I hear that Wall Street is all excited about a Trump Presidency. They should be. I’d like to comment on this, but first let me admit that I have absolutely no qualifications to offer any sort of informed analysis. In fact I’m probably the least qualified financial analyst possible. As amazing as it may seem, I am literally an Economics 101 drop out.
How is it possible to fail one of the easiest undergrad filler classes you ask? Well back in Econ 101, the professor instructed us that we had to “play the game.” We were explicitly told not to consider any common sense, logic, or real-world experience while participating in his discussion sessions. We were admonished to simply play along and accept his premises as presented, however absurd they they may seem.
I had trouble participating in these discussions. In fact, at one point the professor called on me to select either option A or option B for some hypothetical scenario. I told him that I could not choose either one because they were both ridiculous. As this was not my first uncooperative infraction, he told me that I should either “play the game” or drop his course. I stood up, gathered up my books slowly, and announced that I chose option C, dropping the course. Then I took a long walk up the lecture hall steps and across to the back door to give my fellow students as much time as possible to consider what they hell they were learning in this idiotic class.
Although I never did “play the game” to the end to see how it all came together, I suspect that the professor never actually got around to showing how all of his ridiculous economic scenarios applied to the real world. I suspect that all of my former classmates came away only with the expected understanding of our crazy capitalist system, and with absolutely no recollection of the sanity that they were required to abandon in order to accept it.
Now most of us do accept as we are constantly led to believe by the media, that when the Dow and the Nasdaq are excited, we should all be excited. And here I am, without the insight gained by completing even Econ 101, epically unprepared to understand why we should all be excited by Wall Street’s enthusiasm for Donald Trump.
Yet it seems to me that Wall Street gets excited over one thing and one thing only, higher profits for shareholders. Profits are not increased by the things most of us want like more jobs, higher wages, better benefits, a cleaner and safer environment, or greater consumer protections. In fact profits go up most dramatically when these things can be reduced, circumvented, or eliminated completely.
Wall Street gets excited when businesses can replace jobs with machines or cheap overseas labor. They get excited when they can lower wages or benefits to increase profits for shareholders. They get excited when they can be shielded from corporate malfeasance or pollute our environment or bankrupt retirement funds to hand out executive bonuses. The markets go up and down all the time. Usually when they go up it means nothing good for the workers or for the consumer.
These are all things that Wall Street expects Donald Trump to help them do as President. Is it any wonder they are all excited?
One thing that Wall Street loves most of all are disasters. Disasters make bankers salivate. Life is full of its little ironies, and as it turns out I just moved away from New York City after 10 years of living literally on Wall Street. In another strange twist of fate, I worked on Church Street (I’m a devout atheist). Anyway, back on point. I used to meet lots of financial types. I remember after a tornado leveled some towns in the South, these guys were like kids in a candy store. They could hardly contain their enthusiasm over this disaster and all the new loans and sales it would create.
Make no mistake. The election of Donald Trump was a huge, mega-disaster. No wonder my former Wall Street neighbors are getting erections. Disasters create opportunities for massive profits for the already wealthy. But for all the rest of us? Well they are still just disasters. Maybe we all just need to forget reality and simply “play the game” when CNN Money and The Economist reassure us that Wall Street is bullish over a Trump Administration.
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