Tuesday, February 6, 2018 -- Evidence Of Collusion, Don't Panic, Shutdown Showdown 

Evidence Of Collusion
 
On Sean Hannity's Fox News show last night, Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, made this interesting observation:
 
"We have a clear link to Russia.  You have a campaign [Hillary Clinton's] who hired a law firm, who hired Fusion GPS, who hired a foreign agent [Steele], who then got information from the Russians on the other campaign.  It seems like the counterintelligence investigation should've been opened up against the Hillary campaign when they got ahold of the dossier. . . I think there's clear evidence of collusion -- that the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign colluded with the Russians."
 
Let's recall how we got so wrapped up in the Trump collusion delusion.  It started just hours after Donald Trump's stunning upset victory on November 8, 2016.
 
In the book Shattered, liberal journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes offered these details about a post-election meeting of Hillary's campaign leadership, eager to develop their strategy for spinning her historic loss:
 
"That strategy had been set within twenty-four hours of her concession speech.  Mook and Podesta assembled her communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn't entirely on the up-and-up.  For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public.  Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument."
 
What do we know about Christopher Steele?  The former British spy was known as a Russian expert.  As a result, Steele is not allowed to travel to Russia.  Nevertheless, he relied on sources in Russia (sources he is now refusing to talk about) to put together his salacious dossier, which, to the amazement of leading Democrats, remains unproven to this very day. 
 
The only proven content in the dossier is a media report about Carter Page going to Moscow to give a speech.  The source for that news story was . . . Christopher Steele.  The FBI fired Steele for lying about talking to the media.
 
As more and more disturbing information comes out about anti-Trump bias at the FBI and the Justice Department, it is clear that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch must have known what was going on.  And if she knew, then President Obama knew that the power of the federal government was being used to try to take Trump down. 
 
Speaking of government abuses, award-winning historian David J. Garrow, who describes himself as "essentially a Bernie Sanders democratic socialist," has a blistering opinion piece in today's Wall Street Journal outlining the history of "Democrats and FBI Abuses."
 
Garrow is outraged that so many progressives today are blinded by "partisan hatred" and eager to ignore historical abuses at the FBI in order to justify the surveillance of Carter Page and Donald Trump.
 
 
 
Don't Panic
 
As regular readers know, this is not an investment newsletter.  But the market is making headlines, so I'd like to offer a few observations. 
 

  • Yesterday's 1,175 point drop was not "the biggest in history" -- unless you're only counting Dow Jones points, and that's not a complete picture.  As a percentage of the Dow, a far more important measurement, yesterday's drop does not even rank among the top 20. 
  • The Dow has surged 8,000 points since Trump was elected.  It would have to fall another 6,000 points to erase all of the gains it has made since November 2016. 
  • As the saying goes, "What goes up, must come down."  And the market routinely corrects itself.  A normal correction is 10% of the market's value.  As of yesterday's close, we're getting close to that, but we haven't had a normal correction in more than a year.

 
Everyone is trying to figure out why this is happening now.  Well, there doesn't have to be a "why."  But here are some possible explanations: 
 
Economic growth is shaping up to be better than we have seen at any time in the past decade.  Robust economic growth, coupled with declining unemployment, can result in higher interest rates and increasing wage inflation. 
 
If interest rates go up, that's good for savers and pension funds.  But it also means that the cost of borrowing is going to be higher.  Upward pressure on wages is an added expense for businesses. 
 
But it is what the country desperately needs in order for Middle America to share in the economic growth that in recent years has been concentrated in Manhattan, Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. 
 
I have no idea where the stock market will close today, tomorrow, next month or next year.  At the time of this writing, the market is up more than 500 points. 
 
All I know is that given the ups and downs from 1929 until now, people who bought stocks and held on have outperformed virtually every other asset.  My advice, for what it's worth, is simply this:  Don't panic.
 
 
 
Shutdown Showdown
 
Here we go again.  Congress is facing a Friday deadline to avoid a government shutdown, and Speaker Paul Ryan warned today that Senate Democrats were once again holding "our government hostage on an unrelated issue" -- amnesty for illegal immigrants.  Democrats are also objecting to increased military funding.
 
As you may know, Sen. John McCain has proposed a bill that provides amnesty for DACA recipients, including a path to citizenship, with no funding for a border wall or any of the other significant reforms the president has demanded.  President Trump blasted McCain's bill as "a waste of time."
 
Speaker Ryan reiterated that the House would only vote on an immigration reform bill supported by House Republicans and President Trump. 
 
At the White House today, President Trump called the Democrats' bluff, saying, "We'll do a shutdown, and it's worth it for our country.  I'd love to see a shutdown if we don't get [border security] taken care of."
 
Will Chuck Schumer back down or will the government shut down?  We will keep you posted.
 
 
 
Happy Birthday, Mr. President!
 
Today marks the 107th birthday of President Ronald Reagan.  I had the great privilege of serving all eight years in the Reagan Administration, as under secretary of Education and as the chief domestic policy adviser to President Reagan.
 
He was a remarkable man and a great leader.  There is a reason that nearly 30 years after his presidency ended, he remains one of the most beloved and popular presidents in modern American history.

In the midst of the Carter malaise, Ronald Reagan never gave up on America and he restored our pride as a nation.  He always believed this country was meant to be a "shining city upon a hill."
 
Thankfully, we have a president today who is committed to making America great again, just as Ronald Reagan was.
 

 

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