October 15½, 2018 in 692 words

Three Colliding Problems Leading to a New Economic Disaster

Last week’s stock sell-off was merely the beginning of what’s to come

Pictured above: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, New York, USA, 12 October 2018.


The soaring stock market has been the crux of Donald Trump’s argument for the competence of his reign. It might be his favorite tweet subject, outside the “Failing New York Times.”

Trump on August 18th: “Longest bull run in the history of the stock market, congratulations America!” August 24th: “Our economy is setting records on every front.” September 11th: “Where are the Democrats coming from? The best economy in the history of the country would totally collapse if they ever took control!”

But since the market hit an all-time high on October 3rd, Trump has shifted his tweets to other subjects. This makes sense, given that it took a nasty dive. The worst was a two-day sell-off in the middle of last week, during which the Dow Jones Industrial average dropped 1,377 points.

On Friday, the Dow opened with a big round of buying, then plunged again, then wobbled all day before finally ending 287 points up. This allowed the financial world to spend the weekend relief-boozing instead of planning for The End.

Maybe the stock market isn’t about to crash in the next 10 minutes. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be scared to our marrow over the future.

The sell-off last week was likely just a mild preview of what will happen once the blunt contradictions of Trump’s major economic moves — crazy even by his standards — set in.

“We’re fucked,” a market analyst friend of mine put it this weekend. “It’s all baked in the cake already.”

You don’t have to be a financial expert to see the irreconcilability of these three problems:

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY: As we’ve seen in recent decades, even smart people are fully capable of driving the American economy off a cliff. What happens when the dumbest administration in history gets a turn at the wheel?


Video Goodnesses
and not-so-goodnesses

In ruby red Texas, a Democrat hasn’t been elected to a statewide position since 1994. But ahead of this year’s midterms, a Senate race between an unflinching liberal and a religious conservative is unexpectedly close.


This summer, a chunk of ice the size of lower Manhattan broke off of a glacier in Eastern Greenland. It contained 10 billion tons of ice, making the video of the event an insanely shareable capsule of climate change dread. But for NASA scientists, the spectacle created by these massive calving events is really just the final step in a far more worrisome — and less visible — process.

That’s because glacial melt isn’t just the result of our planet’s warming air. The biggest threat to these glaciers’ continued existence resides deep below the water’s surface.

Unlike most other bodies of water, the ocean surrounding Greenland gets warmer with increasing depth. That’s because warm, salty currents from the Atlantic are heavier than fresh glacial water, so those currents end up on the bottom. And that’s what’s got scientists’ attention: our oceans absorb the heat trapped by greenhouse gases, so they’re getting warmer, and as they do, Greenland’s biggest, deepest glaciers are interacting with them — and melting at increasing speeds.

To understand this better, NASA has been sending planes and boats to Greenland in an effort to map the ocean floor. What they’re seeing isn’t good.

“We’ll have to revise our sea level projections upward, and that’s scary,” said NASA climate scientist Josh Willis, who cautioned that they’re still in the early days of the ocean mapping mission, dubbed “Oceans Melting Greenland” — or “OMG”. “If we’re reshaping the coastline in a radical way, you know do you want to take out a 30-year mortgage on a house that might be flooded in 30 years? And so it’s real and it’s time to start dealing with it.”

VICE News Tonight travelled to Greenland to visit Eric Rignot, a NASA researcher who sails the iceberg-infested waters in the hopes of figuring out how fast Greenland’s glaciers are melting — and how much trouble we’re really in.


Ed. More tomorrow? Possibly. Maybe. Probably Not?