An unchanged landscape provided for nothing in the way of resolution Tuesday, as investors and traders continued to ponder a set of unanswerable questions.
Donald Trump didn’t appear any closer to resigning, nor was Mike Pence inclined to remove him. The two met for the first time since the Capitol melee which, at least according to the slogans some participants were shouting, put the vice president at personal risk. That’s hardly surprising. After all, just minutes earlier, Trump told the crowd that if Pence didn’t unilaterally throw out Joe Biden’s electors, he would be “very disappointed” in him.
“Mike Pence, I hope you’re gonna stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country,” Trump told his supporters, just before they marched on the Capitol. Later, before he was banned from Twitter, Trump chided Pence for a lack of “courage.”
In their meeting on Monday evening, the two pledged to “work together” through the end of Trump’s term, which means Pence won’t invoke the 25th Amendment. That, in turn, means Nancy Pelosi will move to impeach Trump a second time, likely on Wednesday or Thursday.
It is, frankly, unfortunate how many nominally intelligent people are still making excuses or otherwise dancing around the obvious when it comes to this situation. This is prevalent in market circles, and I interrupted my normal coverage to pen this short lament given multiple reader emails which suggested folks are alarmed at how many of the traders, commentators, and fund managers they follow in one capacity or another seem to be living in an alternative reality.
Yes, the feigned incredulity over Parler’s ban serves as endless fodder for sites that rely, for their very existence, on transforming the anger of the undereducated masses into profitable clicks, assuming they haven’t been demonetized by advertisers for promoting, implicitly or otherwise, the same kinds of rhetoric themselves.
But the refusal to engage with reality extends well beyond the seedier corners of the financial blogosphere. The world of ostensibly serious financial commentary, whether emanating from analysts whose compliance leash is longer than it is for employees of bulge bracket banks, whether from independent analysts working at their own firms or for boutiques, or from the buy-side folk who populate “Financial Twitter,” is full of allusions to election fraud and tacit support for the sentiment that ultimately culminated in last Wednesday’s events in the US capital.
To put it in the simplest terms possible: There is a large contingent of the investment community which has lost touch with reality, spurred on by the usual suspects whose livelihoods depend on spreading misinformation interspersed with financial commentary the only purpose of which is to suggest that the platform’s raison d’être isn’t the dissemination of political misinformation.
There is no place in a stable democracy for this. And the folks in finance who continue to push misinformation tacitly and who retweet the accounts of people who push it explicitly, are not welcome here. Not as contributors, not as subscribers, not as readers.
I’m not sure whether this has occurred to many of these folks or not, but here it is: Clients don’t want to hear that kind of stuff, even if they might be sympathetic to it. Nobody wants to think that the person in charge of their money (or involved in the management of other people’s money more generally) is spending their days pondering the merits of conspiracy theories and armed revolutions. Why do I have to say this? Why does anyone have to say this? Is this not obvious?
I am blessed with a subscriber base that includes asset managers, PMs, and analysts of various sorts, hailing from more countries than I’ve been to. None of them would stick around if I were trafficking in insanity in these pages. If I were operating in a professional capacity, or as a fiduciary, it would be a career killer to involve myself in these kinds of overtly bizarre and objectively dangerous narratives. And yet, that’s what I’m seeing people do. And that’s what some readers have emailed me to say that other folks are engaged in.
Late Monday, Twitter permanently suspended some 70,000 accounts which spread QAnon conspiracy theories, and big tech appears poised to continue its crackdown. I say good. I also say they are fully within their rights to do so.
Big tech is private enterprise. They are publicly traded companies, but they are not government. It is their decision and their decision alone who is allowed on their platforms. That financial professionals and Republicans — purported guardians of business rights — would rather a handful of lawmakers who don’t represent anything close to a majority of Congress, dictate to private enterprise how to run their businesses in the interest of preserving and facilitating the spread of misinformation, hate speech, and incitements to violence, is an example of ludicrous hypocrisy.
As one reader observed on Monday evening, we’ve now once again found ourselves confronted with the uncomfortable reality that many of the people who we assumed were intelligent and otherwise “good” people, apparently support the flagrant subversion of democratic governance and are unable to discern the difference between, on one hand, hate speech, lies, and credible threats of violence, and, on the other, protected speech and “free speech.”
On the bright side, these folks are seemingly unable to help themselves. Against common sense (which dictates that if you harbor notions that are flagrantly abhorrent or are sympathetic to those who do, you should simply refrain from saying so publicly), they continue to make their positions known through their own writing or else through their own social media “likes” or “shares.”
And so, those folks and, in some cases, the people who know them, are now persona non grata here. That probably means nothing to them. Many will never even notice. But, their notes won’t disappear once Trump’s gone. Neither will the emails they sent to their followers’ inboxes. And while they can delete social media activity, that’s never really “gone,” in case you’re unaware.
So, if you’re one of those people — someone shouting about “free speech” when what you’re talking about is hate speech — someone who’s drawing false equivalences with other instances of disputed election results — someone who refuses to admit what’s right in front of your eyes — or someone who had a chance, at some point, to make a difference but didn’t — then you should be prepared to be ostracized going forward.
What’s happened to the world’s foremost democracy over the past three years (and accelerated over the past three months) is unequivocally bad. I won’t say “wrong,” because I’m not big on normative language.
But make no mistake: This isn’t a debate. It’s not big tech’s fault. It’s not Democrats’ fault. It’s not George Soros’ fault. It’s not Mitt Romney’s fault. It’s not “RINOS'” fault. It’s not the “deep state’s” fault. And it’s not the “swamp’s” fault.
If you’re one of the people I alluded to above, it’s your fault. Unlike Donald Trump and his enablers in Congress however, you can make amends, and everyone will happily (hell, gleefully) accept your apology.