US dollar slips as bond yields, commodities and equities rise; Japanese confidence sinks again; China encourages offshore spending; UST 10yr at 1.05%; oil up and gold down; NZ$1 = 72.7 USc; TWI-5 = 73.8

US dollar slips as bond yields, commodities and equities rise; Japanese confidence sinks again; China encourages offshore spending; UST 10yr at 1.05%; oil up and gold down; NZ$1 = 72.7 USc; TWI-5 = 73.8

Here's our summary of key economic events over the New Year holiday break that affect New Zealand, with news the control of the US Senate looks like it has been flipped in a mirror of the US Presidential elections. Equity and bond markets are rising, although the greenback is still sinking.

The falling American currency is being reflected in commodity prices, almost all of which are quoted in US dollars. The across the board rises for commodities has a large part of 'currency adjustment' included. But for the US, the effect will be inflationary.

Those expectations are driving a surge in bond sales by corporates, trying to lock in very low rates as market experts see a reflating environment where interest rates could rise quite quickly quite soon. A reflation trade trend could upend asset valuations, and damage public finances in the short-term. Company treasurers are adjusting their balance sheets in anticipation.

This weekend we get the December non-farm payrolls report and it is expected to show only a modest +100,000 expansion as the labour market there runs out of recovery steam. That may be optimistic because today's pre-cursor ADP survey reports a -123,000 fall in employment with most sectors shedding jobs again in December.

US factory orders for November have held up reasonably well, but of course that is before the new pandemic wave hitting the country. These orders were up +1% on a seasonally adjusted basis from October, but are still lower than for the same month a year ago.

Also falling are US mortgage rates, pushing lower to new record low levels. Their benchmark 30 year fixed rate is now at 2.67% pa, plus points (0.7%).

The US Fed will release the minutes of its December meeting soon, and if there are important things to note, we will update this item then.

In Japan, consumer confidence is in the basement, battered by the next wave of the pandemic and impending lockdowns. It is falling away again after never having recovered fully from the initial dive in the first pandemic wave.

In Hong Kong, Beijing has arrested all their democracy politicians, saying their attempt to win elections breaches their national security laws.

China is loosening its exchange controls, permitting more funds to flow overseas in an effort to release pressure on its fast-strengthening currency. It seems to be on the way to 6 to the US dollar. It was 7 in July, and has just dipped below 6.5 overnight. But of course many countries will look warily at the buy-ups that will result. A new wave of international Chinese company expansion is about to start.

But even in yuan, food prices in China continue to rise relentlessly, so a target may be buying up international food supply sources.

Wall Street is up more than +1.1% in early afternoon trade, helped by the election results in Georgia it seems. Overnight, European markets rose even more, up about +2% although London shone with a +3.7% leap. Yesterday, the very large Tokyo market slipped -0.4%, but Shanghai gained +0.6% and Hong Kong +0.2%. The ASX200 however fell -1.1% yesterday while the NZX50 Capital Index slipped -0.3% although holding on to most of the prior days big gain.

The latest global compilation of COVID-19 data is here. The global tally is rising faster, now at 86,704,000 and up +804,000 overnight. We are heading for 100 mln well before the end of January mainly because the UK variant is taking off worldwide now. And many countries are getting a surge from New Year's celebrations where social distancing was abandoned. It is still very grim in Russia (+24,000 overnight), the UK (+62,000), South Africa (+14,000) and Turkey (+14,000). It does seem to be easing in Europe, although not in the UK or Sweden (+32,000 in the past three days). Japan is stressed with a rising tide of cases, up to +4000 in a day. China is facing a new surge too. Global deaths reported now exceed 1,875,000 and surging +17,000 in a single day as death rates rise everywhere.

But the largest number of reported cases globally is still in the US, which rose +251,000 overnight for their tally to reach 21,626,000. The US remains the global epicenter of the virus. The number of active cases rose overnight and is now at 8,391,000 and that level is up +121,000 in a day, so more new cases than recoveries again. Their death total is up to 366,000 however (+3000). The US now has a COVID death rate of 1104/mln, approaching the disastrous UK level (1136).

