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Team Chump

Trump's hand-picked winners...

LAST MONTH it was war with Europe. Now it's bombs over Toronto, writes Bill Bonner, reporting from Paris in his Diary of a Rogue Economist.

Plans are being drawn up for two walls. One across the southern border to keep Mexicans out. And one across the 49th parallel to keep Canadian products out.

According to the indictment, both nations are purloining American jobs.

But before we go any further, we would like to applaud Mr.Trump. The Trump show is all sound and fury, signifying God-knows-what...

But, occasionally – and apparently by accident – Mr.Trump seems to come up with the right message at the right time.

And he was 100% on target at the G7 summit in Québec when he said:

"Ultimately, that's what you want. You want a tariff-free – you want no barriers, and you want no subsidies...That's the way you learned at the Wharton School of Finance."

But the Trump team never sticks to its playbook. Within minutes, the claptrap was back in the program and the clowns – Bolton, Kudlow, and Navarro – were back on the field.

What a team!

Bolton on first base, covering national security; Kudlow, on second, making sure that the president gets some of the worst economic advice available; and then there's Peter Navarro on third.

We cringe when we see their faces on TV. But to fully understand our point of view – which could be right, wrong, or nothing at all – let us tell you about the wedding we went to on Saturday.

If you are a long-term Diary reader, you know that we regard marriage as the most ancient of all win-win deals.

People get together...with no guns to their heads...and make a life-long commitment. Two words of only three letters – "I do" – set the course for a lifetime of happiness, or woe, often both.

Let us begin our story at the end...

By midnight at this latitude, in Normandy, the light of the evening was used up and a heavy fog had fallen.

The ancient castle, lit up for the wedding, seemed almost ghostly...an apparition, as if it were floating somewhere in a dream.

Châteaux in France are often surrounded by moats. Most have been filled as the need for them as a defense against attack diminished.

The invention of the cannon doomed Europe's moats. And by the 18th century, France's châteaux made little pretense of military purpose; they were just big houses, meant to impress the neighbors...the kind of house a hedge fund manager today might build on the Connecticut coast.

But this château was built in the 16th and 17th centuries, when it wasn't entirely clear how effective cannon would be. It had meurtriers (aka murder holes) down low, from where defenders could fire their arrows with little chance of being hit themselves.

Stout iron gates blocked the entrance. Stone walls and a moat protected the sides.

This château still had a canal, now dry, in front. And on one side was a small lake that went almost up to the side of the defensive walls. In it, we saw the château reflected so perfectly, it was hard to tell which was the real one and which was the imposter.

Disoriented by champagne and the thick mist, we might have stepped towards the front door and found ourselves in the drink.

We were among France's "beau monde", people with ancient aristocratic titles and still enough money to put on a proper wedding. Since the Revolution, aristocratic titles have no political significance, but people still dust them off for wedding invitations and funeral announcements.

Our invitation came from two marquis, a rank below duke and above count.

Typically, the wedding begins at three or four in the afternoon. It is followed by a reception for everyone and then a dinner for those who are invited.

Usually, the dinner involves speeches, often a video montage, many toasts, dancing, and singing. A peculiar custom now current in France seems to be to stand on chairs and wave napkins in the air while singing some blustery tune.

Typically, too, the seating is organized. And since you are destined to spend several hours...at least until after midnight...at the table, your enjoyment of the event will be largely determined by the people around you. (You are never seated near your spouse.)

We were lucky. Our companions were jolly.

Still, it was a long day. We didn't get home until 3 am. But we kept our eyes and ears open and tried to learn something.

"Trump is amazing," began a man on our left. "Here in Europe, we still don't know what to make of him. He seems like a complete idiot, no offense..."

"None taken..."

"I mean, he doesn't know anything. What he thinks he knows is remarkably naïve and foolish for a world leader. So he just does n'importe quoi [a pejorative in this context, meaning – any damned thing he wants]. And sometimes, it seems to turn out pretty well."

In Europe, as in America, the show is Trump. And the performances are all sold out.

"I like his negotiating technique. I know...It probably doesn't work most of the time. But it's fun to watch. He says something crazy that rattles everyone, even his own lieutenants.

"And then, when he's broken the furniture, everyone gets together and tries to figure out how to put it back together – but in better shape.

"We probably need someone like that."

Others weren't so sure. Not the foreigners. Not even the members of his own party.

"This cannot be our party," said Senator Jeff Flake (R).

"He beclowned himself [at the G7]," said Republican strategist Steve Schmidt.

Mr.Trump broke some chairs and some vases. Will the other G7 nations be able to put them back together?

Bill Bonner has co-authored a number of New York Times Bestsellers including Financial Reckoning Day, Empire of Debt and Mobs, Markets and Messiahs. In his own opinion, Bill's most recent title, A Modest Theory of Civilization: Win-Win or Lose, is his best work yet. Bill also founded The Agora, a worldwide community for private researchers and publishers, in 1979. Financial analysts within the group have exposed and predicted some of the world's biggest shifts since that time, starting with the fall of the Soviet Union back in the late 1980s, to the collapse of the Dot Com (2000) and then mortgage finance (2008) bubbles, and more recently the election of President Trump.

See full archive of Bill Bonner articles

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