Trumpism is Very Much Alive; China and Covid; The Great American Furniture Shortage
Author: Greg Valliere
March 9, 2021
STILL ANOTHER REPUBLICAN SENATOR has announced that he’s not running for re-election in 2022. Roy Blunt, the affable Missouri incumbent, won’t run again; he’s only 71 years old, a relative youngster by Washington standards — so why is he stepping down?
THE ANSWER IS THAT Donald Trump’s allies are likely to make major inroads next year, weakening the Mitch McConnell coalition that counts Blunt as a major ally. In all of the states where McConnell Republicans are stepping down — Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Alabama and now Missouri — Trump loyalists are ready to pounce.
THE ISSUE ISN’T WHETHER DEMOCRATS will pick up net seats (they have a chance in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin). The issue is that the GOP replacements for senators like Blunt are likely to be far to the right of McConnell, taking their orders from Trump.
TRUMP HAS MADE IT CLEAR that he wants revenge. Incumbent GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski is vulnerable in Alaska; Trump will actively campaign against her (and, of course, Rep. Liz Cheney). And Trump’s loyal base has a fierce antipathy toward McConnell, who may lose a half dozen of his troops next year.
SO THE GOP CIVIL WAR WILL PERSIST, which delights Democrats. But they have their own problems — two of their previous stars, who had presidential ambitions a year ago, are in deep trouble: Andrew Cuomo may face impeachment if he doesn’t resign, and Gavin Newsom almost certainly faces a recall election this fall in California.
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THE COVID POST-MORTEM: There will be dozens of books about how Covid-19 began; for now the book to read is “Chaos Under Heaven,” by Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin. He offers a scathing portrayal of deceit and secrecy — not by the Trump Administration, but by the Chinese Communist Party.
ROGIN’S BOOK portrays the Chinese, including Xi Jinping, as concealing evidence from the World Health Organization and peddling a benign virus scenario to the hapless Trump Administration, which was eager to embrace a positive spin. Only a couple of Trump officials recognized the danger immediately; Dr. Anthony Fauci was not one of those officials, Rogin asserts.
THE BOTTOM LINE, in our opinion, is that China’s behavior was so egregious that there will not be any warming of relations between Washington and Beijing — especially as reports surface of widespread Chinese (and Russian) hacking of U.S. firms. The Trump tariffs with Western Europe are being relaxed; the Trump tariffs with China will not be relaxed any time soon.
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THE CLOGGED SHIPPING LANES that we wrote about yesterday are having a particularly disastrous effect on the furniture industry — if you want a sofa or a dining room table or a new bed, it could take several months to get one.
PART OF THE PROBLEM is an acute shortage of shipping containers; part of the problem is a lack of labor; and part of the problem is a surging demand from people who are sick of staying at home without upgrading their furniture.
IT’S NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE to keep stores and warehouses properly stocked, the Washington Post reports this morning. Companies like La-Z-Boy have delays of five to nine months, with the furniture industry reporting record sales and profits.
THIS IS JUST ONE EXAMPLE of how supply-demand dynamics are totally out of whack after a year of covid. As companies pay dramatically more for shipping containers, an inevitable result will be price increases for furniture and many other products, which consumers will have to accept. Inflationary pressure is popping up everywhere.
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