“Prepare For The Worst Possible Outcome” Migrant Caravan Warned As It Enters The US

Around 400 migrants about to cross into San Diego are refusing the advice of immigration attorneys, who say the asylum-seekers risk a lengthy detention, or being separated from their families, before eventual deportation back to Central America.

Kenia Elizabeth Avila, 35, appeared shaken after the volunteer attorneys told her Friday that temperatures may be cold in temporary holding cells and that she could be separated from her three children, ages 10, 9 and 4.

But she in said an interview that returning to her native El Salvador would be worse. She fled for reasons she declined to discuss. –AP

After crossing through Mexicali earlier last week, the migrants been gathering in Tijuana on Tuesday. So many reportedly showed up that the shelter they were occupying was overflowing by Wednesday. Most members of the group are from Guatemala, El Salvador or Honduras, and are fleeing their homes, they say, because of death threats from local gangs, or political persecution.

That, according to many, is worth dealing with US authorities and deportation for the small chance they might be granted asylum. 

If they’re going to separate us for a few days, that’s better than getting myself killed in my country,” said Avila.

“We are the bearers of horrible news,” said Nora Phillips, a Los Angeles immigration attorney while taking a break from legal workshops in Tijuana where around 20 lawyers are offering free information and advice. “That’s what good attorneys are for.”

The mostly-Guatemalan migrants, many traveling as families, plan to test President Trump’s resolve after he instructed the National Guard and the Border Patrol to arrest any migrants caught trying to sneak into US territory – a move that US-based advocacy group Pueblos Sin Fronteras says is illegal.

The organization is actively organizing a plan for the migrants to cross over the main pedestrian bridge into the U.S. on Sunday, after reacting angrily to an initial plan to try and cross in smaller groups over a more spread-out period of time. 

President Donald Trump and members of his Cabinet have been tracking the caravan, calling it a threat to the U.S. since it started March 25 in the Mexican city of Tapachula, near the Guatemala border. They have promised a stern, swift response.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the caravan “a deliberate attempt to undermine our laws and overwhelm our system,” pledging to send more immigration judges to the border to resolve cases if needed. –AP

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen said that the migrants’ asylum claims wikll be handled “efficiently and expeditiously,” adding however that the asylum-seekers should first ask Mexico if they can stay there. (lol) 

Any asylum-seeker making false claims to U.S. authorities may also be prosecuted – along with anyone who “assists or coaches” immigrants on how to make the false claims, Neilsen added. The Trump administration claims that asylum fraud is growing, and many of the migrants are heavily coached on the “correct answers” to obtain it. 

The group of 20 immigration attorneys giving seminars in Tijuana have denied coaching any of the roughly 400 people from the caravan currently camping out in shelters throughout Tijuana. 

Some migrants received one-on-one counseling to assess the merits of their cases and groups of the migrants with their children playing nearby were told how asylum works in the U.S.

Asylum-seekers are typically held up to three days at the border and turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. If they pass an asylum officer’s initial screening, they may be detained or released with ankle monitors.

Nearly 80 percent of asylum-seekers passed the initial screening from October through December, the latest numbers available, but few are likely to eventually win asylum. –AP

As Reuters pointed out on Thursday, the timing of their arrival could sabotage NAFTA talks after President Trump repeatedly threatened to scrap the deal if Mexico doesn’t do more to stop Central American migrants from traveling through its territory.

Moving from town to town, the migrant caravan became a stumbling block for U.S.-Mexico relations after Trump unleashed a series of tweets in early April, telling Mexican authorities to stop them. More busloads of migrants arrived during the course of the day, overflowing the first shelter.

Local migrant aid groups said it was the biggest single group they had seen arrive together as they scrambled to find places in ten shelters.

“Thanks to god we’re here,” said 34-year-old Aide Hernandez from Guatemala who had four children in tow. She said she planned to seek asylum in the United State. When asked why, she looked down, ashamed to detail a case of domestic abuse.

[…]

 

“The wall doesn’t look that tall,” said Kimberly George, a 15-year-old girl from Honduras as she looked toward a stunted barrier a few feet away. “I really want to cross it.”

Get the popcorn, a border showdown is about to occur. 

