Watching and Ignoring

Something to Watch:

Boats doing U-Turns in the middle of the ocean — If you think the twists and turns of the US-China trade threats/tensions/truces are confusing, try being the captain of a cargo ship plying a route between the two countries. Last month, a vessel carrying sorghum from the US to China did not one, but two U-turns on the high seas in response to shifting signals on agriculture tariffs between Beijing and Washington. You can trace the trails of trade uncertainty on maps monitored by Bloomberg here.


Something to Ignore:

Italy’s new prime minister — Italy’s Five Star Movement and Lega finally agreed on a compromise candidate to lead the first all-populist government in Western Europe: Giuseppe Conte, a law professor with no previous government experience. He’ll be at best a referee and at worst a figurehead in a government where the real decisions (and divergences) lie with Five Star’s leader Luigi Di Maio and Lega’s Matteo Salvini. Remember, both parties made promises — Lega wants tax cuts, Five Star wants universal income — that would blow up Italy’s budget and call into question the country’s ability to remain in the Eurozone.

It was inevitable that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would make India's elections a referendum on Narendra Modi, and now that the vast majority of 600 million votes cast have been counted, it's clear he made the right call.

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Among the 23 men and women now seeking the Democratic Party's nomination to take on Donald Trump in next year's election, the frontrunner, at least for now, has spent half a century in politics. Former Vice President Joe Biden, first elected to the US Senate in 1972, is the very epitome of the American political establishment.

Yet, the dominant political trend in many democracies today is public rejection of traditional candidates and parties of the center-right and center-left in favor of new movements, voices, and messages. Consider the evidence from some recent elections:

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It's Friday, and Signal readers deserve at least one entirely upbeat news story.

José Obdulio Gaviria, a Colombian senator for the rightwing Democratic Center party, is an outspoken opponent of government attempts to make peace with the FARC rebel group after 50 years of conflict.

On his way into a meeting earlier this week, Gaviria collapsed. It was later reported that he had fainted as a result of low blood pressure probably caused by complications following recent open heart surgery.

A political rival, Senator Julian Gallo, quickly came to his rescue and revived him using resuscitation skills he learned as—irony alert—a FARC guerrilla. CPR applied by Gallo helped Gaviria regain consciousness, before another senator, who is also professional doctor, took over. Gaviria was taken to hospital and appears to have recovered.

Because some things will always be more important than politics.