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Fear - Bob Woodward


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Quite an interesting book. I'm almost done with it (got the audio book, and it's only something like 11-12 hours, so at 2x speed it's quick) and it's a fascinating look into the White House and Trump, and how he thinks and makes decisions. We've seen a lot of events from the outside, but it's really something else to discover what was going on behind the scenes at the time. How the sausage is made, so to speak...

 

Woodward has obviously been talking for a couple years, as things happened, with something like 1/4 of the white house staff. It was clear for a long time that this is a super leaky ship and that everybody was talking to the media, but this shows that it's even more than that. You can kind of triangulate his sources by who was present during things... Pretty sure he has hundreds of hours of tapes with Bannon, Lindsey Graham, Cohn, Tillerson, maybe some with Kushner, Kelly, Matthis, McMaster (?), surely some staffers under them, etc.

 

From a purely investor point of view, it gives some insights into how Trump thinks about trade and the economy (service economy vs tangibles, etc) and the power struggles within the white house between various factions, and how the balance of power might have changed now because of the high turnover.

 

I highly recommend it. It's rare to get such an in-depth book about something almost as it's still going on rather than years later.

 

https://www.amazon.ca/Fear-Trump-White-Bob-Woodward/dp/1501175513/

 

https://www.audible.ca/pd/Fear-Audiobook/1508240108

 

And please, no complaints from those who haven't read it yet... That's just fake news if you haven't read it.

 

 

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Two questions

 

How many hacks have tried capitalizing on Trump fever with books?

 

How many people/organizations have made a ton of money off of the business of riding Trump's coattails since he became president? Wasn't Trump highhandedly responsible for reviving the NYT?

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So you spent additional dollars on confirmation bias?

 

It is funny but, I never bought books on Trump, Bush, Obama, Clinton nor any President for that matter.

 

Why not saving this money to buy a home that your wife can finally call her home?

 

Cardboard

 

Why do you always type cardboard at the bottom of your posts?

 

When I worked offshore, occasionally I'd have a mate show up with his name & the word CAPTAIN emblazoned on shirts, hats & coffee cups to let everyone know he's not just a mate but he's a CAPTAIN.

 

These guys ALWAYS turned out to be douches.

 

With you it seems like a similar self conscious cry for recognition.

 

Are you not aware that posters are automatically recognized by looking slightly to the left of every post?

 

Maybe if you tried dialing back the douchiness you might develop some friends & consequent success instead of the bitterness & frustration you constantly exhibit.

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I've finished the book. Quite clear that John Dowd also spoke to Woodward, tons of details there.

 

The overarching feeling that I'm left with on trade is that all of Trump's instincts are the opposite of free-trade. He used to be counter-balanced mostly by Cohn and Porter and these guys, but they're gone and now there's just Miller and Navarro adding fuel to the fire.

 

From things he's said and done, it's quite clear that he thinks trade accounts are actually profit & loss statements (as in, "we have a trade deficit with country X, we're losing money to them, they're stealing from us"). Doesn't understand how trade can be win-win because of comparative advantage, or that trade figures are basically revenue, and that if you import a bunch of low margin t-shirts and TVs and export a bunch of high-margin airplanes and softwares you can be making a lot more money per dollar even with a trade deficit, or that something "made in country x" doesn't mean that the value is staying there, ie. Apple products final assembly in China but most of the value going to the US, Japan, South-Korea, etc... His solution seems to be that the US should just make everything it needs and why do we need these other countries at all? Really superficial understanding of economics.

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About half way done, it's pretty entertaining read. Not very flattering for Trump. I get the impression of a man of limited intellect who decided to become president for unclear reasons, who is then surrounded by people who think they can push their own agenda by influencing him through various means. Hilarity ensues when he actually becomes president, proves to be difficult to control for his handlers and just generally creates chaos. Who knows how true the stories are, but again it's very entertaining. 

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Wait, he has to buy first the one from Stormy Daniels:

 

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/18/stormy-daniels-claims-trump-didnt-want-to-be-president-in-her-book.html

 

Cardboard

 

Don't rip it though. Then they'll all go "at least read the book first. It's got some real sources!" LOL Partisan hacks getting rich off Trump. Only joke is on the people paying for this nonsense.