Twitter Sold Information To Researcher Behind Facebook Data Harvesting Scandal

Twitter has now also become embroiled in the Facebook data harvesting scandal – as the Sunday Telegraph reveals that the social media giant sold user data to Aleksandr Kogan, the Cambridge University researcher and director of Global Science Research (GSR), who created an app which harvested the data of millions of Facebook users’ without their consent before selling it to political data firm Cambridge Analytica.

Aleksandr Kogan, who created tools for Cambridge Analytica that allowed the political consultancy to psychologically profile and target voters, bought the data from the microblogging website in 2015, before the recent scandal came to light. –Sunday Telegraph

Kogan says that the data was only used to generate “brand reports” and “survey extender tools” which were not in violation of Twitter’s data policies. 

While most tweets are public information and easy for anyone to access, Twitter charges companies and organizations for access to information in bulk – though Twitter bans companies which use the data for political purposes or to match with personal user information found elsewhere. 

A Twitter spokesman confirmed the ban and said: “Twitter has also made the policy decision to off-board advertising from all accounts owned and operated by Cambridge Analytica. This decision is based on our determination that Cambridge Analytica operates using a business model that inherently conflicts with acceptable Twitter Ads business practices.

The company said it does not allow “inferring or deriving sensitive information like race or political affiliation, or attempts to match a user’s Twitter information with other personal identifiers” and that it had staff in place to police this “rigorously”.-Sunday Telegraph

Data licensing made up 13% of Twitter’s 2017 revenue at $333 million. In a March blog post, Citron Research said that Twitter’s 2018 data-licensing business will generate $400 million (analysts polled by FactSet say $387 million) and that it represents the fastest-growing segment of the company’s operations (which it is, according to FactSet). 

Citron says it is shorting Twitter because it’s data business is “vastly more successful and profitable than the company’s advertising,” along with a large amount of insider selling, low short interest and the unlikely prospect of a near-term acquisition. 

“Dynamics are in place to short Twitter,” Citron said four weeks ago. 

Of note, Twitter says that it doesn’t sell direct messages as part of its data-licensing businesses. 

A spokesman for Cambridge Analytica said that they used Twitter for political advertising, but had not engaged in “a project with GSR focusing on Twitter data and Cambridge Analytica has never received Twitter data from GSR,” adding “Cambridge Analytica is a data-driven marketing agency and does not ‘manipulate political views’.”

Kogan, meanwhile, told the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport last week that his company, GSR, was founded in 2014 to specifically cater to Cambridge Analytica parent company, SCL Group. 

Last week, the Moldovan-born researcher from Cambridge University said he’s being used as a scapegoat in the data harvesting scandal, and that there are “tens of thousands” of other apps do the same thing, Kogan said. “It’s certain”

“In reality, I think, the truth is we’ve got tens of thousands of over apps that did the same thing, probably on a much bigger scale than me, Kogan told CNBC’s Power Lunch. “And they’re all out there and Facebook has no accounting for it.”

“The amazing thing is if you go and look at Facebook apps literally right now, many, if not most will have language in the terms of service that say they can transfer the data to third parties. I’m not talking about small companies, I am talking about some of the biggest companies in the world. And you can go and do this yourself right now. And Facebook is still not policing it.

“This Nonsense Has Been Going On Long Enough…”

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

Who hit Kanye with that white privilege stick? The rapper / fashion maven / theologian / Kardashian arm candyman sent chills through the Twitterverse when he declared himself, somewhat elliptically, off-the-bus of the Progressive #Resistance movement and an admirer of the Golden One in the Oval Office. This came in his endorsement of YouTube blogger Candace Owen, who happens to not be down with the cause of the national victim lottery. Both Kanye and Candace have apparently crossed some boundary into a Twilight Zone of independent thought. Many probably wonder how they are able to get out of bed in the morning without instructions from Don Lemon.

Speaking as a white cis-hetero mammal, I’m not quite as dazzled by the president, but it’s a relief to see, at last, some small rebellion against the American Stasi who have turned the public arena into a giant holding pen for identity offenders — though it is but one corner of the triad-of-hysteria that also includes the Hate Russia campaign and the crusade against men. This nonsense has been going on long enough, while the country hurtles heedlessly into a long emergency of economic disarray.

