President Trump knows the country will not reopen on May 1 or anytime like it. But instead of apologizing to the public for raising their hopes about packing church pews on Easter Sunday, he now laments on TV about the hard decision he has to make, the hardest in his life, and how he is evaluating the pros and cons, and praying to God for assistance and guidance.
To me, this is nothing new. I have watched him milk his “decisions” to see what he could get for himself by procrastinating. He would make both sides think he was on their side. He might even tell each of the parties being affected that he would come down in their favor, but they had to wait, he had to do this right.
Meanwhile, Trump would get favors and concessions from parties awaiting his decision. Then, in the end, when he absolutely had to, he would ceremoniously and very gravely say what he decided to do. It was always what he had already decided.
But Trump’s procrastination was not always so calculated.
I racked my brain trying to think of truly difficult decisions Trump has had to make and, believe it or not, I could not think of many. I remember having to decide whether or not to throw an electrical contractor off Trump Tower, costing millions. The alternative was to let this contractor stop us in our tracks by not properly manning the job.
We consulted the professionals but, in the end, the path had to be determined by Trump. Trump didn’t decide; I did, in response to him saying, “what do you want me to do?”
This made sense to me because the real decision was being made by Trump and it was the right one — to leave it up to me. I gave him cover.
But that was just money. Another time, we had a bomb threat. Someone called the main office and said there was a bomb in the Atrium at Trump Tower.
Trump got me and I called the police. I got ahold of some of the building people, too. The police asked a lot of questions then we took them through the Atrium, where they conducted a thorough search.
From their demeanor, it was clear they were not concerned. They said they were not recommending evacuation and that it was most likely a hoax, but that the decision to evacuate was up to Trump.
I reported everything back to Donald. We talked about evacuating and the risks in that and the strong police suspicion that it was a fake. I knew all along Trump was not going to empty the building.
I asked again and instead of giving me an answer, he said, “you decide.”
How dare he put me in this position? I didn’t want that responsibility. I told him what he wanted to hear: Keep it open. If I had thought for one second that there was any risk to life, I would have insisted on evacuating.
For many years, I grappled with the question of whether he would have emptied the building if that’s what I had recommended. Did he really abdicate his responsibility and put the lives of the people in the building in my hands? No, It was his decision. I was a scapegoat. I played that role many times.
This time, it’s not about whether to keep a property open when lives might be at risk. It’s about whether to reopen a nation, and how many people could be killed in the process. He has his experts. He will hide behind them and at the same time contradict himself by saying he made the decision on his own.
And he will find a scapegoat. Trump will always get to have it both ways as long as the American public is willing to withstand his trickery and his lies.
Res is former executive vice president of the Trump Organization.
Public health experts have savaged President Donald Trump’s decision to cut U.S. funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), which he says failed in its “basic duty” during the coronavirus pandemic by promoting “disinformation” from China.
“Today I’m instructing my administration to halt funding of the World Health Organization while a review is conducted to assess [its] role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus,” Trump said at an April 14 briefing.
The move represents another stunning turnaround for Trump, who in late February praised the WHO for “working hard and very smart,” before souring on the world body in recent days as the U.S. death toll soared. Still, it remains in line with his longstanding distrust of multilateral institutions more generally.
Critics have accused the President of attempting to shift blame away from his own torpid response to the pandemic. The WHO declared a public health emergency on Jan. 30, after which Trump continued to speak at rallies and belittle COVID-19 as “the flu.”
Trump’s funding announcement has already drawn condemnation from all quarters. U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said in a statement that this is “not the time to reduce the resources for the operations of the [WHO] or any other humanitarian organization in the fight against the virus.”
Richard Horton, the editor-in-chief of the Lancet medical journal, wrote that Trump’s decision was “a crime against humanity. Every scientist, every health worker, every citizen must resist and rebel against this appalling betrayal of global solidarity.”
Critics agree the WHO’s response suffered missteps at the outset of the coronavirus outbreak. There was a
- focus on government information rather than non-official sources, such as whistleblowers like Dr. Li Wenliang.
- Officials could have investigated how many healthcare workers had become infected, which was
- clear evidence of human-to-human transmission before official confirmation came Jan. 23.
- It advised nations not to close borders.
“The WHO could have been more diligent in determining the nature of the outbreak and how serious the problem was,” says Dr. Yanzhong Huang, a global health expert at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Trump’s scapegoating of the WHO comes after he spent two months ignoring warnings about a disease that has now killed more than 26,000 people in the U.S., the highest national death toll. In late January, influential White House economic advisor Peter Navarro wrote a memo to Trump that warned COVID-19 had the potential to claim hundreds of thousands of American lives and derail the national economy unless immediate and sweeping containment efforts were implemented.
Trump’s sluggish response stands out against the examples of other nations. South Korea, for one, confirmed its first case of COVID-19 just one day before the U.S. Yet a robust public health response that tested three times as many citizens per capita has kept reported cases under 11,000 compared to more than 600,000 in the U.S., which also has a triple the fatality rate.
“President Trump is trying to rewrite history to divert criticism from his own administration’s failures,” Adam Kamradt-Scott, associate professor specializing in global health security at the University of Sydney, tells TIME. “Lives will be lost as a result.”
