Banana republic watch

Yesterday we saw Trump ask whether it might be better if the election were delayed.

Today we have another example, from the FT:

What would happen if President Donald Trump took his rhetoric about “making China pay” for Covid-19 to its logical conclusion? Leading Republicans like senator Lindsey Graham say the US should consider cancelling the $1tn-plus China holds in US Treasury obligations to seek reparation.

I suppose that none of this will actually happen, at least for now. Even so, it can’t be a good sign when our political leaders are talking like authoritarian populists in Latin America. (This Trumpista is also worried.)

We were told that we couldn’t let in immigrants from Latin America because they’d corrupt our political system. So why is our anti-immigrant party the one that is hell bent on copying the worst of Latin America?



16 Responses to “Banana republic watch”

  1. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    31. July 2020 at 09:44

    Yes, is this America, or Argentina? Will we swing between extremist right- and left-wing governments in the future, all of which are incompetent, as we lurch from one political and economic crisis to the next? The record in this century so far is not good, and it’s getting worse.

    Of course, we haven’t swung in the extreme left-wing direction yet, but I fear it will be the next flavor of populism.

  2. Gravatar of Garrett Garrett
    31. July 2020 at 10:02

    “I have voted Republican in every presidential election since 1980, including voting for Donald Trump in 2016. I wrote op-eds and a law review article protesting what I believe was an unconstitutional investigation by Robert Mueller. I also wrote an op-ed opposing President Trump’s impeachment.

    But I am frankly appalled by the president’s recent tweet seeking to postpone the November election. Until recently, I had taken as political hyperbole the Democrats’ assertion that President Trump is a fascist. But this latest tweet is fascistic and is itself grounds for the president’s immediate impeachment again by the House of Representatives and his removal from office by the Senate.”

    I’m sorry, but lol at this being the straw.

  3. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    31. July 2020 at 10:12

    Michael, I agree about left wing populism.

    Garrett, I had that immediate reaction too, but then I thought it’s probably not best to take a swipe at those you are welcoming over to your side. 🙂

  4. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    31. July 2020 at 10:28

    From a more objective and neutral point of view, it would make a lot of sense to postpone the elections due to a massive pandemic that is still not under control in the US.

    Especially when one considers what an rather old-fashioned electoral system the US have, where in many states it is needed to appear in person on election day, accompanied by absurdly long lines. This can deter many voters from voting and/or expose them to unnecessary risks.

    Any normal thinking democratic continental European country would postpone the elections. Once again the US seems like a crazy outlier here. It’s just a really crazy country, isn’t it.

    Trump himself can’t argue like that, of course. He gambled it away himself. He cannot press for months to reopen as quickly as possible, with the argument that the pandemic is so harmless, only to be followed by statements that the elections have to be postponed, because the pandemic is so dangerous.


  5. Gravatar of Nathan Nathan
    31. July 2020 at 10:34

    Scott, just in case you miss my post on the other thread.

    How many kinds of empression are there? Scott says all the evidence is that there is just one kind. But what if there is another?

    {gasps from the audience}

  6. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    31. July 2020 at 12:22

    @Michael Sandifer – you do realize that Argentina did not suffer in future debt markets when it defaulted, twice (or is it thrice)? And countries that uphold their debt obligations include the USA, the USSR and Romania, connect the dots. In truth, a jubilee where Chinese held US debt is defaulted on and China is left holding the bag would be a welcome boost to the USA, would only harm fascist/authoritarian China, and have no long-term negative effects on the USA, indeed it would have positive short-term effects, again, Argentina. This is Econ 101. The only people against this proposal would be the Chinese and their sycophants (is that you?)

  7. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    31. July 2020 at 13:12

    Ray Lopez,

    On what planet would selectively defaulting on US debt not lead to a global financial crisis? Not only that, but why should we stick the Chinese with our bills?

  8. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    31. July 2020 at 15:39

    The most pro-immigrationist figures in US history were…the slavers.

    Vile racists can favor labor in-migration.

    So who is backing greater levels of immigration into the US today? And for what reason?

