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The Weekly Recap 3/31/19

Daniel Chase

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We never stop to consider the fact that life is just as complicated for the rest of us as it is for ourselves. We become so consumed by the flotsam and jetsam in our own lives that we’re blindsided to the lives of others. As upsetting as this may be, we’re not at a loss for solutions. The first step is take initiative and ask the people around you how they’re feeling. Don’t just blindly ask, make it clear that you’re interested. Next, you want to have a general understanding of what is going on in the world around you. This could have a bearing on how people are feeling. The best way to do this is to recap the previous week’s events, so we’ll do just that. 

Mueller Unchained 

Over the course of the last twenty-two months, special counsel Robert Muller has conducted an in-depth investigation into whether President Donald Trump, and many members of his administration, colluded with Russian individuals to help him secure the 2016 presidential election. Throughout the investigation, Mueller interviewed high-ranking legal officials, a myriad of witnesses, and several Labrador retrievers, and, on Friday, turned in his report to Attorney General William P. Barr. 

“The special counsel’s decision to describe the facts of his obstruction investigation without reaching any legal conclusions leaves it to the attorney general to determine whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime. We concluded that the evidence developed during the special counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction-of-justice offense…”

Attorney General William P. Barr 

Don’t Try This At Home

If you’ve had the chance to visit the movies this month and view “Captain Marvel,” or at least see the trailer, then I’m sure you’re familiar with the scene in which Brie Larson’s character, Carol Danvers, assaults an elderly woman on a NYC train. We later find out that this octogenarian is, in fact, a shape-shifting Skrull, but that’s not important right now. Outside of the Marvel cinematic universe, over the week, a 36-year-old man was caught on camera brutally beating up an elderly woman on the subway. The man, Marc Gomez, was charged with two counts of second-degree assault, third-degree assault and harassment. 

“The subject wanted for the brutal subway attack of an elderly woman is in custody. The victim was treated and realized from the hospital and is getting the care, advocacy and support needed. Thank you to the worldwide community for the tremendous assistance.”

Dermot Shea, NYPD Chief 

Democrats Are Never Happy

Americans have spent the last two years doing two things; enduring the Trump presidency, and awaiting the results of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into said presidency. Well, yesterday Mueller and Attorney General William Barr shared that the report had been submitted and reviewed, and President Trump was found largely innocent. Now, to be clear, Mueller and Barr are the only two individuals to have seen the investigation’s findings, and the Democratic leadership is not happy with this. Barr informed Congress that the Mueller investigation failed to find substantial information to indict President Trump for obstructions of justice. 

“In light of the very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the Justice Department following the Special Counsel report, where Mueller did not exonerate the President, we will be calling Attorney General Barr in to  testify before the House Judiciary Committee in the near future…”

Jerry Nadler (D-NY), House Judiciary Committee Chairman

Wait, I Thought He Was A Good Guy?

Let me just say that I apologize for President Donald Trump dominating much of this news segment, its truly not up to me. Moving on, Lawyer Michael Avenatti, famously known for providing legal support to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, was arrested today on federal bank fraud and wire fraud charges. Per the limited details of his arrest, California prosecutors say Avenatti was cuffed for embezzling client money to pay his own bills. According  to the Associated Press, he was released on $300,000 bond in New York. 

Immediately following his arrest and release, Avenatti tweeted his feelings, as well as a weirdly off-base remark about an upcoming case. 

“As all of you know, for the entirety of my career I have fought against powerful, powerful people and powerful corporations. I will never stop fighting that good fight. Tomorrow, we will be holding a press conference to disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by Nike that we have covered. This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball…”

Michael Avenatti

Call A Veto Truck 

The House on Tuesday pulled out all the stops to override Trump’s veto but, to no avail, their efforts failed. According to Vox, in order to override a presidential veto, House Democrats “would have needed two-thirds of the chamber’s support, or 290 votes. They were 42 votes shy, despite convincing 14 members of the Republican Party to join the cause. Despite the disappointing attempt made by the House to stop Trump’s veto, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) tried to find a silver lining for the situation. 

“Whether we can succeed with the number of votes is not the point. We are establishing the intent of Congress. The president has decided to be in defiance of the Constitution, to deface it with his action. Both houses of Congress in a bipartisan way sent him a bill that said this is how we will address border security. He had to sign the bill to keep the government open. Trump defied the Constitution with his action. Congress has overridden that. He did veto it.”

Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Speaker

The Trump administration made an incredibly bold move in overriding the actions of a bipartisan-backed congressional resolution.  To some this may be just another disagreement from President Trump, but to others this is an indication that Trump is stubbornly determined to do whatever it takes to get what he wants. Congress will do what they can to defend the constitution and stop Trump from using funds otherwise allocated for a true national emergency.

Juss-tice Isn’t Served 

In a Shyamalan-esque turn of events, Chicago prosecutors dropped all charged against actor Jussie Smollett, who local officials took to court over accusations of staging hate crimes against himself and filing a false police report, said CNN. Since this story hit major news outlets, people have been tossing and turning about the likelihood that two people shouted racial and anti-gay remarks at someone. The fact that people said he staged the entire attack only furthers the fact that we are living in a society that has a lot of work to do. 

“After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to the case..”

statement from Illinois State Attorney’s office 

Brexit Is Causing Quite A Ruckus 

For us Americans, it’s safe to assume that we’ve been too focused trying to process the actions of out president to care much about anything else. However, if you consider yourself a geopolitical connoisseur, then you should be interested to know that British Prime Minister Theresa May informed Conservative members of Parliament on Wednesday that she will step down if Brexit gets the greenlight. Basically, May is well aware that some people aren ’t keen on her in government, and she is so passionate about making Brexit happen that she’s willing to put her career on the line. 

“I have heard very clearly the mood of the parliamentary party. I know there is a desire for a new approach, and new leadership, in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations, and I won’t stand in the way of that…”

Theresa May, British Prime Minister 

Border-line Upsetting 

To say that immigration reform is a complicated issue in America is like saying that space travel is so easy a toddler could do it; it’s simply untrue. In addition to being a very polarizing issue, we are talking about the fate of millions of migrant individuals who simply wish to live happy, healthy lives in America. Over the course of the last few months, migrants have been detained along the Southwest Border of the U.S., where many have little to no access to clean drinking water, food, or lavatories. According to several sources, this week federal agents arrested over 4,000 migrants trying to cross the border — the highest daily total recorded in 15 years, according to a senior official with Customs and Border Protection.

“The breaking point has arrived. CBP is facing an unprecedented humanitarian and border security crisis all along our Southwest border — and nowhere has that crisis manifested more acutely than here in El Paso. We are doing everything we can to simply avoid a tragedy. But with these numbers, with these types of illnesses we’re seeing at the border, I fear that it’s just a matter of time.”

CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan

Young Moolah, Baby 

Moolah Mobile is a company which has created custom home-screens for mobile users that display ads in a “non-invasive” set location of one’s device. Per their official website, each time an advertisement is shown on one’s phone, the user earns “10% of what Moolah was paid for showing that ad in real time.” Users are paid in the form of “Moolah” which can be used in the Moolah Store for a variety of items. This company has commodified space on personal mobile devices and created a micro-gig economy in the process. Sound crazy? Keep reading. 

Moolah took its screen-buying operations one step further today when the Company announced that it had formed a partnership with SurgePhone Wireless, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Surge Holdings Inc (SURGE) to launch the first free wireless service for low-income communities. Yes, folks, the companies will offer completely free service for mobile device users. Through the use of Moolah’s passive income platform, users will be able to use money earned from ads on their home screens to fully pay their new phone bills. 

“Partnering with Moolah Mobile enhances our ability to utilize emerging technology to improve the quality of life for low income, under-banked, subprime credit and immigrant populations in the U.S…This partnership gives Surge a competitive advantage by essentially creating a no-cost product offering that currently doesn’t exist. I look forward to partnering with the team at Moolah Mobile on other products down the road as we both work to provide technology and digital services to the disadvantaged.”

Brian Cox, Chief Executive Officer, Surge 

We Asked For The Abridged Version

Special Counsel Robert Mueller turned in his homework earlier this week, and the subject of his essay was investigating claims that President Donald Trump colluded with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election. No member of the Legislative Branch has had the chance to view the 300-page report, and people continue to express their frustration at this fact. Over the weekend, Attorney General Bill Barr released a four-page summary to the House Judiciary Committee, saying, in his words, that the report failed to find evidence of any sort of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. 

“How can I say this more clearly? Show us the report!”

-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)


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Trade Talks Fail, What’s Next For The Market?

Jon Phillip

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The trade war between the United States and China has probably been the biggest economic and diplomatic development since the turn of the year. Although the world’s two biggest economies were locked in talks for months over a new trade deal, it all unraveled quickly.