Yet most public health professionals agree that the WHO is desperately in need of reform. It has been for a very long time. Despite a sprawling global mandate, the U.N. agency, which was founded in 1949, has an annual budget of just $2.2 billion—smaller than the largest American hospitals and a fraction of the $11.9 billion allocated to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
The U.S. is the largest single donor to the WHO, contributing over $400 million in 2019 including both assessed (mandatory) contributions and voluntary top-up donations from government and private sources (Though, in fact, the U.S. is currently $200 million in arrears.)
The WHO’s shoestring budget is largely because assessed contributions were frozen in the early 1980s amid the Reagan Administration’s outrage that U.N. bodies—particularly UNESCO—appeared to be tilting toward Moscow as more Kremlin-aligned third-world states joined up. As a result, assessed contributions have not risen in real terms since then and continue to be based on a combination of GDP and population. The U.S. today still provides around twice the assessed contributions of second place China.
But assessed contributions only account for $246.8 million in 2020, meaning over 80% of the WHO’s total budget comes from voluntary contributions. The U.S. comes top again while China’s voluntary contributions are negligible. But the greater problem with voluntary funds is that they are ringfenced for specific purposes and so cannot be diverted to address sudden crises, such as Ebola or COVID-19.
Ultimately, the WHO has little freedom to decide for itself where to spend its meagre resources; those decisions are made by the donors, whether government or charitable entities like the Gates Foundation. This is why 27% of the WHO’s total budget is spent towards polio eradication despite just dozens of cases annually. “The funding structure is unpredictable and allows donors to dictate the agenda,” says Huang.
This lack of resources contributes to various missteps. In 2009, the WHO was criticized for declaring a pandemic for H1N1 flu too early and for a virus that wasn’t sufficiently virulent. During the 2014 West Africa Ebola Outbreak, it was condemned for delaying the declaration of a public health emergency.
The irony of Trump’s funding cut is that, by its own questionable record, the WHO’s COVID-19 response was “fairly good,” says Kamradt-Scott.
In turns of accountability, the WHO does now livestream its World Health Assembly meetings every year to boost transparency. But the lack of criticism—and fulsome praise—of China’s COVID-19 response despite obvious problems with the reported numbers of infected and dead has galvanized suspicions of politicization. WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised China’s “extraordinary” efforts against COVID-19 that were “setting a new standard for outbreak response.”
There is unquestionably an effort to avoid an adversarial culture within the WHO’s 194 member states. It has consistently sought to try and cajole and co-opt countries into doing the right thing as opposed to publicly naming and shaming.
The notable exception was in 2003-04, when various WHO officials criticized China for downplaying the SARS outbreak. “It would have been much better if the Chinese government had been more open in the early stages,” said WHO director-general Gro Harlem Brundtland said at the time.
In the review that followed that crisis it was decided that the WHO should in future take a less confrontational approach when dealing with member states. The U.S. was party to that conversation and has, arguably, been a key beneficiary over the years. The periodic rolling back of family planning provisions in the U.S. during conservative administrations has escaped censure from the WHO despite a documented deleterious impact on the health and wellbeing of women and children. The same could be said about the lack of comprehensive universal healthcare like that enjoyed in so many other developed nations.
Ultimately, of course, it’s not strictly up to Trump whether to keep funding the WHO. The White House is not technically allowed to block funding of international institutions mandated by Congress, though the administration has found creative ways around constitutional hurdles through the application of sanctions or diverting funds by other means.
Still, the very threat of slashing funding has the potential to turn Trump’s specious claims about a “China-centric” WHO into a reality. Beijing has steadily been increasing its influence and putting nationals into key posts in nearly all multinational institutions—from the U.N. and Interpol, to the IMF. As Trump orients the U.S. away from the world stage, a presumptive superpower like China stands poised to fill the gap. Says Kamradt-Scott: “It would seem that Trump has just given China an opportunity on a silver platter.”
Trump is utterly unsuited to deal with this crisis, either intellectually or temperamentally.
For his entire adult life, and for his entire presidency, Donald Trump has created his own alternate reality, complete with his own alternate set of facts. He has shown himself to be erratic, impulsive, narcissistic, vindictive, cruel, mendacious, and devoid of empathy. None of that is new.
But we’re now entering the most dangerous phase of the Trump presidency. The pain and hardship that the United States is only beginning to experience stem from a crisis that the president is utterly unsuited to deal with, either intellectually or temperamentally. When things were going relatively well, the nation could more easily absorb the costs of Trump’s psychological and moral distortions and disfigurements. But those days are behind us. The coronavirus pandemic has created the conditions that can catalyze a destructive set of responses from an individual with Trump’s characterological defects and disordered personality.
We are now in the early phase of a medical and economic tempest unmatched in most of our lifetimes. There’s too much information we don’t have. We don’t know the full severity of the pandemic, or whether a state like New York is a harbinger or an outlier. But we have enough information to know this virus is rapidly transmissible and lethal.
The qualities we most need in a president during this crisis are calmness, wisdom, and reassurance; a command of the facts and the ability to communicate them well; and the capacity to think about the medium and long term while carefully weighing competing options and conflicting needs. We need a leader who can persuade the public to act in ways that are difficult but necessary, who can focus like a laser beam on a problem for a sustained period of time, and who will listen to—and, when necessary, defer to—experts who know far more than he does. We need a president who can draw the nation together rather than drive it apart, who excels at the intricate work of governing, and who works well with elected officials at every level. We need a chief executive whose judgment is not just sound, but exceptional.