  9. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    31. July 2020 at 17:15

    Ray Lopez is correct. A curiosity is that a sovereign nation can default on its debt, and within a few months people are willing to lend to that sovereign nation again.

    Of course, after a corporation declares bankruptcy, and sheds its debt load, lenders rush in again also.

    Let us suppose Beijing begins to execute people in its concentration camps. And then let us suppose the US government abdicates on its debt owed to China. I doubt such a turn of events would affect the US credit rating at all.

    But in some regards, the whole point is moot. The Federal Reserve appears able to buy back US debt without inflationary consequences, alongside the Bank of Japan, the Bank of England, the Bank of Indonesia, the Swiss National Bank, and the People’s Bank of China.

    So is there a difference between fiscal and monetary policy?

  10. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    31. July 2020 at 20:04

    Everyone, Every day, commenters get more and more insane. Something in the water?

    Life’s too short to respond here.

    Well . . . maybe the 22nd century will turn out better.

  11. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    31. July 2020 at 23:56

    @Michael Sandifer – see Dr. Ben Cole’s remarks, right on the money, literally.

    @SS – mystery writing and ad hominem noted. You should do a post on why selective default on Chinese held debt would be bad for the USA, so old-fashioned economists can praise you while the more modern, vanguard and correct thinkers can ridicule you. You are like a Newtonian physicist in an Einstein-era age.

  12. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    1. August 2020 at 06:06

    Where has Scott been for the last 65 years? Politicians will say all sorts of meaningless garbage even if at that moment they are just being stupid or hoping to net 5 more votes. But we are not going to target China for default and if you don’t know that…then I don’t believe you are telling the truth. @ Ray, I do love your wise ass act—really—-but Argentina? Please. We also lend money again and again to all sorts of loser companies and countries——but targeting a country has never happened and will only happen when a hot war is declared.

    @Garrett—-you really will vote for Joe for because of Trump’s tweet? I certainly understand how one can hate the guy for many reasons—-but that Tweet? He was dismayed, as I am, that in a Presidential election, for the first time ever, all states will permit all mail in votes. The error rate —-both random and by design—- will be huge as most states have never done mail voting. And the ones who have, the turnout was less than half of what this will be.

    So when he asked with 3 question marks about delaying the election (which even he knows he can’t do) he was comparing it to all mail in. It was rhetorical.

    If we can go to the dentist, Walmart, a gas station, get a haircut, we can certainly go to a voting location. Why is one party for it and one against it? Why does one think it will benefit them and the other does not?

    If the election is close, we will have 100s of Broward Counties. This is not good.

  13. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    1. August 2020 at 06:40

    Has anyone been following some of the primaries? The Maloney/Patel primary in NY, which purports to be close have “counted” 800 of the 65000 votes cast. I don’t understand how everyone does not see this as a problem. This has the potential to be an unmitigated disaster.

  14. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    1. August 2020 at 09:23

    Michael, Please take a course in reading comprehension. Your response to both me and Garrett is so laughably unrelated to anything we said that it makes me wonder if you even know how to read.

  15. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    1. August 2020 at 22:36


    All the states do mail in voting, and have for a while. It’s called absentee voting, it’s exactly the same.

    Trump is toast, and he knows it, and he’s going down swinging, what does he care? Covid killed him, ironically the one thing not his fault.

  16. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    7. August 2020 at 09:42

    Scott—-how did I not respond to what you said. I was
    1) referring to Lindsay Graham’s comment which I said was nonsense and would never happen.
    2) My response to Garrett was my opinion that of all things to turn him against Trump——among a garbage can full of options—-this seemed to be one of the least important ones.

    You can disagree with my response but it was completely “related”

    Absentee voting is not the same. It requires an affirmative request. Mail in voting does not. Mail in voting is not evil. It is relatively untried. The northwest corner of America seems to have it down as some of them like WA have done it for 40 years. Others like N.Y. have not. Those who have not increase the chances for some chaos—-the last thing we need.

    If you would be for mail in voting where one requests a ballot that would be fine. If you were for counting when received instead of waiting until Election Day that would be fine.

    You seem to be the clueless one

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