Why Wall Street sees through Trump better than reporters
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Lots of journalists are suspicious of Wall Street and free markets. But when it comes to President Trump, are investors smarter than many of those same journalists?
During a Wall Street Journal interview, Trump claimed that Apple Inc. promised to build "three big plants, beautiful plants" in the United States. This prompted a double-take from Shira Ovide, technology columnist for Bloomberg Gadfly, a commentary section at Bloomberg.
"I have no idea what the president meant, and Trump didn't elaborate in the interview," she writes. "Clearly the president wants to take credit for convincing the world's most valuable public company to start making iPhones in U.S. factories that hire U.S. workers. It's a pledge Trump made when he was campaigning for president. But there is a zero percent chance this is true."
"Apple doesn't build or operate factories — except a lonely one in Ireland that manufactures some Mac computers but exists mostly for tax reasons. Apple made itself an American success story by helping to create one of the world's most intricate manufacturing and production networks — in Asia, owned and operated by Apple's corporate partners in Asia, employing people in Asia. This won't change by U.S. presidential decree."
Where she gets really interesting is noting the dilemma of parsing Trump's words. "This is the impossible situation faced by both the political and the business press in trying to write about public figures who should be authoritative sources, but can't be believed."
No matter what Trump says, a "made in America" iPhone isn't coming, nor is any other manufacturing facility of the company. If it made such an announcement, "its stock price would be tanking." In fact, its stock went up Wednesday. "Investors by now know not to take the president's comments literally."
I asked Ovide if it were possible that Wall Street is more bloodlessly accurate than some journalists in interpreting Trump.
"Yes. I think investors have learned to take Trump seriously but not literally, to use that abused line."
Lead of the day
Ross Douthat in The New York Times:
"Donald Trump’s campaign against his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, in which he is seemingly attempting to insult and humiliate and tweet-shame Sessions into resignation, is an insanely stupid exercise. It is a multi-tiered tower of political idiocy, a sublime monument to the moronic, a gaudy, gleaming, Ozymandian folly that leaves many of the president’s prior efforts in its shade."
CNN news flash
I looked at my phone last night and there was at 8:34 p.m. from CNN: "Your most intense workouts could put you at risk for a dangerous condition." So it's not just the president we should be worried about. Beware of elliptical trainers.
An "ambassador" for listeners
Adam Payne, a loyal listener of New York City public radio station WNYC, served as "ambassador" for the station in relaying listener concerns at a meeting of the major transit agency yesterday. The system is a mess right now and has prompted a political fight between the mayor, Bill de Blasio, and the governor, Andrew Cuomo, brother of CNN's Chris.
He passed along a list with details of grievances of 300 listeners who have written the station. He's bound to a wheelchair with ataxia, which impacts coordination and speech. Here were some of his specific suggestions.
Not a fan of broadcast schools
David Kaplan, a Chicago sports radio and cable TV host, was opining on WMVP-AM, an ESPN affiliate, about "cookie cutter" sportscasters and praising the idiosyncratic, at times politically incorrect Ken Harrelson of the White Sox during the ongoing Sox-Cubs crosstown series that concludes Thursday.
"I never went to the Newhouse School of Broadcasting," he said, dripping with sarcasm and alluding to the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. He said "98 percent" of sports announcers now come out of Newhouse, Medill and the University of Missouri, and they're by and large boring and sound the same.
Headline of the day
"That Joe and Mika New York magazine cover is why everyone hates the media." (National Review)
"When journalists willingly make themselves the center of the story, ordinary voters shake their heads in disgust."
"Once upon a time, the greatest sin journalists could commit was to make themselves a part of the story. MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski did just that, soaking up the fluorescent spotlight on the cover of New York magazine and dishing about their 'star-crossed relationship with the president' — and, of course, each other — in its pages."