There are some 325 million people in America, and it’s hard to think of more than a handful who are more lacking in these qualities than Donald Trump.
But we need to consider something else, which is that the coronavirus pandemic may lead to a rapid and even more worrisome psychological and emotional deterioration in the commander in chief. This is not a certainty, but it’s a possibility we need to be prepared for.
Here’s how this might play out; to some extent, it already has.
Let’s start with what we know. Someone with Trump’s psychological makeup, when faced with facts and events that are unpleasant, that he perceives as a threat to his self-image and public standing, simply denies them. We saw that repeatedly during the early part of the pandemic, when the president was giving false reassurance and spreading false information one day after another.
After a few days in which he was willing to acknowledge the scope and scale of this crisis—he declared himself a “wartime president”—he has now regressed to type, once again becoming a fountain of misinformation. At a press conference yesterday, he declared that he “would love to have the country opened up, and just raring to go, by Easter,” which is less than three weeks away, a goal that top epidemiologists and health professionals believe would be catastrophic.
“I think it’s possible. Why not?” he said with a shrug during a town hall hosted by Fox News later in the day. (Why Easter? He explained, “I just thought it was a beautiful time, a beautiful timeline.”) He said this as New York City’s case count is doubling every three days and the U.S. case count is now setting the pace for the world.
As one person who consults with the Trump White House on the coronavirus response put it to me, “He has chosen to imagine the worst is behind us when the worst is clearly ahead of us.”
After listening to the president’s nearly-two-hour briefing on Monday—in which, among other things, Trump declared, “If it were up to the doctors, they may say … ‘Let’s shut down the entire world.’ … This could create a much bigger problem than the problem that you start off with”—a former White House adviser who has worked on past pandemics told me, “This fool will bring the death of thousands needlessly. We have mobilized as a country to shut things down for a time, despite the difficulty. We can work our way back to a semblance of normality if we hold out and let the health system make it through the worst of it.” He added, “But now our own president is undoing all that work and preaching recklessness. Rather than lead us in taking on a difficult challenge, he is dragging us toward failure and suffering. Beyond belief.”
Yes and no. The thing to understand about Donald Trump is that putting others before self is not something he can do, even temporarily. His attempts to convey facts that don’t serve his perceived self-interest or to express empathy are forced, scripted, and always short-lived, since such reactions are alien to him.
This president does not have the capacity to listen to, synthesize, and internalize information that does not immediately serve his greatest needs: praise, fealty, adoration. “He finds it intolerable when those things are missing,” a clinical psychologist told me. “Praise, applause, and accolades seem to calm him and boost his confidence. There’s no room for that now, and so he’s growing irritable and needing to create some way to get some positive attention.”
She added that the pandemic and its economic fallout “overwhelm Trump’s capacity to understand, are outside of his ability to internalize and process, and [are] beyond his frustration tolerance. He is neither curious nor interested; facts are tossed aside when inconvenient or [when they] contradict his parallel reality, and people are disposable unless they serve him in some way.”
It’s useful here to recall that Trump’s success as a politician has been built on his ability to impose his will and narrative on others, to use his experience on a reality-television show and his skill as a con man to shape public impressions in his favor, even—or perhaps, especially—if those impressions are at odds with reality. He convinced a good chunk of the country that he is a wildly successful businessman and knows more about campaign finance, the Islamic State, the courts, the visa system, trade, taxes, the debt, renewable energy, infrastructure, borders, and drones than anyone else.
But in this instance, Trump isn’t facing a political problem he can easily spin his way out of. He’s facing a lethal virus. It doesn’t give a damn what Donald Trump thinks of it or tweets about it. Spin and lies about COVID-19, including that it will soon magically disappear, as Trump claimed it would, don’t work. In fact, they have the opposite effect. Misinformation will cause the virus to increase its deadly spread.
So as the crisis deepens—as the body count increases, hospitals are overwhelmed, and the economy contracts, perhaps dramatically—it’s reasonable to assume that the president will reach for the tools he has used throughout his life: duplicity and denial. He will not allow facts that are at odds with his narrative to pierce his magnetic field of deception.
But what happens to Trump psychologically and emotionally when things don’t turn around in the time period he wants? What happens if the tricks that have allowed him to walk away from scandal after scandal don’t work quite so well, if the doors of escape are bolted shut, and if it dawns on even some of his supporters—people who will watch family members, friends, and neighbors contract the disease, some number of whom will die—that no matter what Trump says, he can’t alter this epidemiological reality?
All of this would likely enrage him, and feed his paranoia.
As the health-care and economic crises worsen, Trump’s hallmarks will be even more fully on display. The president
- will create new scapegoats. He’ll
- blame governors for whatever bad news befalls their states. He’ll
- berate reporters who ask questions that portray him in a less-than-favorable light. He’ll
- demand even more cultlike coverage from outlets such as Fox News.
- Because he doesn’t tolerate relationships that are characterized by disagreement or absence of obeisance, before long we’ll see
- key people removed or silenced when they try to counter a Trump-centered narrative. He’ll
- try to find shiny objects to divert our attention from his failures.