In Australia, their Sydney-based community resurgence seems to be coming under control. But that takes their all-time cases reported to 28,536, and +17 more cases overnight, most in managed isolation. But 299 of these cases are 'active' (+15). Reported deaths are unchanged at 909.

The UST 10yr yield will start today up a notable +9 bps at just over 1.05% and the first time it has been above 1% in ten months. Their 2-10 rate curve is very much steeper at +90 bps, their 1-5 curve is also steeper at +32 bps, and their 3m-10 year curve is much steeper at +96 bps. The Australian Govt 10 year yield is up +10 bps at 1.06%. But the China Govt 10 year yield is down -2 bps at 3.20%, while the New Zealand Govt 10 year yield is up more modestly by +3 bps at just under 0.97%.

The price of gold is down quite sharply today by -US$45 in New York to be now at US$1,906/oz. That's more than a -2% fall, and silver fell just as much.

Oil prices are higher again today and by about +US$1.50 to just under US$51/bbl in the US, while the international price is now just on US$54.50/bbl. The prospect of lower Mideast supply is raising these prices.

And the Kiwi dollar has risen firmly again, now at 72.7 USc to a new 33 month high. Against the Australian dollar we are holding at 93.5 AUc. But against the euro we are firmer at 59.2 euro cents. The net effect is that our TWI-5 is up at 73.8 and a 21 month high.

The bitcoin price has risen sharply again today, in fact hitting a new all-time high of US$35,751 although it has now slipped back to US$34,610 which is +6.7% above the level at this time yesterday. The bitcoin rate is charted in the exchange rate set below.

The easiest place to stay up with event risk today is by following our Economic Calendar here ».

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91 Comments

What will happen if inflation raises its head in 2021 - will the money printers still keep going brrrrr?

It beggars belief that the FED think they can devalue the USD, and go against history not causing inflation. That's the definition of insanity - doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

When the QE tap turns off to avoid hyper-inflation (if that's still possible) interest rates historically rise to curb inflation - so, can the NZ property market survive with normalising rates as the international trends hook in? In an economy that's so dependant on selling houses to each other, how will incomes step up to match the amount required to service a million dollar mortgage when rates go back to circa 7%? You have to feel for FHB who were promised an eternal summer of free money.

As the USD devaluation picks up and inflation gathers speed, and more and more institutions opt out hedging their reserves in BTC what does that mean for the petrodollar as a global reserve currency? Iran and Venezuela are already making strides to trade their vast oil reserves in BTC, and get around US sanctions. With decreased purchasing power the US won't be able to afford "liberating" both countries https://seekingalpha.com/article/4394136-future-of-u-s-dollar

Howe and Strauss are looking increasingly credible, and we're in a 4th turning. God forbid China fills the power vacuum. The macro-economists are out to lunch.

Ezy,

Are you quite sure that the Fed doesn't want someinflation? remember that in speech last August, Powell annonced a 'tweak' to the Fed's inflation targeting and will now be prepared/happy? to see it average 2% over a period of time. Given how long it has undershot that, inflation could be significantly higher for a considerable period. And of course, inflation erodes debt, of which the US has a great deal.

Is it the tail wagging the dog though? At some point you'd have to say that the FED are going to lose control of the levers. The last thing they want is for the rest of the world to realise that, so it's easier to shift the goalposts in light of the inevitable. Whatever the case, a weak USD is going to be bad for a raft of things: military-industrial complex, consumer imports, Euro strengthening, weak markets. Their problems are just beginning.

Given the craziness in the world, is it not time to question some underlying assumptions? For example, QE is simply swapping interest bearing notes (bonds) for non-interest bearing notes (cash). Does it therefore *really* increase the money supply (thus driving inflation or devaluation)? What QE does do of course, especially when coupled with low interest rates, is leave banks and fund managers looking for places to invest to get a return. Hence, the boom in share prices and (less directly) property prices - with both going up despite the world being in meltdown!

