On Thursday, Trump trade czar (and man whose presence in Washington proves the University of California, Irvine needs better nighttime security to keep the chimps from escaping the “crazy professors” lab) Peter Navarro, showed up on CNBC to talk to former trader (and current rabid humanoid badger) Rick Santelli about trade. That went great.
I’m just kidding. It was a clown show. Here’s a clip:
Got all of that? If not, you can read my full take on it here (and that clip doesn’t capture the “best” parts), but note the last thing Peter says: “we come in peace here”.
How does that usually work in the movies? What usually happens after someone says “we come in peace here”? That’s typically when shit starts to go wrong and this won’t be any different.
Anyway, that was that.
Also notable was this:
- U.S. TREASURY POSTS RUSSIA SANCTIONS LIST OF NAMES ON WEBSITE
- U.S. SANCTIONS YEVGENIY PRIGOZHIN, KNOWN AS `PUTIN’S CHEF’
- U.S. SANCTIONS RUSSIA’S INTERNET RESEARCH AGENCY
- TREASURY SANCTIONS FIVE RUSSIAN ENTITIES, 19 INDIVIDUALS
- U.S. SANCTIONS RUSSIANS FOR ELECTION MEDDLING, CYBER ATTACKS
You can read the full list from Treasury here, but suffice to say it’s getting harder and harder for the administration to maintain the dueling narratives where Russia is a nefarious global actor one minute and then the next minute Trump is obfuscating about whether or not Russia is in fact guilty. Speaking of that, here’s what he had to say today about the Kremlin’s “alleged” role in poisoning a former spy in the UK:
Yes, “it certainly looks like the Russians were behind it.” And amusingly, the Treasury sanctions announced today suggest that “it certainly looks like the Russians were behind” something else too. Do take a minute to appreciate the look on Trump’s face when he was asked about the poisoning in the clip above. Here’s the frozen screengrab:
Isn’t that great?
None of this is great for the ruble, which slid to a session low after the sanctions were announced early in the U.S. session:
But hey, that’s ok, right? If it gets worse the Kremlin can always take a page out of the Maduro playbook and launch their own cryptocurrency – they could back it with oil reserves, vodka, and nostalgia for a time when Russia was still a superpower (they’ve got an abundance of all those “resources”).
Also on Thursday, the New York Times reported that Robert Mueller has subpoenaed the Trump Organization, demanding all manner of documents, including those related to Russia. But don’t worry, I’m sure it’s “nothing” – after all, the probe is “winding down,” isn’t it?
The Mueller news briefly weighed on risk appetite, with USDJPY dipping on the headline:
You can see it in futs as well:
The Dow was up on the day, but the broader market was lower and this is shaping up to be a lackluster week:
Other than the brief dip on Mueller, the dollar was up nicely on the day:
While gold was notably lower:
So I guess Larry Kudlow (who said on Wednesday he’d buy “king dollar” and sell gold) was “right” (?). Not according to Credit Suisse he’s not:
Kudlow speaks about the strong dollar and says all the right things in terms of what markets want to hear, but at the same time, you have much wider fiscal funding requirements/ There’s so many more headwinds and they’re much more significant.
More significant than Larry Kudlow? How could that be?! Kinda seems like Bloomberg is trolling him a lil’ bit:
European shares were higher on Thursday, snapping a two-day losing streak. Insurers offset losses in energy names across the pond:
Finally, for your moment of zen, here’s a green beach ball talking about red lines:
NEW: On whether Mueller subpoena to Trump Organization is a "red line" for Pres. Trump, Press Sec. Sanders tells @jonkarl, "We're going to continue to fully cooperate…we're not going to comment for any specific questions about the Trump Organization." https://t.co/K3bzHD2Jg4 pic.twitter.com/xaMel7OW5u
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) March 15, 2018