All of these things are from a playbook the president has used a thousand times. Perhaps they’ll succeed again. But there’s something distinct about this moment, compared with every other moment in the Trump presidency, that could prove to be utterly disorienting and unsettling for the president. Hush-money payments won’t make COVID-19 go away. He cannot distract people from the global pandemic. He can’t wait it out until the next news cycle, because the next news cycle will also be about the pandemic. He can’t easily create another narrative, because he is often sharing the stage with scientists who will not lie on his behalf.
The president will try to blame someone else—but in this case the “someone else” is a virus, not a Mexican immigrant or a reporter with a disability, not a Muslim or a Clinton, not a dead war hero or a family of a fallen soldier, not a special counsel or an NFL player who kneels for the national anthem. He will try to use this crisis to pit one party against the other—but the virus will kill both Republicans and Democrats. He will try to create an alternate story to distract people from an inconvenient truth—but in this case, the public is too afraid, the story is too big, and the carnage will be too great to be distracted from it.
America will make it to the other side of this crisis, as it has after every other crisis. But the struggle will be a good deal harder, and the human cost a good deal higher, because we elected as president a man who is so damaged and so broken in so many ways.
Robert Reich is a former U.S. secretary of Labor and the author of many books, most recently Common Good. He is a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley.
Reich’s candid, full interview was conducted with FRONTLINE during the making of the two-part January 2020 documentary series “America’s Great Divide: From Obama to Trump.”
Watch Part One here: https://youtu.be/SnMBYMOTwEs
And Part Two here: https://youtu.be/l5vyDPN19ww
Jim Rogers has been fascinated by China since he drove his motorcycle across the country in the 1980s. The investing legend joins Real Vision to give his view of the rising Asian superpower and, more broadly, on rising Asia in general. Rogers provides his views on the Hong Kong crisis and the simmering trade war. He also weighs in on whether the era of US dollar primacy has passed — especially now that the United States has become, in Rogers’ view, “the largest debtor nation in the history of the world.” Filmed on September 10, 2019 in Singapore.
You know the rest of the story, you know what happened there, but Mr. Trump is smarter than
history so we don’t have to worry.
Mr. Trump knows he can handle history and none of us should worry, because he’s smarter
Even though people say trade wars are bad, and often lead to shooting wars, don’t worry,
I’m smarter than history.
MATT MILSOM: He does seem to be able to just move to the next person once he’s had– go
at somebody then it slackened off, just goes to next target is going to be Europe, once
he’s done with China, even though nothing’s actually resolved.
JIM ROGERS: The problem, Matt, is that when things get bad, so far the American economy
has held up well because of a lot of money printing, out of government spending, cut
taxes, everything possible to hold up the American economy has held it up.
When things get bad in America as they will, Mr. Trump is not going to say, “It’s my fault.
I got it wrong.”
Donald Trump is going to say those evil Germans, those Koreans, those Canadians, and he’s going
to come back hard with more and more whatever you want to call it.
The situation, we’re going to have the worst bear market in my lifetime.
I can tell I’m older than you, so it’s going to be the worst in your lifetime, too.
What I suggest you do is watch Real Vision, and you’ll get educated, and you will see
how bad things are.
Then you’ll get there.
Most people will turn on the internet or turn on the TV, say, “Wow, look at this.
Things are great.”
Mr. Trump tells you every day, if you watch American TV, he will explain you things are
really, really very good.
You don’t worry.
Maybe you need somebody crying wolf, maybe you need somebody saying, “Wait a minute,
guys, wait a minute.
Look at this.”
Maybe Real Vision is the last vision for all of us.
MATT MILSOM: You think he gets back in?
JIM ROGERS: Get back into what?
MATT MILSOM: Trump 2020?
JIM ROGERS: I got to respect you, what I think it’s– I know it’s very hard to dislodge a
sitting president in America for many, many reasons.
I would suspect that’s the same to this time.
Now, we got rid of Coolidge, and Hoover.
We got rid of Hoover because the market collapsed but we don’t have much time for that because
the election is only, what, 13-14 months away now.
If the market really collapses in the next 13 or 14 months, then I would change my view,
but there are enough things he can do, which is why it’s hard to get rid of sitting presidents.
They’ll prop things up long enough to get through the election.
I would, if I were betting and I’m not a betting man, but if I were, I would bet that Trump
will be reelected.
MATT MILSOM: A lot of speculation that he might actually start to swerve the Fed and
play the currency markets himself for the Treasury.
JIM ROGERS: What, Trump will start buying what?
US dollars or renminbi?
What’s he going to buy?
MATT MILSOM: He’s going to be selling dollars.
JIM ROGERS: He could do that.
Yes, and he might.
He cannot force the Fed to do it.
No, but he could, he could browbeat him.
He can certainly force the Treasury to do that, to sell US dollars.
First of all, I’m not sure the market would put up with it, it would for a while, obviously,
it would for a while, but eventually, the market, as I said to you before, I mentioned
the market’s going to say to these guys, “We’re not going to play this game anymore.
This is an absurd, ludicrous game.
It’s never happened before.
We know it’s not going to work.
We’re not going to play anymore.”
Okay, maybe we’ll try.
