Tuesday, 24 January 2017

President Trump's first day

What did President Trump do on his first day? 

Well, he started with "breakfast" with heads of major businesses in the Roosevelt room. A breakfast of sour grapes, bitter pills and some coffee for them to wake up and smell - no actual food was served. Trump told them to get their jobs out of Mexico PDQ because it turns out the wall is going to stop manufactured goods as well as illegals. He probably created more jobs for Americans there and then than Obama did in eight years.

Next he dropped into the Oval Office and revoked  the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TTP). The TTP has been brewing since 2008 and was basically agreed in 2016, but now it is stone dead. He hasn't done the same for the Trans-Atlantic Trade Partnership (TTIP) yet - it is less advanced than TTP and not due for ratification until 2020, but most likely Trump will kill it in due course as well.

So excellent news for America. Less so for other countries, especially Mexico which stands to lose both a hanger full of jobs and billions in remittances from its ex-pat workers in the USA, not to mention forking out to pay for the wall as well.

The UK has a major trade imbalance with the USA, in the favour of the UK, to the tune of about £40bn per year (which more than offsets our annual loss of £23bn with China.) Fortunately Trump has said that the UK will be "front of the line" for trade deals with the USA so his protectionism should pass us by. Also we export all sorts of intangible stuff like financial services and software which no wall is going to stop.

After sorting out trade Mr Trump decided to implement "small government" by declaring a federal employee hiring freeze - no positions vacant at noon on the Jan 22nd may be filled, except for military.

Then he had lunch.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Earthquakes in Italy

While the news is full of Iron Lady 2.0 - Mrs T herself, ie the Prime Minister at her Lancaster House speech setting Leaver hearts aflutter by claiming no deal would be better than a bad deal and threatening to grind the EU to dust beneath her kitten heals, other news from Europe is being ignored - unless you live in Italy that is....

That's an earthquake map. The biggy near Rome is 5.2 on the Richter scale. There have been a series of quakes in recent months, getting more and more frequent.

Looks like a big one is due.

Friday, 13 January 2017

The blackmail of Donald Trump

If the Russians think they are going to have Present Trump dancing to their tune just because they have video of him cavorting with prostitutes they are badly mistaken.

Of course there may be no such video. It is all rumour. Ex-MI6 officer Christopher Steele wrote the dodgy dossier at the heart of this story after interviewing contacts he formed in Moscow while working there at the UK embassy as a spook. There is no suggestion he has seen the footage himself. He merely collated rumours. And The Donald is notoriously careful about such things; he warns other people about the risks of concealed cameras.

The real reason this is all a gentle breeze in a teacup is because as blackmail material it would never work. Imagine the conversation...

Putin: "Mr President, ve vill release  your sex tape unless you do exactly as ve say."

Trump: "No."

Putin: "Er..."

And that is the end really. If the Russians release the tape they lose their blackmail material and Trump will just laugh it off saying they tried to blackmail me and now they can't. If they don't release the tape Trump wins anyway.

So it is all irrelevant. The real loser here is the man who wrote the dossier, Chris Steele. He has gone into hiding (after asking his neighbour to feed his three cats!) supposedly because he fears for his life. But who is going to kill him? The Donald? No, because he has nothing to worry about. The Russians? No, because this whole thing is making them look bad and the sooner everyone forgets about it the better.

Chris Steele is really in hiding to avoid the press. At the moment the newspapers are using a twenty-year-old picture of him. What he really does not want is them to get a recent picture. His business is secret squirrel - he cannot be secret if everyone knows what he looks like. So he is currently on a desperate quest to save his livelihood by keeping his face off our screens.

It remains to be seen if that will work.