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What We’re Watching: Trump’s Tweets Could Make You Rich

What We’re Watching: Trump’s Tweets Could Make You Rich

Chinese Pigs – Beyond a trade war with the US and unrest in Hong Kong, now Chinese officials are wrestling with an even more basic political problem. Pork is the favorite meat for many of China's 1.4 billion people, and some analysts treat pork consumption as an important indicator of the financial well-being of China's middle class. A serious outbreak of African Swine Flu is expected to push pork prices 70 percent higher over the second half of this year, which will hit ordinary Chinese pockets hard. By some estimates, half of China pigs have been culled, but there are also reports that some farmers have avoided the expense of slaughtering infected pigs, raising fears that the disease will continue to spread. The central government takes this problem seriously enough to call on local officials to boost large-scale hog farming. So far, China's "Year of the Pig" is just not going well.


Japan and its Neighbors – Japan may soon mix bad blood with toxic water. The Fukushima nuclear power plant, partly destroyed by a tsunami in 2011, will run out of space to store its contaminated water in the next three years, and Japanese authorities are reportedly considering a plan to dump the water into the Pacific Ocean. Both the South and North Korean governments are incensed by the idea, which they say would poison their seafood industries. Seoul has already summoned a Japanese embassy official over the issue. Japan and South Korea have already cut back trade and intelligence ties over Seoul's insistence that Tokyo atone for Japanese actions during its early 20th century occupation of Korea.

Volfefe - Since taking office, President Trump has tweeted more than 10,000 times, and the investment bank JP Morgan believes these messages can help investors make money. Introducing Volfefe, a portmanteau that combines the word "volatility" with the infamous "covfefe," a nonsense word Trump (accidentally?) tweeted late one night in May 2017. "The subject of these tweets," the bank writes, "has increasingly turned toward market-moving topics, most prominently trade and monetary policy. And we find strong evidence that tweets have increasingly moved US rates markets immediately after publication." One man's post-midnight fat-finger typing is another man's goldmine. "Bully" pulpit indeed.

The Photographs of Robert Frank – During the 1950s, photographer Robert Frank began a 10,000-mile odyssey across the United States that produced a landmark book of images entitled "The Americans." In an era when many Americans prided themselves on conformity, Frank provided stark visual evidence that life across the nation was far more varied and interesting. Nobility, ugliness, grace, racism, dynamism, and division jumped off each page. Some Americans were outraged. Others were mesmerized. The powerfully expressive images this Swiss-born American master created will continue to speak for themselves.

What We're Ignoring

Venezuela's Military Threat – Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro has dispatched 150,000 troops to his country's border with Colombia "to defend our sovereignty and national peace by deploying our defense resources in full force." We're ignoring any threat of military action here because, even as Venezuela continues to make trouble for the Colombian government via backing for Colombian rebel groups, he's not about to start a shooting war. Maduro's political (and maybe personal) survival depends almost entirely on the loyalty of his military's officer corps, and he's unlikely to test that loyalty by putting its troops in harm's way.

CORRECTION: the original version of this piece incorrectly stated that the "Volfefe" index was a product of Morgan Stanley, rather than JP Morgan. We regret the error, but hey, at least we didn't think it was Bear Stearns.

The Hindu Kush Himalayan region, stretching for more than 2,000 miles, is home to the world's highest mountains. The mountain range is also home to the world's third-largest concentration of snow and ice, earning it the moniker the third pole; only the North and South Poles contain more. The glaciers of the Hindu Kush Himalayas are the main source of fresh water for around two billion people living in the region. However, by the end of this century, two-thirds of that snow and ice could be lost because of climate change. A network of data scientists and environmentalists around the world, and on the ground in the Hindu Kush Himalayas, are working to understand the extent of glacial melting in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, its effects and what can be done to minimize its impact. To read more visit Microsoft on the Issues.

When Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned Tuesday — plunging the country into chaos as it faces once-in-a-generation public health and economic crises — he became the fourteenth Italian to vacate the prime ministership in three decades. (For contrast, Germany has only had three chancellors since 1982, and France has had five presidents.)

But Conte, who had no previous political experience until he was tapped for the top job in 2018, is not so much throwing in the towel as he is taking a massive gamble that President Sergio Mattarella will again appoint him to head Conte's third coalition government in less than three years.

The recent dysfunction is unique even within the context of instability-prone Italian politics. How did Italy get here, and what might come next?

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Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:

What did you think of Xi Jinping's speech at the virtual World Economic Forum?

Well, his last speech at the real World Economic Forum in Davos, I remember being there four years ago, and given that Trump had just been elected, Xi Jinping gives this big, "We want to stand up and be leaders while the Americans are doing America first." And generally speaking, was probably the most important speech of the week. People liked it. This is a pretty different environment, not so much because Trump has gone, but rather because support and belief in Xi Jinping is pretty low. I will say one thing that was generally well responded to was the call not to enter into a new Cold War. Anybody in the business community generally supports that. There's so much integration and interdependence between the US and the Chinese economies that when Xi Jinping says, "We need to find ways to continue to work together," I mean, this is the pro-globalization audience he's speaking to. They generally agree. But otherwise, the message fell pretty flat. So, the idea that China is going to be globally useful on issues of leadership, especially when it comes to anything that might threaten Beijing's sovereignty, they check global norms at the door. And a few examples of that, when Xi called for support for the rules-based international order, that's in obvious contrast with China's violation of the one country, two systems framework in Hong Kong. And they said, "Well, that's a domestic issue." Well, actually that's not what your agreement was with the British handover. And just because you're more powerful doesn't mean that norm doesn't matter anymore.

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Over the weekend, some 40,000 people in Moscow and thousands more across Russia braved subzero temperatures to turn out in the streets in support of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. More than 3,000 protesters were arrested, and Navalny called on his followers to prepare for more action in the coming weeks.

But just who is Alexei Navalny, and how significant is the threat that he may pose to Vladimir Putin's stranglehold on power in Russia?

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Angry farmers take Indian fort: In a major and violent escalation of ongoing protests over new agriculture laws, thousands of Indian farmers broke through police barricades and stormed the historic Red Fort in New Delhi on Tuesday. At least one protester died in the chaos, while the government shut down internet service in parts of the capital. Farmers and the government are still deadlocked over the new laws, which liberalize agriculture markets in ways that farmers fear will undercut their livelihoods. The government has offered to suspend implementation for 18 months, but the farmers unions are pushing for a complete repeal. Given that some 60 percent of India's population works in agriculture, the standoff has become a major political test for the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling BJP party.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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