I don’t think it’s enough.
Maybe it’s enough to save the election, I said to you before.
It’s so difficult to dislodge a sitting president.
There are lots of things he can do.
If he needs votes in that state, he spends a lot of money in that state.
His opponent cannot do that, the opponent can say look, what a terrible person he is.
He’s spending money in your state.
The people say, thank you, thank you spend more money in my state.
We’ll vote for you.
MATT MILSOM: He can almost play the Fed to his own fiddle, I guess at the same time.
He can blame them if it goes– JIM ROGERS: He certainly can blame them, whether he can
He seems to be persuading them now is another question, but sure.
That’s what I mean, if he goes in there and threatens them, or does x or does y, sure
That’s the problem when you’re the president, or the advantage when you’re the president.
MATT MILSOM: I see Powell’s having a bit more backup by myself.
I just think he’s his own guy.
Really, he’s not a PhD Economics.
He’s a– JIM ROGERS: That’s the best news.
I believe PhDs, which is bad news.
MATT MILSOM: I could see that arising a bigger conflict there, you think between Powell and–
JIM ROGERS: No, I can see a huge conflict and that’s going to– the Federal Reserve,
its debt went up by five, six times in 10 years.
If I had said to you 20 years ago, a major central bank in the world is going to increase
the debt on its balance sheet by 500% in 10 years, you’re going to say, “Get out of here.
We’re not going to talk to you anymore.
You’re not even smart enough to talk on TV.
What are you talking about?”
It’s inconceivable that it could have happened, but it’s happened.
Sure, they have a problem, too.
How far can they go?
How far can any of us go?
MATT MILSOM: It surprised me the volatility’s so cheapened right now.
JIM ROGERS: The debt worldwide is the highest in world history.
Interest rates are the lowest in world history.
In 2008, we had a big debt problem.
China, which had a lot of money saves for a rainy day, started spending the money and
helped save the world, but even China now has debt.
China can’t save the world anymore.
The central bank came riding in with its printing presses, helped save the world.
That’s getting late for all the printing presses in the world.
It’s getting late in the day.
MATT MILSOM: Is the rate of change as well as a debt in China that’s extraordinary just–
JIM ROGERS: Oh, no, I know.
To repeat, ports in China has said we’ll let them go bankrupt.
I don’t think they will.
Not that they’re lying, I think they believe that they’re going to let people go bankrupt
but they haven’t had this problem in decades.
They’re bureaucrats and they’re academics, haven’t felt the pressure of people calling
up saying, “You must save Chinese civilization.
This is Chinese history, our image our integrity.”
No, they haven’t had that gigantic pressure from everybody in the country, they’re saying,
“Save Chinese civilization.”
What they really mean it save me.
They haven’t had that yet.
MATT MILSOM: Xi as a link leader seems to be much more of a Maoist than ever before,
JIM ROGERS: I’m not sure Maoist, but they’re certainly closing off in that sense.
Deng Xiaoping started opening up and Deng Xiaoping said you open the windows, you’re
going to get some flies, but you’re going to get fresh air and sunshine, and the fresh
air and the sunshine are worth the flies.
He seems to be saying we don’t want flies and the last 40 years, much of the progress
has been 18-year-olds in a garage doing crazy things on the computer.
Alibaba, Microsoft, the names go on, and on and on.
These were just kids doing wild, crazy things on the internet, which was open and free to
You start closing these things off, and it’s going to slow progress, it’s going to slow
things now, whether we like it, history is always showing that.
You close off and you go into decline.
It does seem to be happening not just in China, even in the US, but it does seem to be happening
more and more, so maybe we’re in for the dark ages again.
MATT MILSOM: I don’t know.
It’s almost that you think about where you’re going to head or what currency you need to
get into, where you’re going to be safe.
Do you know what I mean?
You start thinking about– JIM ROGERS: That’s not what I mean.
I don’t have a job.
I can’t figure out a way to save myself.
MATT MILSOM: You made the move to Asia on the back of those thoughts, I guess that that’s
going to be a Pacific centuries.
JIM ROGERS: Well, I moved here you because I know that the 20th century is Asia, 21st
century is Asia.
I wanted my children to know Asia and to speak Mandarin.
That’s the best preparation I can give them for the 21st century.
That’s why I’m here.
Of course, Asia is continuing to develop and boom and head of the rest of the world.
There is some debt in Asia, but nothing like in the West.
Most of the Western countries are really broke, especially when you pull into pension plans.
Europe’s got gigantic pension, US too, gigantic pension obligations, which they’ll never able
MATT MILSOM: Yeah.
Demographically, where does that end up?
JIM ROGERS: It’s already starting to ruin a lot of people.
Asia has probably– will have problems but nothing like some that are rising in the West.
I can’t bear for my kids.
MATT MILSOM: The world of agricultural investment view is still a– JIM ROGERS: Yeah, agriculture
has been a disaster for 35 years or so.
The average age of farmers in America is 58.
More people in America study public relations and study agriculture.
The highest rate of suicide in the UK is agriculture.
Of Japan, the average age of farmers is 68.
Nobody becomes a farmer, you go to Japan now, there’re huge stretches of land, they’re just
They can’t find anybody to farm them.
Farmers have died, the kids have gone to Osaka.
