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September 17, 2016

Trump can't do the things he says -- but there are consequences to saying them.

You can hardly look at the news, Facebook, or the Book of Revelation without hearing how Donald Trump is the end of the world. He says he wants build a wall on the U.S. Mexico border, prevent Muslims from entering the U.S., and withdraw from NATO, among other things. But there are dozens of obstacles – from laws, funds, and manpower to, like, reality – to stop him from actually doing them. There are still real-world consequences to the things he says, and they are catastrophic.


Dance like no one is watching their life savings go down the toilet.

1. The Stock Market loses hundreds of billions of dollars in value.

If politics is perception, economics is perception – wrapped around speculation – inside an opinion – with a soft, chewy center of wild-ass guesses. The stock market is not stocks or bonds. The stock market is an ongoing series of bets, payoffs, and losses based on patterns of what’s happened before and what people think is likely to happen in the future. It’s a casino.

Markets run on some measure of predictability. They respond horribly to uncertainty. It’s like you’re passing a blackjack table, you think about putting up money to play – but you hear this table might hit you with the 13 of dingleberries.

Whether it’s true doesn’t matter. Whether other tables might play with similar rules doesn’t matter. You’re likely to walk out of the casino and put your money in a nice, safe bank, because nothing terrible ever happened to one of those. Someone notices you and they do same thing, then someone else, and so on, till the casino is empty.

Donald Trump is not a wild card. A wild card has only 52 possibilities. Donald Trump is the 13 of dingleberries. He says he’ll build a 2,000-mile wall, which is like saying he’ll pave the Bifrost Bridge to Asgard – plus he’ll strongarm Mexico to pay for it. He’ll impose tariffs on goods from China, Japan, and Mexico. He’ll withdraw from NAFTA and the TPP. The market calls that the “WTF Index,” and Trump is off the charts.

Why It Absolutely Could Happen:

In 2011, House Republicans threatened not to raise the debt ceiling so the country could pay its bills. Raising the debt ceiling is common, having been done more than 74 times since 1962 and 10 since 2001 at that time. Republicans just wanted to stage a photo op and play Chicken: Fury Road with everyone who loaned money to the U.S. government.

Standard & Poor’s downgraded the country’s credit rating – for the first time ever – even though the bill passed, anyway. S&P said the “stability and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges.” Translation: your little hissy fit about not paying us scared the crap out of everybody.

The Dow dropped 634.76 points, the 6th largest drop in U.S. history, representing a trillion-with-a-big-fat-t dollars – all because literally nothing happened, except for a bunch of talk.


This is what happens just because someone talks about The Walking Dead without a spoiler alert.

2. The Muslim world becomes more unstable. More riots, more guns, more bombs.

Trump has appealed to his conservative base with Islamophobic rhetoric from the start. He’ll spy on mosques. He’ll create lists of Muslim Americans. He’ll ban Muslims from entering the U.S. He’ll change the name of Ramada Inn because it sounds too close to Ramadan.

Conservative Muslim leaders must appeal to their conservative bases, too – not to mention fundamentalist leaders, and certainly not to mention extremist leaders, because if I mention them, they’ll [CENSORED - Sincerely, The Editors].

The death-to-America crowd will have to respond to a Trump presidency – and to U.S. citizens abroad who elected him. These leaders don’t have to be presidents or kings. They have to have a webcam, Internet access, and an audience.

Moderates among the 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide are already speaking out against Trump. Dar al-Ifta, the official religious body of Egypt, calls Trump’s words hate speech. The Landmark Group, one of the largest chains of stores in the Middle East, pulled Trump-branded furniture from its Lifestyle outlets in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Qatar. (One chair in the Trump line, inspired by IKEA, is called Wöttán Ásshöl.) Khalaf Al Habtoor, head of the Al Habtoor Group in Dubai, withdrew previous support of Trump, citing “ignorance and deceit (that) produces a toxic mix threatening the U.S. and our world.”

That’s moderate Muslims. Jihadists tend to express their displeasure not quite so daintily.