Next in line after Kanye and Candace, a popular Twitter critter name of Chance the Rapper endorsed Kanye endorsing Candace, more or less, by tweeting “black people don’t have to be Democrats.” The horror this thought aroused! Slavery, these days, it turns out, has a lot of appeal — maybe not so much for laboring in the canefields under the noonday sun as for serving juleps in the DNC plantation house. It happened that Kanye’s mom was a college professor, Chance’s dad was an aide to Chicago Mayor Daley (Jr.), and later worked in Mr. Obama’s Department of Labor. Candace describes her childhood home in Stamford, CT, as “very poor,” but she rose far-and-fast out of college to become an executive on Wall Street in her twenties. What they seem to have in common is being tainted with bourgeois values, horror again!

In speaking up against the Victim Cartel, it is thought that they threaten a solidarity of narrative: that the USA (perhaps all of Western Civ) is composed of identity victims and identity oppressors. Candace, being a more conventional polemicist (i.e. not a rapper) makes the point overtly and repeatedly in her writing that all the “help” and solicitude black Americans have gotten from their overseers on the Democratic Party plantation has only made life worse for them — especially policies based on the idea that black people need lots of assistance to overcome structural racism and the legacies of slavery.

Luckily for the rest of us, the DNC has decided to put its mojo behind a lawsuit against Russia and Wikileaks for ruining the 2016 election. It’s an amazing exercise in idiocy — like, who, exactly, in Russia do they expect to subpoena for this epic showdown in court? If the suit finds a sympathetic judge who does not laugh it off — not so difficult these days — we’ll be treated to a fabulous Chinese fire drill in a three-ring circus of clowns running around in DNC dirty laundry. The party may not survive the suit. They’ve Whigged themselves into a final, fatal apoplexy of irrelevance.

I dunno about the perpetually scowling Kanye, with his periodic mood problems and spotlight-stealing antics on stage, or Chance the Rapper’s artificial hood raptures, but Candace makes the argument for the value of a common culture that might bind us together as a nation of individuals, not hostile tribes, starting with a language that everybody can understand. Of course, the whole Kanye / Candace dust-up may be forgotten by the middle of next week, and the country can go back to gaslighting itself into either a new civil war or world war three. Candace seems to have drive, guts, and stamina and there’s no sign that she’s going to shut up. Won’t some Ivy League university please invite her to speak, just to see what happens?

David Tepper: “We May Have Reached The Highs For The Year”

Billionaire investor David Tepper, who is one of the few remaining hedge fund icons who moves markets with a single word, took some time out from browbeating the owners of the Carolina Panthers to participate in a Q&A Thursday evening with students from Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business (yes, you too can give a speech in a business school named after you if you donate $125 million).

During the wide-ranging discussion, the former Goldman trader turned distressed investing billionaire shared his views on a range of topical issues – from the potentially catastrophic fallout from a US-China trade war to his take on what’s in store for interest rates and equities for the balance of this year – while also providing the type of career-management advice that box-checking b-school students crave.

The early part of the the discussion included several amusing anecdotes from Tepper’s early-career days – most notably his time as a trader at Goldman Sachs, where he was mentored by Bob Rubin (whose arb desk spawned countless hedge funds and then went on to serve as Treasury Secretary under President Bill Clinton), and his feud with Jon Corzine (profiled extensively by NY Mag).

At the start of the Q&A, one student asked Tepper how he managed to retain his integrity and commitment to ethics during his early career on Wall Street (and especially working at Goldman). Tepper responded with a lengthy story about an incident during his time at Goldman when a senior manager ordered him to buy a bond that had been on Goldman’s restricted list.

“When I was at Goldman Sachs, they set up this bankruptcy fund and the person who set up this fund. The person who set up the fund was the head of M&A – and this was back after Drexel Burnham went under. So the guy who was in charge was in charge of this fund that was buying assets. He wanted to buy this one company’s bonds and he gave an order and I refused his order because the company was on the restricted list because we had information inside the firm and he had it taken off then told me to buy it the next day. So I told him ‘I’m not buying it’. So it was a big thing – we went to legal. And legal said to me ‘it’s okay’. But I refused to buy anything for this guy. Now, this hurt me next time I was up for partner. But it hasn’t really hurt me in my career. So next time somebody tells you to do something that you think isn’t right – don’t do it.”