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Wait, he has to buy first the one from Stormy Daniels:

 

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/18/stormy-daniels-claims-trump-didnt-want-to-be-president-in-her-book.html

 

Cardboard

 

Don't rip it though. Then they'll all go "at least read the book first. It's got some real sources!" LOL Partisan hacks getting rich off Trump. Only joke is on the people paying for this nonsense.

 

I have no interest in reading about Trump's small dick. If you can't tell the difference between a Pulitzer-winning journalist ("recipient of nearly every major American journalism award, including the Heywood Broun award (1972), Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Reporting (1972 and 1986), Sigma Delta Chi Award (1973), George Polk Award (1972), William Allen White Medal (2000), and the Gerald R. Ford Prize for Reporting on the Presidency (2002). In 2012, Colby College presented Woodward with the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award for courageous journalism as well as an honorary doctorate. Also the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism") who broke Watergate and wrote about 7 presidents, known for his deep sourcing inside political organizations, and random hacks, the problem is with you, not with me.

 

You guys act like you actually know how Trump is and it's everybody else who's mistaken. What are you basing that on? Oh, you've read his twitter? Seen him at a rally or on the news? What the FOX News pundits say? You watched the Apprentice? You realize that this is all the "I'm projecting some image" public relations stuff, right? The real him comes from people who've actually known him and worked with him behind closed doors over the years, from his actions, and those people don't paint a very flattering portrait (and it's not some conspiracy, since the portrait is pretty consistent coming from unrelated people from all sides of the aisle over many years, from his business days to his political days). I suppose that since he's the flag-bearer of "your side" you can ignore all that and just pretend he's how you want him to be, but that's just lying to yourself.

 

And yes, I've been interested by various US presidents over time, as well as other historically-important figures, for positive and negative reasons. Maybe you guys would benefit from reading books and learning a few things (I suggest you start with Washington, Chernow has a good one) rather than just being partisan sheeps who whine about things you haven't read to people who never mentioned you. You guys are like Beavis and Butthead making sarcastic comments at the back of the class, not exactly adding value or coming off well.

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I've finished the book. Quite clear that John Dowd also spoke to Woodward, tons of details there.

 

From things he's said and done, it's quite clear that he thinks trade accounts are actually profit & loss statements (as in, "we have a trade deficit with country X, we're losing money to them, they're stealing from us").

 

Do I have to read a book to find that out about Trump?

 

And wait a minute there is another person who thinks in those terms about Trade, and trade deficit is like living on credit card - Warren Buffett.

 

 

Buffett re-iterated this in a recent CNBC interview:

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/07/full-transcript-billionaire-investor-warren-buffett-speaks-with-cnbcs-becky-quick-on-squawk-box-today.html

 

WARREN BUFFETT: I think it was in 2003, Joe, I wrote an article for Fortune actually about the trade deficit. I was worried about it getting too large then. Because, again, it was getting to be 3% or so of GDP. It-- wasn't specific to China at all. But it was just a question of how wise it is to let the trade deficit grow larger and larger. Because when you run-- when you are in effect buying more from other countries than they're buying from you, you are handing them investment funds. I mean, it's the nature. You give 'em little pieces of paper, and they can convert that into buying-- they can buy government bonds. They can buy buildings here. And-- Japanese bought Pebble Beach in the 1980s when they were running a big-- surplus. I mean, so you are giving up claim checks on our country essentially in exchange for having more consumption now than you're producing in this country. And so I do think that there's levels of trade deficit that bother me. I had some system that did not make it country specific. But I think-- the world has gotten better and better. And there's no question that-- that countries may try and take advantage in this or that. And-- we've actually been guilty of that sometimes in the past, too. I don't think leaders in other countries, whether China or 100 other countries, are not smart enough-- to realize that it's in the interest to keep promoting trade. The more we trade over time. And-- we don't want it to be a question of where we important 20% of our GDP and we export nothing. Now, we could all quick working, and we could hand little pieces of paper to the rest of the world, and they could keep sending us food. And they can send us autos. And they can send us all kinds of things. But eventually they have claims on all our wealth. So-- we do want to have policies where the overall trade deficit does not get out of hand in relation to GDP. And I've been arguing that for a long, long time.

