It has long been said that the stock market is a barometer for the economy going forward.
The current global conditions – the enormous printing of US money, the monetary stimuli and easing everywhere else – has made nonsense of that notion and then some.
The coronavirus has claimed the lives of over 100,000 people in the US – the most in the world – and over 30 million people are currently jobless. Recession is not just in the air, economists like Paul Krugman are saying it’s The Great Depression all over again.
The wolf is snapping at the door and it’s been the worst economic shock the world’s ever known in a century, but you don’t see that reflected in the stock exchange.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is only about 11 per cent off its all-time high which was achieved, incidentally, in February this year.
It’s, like, almost a ho-hum moment amidst the carnage and mayhem going around everywhere. Still, the US stock market lost almost 90 percent of its value between 1929 and 1932.
That is unlikely to happen this time around given the ample liquidity worldwide but that’s about it: until a vaccine comes along, no one knows anything else about the future.
Which brings us to 2020’s Burning Question: are we going to have another four years of The World According to Trump?
It’s astonishing that Americans not only voted him in, they still continue to support him in large numbers.
And according to enough people to be seriously dismayed, he still has a good chance of winning re-election in November.
How on earth does he do it, this charmless, corpulent commander-in-chief?
He does not seem to have a sense of humour unlike his various predecessors. When John Kennedy was attacked for allegedly using his father’s wealth during his 1960 campaign, for example, he cracked reporters up by revealing that he’d just received a cable from his father.
Kennedy, pretending to read a wire: “Dear Jack, don’t pay for a single vote more than necessary. I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a landslide!”
Trump, on the other hand, is not known for using humour to deflect anything unless one is to believe that his reference to drinking bleach to prevent coronavirus was really a “sarcastic jibe” at a reporter.
In an arena where self-deprecation and subtle promotion are appreciated, he does not care that he is vain and boorishly boastful. He seriously considers himself a “stable genius” and an expert on everything from the Taliban and the art of war to foreign policy and making deals.
And he has a lousy memory. When Obama was President, he criticised him for playing golf, once, during the Ebola crisis and, often, on the taxpayers’ dime. One person died of Ebola in the US and, over his eight years, it cost the government US$2.8 million for Obama to play golf. According to MSNBC, it’s cost over US$153 million to facilitate Trump’s golf games largely because he insists on playing on his own courses in Florida.
And there are the lies. When Twitter challenged him on fact, he turned around and screamed “free speech.” Now he wants to change the law simply because he was caught out.
He wouldn’t win dog catcher anywhere else.