The conversation drifted to Tepper’s feelings about President Trump and the potential fallout from a full-blown trade war with China. The hedge-fund manager made light of an incident where he called Trump a “demented narcissistic scumbag“, but also admitted that, though he doesn’t agree with everything Trump has done (the feud with Amazon was “insane” Tepper alleged), the Trump tax cuts as well as his push for deregulation have largely benefited the economy.

“Although I did call him a demented narcissistic scumbag – but that’s beside the point – from a policy standpoint some of the regulation stuff was probably good for the economy…some of those things had to happen and I think it was holding back the economy. And the tax policies, I don’t think they were all good, but I think something needed to be done. I don’t know if they needed to cut some stuff for higher income people.

And while threatening to impose tariffs on effectively all Chinese goods entering the US might’ve been “nuts”, particularly considering that Trump didn’t consult his cabinet before threatening to impose tariffs on another $100 billion of Chinese imports, Trump has a point about China’s theft of intellectual property.

“The tariffs – I think tariffs in general isn’t the best way to go about it. Steel companies support so few jobs in the economy that I’m not sure that was the best place to start. On the other hand, if you talk to tech companies, they believe – and there has been proof – that China has taken intellectual property. The first $50 billion in tariffs I don’t know if I agree with it but it was a shot across the bow and I guess that’s okay – but the $100 billion in tariffs he didn’t tell anybody in his cabinet so that’s just nuts…they probably will get a NAFTA agreement.

That said, Tepper is sufficiently worried that Trump may take his trade war with Beijing far enough that it eventually transforms into a real, shooting war with Beijing.

…You probably don’t want to take things too far with China because I can tell you the steps that it will go to and you get to the fourth step, it’s a war – it’s a real war. If you look at the history of tariffs, they’ve resulted in – a lot of times – real wars. So I get a little nervous every time you start down that path.”

Asked about the importance of mentorship early in his career, Tepper offered an amusing anecdote about how scumbags mentors can sometimes let you down – even when they go on to become the Secretary of the Treasury, especially dealing with other scumbags mentors end up blowing up MF Global.

“So I had a mentor at Goldman Sachs, his name was Bob Rubin who became co-chair of the firm and eventually became Secretary of the Treasury. But there’s the third time, when I didn’t become a partner, it was kind of Bob Rubin’s fault. He was a mentor and he liked being on the floor and he liked talking to me. At some point Bob had the role of head of fixed income before he became chairman and vice chairman. So I would talk to Bob and I was the head trader and I would go talk to him. Eventually, this guy named Jon Corzin, who eventually became the governor of New Jersey, became the head of fixed income. Now, when Corzin became the head of fixed income he came from the government side Bob Rubin came from merger arbitrage – so I was in junk bonds. Bob Rubin knew about junk bonds because they had an equity component so I would talk to him still and I wouldn’t go to Corzine’s office. But Bob Rubin should’ve said “go to Corzine’s office”. Because when my third shot at partner came, Corzine killed me – or so I heard. So even if you have a mentor who becomes Secretary of the Treasury, you still got to think for yourself. That was the reason I didn’t get it – he didn’t think I was one of his people.”

But what was certainly the highlight of the Q&A (at least as far as Tepper’s views on capital markets are concerned) one student asked Tepper where he anticipates bond and stock markets finishing 2018. The answer, suggesting that Tepper was reading a bit too much Morgan Stanley recently, won’t please the bulls (5:20 into Part 2)

“Listen, it’s tough right now. Because historically yields have been fairly low. Actually tonight I’m trying to figure out what the BOJ’s doing because either this meeting or next meeting they might change their policy which would affect our Treasurys and will effect the stock market. So I think as far as the stock market is concerned I think they’re okay. I don’t think it’s great. I think we might’ve reached the highs for the year.

Why the uncharacteristic (for Tepper) pessimism? Why rates, of course: here is Tepper’s two cents on the topic du jour (and d’annee): where will the yield on the 10Y break equities:

And a lot of it has to do with interest rates. We’re right on the cusp of breaking out on interest rates at this level around 3%. I think they closed at around 2.98% on the 10-year – actually I know because I just looked. But a lot of people don’t think they’re going to break higher – most people are only saying they’re only going to 3.25%. And I think if they only go to 3.25% for the rest of the year then stocks might be up. But too many people are saying that. And when too many people are saying one thing that’s when I start to get worried. So if we break above that, then stocks might have a problem.”

