Ever since I got sideswiped and have been driving a rental car, I’ve been without my Pandora stations, and suddenly I’m stuck listening to the news again. The traffic has never seemed worse. The news seems hardly real: terror; disaster; more people under investigation; the president telling the Russians that James Comey is a nut job (who tells the Russians that?); and on and on it goes.
It seems there is no good news out there. Except on Wall Street. Yes, there was the one-day sell-off, but two days later, all was forgotten and forgiven. All was well in the world. The market goes up and up. Just do the numbers and forget the news.
What are these people smoking?
Does the market not know that the Trump administration is being investigated by every committee in Congress, and every recognizable name seems to be cozier with the Russians than they have ever been with the Democrats, say, or the press?
Do the stock-market bigwigs think these things just go away on their own, that only Beltway insiders and recovering news junkies like me care?
Are they too young to remember what happened with Richard Nixon? There were two years between the Watergate breakin and Nixon’s resignation, two years of a drip-drop investigation, during which time Nixon was, in most other respects (unlike the incumbent), accomplishing a lot as president, such as establishing the Environmental Protection Agency.
No, I think the answer is much easier than that. It’s TMM: too much money.
Just like with the president.
“It looks like the Politburo,” my Russian-American friend joked to me upon first seeing the assembled Trump cabinet. A collection of oligarchs, led by the would-be oligarch-in-chief, Trump.
It’s simple. It always has been. He is one of them. And from one of their own, they rightly expect, well, something. Competence. A tax break. Reductions in those pesky health care costs for all those people crowding into doctors’ offices because all of a sudden they think they have a right to. Imagine.
No one who is a big player on Wall Street is worrying about losing health insurance. Trust me. They’re not worrying about being stretched too thin on the house they bought when interest rates were lower, or never getting into the housing market, or the fact that the Zip Code where you are born determines your future more than any other factor. Their kids were born in the right Zip Codes. No wonder they haven’t lost confidence in Trump. He’s still on their side.
What they may not get is that he’s not very powerful right now. Oh, I know, he sits there with the pope. Trump’s got all the trimmings of power — unless he’s trying to get a tax cut passed. Or get 24 million people knocked off the health insurance rolls. Or come up with a budget. Usually freshmen in Congress are scared of offending the president. Now, they are more likely to be scared to be seen with him. His approval ratings are below the Republican base. Ouch.
When I was in college, all of us who wanted to change the world went to law school. The people who wanted to understand human life went to med school. The ones who wanted to make money — the rich preppies — went to business school. I had a thing about rich preppies. Not being one, I was determined to be smarter. (How dumb can you be?) What I didn’t get was that the way to change the world was not to go to law school and move to D.C. and toil away in the Congress and on campaigns. Wall Street is where I should have gone. Be one on the team: the team that chooses the president, runs the Cabinet and might know things I still don’t. On the other hand, they just might be blinded by those very connections that we law students never made, connections to folks such as — you know who — the president.