I Am Honoured
Having grown up during the fiercest period of the Cold War, I can appreciate that another 70-year-old might want to try to restart US-Russian relations. In fact both George W. Bush and Barrack Obama had the same idea. But the shambolic mismanaged Trump Administration has so poisoned the air that the chances of working with Putin have now actually been reduced.
Russia has gained little in the end with its secret violation of the Start Treaty (which the Obama Administration tried to deal with quietly.)
Putin has gained little with his likely authorization of hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton staff emails.
The Kremlin has not won any points after the Obama decision to expel its diplomats did not lead to similar expulsions of US ones.
Trump no longer can reduce pressures on Russia to exit the eastern Ukraine or even Yalta.
Russia actually lost rather than gained from its illicit links to Trump supporters and future office holders, who will now have to be purged.
So unlike Pres. Trump I don't think Vladimir Putin is smart. I think he is a KGB-trained thug. Unlike in Russia, Stalinism doesn't work in a country with a free press and an active opposition and institutions which cannot be cowed by firing people. Which happens to include the USA, Germany, France, South Africa and a few other places where Russia is trying to influence policy with secret deals and covert payments.
Team Trump threatens everything from vaccinations to educating our young, from supporting national healthcare needs, to letting people regularizing their immigration status to green card holds to children raised in the US after they were illegal sneaked in by their parents avoid deportation or bans.
And apart from Russia and the Muslim World, the Trump Administration has done a lot of diplomatic damage in its short term of office to date. A senior Mexican economist at the respected CIDE institute now says consumer confidence there is so low that there is a 35% to 40% probability that Mexico will go into a recession, according to Raul Anibal Feliz. The unprecedented drop in Jan. will cause slow-downs in manufacturing and services for the local Mexican market, he warns. He predicts that in the next few months, without a reversal, Mexican growth will fall to between 0 and 0.3% annualized.
*In its Feb.10th issue, Investor's Digest of Canada named Global Investing as “Letter of the Week” for my writing about the new US Administration and its confused relationship with Canada and Mexico over NAFTA. I am honoured. More on Mexico and Canada follows in today's blog with news from our portfolio companies including an annual report, plus musings about Norway, Russia, Israel, Brazil, The Cayman Islands, Japan, India, Finland, and Sweden. And about Edelweiss.