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DAVID KRUSE

Economic dysfunction

June 18, 2018
Farm News

First off, the U.S. economy is doing better than the rest of the world. . . a trend that should continue. China has a worse debt bubble than we have and the yuan is not the world reserve currency. The EU is a basket case roiled by Brexit and with weak banks in Italy. The EU is a miss-match of German strength against relative weakness. The Euro is not strong enough to reflect the German economy and is not weak enough to reflect the relative sorry economic state of Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal and others. The Euro-Zone is not working well. The European Central Bank has had to maintain QE and it is not having the desired effect on EU growth.

Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, South Africa, Iran, Russia, on and on, all have varying degrees of economic dysfunction that are getting worse. If they do not have a natural resource problem they have a demographic problem. Peter Zeihan says that the Russian education system collapsed with the end of the Soviet Union and that no one in the next generation of Russians has any ability to run the infrastructure of the country. Their next generation of trained technicians does not exit.

The trend of U.S. economic growth is likely to be sustained while global growth slows. There will be a divergence of economic performance between America and the rest of the world. America is set to become greater, in part because the rest of the world will be becoming less so. The world can no longer depend on U.S. aid and assistance. The U.S. is no longer going to do things that would benefit the global economy at a cost to its self-interest as we have been doing for decades. We have advantages that we have never exploited.

The dollar is the world's reserve currency which means that it is used in much of global trade. Saudi oil for example, is quoted in dollars per barrel. Not only has the price of oil been recovering but the value in dollars has been improving too. The US will be "a have" and the rest of the world "a have-not." The U.S. is close to becoming a net energy exporter as LNG flows to Asia. There is a reason that the Saudis do not depend on the Euro and why they love Trump.

The U.S. also controls the global transfer of money through the SWIFT system. Exclusion from this system essentially handicaps countries from participating in global commerce, currency exchange and money transfer. Countries, such as Iran, Russia and North Korea fear being excluded. The U.S. is now exerting U.S. trade policy in a much more aggressive manner, such as use of tariffs that will be challenged by the WTO. Countries upon which tariffs and duties have been imposed by the U.S. will take their grievances to the WTO.

The WTO is just another world institution that will be marginalized by the U.S. WTO dispute panels require serving officials be approved by the U.S. and without that approval cannot function. Trump will use that tack and others to undermine the WTO. Trade is less important to the US than to the countries that trade with us. That is an advantage to Trump. So, when we control the reserve currency, the Swift system, and WTO, we control the world. . .at least world commerce.

The U.S. previously managed this system for world common good and now that is changing to where it will be implemented for "America First" self-interest. The more world disorder there is, the more powerful that we become. Graded on the curve, the U.S. will gain altitude relative to the rest of the world. We have power that we have never dreamt to exploit because frankly, some exercise of power is immoral.

Trump can't wait. For anyone considering challenging us militarily Trump is covering that base too with huge new military spending. This is all part of the "Make America Great Again" campaign theme that Trump is turning into a national self-interest identity. U.S. asset values have been strong, the dollar has been strong and interest rates have risen, which has performed as a trifecta becoming a magnet for foreign capital flowing to the U.S. The more disorder that there is in the world, the more capital flows to the US for security.

That also roils over into immigration which Trump wants to stop. As people flee global disorder as refugees for the perceived safety of the U.S., Trump will need his wall to keep them out. There has been a divergence in monetary policy between the U.S. and the EU that is feeding those trends. Coupled with strong fiscal policy making U.S. tax rates more competitive with the world, the U.S. has been the only major industrial economy that can generate inflation.

Trump will challenge the Fed independence when he thinks the need arises. He can't have higher rates diluting his fiscal stimulus or the Fed getting in his way. He is working tirelessly to gain control of every institution that can challenge his power and to marginalize those which he can't control.

Institutions are the levers of power and he will be relentless in getting his hands on them. He is motivated by self-preservation to buffer investigations that will deliver damaging information on him. He is an extremely effective charlatan able to secure a seemingly immovable base of formidable political support, while masterfully utilizing every form of manipulation in a no-holds-barred here-to-fore unprecedented offense that wears down all opponents.

I see no equal. . .foreign or domestic. Some see that as "Making America Great Again," while I see that as foreboding. As an American, I am worried but there are many other nationalities that should worry much more.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.

 
 

 

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