Thursday, January 19, 2017

Thoughts {01.19.17}

Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba thinks the United States went wrong over the last 30 years by focusing too much on war and Wall Street.  I know a lot of folks that would agree with him on that.

Bloomberg has an article on "Ranking the Obama Economy".  In it they rank the performance of the US economy under the last six US Presidents. That would be President Obama back through President Carter.  Under their criteria Obama ranks 2nd.  By their analysis best through last is the following:
George H.W Bush
George W. Bush

Interesting that a couple of Democrats have done better than Republicans.  Of course Presidents have sometimes only marginal impact on the economy and not all of it's gains or losses are their doing.  Clinton was the beneficiary of a wonderful stew of technological advances that came to fruition when he was President and not all of the 2007-09 depression can be laid on the feet of George W. Bush.  However, as we close the books on the Obama years I will repeat what I've said countless times on this blog that things have steadily been getting better.  We can all have an honest debate on how much of that credit he deserves and we can have an honest debate on the quality of the American economy today.  But President Obama leaves his office tomorrow with things significantly better than they were the day he took the oath.  The US stock market has seen a significant increase under President Obama as well.  It can be easy to find fault in what any President and President Obama is no exception to this rule.  Even he has acknowledged mistakes.  But on the metric of the economy, the evidence says things are better.  If we are to damn him for his faults then we must also acknowledge his achievements.  On the economy, things definitely improved during his term.

There is room to improve the economy.  It is better but too many folks are working low skill, low pay jobs.  Also there is an economic uncertainty about where we are that is a leftover from the Great Recession.  This will be the responsibility of the  man who takes office as the 45th President at noon tomorrow.

Finally I would say something about tomorrow's inauguration.  Whatever faults the United States has, and God help us we as imperfect beings have many, tomorrow an incredible thing will happen.  Precisely at noon in Washington DC the most powerful man in the world will transfer that power, that imperium, to the victor of last November's election.  He will not call out the vast resources of the Federal Government in order to remain in power.  The military will stay in its barracks or continue fighting our wars or do the job of protecting its new Commander-in-Chief.  Regardless of what one thinks about Donald Trump, tomorrow at noon he will become our President.  This transfer of power is one of the truly remarkable gifts of our Republic.  Even though mandated by the Constitution, this precedent of a peaceful transfer is a gift to us from none other than George Washington himself.  It has been followed in both peace and war by every President since.  Tomorrow we will see a continuation of a process and institution as old as the country itself.

Whether you are a staunch Trump supporter or not, or whether you are as the many, many millions of us caught somewhere between hope and fear remember this on the morrow: we salute the office of President of the United States and not the man.   We will have time to argue and parse through President Trump's new policies starting next week.   There are many who have legitimate concerns about Mr. Trump's new policies.  Others of us simply have issues with  Mr. Trump as a human.  That is OK as well.  A robust society needs legitimate debate amongst people of good will.  Tomorrow, however, is not that time.  It is a day to celebrate the United States of America.  

As such, and solely on the basis of the health of our Republic and not in regards to any person's politics,  I would ask you at noon tomorrow {as the Constitution mandates} to at least pause and acknowledge the office of the Presidency.  At the end of the day as Benjamin Franklin put it, "We need to hang together or most assuredly we will hang separately".  We can all start fighting again next week.  Tomorrow, regardless of politics or beliefs, let us toast our new President in the ancient manner.

"God bless President Trump and God bless the United States of America."

And I will add God bless to each and every one of you as well.  

Back Tuesday next week.  I have to be out on Monday.  

*Alibaba is likely a component of indices we own in client and personal accounts.  We do not own shares outright in the company in either client or personal accounts.