Why It Absolutely Could Happen:

In 2010, Rev. Terry Jones, a pastor in Florida with a congregation of a few dozen people, two alligators, and a windup dolphin from SeaWorld named Splooshy, announced he was going to burn a copy of the Quran. On the day of the event, thousands in the Muslim world took to the streets to protest the Quran burning – as well as the U.S.‘s unwillingness to stop it because it would violate Jones’s right to free speech.

In Afghanistan alone, security forces shot two protesters and wounded four to prevent demonstrators from getting into government offices in Kabul. In Fayzabad, protesters broke through the first perimeter gate at a NATO base. Protestors in Mazar-i-Sharif attacked a U.N. Assistance Mission, killing at least 30 and injuring at least 150.

That’s just one country. The rioters weren’t ISIS or radicals with military-grade bombs or guns. And it was over the holy-moly batshit of a hayseed Bible rubber, not the leader of the free world with the nuclear suitcase.


Regular, premium, diesel, or blazing inferno that cripples economies everywhere?

3. Because of unrest in the Middle East, energy prices skyrocket.

Market uncertainty applies to oil, too. Anxiety over Middle East instability in oil markets is called the “fear premium,” which also is a great title for a horror movie set in an insurance office.

Muslim leaders, heads of state, also have to respond to Trump. Many already have, from Saudi Arabia to Qatar. While the Saudis have released oil reserves to calm the markets in the past, they won’t be inclined to help a U.S. President who ridiculed Islam’s aversion to pork by suggesting he would arm soldiers with bullets dipped in pig’s blood.

Why It Absolutely Could Happen:

In November 2010, before the Arab Spring protests, demonstrations, riots, and even civil war, the price of crude oil was $83.76 a barrel. By the end of April 2011, it was $113.93 a barrel, an increase of nearly 50%. Analysts said the oil market hadn’t been so unstable since World War II. It took three years for prices to start coming down.

Because of Arab Spring, the International Energy Agency expects OPEC nations in Africa to post zero growth till 2018. Oil production in Algeria will fall by one-third. And when countries have to spend to repair infrastructure, as Saudi Arabia did, oil prices remain high to pay for them.


These Taiwanese asked to clarify they are not Chinese and those are protest signs, not ping pong paddles.

4. High oil prices hit China hard. That affects every country on Earth.

Trump says he’ll levy a 45% tariff on Chinese imports. He says China is raping the U.S. He says a fortune cookie isn’t a cookie at all, but really a stale, sugary dumpling.

The U.S. owes China $1.24 trillion in Treasury bonds. Say China wants to twist President Trump’s ear, just to tell him to cut the bullshit, or maybe to respond to 1.4 billion insulted Chinese. If China starts cashing in its bonds and taking its money somewhere else, even a little bit, that drives up interest rates. When the U.S. has trouble making larger payments, it means more than a $25 late fee.

That $1.24 trillion is just the egg roll. China is the largest economy in the world in purchasing power. The largest in manufacturing. The largest trading nation. The largest exporter of goods (seller) and the second largest importer (buyer).

China is kind of a big deal. China is everything bought, sold, or processed. China is the bigger boat you’re gonna need. Insert your favorite movie quote here, because China fits it.

Because China gets as much as 75% of its oil from the Middle East and North Africa, any fluctuation in supply or prices creates ripples the Silver Surfer can hang ten on.

Why It Absolutely Could Happen:

In 2009, when President Obama levied a 35% tariff on imports of Chinese tires, China threatened higher tariffs on American-made automobiles – the very next day. Later, 36% on various nylon products. China launched an investigation into whether the U.S. was unloading chicken parts in Chinese markets.

A rival with Law & Order: Chicken Parts is not one to be trifled with.


“Mr. Trump! Your taco bowl privileges are revoked!”

5. Mexico retaliates against the U.S. economy. Just because it can.

Trump says Mexico is not “sending” its best citizens across the border. He says Mexicans are drug dealers and rapists (rape is a big thing with Trump, apparently, except when it’s in the U.S. military).