This happened when US President Donald Trump stated that the Chinese went back on their word. He then imposed tariff hikes on Chinese goods last Friday. The tariffs were raised to an astonishing 25% on goods worth $200 billion. Although Trump might believe this might bully the Chinese into submission, many experts believe that might not be the case.

Difficulty in Completing Deal

The President had imposed these tariff hikes right before the Chinese delegation was supposed to show up at Washington. This was for which many had believed was going to be the last round of talks. However, experts now feel that the escalation of tensions between the two countries following the latest developments will make it difficult to reach a deal that could be considered a win for the US. As soon as the tariffs kicked in, Beijing announced that it was looking at countermeasures as well. However, there were no specifics on the nature of these measures.

Last year, the two nations had been embroiled in a damaging retaliatory tariff war and it could lead to a protracted trade war, if the Chinese decided to resort of the same tactics. The Chinese delegation is going to be in Washington this week to engage in another round of talks but it is believed that a binding trade deal is unlikely to be signed.

Is A Trump Win Likely?

One of the biggest reasons why the deal might not be signed anytime soon is perhaps the fact that the US President needs to be able to claim it as a win for himself. The President has staked his personal weight behind a favorable deal for the US. But with every passing day, it is looking increasingly unlikely that it is going to happen.

If that is to happen, then China’s entire way of doing business will need to change. This is starting at intellectual property theft and expands to technology transfers by force from US companies. If those things are not part of the deal, then it would not be the sort of deal that can be claimed as a win for the US. It doesn’t help that today, China came in with its own tariffs. China will raise tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods, the Chinese Finance Ministry said Monday.

And in true Trump fashion, the U.S. may not be done retaliating. The U.S. President has threatened to put 25% tariffs on $325 billion in Chinese goods that remain untaxed. The president has signaled he is content leaving the duties in place, arguing they will damage China more than the U.S. What are your thoughts?

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Can 102 Words Really Impact Stock Prices?

Joe Samuel

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In short, the answer is yes.  We’ve witnessed, first hand, this week how just a few words can drastically impact the stock market.  If you’re just tuning in, at the beginning of the first full week of May, U.S. President Donald Trump Tweeted out a 102-word post that ended up triggering a sell-off costing the global markets around $1.36 TRILLION…with a “T”!

The “Trump Tweet” expressed that he would once again increase tariffs on Chinese goods by the end of this week. What followed has been a shock to the global markets with futures pointing at dramatic declines every day this week.  Though some say that the decline are all but a speed bump, it still hasn’t helped the fact that this drop is one of the worst seen all year. People like Kerry Craig of JPMorgan Asset Management think that a trade deal can still be reached.  The expectations, however, have been readjusted to reflect a more long-term time horizon.

Eyes Turn Toward The Second Half Of The Week

Other analysts like Oanda Asia Pacific’s Jeffrey Halley feel that investors are prudently “lightening their loads.” Halley said, “My feeling is that investors are lightening their portfolios as a precaution.”

All eyes are on the second half of this week.  As we reported on May 7th, Vice Premier Liu He, China’s top trade negotiator will be heading to the US to talk trade this week.  

“Liu will be in the U.S. from May 9-10. The invite comes from both the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.” Regardless of what “will happen,” what has happened thus far has been an emotionally charged & very fragile global market. As this story develops we will continue to follow with more updates.

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Chinese Negotiators To Visit US As Tariffs Trigger More Concerns

Jon Phillip

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trump like a boss china

Vice Premier Liu He, China’s top trade negotiator will be heading to the US to talk trade this week.  The two countries have been at odds for months now with China trying to leverage the current US tariff situation. Of course, the US has not helped things either by continuing to increase tariffs on Chinese goods. 

Liu will be in the U.S. from May 9-10. The invite comes from both the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The markets took a hit on Monday after U.S. President Trump explained that he was not pleased with the speed of discussions and that he planned to raise tariffs by the end of the week.  Chinese authorities initially considered delaying talks in light of this.

What’s Next For China & The U.S.?

Both Mnuchin and Lighthizer were concerned after it was evident that talks weren’t making progress.  This was during a visit to Beijing just last week. Over the weekend, China sent a new draft of an agreement that outlined a pullback on certain language on several issues.  These issues had “the potential to change the deal very dramatically,” according to Mnuchin.

According to reports from the Global Times newspaper, China was prepared for other outcomes to the deal with the U.S. This also included a temporary breakdown. Furthermore, China had also planned to continue talks even if the U.S. decided to raise tariffs. Of course, time will tell but now we must see how the markets will react to these new developments coming from China.

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