Thursday, January 7, 2016

Nate Silver and company...

...over at FiveThirtyEight are wondering why the Republican Party establishment isn't doing more to stop Donald Trump.

My answer (and I don't think anyone in the piece said this) is that you can't beat somethin' with nothin'. And by that I mean: the establishment hasn't settled on a candidate yet.

It's a little ironic. As the old saying goes, "Democrats fall in love; Republicans fall in line." This year it's just the opposite. The Democrats have already fallen in line behind Hillary; the Republicans are in disarray.

And here's another irony: usually the conservatives, like in 2012, can't agree on an alternative to the establishment candidate. This year, for the first time I can remember, it's the establishment that can't agree on an alternative to the non-establishment candidate, in this case Trump (or Ted Cruz).

As I write this it appears to be a three-way race between Trump, Cruz and an establishment candidate to be named later. And that's the problem. As I said above, you can't beat somethin' with nothin'.

While Marco Rubio seems to be the establishment favorite (and is leading the pack on PaddyPower), the freshman senator from Florida is only in third place in Iowa and second in New Hampshire. As many pundits have noted, it's hard to see where Rubio starts winning.

Confounding Rubio's position in the establishment lane is pesky Chris Christie, who by all accounts is surging in New Hampshire. Oh, and don't forget Jeb. How can the establishment cut and run so quickly from a $100 million investment?

(And I didn't even mention John Kasich or Carly Fiorina. Don't laugh: the two of them together are polling almost 13 percent in New Hampshire. The establishment candidate could really use those votes!)

So until one of the establishment candidates "breaks out," the party elders are kind of frozen in place. My guess is we'll know the anti-Trump candidate after New Hampshire, but not necessarily. And besides, it may already be too late by then. If Trump wins the Granite State he may be on a roll for the SEC primaries on March 1 and Super Tuesday on March 15.

Yesterday, one of my business partners asked me what I thought a Trump victory in November would mean for the markets. And my response? I don't know. Honestly, probably nothing. But this morning I read in Bloomberg that George Soros thinks the financial markets may be facing another crisis like in 2008. (Apparently, he's said this before.) But, to turn around my partner's question, what effect do I think a market crash would have on the election? Say hello to President Trump.

P. S. Can you believe the Fed just raised rates? That same business partner of mine (who reads the Wall Street Journal) says the problem is that the Fed moved too late. Huh? I asked him. He's serious; his argument is that if the Fed had tightened earlier and more they would now have room to ease. Unbelievable.

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