Archive for February 2020

Welcome to August 1929

It is not October of 1929 yet, but we are getting close in the stock market.  A few parallels

  • A 10+ year bull market where many retail participants can't even remember a bear market
  • New low cost brokerage models (in the modern case, zero-commission trading at Robin Hood and emulated by most major brokerages) attracting new inexperienced investors and increasing the trading frequency in retail
  • A government that is completely clueless to its policies that artificially inflate asset prices

We see stocks today that are traded absolutely untethered to their fundamentals as if they were bitcoin rather than ownership interests in productive companies (e.g. Virgin Galactic, Plug power, Apple, Tesla, etc).  Virgin Galactic doesn't even have the prospect of selling its first product and has run up to a $6 billion valuation.  Tesla has an enterprise value close to the largest car company in the world (Volkswagon) despite 1/20 the car sales, no profitability, and stalled revenue growth.  The market in general goes way up on good news and then goes up on bad news.

Be cautious everyone.

Dear Republicans: I Am Sorry, But This is How Precedents Work

In response to Bernie Sanders promising to jam through his programs by executive fiat if necessary in a declared state of emergency, folks of the Right are rushing to distance themselves from helping to create this monster.  From the National Review

Trump’s emergency declaration was contained to a single issue and a single project. Declaring “climate change” — an amorphous threat that’s perpetually a decade away from destroying us all — a national emergency, however, puts virtually all economic activity under the executive branch’s purview. If we’re to believe media reports, there isn’t a single hardship faced by mankind that isn’t in some dubious way connected to the slight rise of the earth’s temperature. Sanders would empower the same bunch of Malthusian hysterics who have been indefatigably wrong about everything for the past 50 years, to run some of the world’s most powerful bureaucracies.

The Sanders agenda terrifies me as well, but let's not pretend that Trump didn't fully establish the precedent for executive action through declaring states of emergency to end-run a Congress.  The fact it was "just that one time" is meaningless -- that's how precedents work (they are a bit like losing one's virginity in that sense).

It's not like this Democratic move wasn't fully predictable at the time of Trump's action.  Even political outsiders like, say, me were able to do it

I can pretty much guarantee you that if Trump uses this emergency declaration dodge (and maybe even if he doesn't now that Republicans have helped to normalize the idea), the next Democratic President is going to use the same dodge.  I can just see President Warren declaring a state of emergency to have the army build windmills or worse.  In fact, if Trump declares a state of emergency on a hot-button Republican issue, Democratics partisans are going to DEMAND that their President do the same, if for no reason other than tribal tit for tat.