What I am watching today = June 20, 2019
Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross
Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia
Iran, Brexit, Biden, FOMC, Libra, Slack, #USWNT
✔️ Iran downs US military drone amid rising tensions
✔️ Biden faces backlash over comments about work with racist senators
✔️ Slack is set to make its trading debut
✔️ Facebook’s Libra may spark a currency war
✔️ US women’s soccer faces grudge matchup with Sweden
Sound On: Fed rate decision, trade, and Trump 2020 speech
Last night, I joined Bloomberg Radio's Sound On program.
Bloomberg Chief Washington Correspondent Kevin Cirilli was the host and Mattie Duppler, president of Forward Strategies and a National Taxpayers Union fellow, also joined the program for a wide-ranging discussion.
Federal Open Market Committee decision
From a trade war toward a currency war
Trump's Orlando rally + Election 2020
Hope Hicks + Impeachment
You can catch the 35-minute episode - here.
Iran downs US military drone amid rising tensions: WSJ reports, Iran said it shot down a US military drone, the latest in a series of skirmishes across the Middle East that have stoked fears of a wider military conflict.
Oil prices rise as tensions with Washington escalate after spy aircraft hit over Strait of Hormuz.
WSJ: Iran’s fast boats and mines bring guerrilla tactics to Persian Gulf
The strategy seeks to favor nimble combatants willing to absorb losses in vital waterway.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a paramilitary force, is equipped to swarm hostile vessels with fast boats armed with torpedoes and short-range missiles and small patrol craft equipped with machine guns and rocket launchers.
Xi in NK: Xi Jinping kicked off a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that could advance the two allies’ separate—and stalled—negotiations with the US.
NYT: Xi Jinping arrives in North Korea, with many eyes on Trump
Xi Jinping arrived in North Korea’s capital on Thursday to a 21-gun salute at the airport, the release of thousands of balloons and waving crowds lining the streets, as his car wound its way to the mausoleum where the North’s founder lies.
Tom Orlik: Trade truce is becoming less, not more likely: The alternatives to a deal are looking better to both the US and China, which means the prospects for an agreement are looking worse.
Trump plan seeks to double US-Africa two-way trade: Bloomberg reports, the US’ Prosper Africa strategy plans to double two-way trade and investment between the world’s biggest economy and the continent in the coming years. The plan, which is the flagship initiative of Trump in Africa, will facilitate transactions by providing blended finance, loan guarantees, and market intelligence to help make investments less risky.
AFP: Norway raises interest rates as global peers eye cuts
The Times: Johnson’s Brexit plan won’t work, warns Dutch PM
Today: The Conservative Party holds its final ballots in the contest to succeed Theresa May.
Most Conservative members would see party destroyed to achieve Brexit: YouGov reports, Over the last three years Brexit has turned British politics upside down, and perhaps no institution has been hit harder than the Conservative Party. The issue has forced two successive Tory Prime Ministers out of office and spurred the creation of a new party of the right which is currently beating the Conservatives in the polls. Now a new YouGov survey of Conservative Party members reveals just how much Brexit has changed the mood of the membership, subverting traditional loyalties and reshaping political priorities. So dedicated to accomplishing Brexit are Tory members that a majority (54%) would be willing to countenance the destruction of their own party if necessary. Only a third (36%) put the party’s preservation above steering Britain out of the EU.
Nothing is sacred now as the Conservative Party membership seeks to secure Brexit – except keeping Jeremy Corbyn out of Number 10.
British factory orders weakest since 2016 as CBI issues Brexit warning.
An early election is beginning to look inevitable for the next Tory leader
Scotland: Brexit uncertainty revives independence debate: The prospect of leaving the EU without a deal has put the nation’s future back on the agenda. https://on.ft.com/2RmxUiG
FT: Mexico ratifies Nafta’s replacement, the USMCA
Trade deal may take longer to clear the US Congress, however.
More than 5m set to flee Venezuela by end of 2019: FT reports, UN says refugee crisis overwhelms South America’s health and education systems.
Trump losing interest in Venezuela, officials say: WP reports, for Trump, the ouster of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro once seemed a sure bet. But Maduro remains in power.
FOMC decision: The Federal Reserve left rates unchanged but signaled a cut in July and perhaps a second one later this year. The FOMC dropped the word 'patient' from its statement and acknowledged the following trends:
- Slower economic growth
- Weaker business investment
- Falling market-based inflation expectations
- Higher uncertainty around inflation hitting the 2% target
The market is now pricing in a 70% probability of three or more rate cuts this year (with two cuts a near-certainty).
