culture, politics, commentary, criticism

Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Yet another capitalist against Bush. The wizards of Wall Street are becoming aware that the rest of the world is depending not on American leadership, but on American irrelevance — except in its new role as a global irritant and problem child.

Dean LeBaron is founder of Batterymarch Financial Management, one of the inventors of index funds and a pioneer of quantitative and emerging market investing. He is also getting gloomy (Sandra Ward in Barron's, sub, req'd):
Is the geopolitical scene among the bearish factors [affecting the economy]?

Yes. I've always said that investment managers should not have a political view, but individual investors were allowed the luxury. The U.S. has done incredible damage to itself. I see this in Switzerland. The Swiss people are pretty tolerant of anyone in the world, but they really have an attitude about the United States.

My impression is, most of the world would like to get as far away from the U.S. as possible, be neither friend nor enemy.

Russia goes its own way now. Who would have imagined 10 years ago that Russia would have paid down $22 billon of international debt to the G7 countries and pay a premium of a billion dollars in order to prepay? It is phenomenal. From a financial standpoint, it makes sense if the dollar is declining in value to leave the debt there and pay it off more cheaply. But I think it is just a matter of: Let's just get it away from the United States, let's distance ourselves.

Even China, which does an enormous amount of trade with the U.S., doesn't particularly care what we do anymore. They are concerned with their own domestic market, which is growing at a very rapid rate. If there is some export business on top of that, that's fine. The Chinese will buy up a nickel company in Cuba, or an energy company in the Canadian oil sands. They'll dance around the U.S., and what we do doesn't really affect them too much. [...]

More and more people are voicing concerns about the big gap between the rich and the poor.

It will lead to trouble. The response to it seems to be building bigger fences. The U.S. is going to build a fence on the border of Mexico and the Israelis want a fence between themselves and the Palestinians. A Swiss friend pointed out Americans spend a million dollars to kill one Iraqi when they could hire that person for $10,000. It is such a bargain.

You make it sound simple to end poverty and hunger. Where do you start?

With clean water. Half the world doesn't have clean water. It is not terribly difficult to get clean water to everybody.
Solving the world's real problems is good for business. Solving the world's imaginary problems (Iraqi WMDs, gay marriage, flag burning, tort reform, etc.) is bad for business. It's that simple.

These issues pose a real problem not just for rich capitalists but for any working American who participates in a 401(k) retirement plan: Where should you invest your wages when the world's financial superpower is an Orwellian hornet's nest of corruption?

Previous installments in the Skimble panoply of Capitalists Against Bush include Warren Buffett and Seth Glickenhaus.

Greatest Hits · Alternatives to First Command Financial Planning · First Command, last resort, Part 3 · Part 2 · Part 1 · Stealing $50K from a widow: Wells Real Estate · Leo Wells, REITs and divine wealth · Sex-crazed Red State teenagers · What I hate: a manifesto · Spawn of Darleen Druyun · All-American high school sex party · Why is Ken Lay smiling? · Poppy's Enron birthday party · The Saudi money laundry and the president's uncle · The sentence of Enron's John Forney · The holiness of Neil Bush's marriage · The Silence of Cheney: a poem · South Park Christians · Capitalist against Bush: Warren Buffett · Fastow childen vs. Enron children · Give your prescription money to your old boss · Neil Bush, hard-working matchmaker · Republicans against fetuses and pregnant women · Emboldened Ken Lay · Faith-based jails · Please die for me so I can skip your funeral · A brief illustrated history of the Republican Party · Nancy Victory · Soldiers become accountants · Beware the Merrill Lynch mob · Darleen Druyun's $5.7 billion surprise · First responder funding · Hoovering the country · First Command fifty percent load · Ken Lay and the Atkins diet · Halliburton WMD · Leave no CEO behind · August in Crawford · Elaine Pagels · Profitable slave labor at Halliburton · Tom Hanks + Mujahideen · Sharon & Neilsie Bush · One weekend a month, or eternity · Is the US pumping Iraqi oil to Kuwait? · Cheney's war · Seth Glickenhaus: Capitalist against Bush · Martha's blow job · Mark Belnick: Tyco Catholic nut · Cheney's deferred Halliburton compensation · Jeb sucks sugar cane · Poindexter & LifeLog · American Family Association panic · Riley Bechtel and the crony economy · The Book of Sharon (Bush) · The Art of Enron · Plunder convention · Waiting in Kuwait: Jay Garner · What's an Army private worth? · Barbara Bodine, Queen of Baghdad · Sneaky bastards at Halliburton · Golf course and barbecue military strategy · Enron at large · Recent astroturf · Cracker Chic 2 · No business like war business · Big Brother · Martha Stewart vs. Thomas White · Roger Kimball, disappointed Republican poetry fan · Cheney, Lay, Afghanistan · Terry Lynn Barton, crimes of burning · Feasting at the Cheney trough · Who would Jesus indict? · Return of the Carlyle Group · Duct tape is for little people · GOP and bad medicine · Sears Tower vs Mt Rushmore · Scared Christians · Crooked playing field · John O'Neill: The man who knew · Back to the top

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