Making sense of Trump

With the latest scandals and polls dropping, Trump’s defeat becomes ever more certain. But rather than broadening his appeal to the undecided Trump has instead doubled down with his hard-core base and declared the election “rigged.” What is he thinking? What is his strategy? The generous interpretation was given by veteran GOP strategist Mike Murphy: “’I think Trump is right: The shackles have been released, but they were the shackles of reality. Trump has now shifted to a mode of complete egomaniacal self-indulgence.’” This interpretation states that Trump is only making excuses for his defeat to save his damaged ego.

Maybe. But few observers claim that Trump is dumb. This implies that he knows what he is doing. His repeated claims that the establishment (press, elites, corporate America) has rigged the elections is so treasonous that Republic House leader Paul Ryan spoke out against them Saturday: “’Our democracy relies on confidence in election results, and the speaker is fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity,’ Ryan’s press secretary, AshLee Strong, said in a statement sent to several media outlets.”

“The people who speak for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign on Sunday tried to walk back his incendiary comments about a ‘rigged’ election, with vice presidential candidate Mike Pence saying that Trump was only referring to media bias and vowing that ‘we will absolutely accept the result of the election.’… And literally hours after those media appearances, Trump was back on Twitter ― making clear that, yes, he thought voter fraud was a real threat to the election’s legitimacy.”

Poor Mike Pence who seemed a generally decent guy. He is in an even worse position than Paul Ryan being dragged along through Trump’s seditious muck. What does Trump want or expect his hard-core supporters to do when he losses in a rigged election? He doesn’t seem to be pumping them up to just hang their heads and go home. Trump seems not to care who or what he destroys as befits his disgusting model of zero sum capitalism in which he profits (wins) by gaining better terms in deals with counterparties and/or stiffing business partners with his bankruptcies. No win win for Trump.

The real concern, as expressed strongly by Fareed Zzkaria Friday, is that along with destroying the Republican Party, Trump will destroy America as well.

Trump has gone from evil to seriously dangerous, not because he has changed any—he hasn’t—but because there are so many people who have been willing to support his ugly, incoherent, ranting candidacy. I understand their anger at an ever larger, more intrusive government that has in the nature of things been captured for the benefit of crony (rather than real, competitive) capitalists. But Trump only promises to expand government further and to manipulate it more skillfully, for the benefit of….??? I will vote for Gary Johnson and William Weld.


Author: Warren Coats

I specialize in advising central banks on monetary policy and the development of the capacity to formulate and implement monetary policy.  I joined the International Monetary Fund in 1975 from which I retired in 2003 as Assistant Director of the Monetary and Financial Systems Department. While at the IMF I led or participated in missions to the central banks of over twenty countries (including Afghanistan, Bosnia, Croatia, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgystan, Moldova, Serbia, Turkey, West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Zimbabwe) and was seconded as a visiting economist to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (1979-80), and to the World Bank's World Development Report team in 1989.  After retirement from the IMF I was a member of the Board of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority from 2003-10 and of the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review from 2010-2017.  Prior to joining the IMF I was Assistant Prof of Economics at UVa from 1970-75.  I am currently a fellow of Johns Hopkins Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise.  In March 2019 Central Banking Journal awarded me for my “Outstanding Contribution for Capacity Building.”  My recent books are One Currency for Bosnia: Creating the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina; My Travels in the Former Soviet Union; My Travels to Afghanistan; My Travels to Jerusalem; and My Travels to Baghdad. I have a BA in Economics from the UC Berkeley and a PhD in Economics from the University of Chicago. My dissertation committee was chaired by Milton Friedman and included Robert J. Gordon.

10 thoughts on “Making sense of Trump”

  1. Let’s assume that Clinton — for whose defeat we would normally be hoping — carries the day. Trump isn’t going to go away: he is a vain narcissist and, though he may not have tasted power, he has certainly smelled it, and he is going to do his best to maintain a presence in American public life. Let’s further assume that the GOP realises what kind of monster it has fostered and closes rank on him. Trump will either maintain his position on the fringe of mainstream politics — the world which he says is crooked (and we know he’s not entirely wrong on that point!) — or he will choose another route. Direct action (not himself, of course, since he is a coward, but by whipping up his supporters)? Extra-legal activity? He ain’t gonna go away. So what do you people see him doing to maintain the glare of publicity that keeps his face yellow and his hair orange?

  2. Speaking as a Libertarian delegate who worked for Johnson at the convention, the Radical Caucus had 44% against him on the 2nd ballot. Weld had more trouble. This is due to how persons of your own values and beliefs choose not to participate with the LP people; which is not a problem for me.
    But a genuine alternative for libertarians who have always believed in magic, and voted Republicans as a “negative vote” against whomever Democrats nominated, would be the LP.

    1. “Believing in magic is a reference to our hope the GOP could nominate a Goldwater again, or at least stop thrusting itself into nationalism and the faith-based organizations. Xenophobia blaming “Mexicans” for steelworker unemployment, instead of their former union contracts, is just bloviating – and yet they vote for it.

  3. In my opinion, we are all getting a great lesson on a high-functioning narcissistic sociopath (or at least a person with a severe Narcissistic Personality Disorder). I have done extensive research on this topic, and have had two psych doctors weigh in favorably on this position on the comments of my post. You can read it here. . There will always be chaos and wreckage in the wake of a sociopath.

    Finally, I will leave you with an excerpt from the paper. This paper was written back in July, and it’s hard to argue that it is not dead on:

    “A covetous sociopath is described as someone who envies or lusts to win or possess another’s qualities (looks, a personality, a mate, an award or promotion, money, a sports victory, etc…) so much, that he will resort to deceit to get them. When this individual cannot win or possess those qualities, he takes as much pleasure from being able to successfully thwart his perceived competition, even if from the sidelines. Many times the victim will have no idea that he was targeted. I believe that if Trump loses the nomination or general election, he could possibly go to great lengths to position himself as someone who did not lose. There could be lawsuits, and wild claims of collusion against him, and strong attempts to besmirch the power-brokers, winners or even voters.”

    1. Update to the point I’m making: Notice today after the FBI reported there would not be a further email investigation. During the investigation, Trump claimed that maybe the system was not as rigged as he thought. Now after the latest email situation was squashed, he won’t even talk to it, and switched back to conspiracy theories about the system being rigged. A sociopath/narcissist simply doesn’t have the hard-wiring to process EVER being wrong. If they ever tell you they are wrong (or apologize), it is rare, and for strategic and manipulative reasons. Be forewarned. We are seeing a sociopath/narcissist take advantage of people’s emotions, when many of them feel like the world have left them behind, and they do not possess the knowledge of geopolitical, business and economic issues to decipher Trump’s lies. They just want somebody to listen to them, and to rebuke Washington because of their pain (much of which is because they cannot hang on to the way things used to be for good or for bad). Donald trump behaves as a narcissistic sociopath. Please go to my post for more. . Thank you. B. Ashley

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