Thursday, January 24, 2019

Where is Mister Ed when we need him?

In one of his more bizarre interviews, speaking on CNBC this morning Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross seemed to need Mister Ed's help.  Wil...Bur.  Feeling free to jabber without thinking about his role as a government spokesperson, he said that "we are miles and miles away from resolving the trade war with China...that is very complicated with lots and lots of issues."  This vague statement was casually said to highlight his importance but was not at all helpful to financial markets.  Why would Wilbur be remotely be aware of that?

More alarmingly, of federal workers not being paid he said, "I don't really understand why they are going to homeless shelters to get food... or why they can't get loans... borrowing from a bank or credit union is federally guaranteed."  People go to food banks, soup kitchens, and even homeless shelters because they are hungry, or need food for their families.  Sort of simple!  And what the f..k is he talking about?  Bank and most credit union deposits are insured by the FDIC, loans are not.  Loans are based on credit scores and credit history, and often cannot be obtained in a few days.  Credit cards can be used but many federal workers have only adequate salaries, and may not want to tarnish their credit scores for a short term event.  Or they may be maxed out.  Is Wilbur senile or callous may be the right question.  Maybe both, but the best answer seems to be that he is calculating, or call him wily Wilbur.

When filing with the Department of Government Ethics as he entered office, he listed assets of $700 million.  Huge of course, but he had always told Forbes Magazine, that "richest" list, that he was worth $3.7 billion.  The back story from Michael Lewis's recent book, "The Forbes reporters were accustomed to having rich people mislead them about the size of their wealth, but nearly all had been trying to keep their names off the list."  To quote a Forbes editor, "In the history of the magazine only three people stand out as having made huge efforts to get on, or end up higher than they belonged.  One was Saudi Prince Alwaleed.  The second was Donald Trump.  And the third was Wilbur Ross."  A former senior partner of Ross said, "Wilbur doesn't have an issue with bending the truth."

So why is he Commerce Secretary, a job he knows almost nothing about...


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