A deterministic world

There are two conflicting outlooks/views of the state of world, which includes economics and politics: those who see a future of increasing instability and uncertainty, and those such as myself, and Steven Pinker, and others, who envision a future that is increasingly deterministic, peaceful, and uneventful.

I discuss this in further detail in the posts Inevitablism and Is Change the Only Constant? Hardly.

Gnon is the underlying current that brings society to its inevitable destination. It doesn’t care if you think there is too much immigration, if you think Facebook is the next Myspace, or if you think Silicon Valley tech companies are overvalued. If Facebook goes the way of Myspace, which I think is extremely unlikely, then it will. If America balkanises, which I don’t believe it will happen but a lot of people seem convinced that it will, then it was meant to be.

Predicting election outcomes and specific candidates is, in my opinion, a fool’s errand, but trends pertaining to economics, finance, and culture/society can be reliably predicted. Such trends tend to be much stronger and persistent than many expect, such as the post-2009 bull market and economic expansion, which as of 2019 has surpassed all records.

In 2013-2016, many experts in the financial media were predicting a recession and bear market due to the fed tapering, and then ending QE, but when QE officially ended in October 2014, nothing changed. Profits and earnings kept growing, showing that contrary to the financial media narrative, the economy was not dependent on QE. Yes, QE helped to some degree, but it was not the cornerstone of the recovery.

In 2016, the narrative by the media was that Brexit and Trump would hurt the global economy. Wrong on both counts.

In 2017, the media predicted impeachment, recession, bear market , and that the Mueller report would show collusion. Again, wrong on all counts.

Not to just to pick on the liberal media, conservative media and pundits such as Fox News, Glenn Beck, Peter Schiff, Alex Jones, etc. were wrong during Obama’s presidency in predicting hyperinflation and dollar collapse due to QE, deficit spending, bank bailouts, and other policy. Rather than currency collapse and high inflation happening the US, it was foreign countries such as Turkey, Venezuela, Russia, and Brazil that experienced high inflation and collapsing currencies.

Same for 2018 and 2019, although this time the media was also wrong about the tariffs hurting the economy. Regarding the latest round of tariffs for 2019, the S&P 500 has surged 3% in just a few days because Wall St. knows that the economic impact will prove minimal to non-existent in spite of the insistence by the useless media and analysts that Trump is ‘leading the US economy off a cliff,’ just as they were wrong in 2018, 2017, 2016, etc. There will be no slowdown in GDP and no uptick in inflation.

Foreign markets, as far back as 2011, have continued to lag US equities in spite foreign stocks being comparably undervalued, and all attempt by the financial media to predict a comeback have failed. But the weak performance of foreign markets is justified: they have weaker economies, worse demographics, higher inflation, worse currencies, and much less innovation. With the possible exception of China, there is no Silicon Valley or Manhattan equivalent in the rest of the world. No Googles, Amazons, or Facebooks coming out of Europe. This is attributable to long-standing structural, biological, and cultural factors such as low IQs and corruption that cannot be easily changed at the national level, if at all.

Overall, politics as it pertains to policy can be reliably predicted even if the candidates and parties cannot be. It was a no-brainer that Brexit would be delayed, that Trump would be exonerated of collusion, that he would not be impeached, and that he would be stymied by the courts and Congress on immigration.

As further evidence of an increasingly deterministic world, the difference between Trump’s approval vs. disapproval rating is in the tightest range of any president since tracking began, at around 5% percent, which has held since his inauguration. Billions of dollars spent by media outlets between 2016-2019 (both pro-Trump and anti-Trump), as well as millions of tweets and other social media posts, all in an effort to get that needle to budge just a bit, have proved futile. A common argument by Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein and other critics of neoliberalism is that the media has too much power and influence, yet the remarkable stability of Trump’s approval rating in spite of a bigger media than ever, which includes social media, shows that the media is actually quite ineffective in this regard, because people’s opinions about candidates and issues tend to be made up very early on, due to ingrained beliefs and value systems that tend to remain immutable throughout one’s adult life. About 47% of the country is ‘wired’ or p[perhaps indoctrinated by tradition and other factors to look at the world through the lens of one set of values and beliefs, and the other 47% through the lens of an opposing set of beliefs and values, so that leaves maybe only 6% that can actually be persuaded by media.