"He killed my ma, he killed my pa, I'll vote for him."
-Charlie Taylor Campaign Slogan
I remember reading when Charlie Taylor rained terror on western Africa , and one of his child soldiers told an interviewer how Taylor's thugs killed all the members of his family. The child soldier's conclusion was that Taylor was "the best" and that he wanted to work with "the best." That's taking the notion of 'if you can't beat them, join them' to a whole new level. In financial markets, we talk of capitulation as that climatic moment when everyone tosses in the towel.
It is also framed as a sudden and quick event. However, one could argue that a slow capitulation is possible, especially when it comes to individual willpower and resolve.
Domestically, we are a nation in retreat from core values and ideas. This is what made America great in the first place. Globally, it appears the rest of the world is feeling much better about themselves and a lot less about America. Yes, even as America pulls out of Middle Eastern wars while dumping billions on local economies, we are seen as the bad guy, not as the policeman that has kept evil at bay in the 21st Century. A series of red lines from President Obama have been ignored, or even taunted.
Yet when real evil wins these days, the world reacts like a frightened teenage boy who grew up in a world where lines of right and wrong were blurred by poverty, despair, and lawlessness. The world does not seem as interested about old scores and old scorecards. Countries that were pawns in yesterday's Cold War are trying to be first-line players in today's world. Nations that once welcomed America's military are only now concerned about American money, and the biggest chunks of foreign direct investment they can attract.
This enthusiasm is a long way from cheering the sighting of a C-130 cargo plane flying with an open hatch prepared to drop foodstuffs to throngs of hungry locals. There is no doubt global peace must be in place for global prosperity, but the world seems okay with local contained conflicts. Even staunch allies of America have been mum on Russia, Syria, Iran, and Turkey, outside of regular communiqués of condemnation.
Israel of course, which has been screaming at the top of her lungs about Iran, continues to find itself isolated in its fear of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of a nation hell-bent on seeing the destruction of Israel.
There is a general indifference to the notion that while America might have the ability to police the planet, it does not have the will. This emboldens terrorists and other bad actors, but it does not bring the world to the brink of anxiety when basic laws of sovereignty have been violated. The world looks the other way when atrocities occur and if they are looking to be rescued, they will only be greeted with disappointment.
So, Putin snatches the Ukraine and President Obama takes action against 11 people and says there could still be a "diplomatic" solution. There was not a shot fired and no one was killed, but the same 'will' to dominate that made Taylor one of the worst tyrants in history, also drives Vladimir Putin. For now, however, the world greets his victories with a shrug of the shoulders and the stock market rallies.
Too Busy Changing Their Own World
The country with the hottest stock market this year is Indonesia, reflecting an excitement in Jakarta, which underscores optimism in young nations that think they are ready to become even greater. Stoking this excitement is presidential candidate, Joko Widodo known as Jokowi, who has set the nation ablaze with mannerism and personality, and according to Financial Times, is low-key like a Ronald Reagan or George Bush, rather than charismatic like Barack Obama.
The country is hungry for faster growth as the previous seven years have seen an average of 5.8% growth. (The last six years in America has seen an average of 1.2% annual growth.)
Jokowi made the 'Youth Pledge Museum' his first official campaign-stop over the weekend. The museum marks the spot where students of the fledging independence movement in 1928, agreed to put aside ethnic, language, and regional differences to unite "One Nation, One People, One Language." At this stop, Jokowi sang the country's national anthem. It was not as sexy when Marvin Gaye sang the national anthem, but it was patriotic.
Investment (not to be confused with currency trading) cash has flowed into developing nations, like Indonesia as the west becomes more irrelevant, retreating into giant welfare nations and paper tigers.
Bailing on America
In the past week, foreign holders of US treasures dumped a record $104 billion. There is speculation Russia might have been the main culprit as it needed funds to bolster the ruble, but they only owned $139.0 billion. Last December, China's holdings declined $47 billion, so maybe this is a continuation of that trend. Interestingly, Russia has shown China a lot more respect than western powers during this crisis, but Japan has abstained from major saber rattling as well.
Of course, it would be natural for the world to give up on America, when we are giving up on ourselves.
We hate the stock market rally, we hate marriage, we hate homeownership, and we hate people that do not think exactly as we do, even if they share 90% of the same values. There is so much anger and discontent in America. The biggest bubble in America is hate and anger. On that note, the nation continues to chug along in part on muscle memory, and in part to the fact there are still enough people looking to be great.
Juxtapose the excitement in Indonesia or Japan, or other places in the world with gloom-and-doom of America, and it is easy to see why the world does not care about Putin, and why money is seeking shelter elsewhere.