Finally, another student – who we imagine is tenuously exploring the likelihood that one will be able to make a sustainable living as a sell-side or buy-side trader – asked Tepper whether he believes algorithms will soon take over Wall Street. Tepper responded that machines and trading algos – whose performance is sucking this year – are only as good as the traders writing them, which to Tepper is a great advantage in an environment such as this one where rates are rising and yet the machine programming remains the same… 

“Machines are doing shitty this year. Really bad. Not good. I’m kicking their ass. When I went to Goldman Sachs, they had a trading model on the desk and it was just wrong. That was one of the great things about being here I just knew the option prices were wrong – they were just wrong. But now when people talk about machines taking over, the machines are only as good as the people who are programing the machines. But now, when people talk about machines taking over, the people are only as good as the people programming the machines. And when you have times that are changing – like when interest rates are rising as we come out of this QE environment, sometimes you have people programming the same thing. When times change, the programs don’t change unless the people programming them make them change. And when the times are changing fast.”

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves. Watch Parts 1 and 2 of the Tepper Q&A below, and check back tomorrow for Tepper’s thoughts on Bitcoin.

h/t @dennycrane550

Freddie Mac Launches “3% Down” Mortgage With No Income Restrictions

It’s been a while since the US made a wholesale push to get more cash and income-strapped households into the ever more unaffordable American dream of owning a house, three years to be exact, which is when nationalized housing agency Freddie Mac last rolled out a conventional mortgage that only required a 3% down payment for certain borrowers.

The problem is that what modest requirement the mortgage program had back in 2015, meant that most Americans who needed access would be excluded. The program, which as we described at the time was designed for qualified (that being the key word) low-and moderate-income borrowers – i.e., Millennials – saw limited progress over the last few years, with FHFA Director Mel Watt telling Congress last year that Freddie’s 3% down program (along with a similar one from Fannie Mae) was continuing to grow.

It just wasn’t growing fast enough, because while putting 3% down may not have been especially challenging for most Americans, having even the modest income required to go along with it, was.

So fast forward to last week, when Freddie Mac announced on Thursday it was about to supercharge its 3% down program and launch a widespread expansion of the offering, when it announced that it is rolling out a new conventional 3% down payment option for qualified first-time homebuyers, – effectively the same as the 2015 program… with one small difference: there would be no geographic restrictions; more importantly there no longer will be any income restrictions. To wit:

In other words, whereas many Americans could not qualify for the original 3% down program because, well, they lacked virtually any income, that will no longer be a hindrance and the government will effectively backstop the lack of income as a new wave of ‘income-challenged’ Americans rushes in to buy houses.

Amusingly, the new program, which is called HomeOne (full brochure below), puts Freddie Mac in direct competition for mortgage business with the Federal Housing Administration, which also only requires 3% down on some mortgages.

Furthermore, according to Freddie Mac, this new offering is not replacing its Home Possible 3% down mortgages. Rather, the program is meant to complement the Home Possible program, which will still be available to low-and moderate-income borrowers.

“Freddie Mac’s HomeOne mortgage is part of the company’s ongoing efforts to support responsible lending, provide sustainable homeownership and improve access to credit,” Danny Gardner, senior vice president of single-family affordable lending and access to credit at Freddie Mac, said in a statement.

It was not quite clear how it is responsible to lend money to households which have saved only enough to put down 3% equity value, oh, and which have no income to even give the false impression their equity stake may grow in the future.

It gets better. As Housing Wire summarizes the terms of HomeOne, Freddie Mac said that the new mortgage is designed for first-time homebuyers, who currently make up nearly half of all home purchases.

According to Freddie Mac, a HomeOne mortgage must be underwritten through its Loan Product Advisor, which makes a complete risk assessment based on several factors as it relates to credit, capacity and collateral.

Additionally, the HomeOne mortgage is offered only for conforming fixed-rate mortgages that are secured by a 1-unit primary residence. And, at least one of the borrowers must be a first-time homebuyer.

There is one potential hurdle: when all the borrowers are first-time homebuyers, at least one borrower must participate in homeownership education in order to qualify for the mortgage.

Yes, one may have no income and still qualify as long as one watches a few videos explaining why having an income is critical to avoid having another housing market crash, or something.