Mexicans and Mexican-Americans dispute the words sending and best, as well as serious Presidential contender. Despite one-third of them living in poverty, the World Trade Organization rates Mexican workers the hardest-working in the world, measured by the amount of hours worked annually. And only 4.4% of Mexicans say they would migrate to the U.S. if they could.

Like Muslims, like China, like Europe – 122.3 million Mexicans will expect a response to Trump’s insults. Former President Vicente Fox writes Trump is “a liar and a madman… chaos and despair.” After Trump’s recent visit to Mexico, President Enrique Peña Nieto called him a liar for saying they didn’t talk about Mexico’s paying for Trump’s wall.

Of tweets with Spanish obscenities – the dirty words we’re memorizing from Narcos – 7% of cursing tweets for the entire year were sent within a single hour after the announcement of Trump’s visit.Mexico is the third-largest trading partner of the U.S. It’s the fifth-largest of emerging markets worldwide. It’s the U.S.‘s second-largest export market and third-largest supplier of crude oil. The country’s direct investment in Mexico is $101 billion.

Mexico is kind of un vaya cosa. Mexico es todo compró – well, you get the idea.

Why It Absolutely Could Happen:

In 2009, in response to closing the boundary for cross-border trucking, Mexico levied $2.4 billion in tariffs on U.S. products – and stopped at $1 billion only after the U.S. agreed to a compromise. In 2015, in response to meat-labeling laws they deemed as discriminatory, Mexico and Canada merely threatened tariffs of $1.01 billion – and Congress repealed the laws.

(Plus Trump says he’ll withdraw military support from NATO member nations that aren’t “meeting their obligations,” which sounds like they owe juice on a bar bet. It means their defense spending isn’t at least 2% of their GDP. Right now only four of 28 nations qualify.)

(So Trump has pissed off – or scared the shit out of – or both – by name – Muslims, China, most of Europe, and Mexico. Will they be inclined to aid, or even deal favorably with, the Trump Administration in a time of trouble? Would you ask your ex to help you move?)


Seriously, Adam McKay – call me.

6. Threats to stop remittances to Mexico cause U.S. banks to falter, if not fail.

Remittances are money that Mexican nationals in the U.S. (legal and illegal) transfer to Mexico. Trump says he’ll stop such payments till Mexico agrees to pay for his impossible wall. Most go to food, housing, and health care for that one-third of Mexicans living in poverty, and they amount to $22.4 billion annually.

Banks collect fees on remittances. If Trump threatens to hold billions of dollars hostage, people are likely to take their money out, even just as a protest – Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, a lot of Latino-Americans (55 million of them), and people who think Trump is Carrot Top with Secret Service protection. They might send cash instead. Or money orders. Or PayPal, Bitcoin, or cereal box tops. So banks lose that revenue.

But that’s only the first domino. If some people might take their money out, which scares other people into actually taking their money out, that can lead to a “run” on a bank. A run means a bank doesn’t have the funds to conduct business like people buying homes and cars, starting businesses, meeting payroll – y'know, unimportant stuff.

Why It Absolutely Could Happen:

In 2008, IndyMac lost $1.3 billion, only 7.5% of its deposits, before federal regulators seized the bank. Six weeks later, Washington Mutual closed after a run of $16.7 billion – the largest bank failure in history. The day after that, Wachovia lost $5 billion, only 1% of its deposits, before Wells Fargo bought it for peanuts.

Americans literally can’t afford to continue to believe the U.S. can muscle and loudmouth its way through the world. The world isn’t like that anymore. It probably never was.

Maybe U.S. voters will see the folly of the Trump candidacy and steer away from financial apocalypse. Maybe not. But if Trump is elected, and if any of these disasters wipe out millions of jobs, homes, businesses, savings – then with the humility and compassion embodied by Trump’s tweets on the morning after the Orlando shooter, or the murder of the cousin of Dwyane Wade – neener-neener-neener, I called it.