There’s nobody to farm that land.
If you want to be a former, go to Japan.
You can get a lot of land cheap.
Australia, Canada, all of these countries have very, very aged old farmers, men and
It’s millions of Indian farmers have committed suicide, as I’m sure you know.
No, no, agriculture is a disaster.
The Chinese have a word, you know the Chinese word weiji?
It means disaster and opportunity are the same and they are.
If you can survive the disaster, you’re going to make a lot of money with the opportunity.
MATT MILSOM: I guess the commodity complex per se, are softer on their knees-ish for
the last five years.
They’re actually doing okay in the States.
JIM ROGERS: Yeah, yeah.
Things like sugar, sugar is down over 80% in the last 40 years, what do you notice down
80% in the last 40 years?
Other than that, there’s not much that has declined, that deteriorated like some of the
MATT MILSOM: Difficult bet to make given the climate change, too?
JIM ROGERS: Well, yeah, climate change is taking place, is taking place for thousands
Go back and look at trees, and soil layers and iceberg layer, we see that climate change
has always been taking place one way or the other, and it seems to be happening again.
Of course, that’s going to be great for some farmers, disastrous for other farmers.
The key is to be the farmer that it’s great for, not to be a farmer that gets wiped out
because of climate change.
The Sahara Desert, which is the size of the continent with 48 states, used to be a huge
Pigs, cows, wheat, corn, everything, huge, huge.
We had climate change.
We had ecological change, you know the rest of that story.
If you were a farmer in Algeria 2000 years ago, you probably didn’t do very well.
You should have moved to Iowa 2000 years ago.
MATT MILSOM: Would it be too much to ask your asset allocation now?
JIM ROGERS: You can ask, I don’t know.
I don’t sit around.
I don’t have a committee met.
I don’t have anybody to answer to.
I know I can still pay my bills.
I do own some gold and silver.
I do own a lot of US dollars, I’ve told you about.
I’m short some junk bonds, short the ETF, Russia, China.
I don’t own a lot of shares anywhere right now.
The Japanese market, I sold out of.
I used to own a lot of Japanese shares, sold out completely.
MATT MILSOM: Why was that?
JIM ROGERS: I bought them so well.
It’s not often I get it right so I’m going to brag for a minute.
The Japanese market was very, very cheap and I started by and then the tsunami.
Remember the tsunami?
Everything collapsed, I bought a little, gone up a lot, it tripled since then.
I could see wasabi and the toll got stronger and stronger and stronger.
They’d already printed lots of money.
The central bank said we’ll print as much as we have to.
That’s what they said.
They said it out loud.
Not some crazy guy saying it.
I said what else can happen?
What else can go right?
They’ve spent a lot of money on infrastructure.
They bought a lot of securities, so I sold out.
So far, I’m right, but don’t worry, I make plenty of mistakes.
MATT MILSOM: I guess, it changed your beast, don’t even trade anymore, eh, because there’s
JIM ROGERS: Nothing to trade, why would you buy them?
Who’s going to buy them, except a central bank?
MATT MILSOM: They have to keep going?
JIM ROGERS: I told you I have.
I’m going to Japan tomorrow, there’s been a best seller saying, “A Warning to Japan.”
If they keep going– MATT MILSOM: That’s a book?
JIM ROGERS: Yeah.
MATT MILSOM: Sorry, I didn’t know that.
JIM ROGERS: No, it’s the number one bestseller.
MATT MILSOM: Congratulations.
JIM ROGERS: I’m shocked.
I’ve made two number one bestsellers.
MATT MILSOM: What was the other one?
JIM ROGERS: I forget that, it was some Japanese.
It was something like, “A Warning to Japan.”
MATT MILSOM: But this is a specific for that market, or they were– JIM ROGERS: Two books
They were translated, my English was translated into Japanese.
Two books in 2019 have been number one bestsellers by me.
This is a shock.
How could this happen?
I’m more surprised than anybody.
They called me up, that smarty say you got to come to Tokyo.
I said why?
He said your books have won bestseller.
I forgot about the book.
The book resulted from some reporters coming here and interviewing me like you.
We’re out for several hours.
I said we’re going to publish this.
Okay, go ahead.
I don’t care.
Forgot about it.
MATT MILSOM: You got a book tour now?
JIM ROGERS: Yeah, I’m leaving tomorrow.
I’m going tomorrow for a book tour in various cities of Japan, promoting, “A Warning to
MATT MILSOM: What was the essence of that?
Was that demographics or that– JIM ROGERS: If you’re 10 years old, you better get out.
If you’re 10 years old, you better get an AK47 and learn how to use it.
These are not– it’s simple.
I say to them, they will say, of course, he’s a foreigner.
The Japanese don’t like foreigners, and so they will just say, he’s a– whenever they
say they don’t like somebody, they say he’s a foreigner so you don’t have to listen to
I say to them, yeah, okay, I’m a foreigner, but this is arithmetic.
It’s addition, the debt goes up every day.
That’s simple addition and it’s subtraction, the population goes down every day.
Central bank has been printing huge amounts of money.
This is just simple addition and subtract.
Forget that I’m foreigner and for some reason, both of them became number one bestsellers.
I guess it’s because nobody in Japan ever says things like this.
I don’t know why I became, but listen, I’m shocked.
