In what feels like another escalation of the tension between North Korea and the US and its allies, Kim Jong Un yesterday threatened to detonate a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific. The comments were a retaliation for President Trump’s speech at the UN this week, where he threatened to totally destroy North Korea. Trump responded by calling Kim a “madman”. The market reacted more strongly to the comments than recently, with safe haven assets seeing gains.
FINSUM: It almost feels like North Korea is threatening the US and its allies to the point that they will have no choice but to act. Pyongyang might be over-playing its “insurance policy” angle.
The White House may be in for a very bumpy ride as the Mueller probe is reportedly closing in. Mueller and his team have reportedly told Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign manager, that they plan to indict him. Manafort was wiretapped before and after the election and allegedly encouraged Russia to interfere in the US election on behalf of Trump. Manafort was Trump’s campaign manager for four months, from April to August 2016, but he was fired by Trump for his connection to Viktor Yanukovich, Ukraine’s former leader. The FBI apparently already executed a search warrant on Manafort’s home in July, entering by picking a door lock while he was sleeping.
FINSUM: Manafort sounds like he is in very deep water. The big issue is that he was a close ally of Trump’s, so the probe is going to inevitably try to pull the president into the fray.
The SEC appears to be gearing up for a push to take back its rightful territory in regard to fiduciary duty. The agency had two vacant slots, and the White House has just nominated two candidates, Hester Peirce and Robert Jackson Jr. for the posts. Peirce is a Republican and a fierce anti-fiduciary rule activist, while Jackson is a Democrat and relatively unknown on the issue, though he is understood to favor disclosure as a preferred method of regulation. The two join an SEC that is led by Jay Clayton, who has expounded on the weakness of the current DOL rule and the SEC’s goal to replace it.
FINSUM: The SEC is really upping its manpower in what appears a preamble to a rulemaking exercise.
The Mueller probe has been largely operating in the background of US politics, like a menacing villain that is ever present but out sight. Well, the probe has popped up in the news again. Evidently the new hot lead for the investigation is social media. The probe is trying to understand how Russian spies used the medium to influence voters and how the Trump administration may be implicated in those efforts. Social media is considered the soft underbelly of international espionage because it is easy to execute and has no established defenses.
FINSUM: How could Trump have had anything to do with social media influencing by Russian hackers. We are not social media experts, but it is hard to imagine how the Trump team could have been involved.
The North Korea situation just doesn’t want to go away. Just as things seemed to be quieting down in the rhetoric between Pyongyang, the US, and its allies, the country just fired another missile over Japan as a warning shot. This comes only two days after the country warned it would reduce the US to “ashes and darkness” and sink Japan into the sea. South Korea says it will no longer speak diplomatically with its northern neighbor and both sides are engaged in a fierce war of words.
FINSUM: The more we push sanctions, the more violently Pyongyang reacts. Where is this headed?
North Korea is continuing to antagonize its neighbors and the US. Despite being much smaller, the country appears to be trying to antagonize its enemies, especially South Korea, China, the US and Japan. Upset at sanctions against his country, yesterday North Korean leader Kim threatened that the US will be reduced to “ashes and darkness”. The country also said it would obliterate Japan, a threat that seems less empty after it fired an ICBM over the the Japanese archipelago only a couple weeks ago.
FINSUM: There are two ways of thinking about North Korea. The first is that they are crazy and hell bent on war. The second is that they are trying to maintain their regime by aggressively over-threatening.