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Trump Does Not Mark the End of Civilization As We Know It

We have, indeed, elected a not very intelligent, unstable man as the next president of the United States.  He did, clearly, appeal to many of the least attractive aspects of human concerns and beliefs.  But this is nothing new: think even relatively recently of Nixon, George W. Bush, even Obama.  We have not done especially well, throughout history, of picking wise, even-handed, bold and prescient leaders.  Democracy may not be the best means to identify and to bring to power the best among us.

We’ve survived, and we will again – even the reign of Trumputin.  The people who voted for him, in spite of, or because of, his cabinet appointments, his continued embracing of Russia, his off the wall pronouncements, continue without interruption to champion his win and support his “positions.”   But the enthusiasm of a very different group, where one sees near ecstasy, is even more telling of how missing the mark are so many critics today.  I am talking about the market makers and large investors who are celebrating the end of massive regulations and the freedoms they see in this new administration.  One could explain the initial upswing in the market as just a knee jerk reaction to the end of the Obama regime and all the politically correct and anti-business policies of the past eight years.  But, that it continues unabated, two months after the elections, portends something much more – something major and important.  Because, if the market and the economy continue thrive anew after years of treading water and gasping for air – imbued with new energy - then there is and will continue to be something to celebrate. And, just maybe, we will also see an interest rate environment which isn't held artificially low by the Federal Reserve and a banking system which is no longer derailed by excessive regulation.

Two months, sixty days, is more than just a momentary burst of hope.  Let’s see it for what it well may be – a new and fresh moment for innovation and prosperity – and let’s move on with our lives in a country that may never get it absolutely right but that can embrace differences and silliness without revolution and disintegration.

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We should all be shocked by the unanimous findings of our intelligence agencies.  As the implications begin to sink in, the impact of an illegitimate president about to take office for at least four years are deep and far ranging.  And “at least four years” is optimistic.  Traditions will be violated and conditions will erode fast.  Hanging on may be the best we can hope for.

And, the double shock of comprehending that the one person who knew all and who could have taken bold and unprecedented action before the election to prevent this crisis – the then sitting two term president – did absolutely nothing.  Yes, nothing – his default position all these last eight years.

Relying on key members of Congress to take a stand now is not an option.  Every one of them, even those posturing loudly today, are too interested in protecting their own cushy jobs.

So, it behooves those with any money – large or small in sum – to take prudent, very prudent action now.  The market has taken off since Trumputin was elected, but that has been just a relief rally – a relief that Hillary Clinton will not extend the Obama years.  But, it won’t be long before investors come fully to grips with the implications of an illegitimate president – especially a dangerous and unpredictable one.

Given our new reality, we all need to consider carefully the proportion of our investments we leave in the market.  But we also need to adopt the mindset of our ancestors who confronting political instability converted many of their assets into cash, diamonds and gold.  You will want to consider doing the same – buy gold and diamonds and put money away in multiple federally insured bank and CD accounts, up to the limit of insurance for each.  

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Toasters to Interest Rates

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"It's very important, if you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier, the old fashioned way because I'll tell you what, no computer is safe." Donald J. Trump, December 30, 2016, Mar-A-Lago, Florida

Donald Trump announced last weekend that he favored returning to the past – turning off the computer, writing it down and having a courier deliver it.  I’m sure, he would also favor markets no longer driven by algorithms and millisecond transactions, returning instead exclusively to floor agents and floor trading. 

In fact, following all this to its natural conclusion, Trump might also champion banks, once again, offering toasters to those who would open new accounts.

Any of this would be a hard sell today.  Trump is going to discover quickly that there is no turning the clock back.  He will be surprised, once he leaves Trump Tower and Mar-a-Lago, that the world has changed dramatically.  Typewriters and fountain pens are hard to find: couriers are few and far between and toasters as incentives have gone the way of prizes in Cracker Jack boxes.

That said, he might be on to something here.  One could imagine, with interest rates finally on the rise and increased attention now on safety in very volatile markets, that banks might want to ADD toasters again to their menu of options.  Who knows?  It worked once, and with Trump as the champion, it might just work again.

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