America First…(Unilaterally)

Large global sculpture in front of Trump Towers

When President Trump went to Davos in January 2018, he reassured the audience that America would act unilaterally in international trade agreements going forward.

Two years later, the world is learning what unilaterally means!!  In the case of President Trump’s trade policy, unilateral means an action performed by  one country involved in international fair trade….. that benefits that country…without the agreement of the other!  And its about time!!!

In the past few months the U.S. has abruptly pulled most of its troops from northern Syria, secured a promise from China to buy more U.S. goods, likely at the expense of others, and allowed the World Trade Organization’s authority to lapse by blocking the appointment of judges to its top appellate panel.

It has also killed a top Iranian, completed a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada, and struck a modest trade deal with Japan. The U.S. is not turning isolationist, but unilateralist: It is rewriting the rules of engagement to prioritize its narrowly defined interests and maximize its leverage. Other nations, companies and investors must adjust to a global arena where the U.S. is no longer the referee, but another player—the biggest and most aggressive.

While America’s shift to unilateralism most clearly reflects the priorities of Mr. Trump, who has long believed others take unfair advantage of the U.S., it also reflects deeper trends in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world market place.

Through its new unilateralism, the U.S. is getting a bigger say in how the world’s economic pie gets divvied up. The risk is that the pie itself will be smaller….. but we got our piece….first!

Johnson Long

What? Me Retire?

What? Me Retire? 2

People spend a lot of time wondering if they’ll have the means to retire, often ignoring the equally important calculation: Do they have the will to retire? A job, historically seen as simply a way to make money, is increasingly the source of the types of friendship and stimulation that are hard to find in bingo halls, on beaches or riding a golf cart.

A 2018 Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies survey found half of 6,372 workers polled don’t expect to retire at 65, and 13% plan never to retire. America’s average retirement age has increased in the past 25 years to 66 or older.  Much of this sentiment is due to the barrage of headlines about rising health-care costs and Social Security shortfalls.

With U.S. birthrates falling and membership in religious institutions at all-time lows, work is addressing a void once filled by children, churches or community organizations. Overall, people are working more—a half-hour longer every weekday versus 12 years ago—and spending less time socializing, attending community events or participating in sports and exercise, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For those wanting to keep working it is easier than in the past to remain sharp and productive.   Developments in semiautonomous vehicle technology will make commuting safer; automated processes can reduce physical or mental demands, and an abundance of retraining efforts give more opportunities to revive or learn new skills.

Meanwhile, my financial planner (Mitch Rezman ) and I revisited the question of retirement. I’ve agreed to fund my 401(k) at a pace where I can quit in about 25 years—not so I can stop working but so that I have options.  I will retire at 101.

Johnson Long

Mayor Pete…… not so fast!

Trump Compares Pete Buttigieg to MAD Magazine's Alfred E. Neuman

The Democrat Socialist Party’s…along with the media’s usual crew of sycophants… all hail their new darling … South Bend’s Mayor Pete Buttigieg!!!

His last name is a mouthful, but Mayor Pete would rather have his mouth on his “husband” Chasten Glezman Buttigieg!  Chasten Buttigieg, the husband of presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, said his husband’s campaign is about love.

Continue reading “Mayor Pete…… not so fast!”

Why Stocks Can’t Wait for the Midterms to Be Over

Mature woman reading the financial news

The stock market is likely to struggle between now and the Nov. 6 midterm elections.

And it isn’t because stocks favor one party or the other.

It’s because investors hate uncertainty, and these elections create a healthy dose of just that.

If anything, this year’s election season appears to be creating an above-average amount of uncertainty, given the particularly large number of Republicans who have already announced that they won’t run for re-election—most prominently House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Why are the midterms so significant?

The professors point to an economic-policy created by three finance professors…but seriously, folks…. one does not normally play golf in a thunderstorm!

But what about another piece of traditional wisdom: “Sell in May and go away,” also known as the “Halloween indicator”?

These old saws say that the stock market is far stronger over the six months between Halloween and May Day than it is over the other half of the year.

But, that’s for the poor sod’s whose revenue stream depends heavily on investments!

As for Old Johnson, I’m hanging out my “psychic reading” shingle!

Johnson Long