Cyreenik Says

November 2016 issues

The theme of the Trump presidency: More Surprises

It was a series of surprises that Donald Trump got elected: a surprise that he ran in the first place, a surprise that he got the Republican nomination, a surprise that he won the general election.

My forecast: the surprises are far from over.

Trump is now selecting his cabinet and about a thousand other people for various government offices. Many of the choices are surprising and many of these choices have not worked much with each other or with the government infrastructure they are about to become part of. This is going to lead to surprises.

Donald Trump's personality is not one that has exhibited a lot of consistency over the last few decades. His most prominent theme has been maintaining a high profile and lots of visibility.

Add all of this together and the likely theme for the next four years is: lots more surprises of all sorts. Surprise is going to be the theme of the Trump presidency.

The good news is: they will be a mix of good surprises and bad ones. We can hope the good ones outnumber and outshine the bad ones, and he really does "Make America Great Again."

Q: What comes next? A: A lot of "Testing Trump"

Every new president gets tested, and tested in many ways. Trump, being both a surprise winner and totally new to this being in the White House gig, is going to be tested a lot more intensively and extensively that most new Presidents.

The intensive part means tests that put a lot on the line. I'm guessing that Putin has been working up sneaky ways to test Trump ever since the voting results were announced. This is spooky because this foreign relations testing is something he is masterful at -- Georgia, Crimea and Syria are all examples of this.

The extensive part means that dozens-to-hundreds of people all through the US governing system are going to be coming up with new programs that will force him to make choices and defend those choices. They are going to keep him real busy.

On the positive side, this kind of testing is what deal making is all about. So, even if Trump doesn't have lots of practice on the Presidential turf, his decades of experience on the commercial real estate market turf may be sufficiently similar to serve him well.

I expect that this "Testing Trump" is going to be at the heart of many of the surprises we see in US government news over the next year.

The importance of surprise in current events and history

Another lesson to take from Trump's election is the importance of surprise in both current events and history. I write about this in my book Profit from History.

Current events are filled with surprises. But this next ninety days is going to be filled with much more than normal -- the surprises that are going to spring from Trump's election are far from over. This is largely because so few people expected Trump to win... including Donald Trump.

So what comes next is essentially building a Trump Administration and Trump governing policies from the ground up. So, yes, there are still lots of surprises in store for America and the world.

The talk of the campaign now turns into action of some sort, but what it will be, and who will be directing it, are both still way up in the air. How much Trump will be doing, as President, versus how much the legislature will be doing, how much the state governments will be doing, and how much the many other parts of governing infrastructure will be doing are all very much up in the air.

Surprising times in America's governing are going to be the norm for the next "100 Days" or "Honeymoon" -- however long that turns out to be.

Two examples of previous American elections with both surprising winners and then lots of surprises in their first days of office are Abraham Lincoln and the Republicans winning in 1860, just six years after the Republican party was founded in 1854, and Franklin Roosevelt and the Democrats winning in 1932 after the three years of frustration that the country had experienced as Hoover tried to fix the economy after the 1929 stock market crash.

Trump's election: The Time of Nutcases continues and gets surprisingly intense

Well... the surprise of the decade -- the worldwide spread of Time of Nutcases -- has just gotten more intense: Donald Trump has been elected. The Time of Nutcases is my term for times when the community is frustrated with its conventional leadership, and in response starts paying serious attention to people who are in normal times too extreme to pay serious attention to. Donald Trump is an archetypical example in this decade.

Now, we get to hold our community breath, and see what "the real Donald Trump, President" is going to be all about. This is quite uncertain at the moment.

The net result of this election: The big surprises will be continuing.

The social revolution, and witch hunting, continue in Turkey

The failed coup attempt back in July started a social revolution in Turkey. The revolution, and witch hunting, continue. Here are two articles talking about this.

The first is this 5 Nov 16 Economist article, Goodbye, “Republic” A flagship secular newspaper is hit as the purges spread, talks about how the purging continues.

From the article, "Prosecutors accuse Cumhuriyet [the newspaper] of acting in cahoots with the Gulen movement, an Islamic sect suspected of engineering July’s coup, and with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey and Western countries consider a terrorist group. To most observers, that sounds bonkers. Cumhuriyet had been savagely critical of the Gulenists long before the ruling Justice and Development (AK) party, which allied itself with the movement for nearly a decade, broke with it around 2013.

The detentions suggest that few government critics are safe."

The current government and revolution enthusiasts are smearing opponents as Gulenists and then dismissing them from their jobs or jailing them.

The second is this 3 Nov 16 WSJ article, Turkey’s Crackdown Sweeps Through Business and Finance, Imperiling the Economy Investors who saw Turkey as a free-market beacon fear its president’s focus on rooting out internal enemies endangers financial institutions and trust in its economic stewardship by Yeliz Candemir, which talks about how the revolution is affecting business and the economy.

From the article, "Now, investors and businesspeople say Mr. Erdogan’s relentless focus on rooting out perceived internal enemies, coupled with a consolidation of power under an emergency decree, imperil domestic financial institutions and trust in the country’s $720 billion economy.

“The risks are disproportionately high,” said Michael Harris, London-based global head of research at investment bank Renaissance Capital, who is recommending clients divest from Turkey. “A lot of foreign investors are understandably jittery in this environment and see these developments with worry.”"

The government spokespeople cited in the article disagree. They say business is going along as usual. I see this kind of disagreement as a sure sign there is both a problem and growing delusion about it.

How long this purging and witch hunting will go on is hard to predict. What is predictable is that the longer it goes on the more extreme it will get. A further prediction: part of the phase that follows, the counter reaction to the excessive purging, will be a bloodletting war (my term). Who it will be fought with will be a surprise, but the war itself will be years-long, bloody and frustrating. It will be much like the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980's was -- that was the bloodletter for the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

Black Friday shopping: an example of ritualizing

Humans have always had rituals. Some are quite obvious, such as religious worship rituals. But there are many others, and as our societies get more prosperous the rituals get more elaborate, frequent, and expensive.

One surprising example of a ritual that is getting bigger and more elaborate is the Black Friday shopping ritual.

This thought was inspired by a 1 Nov 16 WSJ article, Black Friday’s Inside Secret: Same Deals Every Year Circulars from retailers like Target, Best Buy and Wal-Mart repeat products, prices from holidays past by Suzanne Kapner, which describes how similar the Black Friday deals are from year to year.

From the article, "Shoppers who missed out on $97 Beats headphones, a $99 Nikon camera and other Black Friday deals last year needn’t worry. Chances are those same items will be on sale again this year—for the same price.

The front page of Target Corp.’s 2015 Black Friday circular was almost identical to the front page of its 2014 circular, displaying Beats headphones, a Nikon digital camera, DVDs and an Xbox gaming console. Only the gaming console changed price, dropping about $30 from one year to the next."

The article attributes this to a couple of causes. The first is, "The retailers say they are simply catering to customer tastes." This is just another way of saying they are supporting the ritual.

The second is, "But some executives also point to a desire to mitigate risks at a time when defending their turf against online rivals is paramount. “Merchandising executives often look back at history and say, if something was successful, we ought to repeat it if I want more certainty,” says Kohl’s Chief Executive Kevin Mansell. “That doesn’t necessarily translate to growth, though.”"

Doing things differently doesn't support ritual instinctive thinking. As long as Black Friday is a strengthening ritual, don't expect surprising changes in what is offered by retailers to be popular.



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