A very good read
Bloomberg Businessweek explores how Samsung seems to be thriving despite its exploding phones disaster and its de facto chief being on trial for bribery and embezzlement in South Korea. That scandal played a role in the nation's first female president resigning.
But central to its future — in particular its ability to compete with Silicon Valley-based rivals — is whether it can dramatically alter a hierarchical corporate culture. There's this reality, too:
"The formerly supportive local media has abandoned the presumption that what’s good for Samsung is good for the country (not to mention for their own bottom lines; Samsung is a major advertiser)."
And this morning's Wall Street Journal also explores Samsung's success and how it's on track to topple Apple as the world's most profitable company.
The transgender ban
Fox's Tucker Carlson got a White House interview with Vice President Pence Wednesday, a few days after "Carlson was on Fox News’ airwaves openly linking the transgender community to 'child abuse.'" (Salon)
"Hosting the president of the anti-LGBTQ group American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) — not to be confused with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a mainstream professional group — Carlson quoted an article by his guest, Dr. Michelle Cretella, that featured this explosive charge: 'Transgender ideology has infiltrated my field and produced large-scale child abuse.'"
So, was Carlson the impetus for Trump's tweets blocking transgender Americans from military service? Or, as Politico reports, was the change in policy a function of internal Republican disarray in the House that relates to passage of a spending bill with money for his beloved Mexican wall?
"But an internal House Republican fight over transgender troops was threatening to blow up the bill. And House GOP insiders feared they might not have the votes to pass the legislation because defense hawks wanted a ban on Pentagon-funded sex reassignment operations — something GOP leaders wouldn’t give them."
Banning U.S. aid for birth control
The impact on Africa of Trump moves to ban birth control aid was well spotlighted on "Vice News Tonight" on HBO. Just one projection: In the capital of Malawi, about 600,000 women will lose access to birth control, with illegal abortions surely hiked and more women dying. It will impact dollars for HIV assistance, too.
Would better pay make for better politicians?
Emir Kamenica came to public attention in a 2013 "This American Life" profile by the author Michael Lewis. It looked at his amazing personal journey from war-torn Bosnia in the 1990s to the U.S. and Harvard University — and an intriguing clash in memories involving him and an Atlanta school teacher who played a big role in his life.
He's now a rising academic at the University of Chicago and is star of a short video version of a research paper about politicians and compensation. The conclusion: salary makes less of a difference than we assume in recruiting quality people and, in fact, salary hikes may be more of a lure to less accomplished individuals. (U.S. News & World Report)
Sterilizing the incarcerated
As The Marshall Project notes, "In 1907, Indiana became the first state to pass a law allowing for the compulsory sterilization of 'confirmed criminals,' 'idiots,' 'imbeciles' and 'rapists.' As a result, hundreds of men held in Indiana prisons were given vasectomies."
And, if you didn't know, sterilization still continues in America prisons. For example, "A Tennessee judge is offering reduced jail time to men and women who appear before him in court. And all they have to do to earn that break is 'volunteer' to be put on a contraceptive or sterilized."
The morning babble
"Trump & Friends" opened by showing a full-page Fox ad in the evil, failing, Trump-bashing New York Times proclaiming it to be "the most powerful TV show in America." It was so tickled pink to be so legitimized by an outlet it pillories.
Then it was on to chagrin over Anthony Scaramucci's financial disclosures being leaked and his suggestion in a late-night tweet (later deleted) that senior officials are doing it, perhaps even chief of staff Reince Priebus (which he then denied).
CNN and MSNBC were similar in underscoring Trump failings, notably on health care, with CNN's "New Day" detailing shortcomings of a possible "skinny" alternative that would leave many millions without insurance. For C-SPAN junkies, the Senate may go through the night with its latest so-called "vote-a-rama" with possibly hundreds of amendments preferred.
As for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Bill Kristol underscored the bullying of Sessions by Trump, while fellow conservative Ben Ferguson took a milder tack and said that there are "some disagreements" on how Trump handles certain things. Some?