MATT MILSOM: Do you have any views on Softbank?
JIM ROGERS: So far, they’ve made a lot of money but I don’t know enough to say much
more than that.
I read that problems are developing, but I have no knowledge, enough knowledge to say
anything other than that.
MATT MILSOM: I guess WeWork is the speculation for those issues there, for the float.
JIM ROGERS: WeWork is not their only asset at Softbank.
What I read about WeWork, WeWork may be one of those things.
You remember in 1999?
I think it was called pets.com or something.
It was one of those things that was when people talk about the end of the bull market or the
signal, or the sign that it was over, that may be WeWork now.
They were printed out in 1999.
That’s the one that people often bring up, I was not sure.
I wish I had but they bring that one up.
Now, if you look at the current bull market, maybe someday in 10 years, we’re all going
to look back and say, “They rang that bell.
That bell was called WeWork.
That was the sign that we were coming to the end.”
It’s always something that people look back on that it may be WeWork.
MATT MILSOM: The amount of questioning that browned the IPO pricing makes you think that
the greater fool game may have just come to a grinding halt.
JIM ROGERS: I’ve never read the Prospectus but I’ve read a lot in the papers about the
story, the company, that IPO, the CEO, etc.
Just I’m sure you have too.
I read it and I say this is 1929, this is 1999.
This has all happened before.
MATT MILSOM: They have nines in them.
JIM ROGERS: Yeah.
See, 1899– well, anyway, you read, I read this stuff and I’d say oh, yeah, this has
I remember reading about things like this in previous bull markets, previous bubbles.
MATT MILSOM: What brings you to an investment then?
Is there a sector or there is an idea or somebody pitches to you?
JIM ROGERS: No, it’s usually– the nature of who I am, I’m always looking or I’m always
If I stumble on something, I’m not out looking like I used to, but if I stumbled on something,
I often do homework and then I’m in this Russian stock that I’m buying, I stumbled on it.
The more homework I do, the more I buy.
I continue but it’s usually I will stumble on something.
MATT MILSOM: Public, is it a public stock?
JIM ROGERS: Yeah, it’s a public company.
MATT MILSOM: Sector?
Which sector would have been?
JIM ROGERS: You’re a very good reporter, but I’m not going to tell you because if I told
you, you would know exactly what I’m buying.
MATT MILSOM: Okay.
I’m sure it wouldn’t be that easy to spot.
JIM ROGERS: There are plenty of disasters in Russia.
Everybody hates Russia now, so Russia’s on my list.
Anyway, I will probably buy Russian government bonds and rubles again soon.
I own Russian government bonds in rubles.
The yield is very, very high.
The ruble is hated.
The Russians are hated, et cetera.
MATT MILSOM: Any other markets that are particularly hated that you fancy?
JIM ROGERS: Well, I told you Venezuela but you and I cannot do it.
I cannot do anything in Venezuela.
Zimbabwe, I bought a few shares of Zimbabwe, some of the North Korea but that’s illegal,
I’m looking, but part of the problem is there are few markets that are hated so much.
I mean I am buying Russia, it’s still hated.
Most markets, even Germany.
Look at Germany hit peak, what, two years ago.
Been going out since but it’s not cheap.
It’s not hated.
Germany still a very large and [indiscernible] economy.
No, I don’t see many now that jumps off the page to me and says, oh my God, you got to
buy this disaster.
I would love to find something like that, but I’m too lazy.
MATT MILSOM: I’m thinking there’s probably a good places to stop.
JIM ROGERS: I’m too lazy.
Very good places to stop buying, I commend laziness to all of you.
Watch Real Vision and get lazier and lazier, and lazier.
MATT MILSOM: Jim, thanks for having us and thanks very much for coming on.
JIM ROGERS: My delight, my pleasure.
It took all of one minute and nine seconds for President Trump to go after his predecessor on Friday — just one minute and nine seconds to re-engage in a debate that has consumed much of his own time in office over who was the better president.
It was former President Barack Obama who started the policy of separating children from their parents at the border, Mr. Trump claimed falsely, and it was Mr. Obama who had such a terrible relationship with North Korea that he was about to go to war. Mr. Obama had it easy on the economy, Mr. Trump added, but let America’s allies walk all over him.
The litany of criticisms, often distorted, are familiar, but Mr. Trump has turned increasingly to Mr. Obama in recent days as a political foil.
In part, that reflects Mr. Trump’s longstanding fixation with the former president. But it may also stem from the fact that Mr. Obama’s vice president, Joseph R. Biden Jr., remains the Democratic front-runner in the 2020 election.
“If you look at what we’ve done, and if you look at what we’ve straightened out, the — I call it the ‘Obama-Biden mess,’” he told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House before leaving Washington for a weekend at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. “We’re straightening it out.”
The president’s focus on Mr. Obama after about two and a half years in office was even more intense during a trip to Japan and South Korea last weekend, when Mr. Trump repeatedly raised the subject of his predecessor without being asked, assailing him on a variety of domestic and foreign policy fronts.
“When in a corner, Trump falls back on the only organizing principle he has, which is attacking Obama — and usually lying about it,” said Benjamin J. Rhodes, a former deputy national security adviser to Mr. Obama. “I wouldn’t read anything more into it than that.”
