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We’re making progress on the China Deal. And pigs will fly.

So Mnuchin says progress is being made on the China Trade Deal. And markets have rallied.

Great. Sell some shares. Seriously. This is a temporary “feel good”. Like taking a puff of something, it’s not going to last.

Do I know what’s gong on? Do I have any insider information?

No.

But I have this insightful email from a reader called Mike Nash:

Harry,

You’re too optimistic about a resolution from trade talks. Trump failed in negotiations with North Korea. Failed in negotiations with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown. Failed to get Mexico to pay for his wall. Failed in talks with Iran. Failure, failure, failure. He’s the worst negotiator on the planet. He has no understanding of Chinese culture. BY publicly imposing tariffs it means if the Chinese leaders back down now they lose face at home. A Chinese citizen would rather die than lose face. It’s impossible to get a deal anytime soon.

OK. Accept that.

Know this whole thing is being orchestrated by a man, who has his name on a book called “The Art of the Deal,” which the ghostwriter now says is a work of fiction.

And then there’s Trump’s questionable business record.

Should we be concerned about Trump’s business record?

Here are words from a magazine called The Week commenting on Trump tax stuff released this week:

The losses straddle some of Trump’s most famous projects from the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 1985 he purchased the Mar-a-lago property in Florida, which didn’t make him money for another ten years; there was his purchase of an old New York hospital he tried to replace it with apartments, before the project stalled for years; there was Trump’s ownership of the New Jersey Generals in the United States Football League, the latter of which would soon go under; there was the shuttle operation he acquired from Eastern Airlines in 1989, which never turned a profit; and then there was Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino, which debuted in 1990 with so much debt that it not only collapsed under its own financial weight, but dragged some of Trump’s other properties into debt as well.

The tax documentation also covers an interesting period from 1986 to 1989, where Trump tried to supplement his income by playing the stock market. He’d buy up some shares in a company with borrowed money, then publicly threaten to buy more until he was a majority owner, relying on his reputation as a real estate tycoon to juice the market enthusiasm. Then he’d sell the stock he’d already purchased after the price rose. The gambit worked a few times before investors got wise to the fact that Trump was always bluffing. Eventually, some of the stocks he was holding onto cratered before he could sell them, offsetting pretty much all the money he’d gained with the strategy.

This mix of self-promotion, shamelessness, and brazen irresponsibility shows up in Trump’s well-documented history dealing with small businesses and contractors as well. From his personal driver, to a toilet maker in Atlantic City, to drapery business in Las Vegas, to a Philadelphia cabinet maker and more, Trump had a habit of either disputing the work they did on questionable grounds or just failing to pay them entirely. Then he would rely on time, plus his sizable connections and financial resources, to wear down anyone who took him to court. An investigation by USA Today actually found that Trump was involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over the last 30 years.

Fittingly, once Trump got out of actual real estate deals and business ventures, and shifted over to reality television and merely licensing his name and brand, he seems to have become far more successful. By 2005, according to portions of his tax returns unearthed by reporter David Cay Johnston, Trump was enjoying a positive income flow again, and paying income taxes.

The Week concludes:

Anyone paying attention should’ve known that Trump was a fraud and a con artist all the way down. But now the receipts are coming in.

For the entire short piece, click here. 

Suntan worries

I read that suntan cream makes its way into your blood. safety testing has never been done on the active ingredients in sunscreen, because those chemicals were approved decades ago, before anyone suspected they could be absorbed into the body. Now we know it’s more than just a suspicion… Only two ingredients so far have been ruled safe and effective—zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. For more, read here. 

That’s it for today.

Harry Newton, who’s taking a little money off the table, as soon as I post this. Roku has gone up too much. Here’s the “logic:” All these techie darlings have their 15 minutes of popularity, then drop. Think Square and Beyond Meat.

Don’t send me an email telling me that politics don’t affect stockmarkets and that Mr. Trump actually knows what he’s doing. I’ll give you the employment and stockmarket statistics next week. We actually did better under Obama. Don’t have time now to write the numbers up. Got to sell Roku, get my Susan’s car serviced and play tennis. Fun weekend coming up.

 

  • Mike Nash

    I love the fact that Harry takes the time to do some solid research, puts in a lot of work on this, has some somewhat controversial opinions and all anybody comments about is the hibiscus. Harry, you need smarter readers.

  • gerryb

    Harry, your hibiscus is back. Looks cool.