Top South Carolina Democrat weighs endorsing in 2020 Primary: WSJ reports, House Majority Whip James Clyburn says he could throw his support behind a 2020 candidate but only after a presidential debate is held in his home state of South Carolina.
WP: Biden faces backlash over comments about work with racist senators
What Kamala Harris’s travails tell us about the Democrat dilemma: FT reports, the California senator’s moderate brand of politics may be a liability in the age of Trump.
LAT: 2020 hopeful Marianne Williamson apologizes for calling vaccine mandates ‘draconian’ and ‘Orwellian’
AFP: Trump reelection launch heralds political scorched earth campaign
Edward Luce: Trump bets that lightning will strike America again: President goads Democrats to repeat errors of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
WSJ - Editorial: A second term for what? Trump can’t win by relitigating 2016 and playing only to his base.
"The most striking fact of his speech was how backward looking it was."
"Trump won’t win as a policy wonk in any case. But Trump also won’t win by relitigating the 2016 election or playing only to his political base. He needs more than he offered voters on Tuesday night."
Karl Rove: More states are up for grabs in 2020: The GOP must not take Georgia, North Carolina, Texas or Florida for granted.
"The Trump campaign must also do at least three other things: (1) reduce—by even a small amount—the historically high percentage of people who tell pollsters they’ll never vote for Mr. Trump, (2) disqualify any Democratic nominee with suburban Republican and independent defectors who swung the House to the Democrats last fall, and (3) convince unenthusiastic 2016 Trump voters to stick with the president, rather than swap him out."
Ex-Trump aide Hicks tight-lipped in US House interview: Reuters reports, Hope Hicks, formerly one of President Donald Trump's closest aides, repeatedly declined to answer questions on Wednesday in an interview with US congressional investigators, with lawyers at her side carefully orchestrating her responses.
WP: Former Trump business partner Felix Sater set to testify Friday before House Intelligence Committee
Trump’s July 4 speech, flyovers confirmed by federal officials; fireworks details still unclear: WP reports, the DC mayor said it is unclear which areas will have good views of the relocated fireworks display, an element that will influence where crowds gather and shape the deployment of police officers.
Slack is set to make its trading debut Thursday at a valuation of about $15.7 billion.
Waymo deal adds salve to fractured Renault-Nissan alliance: FT reports, a show of unity as carmakers sign up to develop services using self-driving technology.
Nikkei: Yamato and Rakuten to test delivery robots on Japan's public roads
Droids > Drones
Facebook called before Senate panel over digital currency project.
Andy Mukherjee: Facebook’s Libra may spark a currency war: It’s no longer about competitive devaluation. The real battle will be when central banks start their own crypto projects.
Peter Orszag: Taylor Swift has an economics lesson for you: The music business is a microcosm of the world economy. https://bloom.bg/31JQwhj
"Total spending on music globally in 2017 was $50 billion, or about 0.06% of gross domestic product. That makes music, in Krueger’s words, “one of the best bargains human society has ever conceived of — and it is getting better by the day.” So there’s lesson number one: The value consumers derive from a product or service can’t be discerned from total spending."
A fascinating long weekend in Detroit: The essential guide: How to spend a memorable long weekend in this iconic metropolis, including the buzziest restaurants and music clubs. https://on.wsj.com/2RrkiCJ
LAT: A swarm of 1,000 earthquakes hit Southern California — how nervous should we be?
LAT: LA is losing its weird edges to bland, boxy and Instagram-friendly
"A giant iPhone already occupies the spot at the Sunset Strip’s eastern end where the Marlboro Man once perched, ready to rope steers."
WSJ: US women’s soccer faces grudge matchup with Sweden
The Americans are eager to beat the team that knocked them out of the 2016 Olympic quarterfinals.
LAT: US doesn’t care if a win over Sweden makes their World Cup trek tougher
WP: US soccer trashes any talk of tanking vs. Sweden
The US might be the World Cup’s best team. It is definitely the best draw. NYT reports, fans have flocked to games featuring the U.S. women’s team at the World Cup, to the delight of cities fortunate enough to host them.
FIFA Women's World Cup = Today
Netherlands v Canada @ 12:00 pm ET
Cameroon v New Zealand @ 12:00 pm ET
Sweden v United States @ 3:00 pm ET
Thailand v Chile @ 3:00 pm ET
Knockout stage qualified teams:
The top two placed teams from each of the six groups, plus the four best-placed third teams, will qualify for the knockout stage.
Enjoy the ride + plan accordingly.