None of that matters however, as the US government is once again clearly more interested in well and truly blowing another housing bubble, where not Countrywide or New Century, but the government itself is issuing NINJA loans.

“The HomeOne mortgage will provide our customers the flexibility they need to help borrowers anywhere in the country achieve the milestone of homeownership and overcome the common down payment resource hurdle,” Gardner continued. “HomeOne is a great solution for aspiring homebuyers to grab that first rung of the property ladder and enjoy the financial and social benefits of participating in homeownership.”

What was unsaid is that now that rates just happen to be rising, making homes even more unaffordable and resetting ARM mortgages higher, the generously funded by taxpayers HomeOne also assures another housing crisis, and even more GSEs/Fredde/FHA bailouts in the near future.

The fun beguns on July 29, 2018, when the new HomeOne mortgage will become available.  For more, check out the program detail and marketing materials from Freddie Mac.

“We Won’t Talk With A Gun Pointed To Our Head”: Europe Braces For Trade War With The US

With just days left until the May 1 deadline when a temporary trade waiver expires and the US steel and aluminum tariffs kick in, and after last-ditch attempts first by Emmanuel Macron and then Angela Merkel to win exemptions for Europe fell on deaf ears, the European Union is warning about the costs of an imminent trade war with the US while bracing for one to erupt in just three days after the White House signaled it will reject the bloc’s demand for an unconditional waiver from metals-import tariffs.

“A trade war is a losing game for everybody,” Belgian Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt told reporters in Sofia where Europe’s finance ministers have gathered. “We should stay cool when we’re thinking about reactions but the basic point is that nobody wins in a trade war so we try to avoid it at all costs.

Well, Trump disagrees which is why his administration has given Europe, Canada and other allies an option: accept quotas in exchange for an exemption from the steel and aluminum tariffs that kick on Tuesday, when the temporary waiver expires. “We are asking of everyone: quotas if not tariffs,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Friday.

This, as Bloomberg points out, puts the EU in the difficult position of either succumbing to U.S. demands that could breach international commerce rules, or face punitive tariffs.

Forcing governments to limit shipments of goods violates World Trade Organization rules, which prohibit so-called voluntary export restraints. The demand is also contrary to the entire trade philosophy of the 28-nation bloc, which is founded on the principle of the free movement of goods.

Adding to the confusion, while WTO rules foresee the possibility of countries taking emergency “safeguard” measures involving import quotas for specific goods, such steps are rare, must be temporary and can be legally challenged. The EU is demanding a permanent, unconditional waiver from the U.S. tariffs.

Meanwhile, amid the impotent EU bluster, so far only South Korea has been formally spared from the duties, after reaching a deal last month to revise its bilateral free-trade agreement with the U.S.

Europe, on the other hand, refuses to reach a compromise, and according to a EU official, “Trump’s demands to curb steel and aluminum exports to 90 percent of the level of the previous two years are unacceptable.” The question then is whether Europe’s retaliatory move would be painful enough to deter Trump and lift the sanctions: the official said the EU’s response would depend on the level of the quotas after which the punitive tariffs would kick in; meanwhile the European Commission continues to “stress the bloc’s consistent call for an unconditional, permanent exclusion from the American metal levies.”

“In the short run it might help them solve their trade balance but in the long run it will worsen trade conditions,” Bulgarian Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov said in Sofia. “The tools they’re using to make America great again might result in certain mistakes because free world trade has proven to be the best solution for the development of the world so far.”

Around the time of his meeting, French President Emmanuel Macron made it clear that the EU is not afraid of an escalating trade war and will not be intimidated, saying “we won’t talk about anything while there’s a gun pointed at our head.

He may change his opinion once Trump fires the first bullet.

Adding to Europe’s disappointment, during her visit to the White House on Friday, Angela Merkel said she discussed trade disputes with Trump and that she failed to win a public commitment to halt the tariffs.

Meanwhile, Merkel’s new bffs over in France are also hunkering down in preparation for a lengthy conflict. French economy minister Bruone Le Maire told his fellow European bureaucrats Sofia during a discussion on taxation: “One thing I learned from my week in the U.S. with President Macron: The Americans will only respect a show of strength.”

Coming from the French, that observation is as accurate as it is delightfully ironic.

And now the real question is who has the most to lose from the imminent Transatlantic trade war, and will surrender first.