor.  You can’t buy contentment.

Eric’s Pickleball Partner’s Handbook

Will never be mistaken for Tyson McGuffin

With apologies to my past and future pickle ball partners, here’s what you may expect from playing with me:

  1. I will continually forget the score and you will have to remind me what the score is.
  2. I will poach at the most inopportune moments and leave you to cover the entire court.
  3. I will chase “out balls” like a dog chasing a flung chew toy
  4. My eyes are not what they used to be so my line calls may need a second review.
  5. I will play with anyone and at any level. Win or lose, I want my partner to have fun and to be willing to play with me again.
  6. I am not good enough to offer advice. My best and only advice to most players is to continue to play, have fun and your game will improve over time.
  7. When I “tag” someone on the opposite team, I will generally apologize and check to ensure they are OK.
  8. My hearing is as reliable as my third shot drop – – so you may have to repeat things to me.