The Universe Self Corrects


Kurt Andersen - Sept 2017

How America Lost Its Mind

The nation’s current post-truth moment is the ultimate expression of mind-sets that have made America exceptional throughout its history.

He is, first and last, a creature of the fantasy-industrial complex. “He is P. T. Barnum,” his sister, a federal judge, told his biographer Timothy O’Brien in 2005. Although the fantasy-industrial complex had been annexing presidential politics for more than half a century, from JFK through Reagan and beyond, Trump’s campaign and presidency are its ultimate expression. From 1967 through 2011, California was governed by former movie actors more than a third of the time, and one of them became president. But Trump’s need for any and all public attention always seemed to me more ravenous and insatiable than any other public figure’s, akin to an addict’s for drugs. Unlike Reagan, Trump was always an impresario as well as a performer. Before the emergence of Fantasyland, Trump’s various enterprises would have seemed a ludicrous, embarrassing, incoherent jumble for a businessman, let alone a serious candidate for president. What connects an Islamic-mausoleum-themed casino to a short-lived, shoddy professional football league to an autobiography he didn’t write to buildings he didn’t build to a mail-order meat business to beauty pageants to an airline that lasted three years to a sham “university” to a fragrance called Success to a vodka and a board game named after himself to a reality-TV show about pretending to fire people?

And here 's how it falls apart, or back together, but basically self corrects:

Beyond the cheering and the claiming responsibility for the great market advance is the gravitational pull of QE we outlined those many years ago. You remember right ? : When CNBC anchors would ask me about "excess reserves" and ZIRP and LSAP and I would be hung out as an Obama left winger for outlining a plan. QE inverted the historically normal progression of economic activity leading market movement. The whole purpose of the policy was to attempt to drag economic activity out behind monetarily supported risk assets. Remarkably, it worked better than even I had imagined. I was one who knew from the inside how massively upside down the financial system was and it scared me, so I became a "we should try and save it" pragmatist.

So, as the euphemistic terms of  "normalize" and "unwind" replace the harsh reality of tilting back toward stringency (or tolerate higher inflation) the markets will/are bring a fresh clarity to the fantasy land. Nothing tests character like a bleeding P/L. Interest rate markets are quietly moving into areas that are secretly keeping FI instrument holders from a peaceful  night's rest. A feeling many have never experienced before. The Trump Presidency is the acme of America losing its mind but that does not mean we won't 'find" it again. Sometimes, all it takes is a good hard slap in the face from Mr. Market.

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