Good morning. Here’s your Early Warning for Thursday, 02 May 2019.
Low Intensity Conflict: Since 2016, I’ve been writing about “low intensity conflict,” an warfighting concept of conflict below the threshold of conventional war but above routine, peaceful competition. That’s what our ‘civil war’ looks like now, even though I prefer to use the term ‘domestic conflict.’ Buzzfeed recently profiled a great example of low intensity conflict: economic dislocation.
An activist group called SumOfUs has successfully pressured MasterCard to end payments and services to fringe right wing groups, including white nationalists. “Spreading hate involves spending money. Whether it’s paying for online advertising or organising violent rallies, white supremacist groups need financial services from companies like Mastercard.” [source]
MasterCard will put a policy change up to a shareholder vote on whether or not the company will pursue social activism against white nationalist groups. If passed, MasterCard will join a host of other financial institutions, like Chase Bank, who have refused to do business with right wing groups and individuals. That’s economic dislocation, and it’s absolutely a tactic of low intensity conflict. But the problem won’t only be for white nationalists. Once the Democrats get back into power in D.C. and they have the ability to apply direct pressure to these financial institutions, you can expect greater economic dislocation against conservatives, as well.
Politics & Governance
Attorney General William Barr turned down today’s scheduled appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, leading Democrats to threaten a subpoena in what’s become a very contentious issue. The Department of Justice previously indicated that Barr was willing to testify but did not want to be questioned by the staffers of the committee members.
In an Iowa campaign speech, presidential candidate Joe Biden down played the Chinese threat to the U.S.: “China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man! They can’t even figure out how to deal with the fact that they have this great division between the China Sea and the mountains in the … west. They can’t figure out how they’re going to deal with the corruption that exists within the system. …. They’re not bad folks, folks. But guess what? They’re not … competition for us.”
Far Left Daily
“So why should Russia have all the fun? And since Russia is clearly backing Republicans, why don’t we ask China to back us? And not only that, China, if you’re listening, why don’t you get Trump’s tax returns? “I’m sure our media would richly reward you.” – Hillary Clinton, on Rachel Maddow (MSNBC)
“America, as we knew it, is lost… Yes, we may as well say the eulogy for the enigma we assumed was modern America and quickly turn to the truth: No one is coming to save us. No one is coming to restore this country and it won’t self-resurrect.” – Charles Blow, NYT column
JPMorgan had a cheery note today. “Today, the global economy’s outlook appears much brighter. Fiscal stimulus measures kept China’s growth on track, and a resolution to trade disputes seems imminent… A recent shift in US monetary policy may prolong the expansion at home… This policy is intended to promote growth and prolong the business cycle, as well as give the Fed more leverage to stimulate the economy during a downturn. If interest rates stay lower for longer, the expansion could have considerable room to run.” [source]
Bridgewater’s Ray Dalio recently described Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) as “inevitable”. MMT says that governments, like the U.S., who print their own currency can do so indefinitely as long as inflation doesn’t rise too quickly. Dalio describes a monetary policy future where the Federal Reserve uses MMT doctrine to print money to fund deficit spending without having to auction Treasury bonds. [source] (Analyst Comment: I’ve been writing about MMT since last year because it’s clearly gaining traction as a monetary policy theory. If or when adopted, it’s going to transform how the Federal Reserve manages our money supply. I do have concerns about the downsides of moving to MMT.)
Strategic/Defense Situational Awareness
“He thinks Beto is a joke.” – Anonymous Trump source, speaking with Axios