 

 

(Emphasis in bold added)

 

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When you read Buffett (i.e. more than just the abstract you posted) you'll see that he believes that a nation that lives above its means has to finance the consumption above its production somehow. The way nations do that is abroad through a budget deficit. So the way to get rid of the deficit is to stop living above its means.

 

When you listen to Trump you come to the conclusion that he thinks the two things are not connected to each other and all you have to do is impose tariffs and the deficit goes away.

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I've finished the book. Quite clear that John Dowd also spoke to Woodward, tons of details there.

 

From things he's said and done, it's quite clear that he thinks trade accounts are actually profit & loss statements (as in, "we have a trade deficit with country X, we're losing money to them, they're stealing from us").

 

Do I have to read a book to find that out about Trump?

 

And wait a minute there is another person who thinks in those terms about Trade, and trade deficit is like living on credit card - Warren Buffett.

 

 

Buffett re-iterated this in a recent CNBC interview:

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/07/full-transcript-billionaire-investor-warren-buffett-speaks-with-cnbcs-becky-quick-on-squawk-box-today.html

 

WARREN BUFFETT: I think it was in 2003, Joe, I wrote an article for Fortune actually about the trade deficit. I was worried about it getting too large then. Because, again, it was getting to be 3% or so of GDP. It-- wasn't specific to China at all. But it was just a question of how wise it is to let the trade deficit grow larger and larger. Because when you run-- when you are in effect buying more from other countries than they're buying from you, you are handing them investment funds. I mean, it's the nature. You give 'em little pieces of paper, and they can convert that into buying-- they can buy government bonds. They can buy buildings here. And-- Japanese bought Pebble Beach in the 1980s when they were running a big-- surplus. I mean, so you are giving up claim checks on our country essentially in exchange for having more consumption now than you're producing in this country. And so I do think that there's levels of trade deficit that bother me. I had some system that did not make it country specific. But I think-- the world has gotten better and better. And there's no question that-- that countries may try and take advantage in this or that. And-- we've actually been guilty of that sometimes in the past, too. I don't think leaders in other countries, whether China or 100 other countries, are not smart enough-- to realize that it's in the interest to keep promoting trade. The more we trade over time. And-- we don't want it to be a question of where we important 20% of our GDP and we export nothing. Now, we could all quick working, and we could hand little pieces of paper to the rest of the world, and they could keep sending us food. And they can send us autos. And they can send us all kinds of things. But eventually they have claims on all our wealth. So-- we do want to have policies where the overall trade deficit does not get out of hand in relation to GDP. And I've been arguing that for a long, long time.

 

 

(Emphasis in bold added)

 

I think you have to be sure, because a lot of people think he's just using rhetoric to negotiate but he actually understands the benefits of trade and wants more free trade, while the behind the scene discussions he's had show that he doesn't and he thinks that trade is a zero sum game and hurts the US.

 

But anyway, the book is about a lot more than that, so even if that was obvious to you, it can still be worth reading. People read a CNBC piece somewhere and think they got all that was to get out of it, but that's stupid, that's like taking any book that you really like and thinking that reading a summary somewhere is equivalent to reading the book.

 

Buffett and Trump aren't saying the same thing. They're not even in the same universe in their thinking about finance and economics.

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When you read Buffett (i.e. more than just the abstract you posted) you'll see that he believes that a nation that lives above its means has to finance the consumption above its production somehow. The way nations do that is abroad through a budget deficit. So the way to get rid of the deficit is to stop living above its means.

 

When you listen to Trump you come to the conclusion that he thinks the two things are not connected to each other and all you have to do is impose tariffs and the deficit goes away.

 

The nice thing about Buffett is he stands by his word weather he likes Trump or not and yes there are differences in thinking between Buffett and Trump, but in wanting low trade deficit and the way to go about it, Trump is the closest politician to Buffett thinking (compared to Hillary or 16 other republicans).

 

To quote from fortune magazine below:

 

"My remedy may sound gimmicky, and in truth it is a tariff called by another name. "

 

http://fortune.com/2016/04/29/warren-buffett-foreign-trade/

Warren Buffett: Here's How I Would Solve the Trade Problem

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