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Whose responsibility is it? # 20

 

What a magnificent weekend for all Bridge players. Was it Trump or no Trump and in the end who won the contract? I am very uncertain at this time about feeling confident in a game with wild cards, especially if one player can change the rules at will.

 

“Sing a song ‘o sixpence a pocket full of rye (Theresa May early trade agreement plea and N.A.T.O.); four and twenty black birds baked in a pie (no entry forthem); when the pie was opened the birds began to sing (the protestors); and wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before theKing.”

 

“King Donald is a medieval knight sitting at the Oval table with a few loyal squires counting out his money (selected investments). The Queen was in her parlor eating bread and honey (and losing a few shoe design contracts). The maid was in the garden hanging out the clothes (after being groped thoroughly); when up came a black bird and pecked off her nose (why not a white bird, is it racism or Obama?).”

 

The world as we know it is being beset by uncertainty in travel, citizenship, migration, trade disruption, and either a feeling of anger or frustration. Business strategy would suggest that change is a pathway and not an edict. The arbitrary dismantling of regulations, and an instruction to cut two regulations for every new one enacted, could soon see the end of order rather than a removal of bureaucracy.

For Jamaica, we need to understand and seek to influence the removal of some arbitrary trade rules of entry in order to simplify our access to the market by promoting consistent documentation and phytosanitary regulations that can presently be manipulated by each State in the USA. This is a trade lobby job, but who in Congress can lead this in a time of such confusion? We have to find a way to interact to our advantage. Executive orders do not necessarily mean compliance by each State, and certain negotiated access regulations have already been flaunted by certain States in the face of Federal agreements.

Hate crimes emerged at a Mosque in Quebec City in Canada leaving six dead and eight persons in critical condition. I used the word hate crime intentionally for if it had been other than white persons it would be branded terrorism. In the midst of violence we are given to differentiate on racial grounds.

One thing we can be certain of in the 21st century is that race and religion both provoke retaliation and a permanent mistrust going forward. The second image is that of the protesters coming out to support the rights of people who do not resemble them racially. The return to the 1960’s is obvious to me and the courts in the USA are going to be busy from the cities right up to the Supreme Court. For those who do not remember the 1960’s: Civil Rights Movement; The Women’s Movement; The Anti-Vietnam War Movement; The Students’ Movement; The Gay Rights Movement; The Environmental Movement; were all part of that era and changed the face of America. President Trump has rekindled the spirit wittingly or unwittingly (the more likely case), and this time the Revolution will be televised “live and direct”!


Any retaliation on the part of law enforcement officers or National Guard will end in a replay of the two riots in Watts: in 1965, and again with the Rodney King riots in 1992. This time the potential exists in more than one American city. The Congress knows this and is already apprehensive as at their level of representation there is considerable political ground to be lost, and a wrong move by them could mean politicalsuicide.

The worlds’ financial markets are confused, and safety seems to be foremost in the minds of investors. The US $ devalued against the “safe” Japanese Yen (- 1.18%), and gold continued an upward movement (+0.4%). The safety mentality is not necessarily good for potential international investors in the USA market, and we may be down to a watch and see approach, (at least until the edicts subside). This goes contrary to the “bring the jobs back home” campaign promises and may slow future growth.

Tourism markets are confused by the arbitrary travel restrictions and fears about re-entry may be a new concern for Green Card holders. This goes beyond air travel to include cruise shipping. However, some cruise lines may actually reposition ships in the Caribbean and forego Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and North African tours.


Are we ready in terms of capacity if this happens, and should we try to influence the potential windfall? I think that our reputation (in spite of our high crime rate) remains high in the tourism sector and we should put even more effort into the diversion of tourists from those banned areas to Jamaica.


The travel discrimination is also set to disrupt oil supplies and shift allegiances between consumers and producers in this industry. Will this mean cheaper or more expensive oil for our market, with the potential to reduce or increase inflation, or change the character of our trade balances?

Finally, is the question of how soon will undocumented persons in the USA being sent home? A sensitive issue will be the methodology of detention meaning will it be voluntary or “Gestapo style”. I can see very little chance for an amnesty and the methodology may be a further stimulus for protests or rioting. Many businesses that rely on undocumented workers (construction, agriculture, small retail, maintenance, landscaping, and domestic workers) will be affected and the cost of their replacement by Americans will be inflationary. I had initiated thought on some of these issues in previous papers, but I am yet to see positive or negative feedback, or evidence of discussion and planning. There is a need for a clear strategy that will give us an advantage in the time of adversity and change a potential loss into a win. Whose responsibility is it to bell the most unpredictable cat that we have ever seen in a position of great power?

 

 

Executive Insights
From the Desk of James Moss- Solomon
Executive in Residence, MSBM
November 26, 2016

 

 

 

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