Since 2011, when he explored running for president against Mr. Obama, Mr. Trump has had a singular obsession with the 44th president.
He repeatedly questioned Mr. Obama’s citizenship as part of the false “birther” conspiracy. As president, Mr. Obama struck back at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in 2011, when he roasted the reality television star as a lightweight while Mr. Trump sat grim-faced.
Since then, Mr. Trump has been determined to minimize or unravel Mr. Obama’s accomplishments, and lately has even suggested that his predecessor was behind a deep-state conspiracy with law enforcement and intelligence agencies to thwart his 2016 candidacy.
While other presidents have blamed their predecessors for various national ills — including Mr. Obama, who in his first term regularly pointed to former President George W. Bush — Mr. Trump takes it further than most.
It is less common for presidents to take on predecessors who are more popular than they are; Mr. Obama was viewed favorably by 63 percent of those surveyed by Gallup last year, while Mr. Trump’s job approval rating is 41 percent.
But Mr. Trump recognizes that his political base wanted, and still wants, someone who would be seen as fighting against Mr. Obama. Especially as Mr. Biden stumps the country on his record in the Obama administration, Mr. Trump sees a political advantage in taking down his predecessor and trying to lift himself as an outsider taking on a system he has led for over two years.
“Tell Biden that NATO has taken total advantage of him and President Obama,” Mr. Trump said on Friday. “Biden didn’t know what the hell he was doing and neither did President Obama. NATO was taking advantage of — now they’re paying.”
“President Obama and Vice President Biden,” he added, “they didn’t have a clue. They got taken advantage of by China, by NATO, by every country they did business with.”
By Mr. Trump’s indictment, Mr. Obama was too soft on China’s trade abuses and too easy on NATO allies who were not spending enough on their own defense, two issues that the current president has pressed much more vigorously. Mr. Trump in recent days has also blamed Mr. Obama for a dispute with Turkey, a NATO ally, over its purchase of S-400 missile systems from Russia. A former Obama aide denied that he refused to sell a Patriot system to Turkey but did object to a technology transfer Ankara demanded as part of a deal.
In leveling his criticisms at Mr. Obama, however, Mr. Trump routinely stretches the facts. As he has repeatedly, Mr. Trump insisted on Friday that had Mr. Obama remained in office, he would have gone to war with North Korea, a claim dismissed as ludicrous by the former president’s advisers.
In recent days, Mr. Trump has added a new claim — that Mr. Obama tried to meet with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, only to be rebuffed, an assertion for which he offered no evidence.
“He called Kim Jong-un on numerous occasions to meet. President Obama wanted to meet with Kim Jong-un. And Kim Jong-un said no,” Mr. Trump said on Friday. “Numerous occasions he called. And right now we have a very nice relationship.”
After Mr. Trump floated this while in Asia last weekend, Mr. Obama’s final national security adviser, Susan E. Rice, used an expletive to deny it. “At the risk of stating the obvious, this is horse-sh*t,” she wrote on Twitter, asterisk and all.
Mr. Rhodes, her deputy, repeated the denial on Friday. “There is zero truth to the claim about wanting to meet Kim,” he said. “It’s completely made up and totally incoherent with his previous claim that Obama wanted to go to war with North Korea.”
Other former Obama-era officials have publicly disputed the notion as well, including James R. Clapper Jr., who was director of national intelligence; Wendy R. Sherman, who was under secretary of state; Daniel R. Russel, who was assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs; and Jeremy Bash, who was chief of staff at the C.I.A. and later the Pentagon.
Mr. Trump has also sought to rewrite the history of his own family separation policy at the border, telling audiences that it was Mr. Obama who started it and the current president who stopped it.
“President Obama built those cells. They were in 2014,” Mr. Trump said last weekend at a news conference in Osaka, Japan. He added, “I just say this: They had a separation policy. Right? I ended it.”
He was correct that the Obama administration built some of the detention facilities that have been at the center of the latest furor over the treatment of migrants detained at the border, but they were never meant for the long-term detention of children.
Moreover, while the Obama administration did break up families, it was relatively rare and typically in cases of doubt about the relationship between a child and an accompanying adult.
Mr. Trump’s administration announced a “zero tolerance policy” in April 2018 that resulted in nearly 3,000 children being forcibly separated from parents. After an outcry, Mr. Trump signed an executive order two months later directing officials to end the practice of family separation.
It’s generally agreed the measure of a president has to be based on the record. Then why does trump keep saying “I inherited a mess”? “A mess”? Sure … it’s Obama’s fault is it that he handed Trump a lousy economy that had created 16.5 million jobs? If you have near full employment, rising stock markets, strongest dollar in some time, rising consumer confidence, lowest uninsured percentage . . . What’s the mess he inherited?
Dow Jones going from 7,949 to 17,735 (+123%) S
& P 500 going from 683 to 2040
Unemployment down from 7.8% to 4.9%
GDP Growth up from -5.4% to 2.2%
Deficit GDP% down from 9.8% to 2.8%
Consumer Confidence up from 37.7 to 97.6
Uninsured Adults down from 18% to 11.8%
American cars sold up from 10.4m to 17.5m
This is what Trump inherited. He has created his own mess because he can’t grasp the magnitude and complexity of the job.