But, property and shares aside, does the QE tap cause real inflation - i.e. a decrease in the purchasing power of money, reflected in a general increase in the prices of goods and services in an economy? I doubt it - I think the inflation scaremongers are under-estimating the impact of:
- the influence of the Fed interest rate on inflation and forward pricing (some would say that the natural rate of inflation is pegged to the overnight rate);
- Govt being a net payer of interest (so when interest rates are low, Govts are adding less to the money supply)
- the velocity of money during a downturn being lower (something economists like to assume is constant because they like to simplify equations down until they are useless)
- the significant fiscal space in the US economy, which makes an under-supply of *real* resources (workers and materials) pretty unlikely
- how sticky wages and prices are in the US - particularly given the gig economy etc

It depends. If you hedge a country's fiscal projection of production over an extended timeframe, to mitigate the ongoing effects of monetary policy that was put in place to extend a catastrophic collection of sub-prime mortgage backed securities, can you inhume the collective actions of the establishment in a maelstrom of shaudenfreude to distract the tax paying public from the fact that your salary sits in a stratospheric category attributed only to gods and generals?

I think your average middle class punter quite frankly couldn't give a toss, and all they care about is whether they can pay their bills or not. Viva la revolution.

I'm sure they'll just tweak the CPI weightings to hide it.

It's the banks that are creating all of the money, every dollar that they lend out in fact. This is one reason why house prices are exploding.
https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/quarterly-bulletin/2014/q1/money-creatio...

FTSE up almost 3.5% today. That's it's best start to a year ever, as the country enters harsh lockdown and covid cases and deaths continue to surge.

At the same time the USD continues to decline against cryptocurrencies with immutable laws. The money printers continue to go brrrrrrr with 35% of USD in existence created in the last 10 months. Go figure.

It’s a very confusing time. On the one hand we have printing and low interest rates and high asset appreciation, on the other we have no CPI inflation. Buggered if I know what’s going on. At some stage surely we will have either hyperinflation or an asset crash, the two can’t stay misaligned forever can they? Will anyone bother selling a pie for $4 when a house costs $4 million?

NYSE Dow Jones Index cracks 31000 currently up 600 points

US Capitol in lockdown, protests erupt, senate electoral voting hangs in doubt, Georgia senate runoff win.

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Trump adept at making a fool of himself, now makes a fool of the United States, democracy and the constitution. By nature he attacks the founding fathers themselves. Trump has made America look weak, divided, torpid. Dangerous times indeed.

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Trumpie's political opponents have a lot of responsibility to bear as well, though. They have stopped him downsizing the US international military size, they have made up pretend charges against him, time and time again, none of which have stuck. They have politically obstructed anything he has tried to do ever since he was elected. The mainstream media have been at the forefront of this opposition, with their Trumpie bad, Creepy Sleepy Joe good, braying repeated irrationally and ad nauseam.

What do you mean didn't stick? The Muller report only held back from the obstruction of justice charge because they didn't think they could prosecute a sitting President.

Yes. A sitting president is immune from most things except impeachment, and he only escaped that through the party-lines support in the senate. Hard to claim "didn't stick".

Did you notice mfd the charges never were for something to do with Russia. Because there was nothing substantive there.
It was all about 'obstruction' etc - because if you have unlimted funds you can always find something.

Yep, no direct link found between Trump and Russia. It does seem strange he was so keen to cover up something that never happened though...

Worth remembering that the Mueller report did lead to several people going to prison - Roger Stone, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos. Definitely worth looking, and these are people who were very close to Trump. I wouldn't be surprised to see serious charges against Trump after he leaves office.

True in some ways but certainly not unique. President Clinton would easily enough claim the same impediments and unfriendly forces at play. So too many other presidents. Go back to Andrew Jackson if you like. The problem for Trump’s presidency is that he is by appearance, deportment and utterances an egomaniac. That as a starting point, rules out any consensus ever being a two way conduit.

A women has died after been shot as his followers storm the capitol buildings - you going to defend that as well or blame someone else?

Now that the Dems have the senate they can do what ever they want - it’ll be Socialist / Neo Marxist with compulsory masks and vaccines for all. Is this the end of freedom and liberty and the free world?

No - you need a lie down

Just watched some video of the scene. Cannot believe how accommodating police/security are with the trumpites. If it was BLM there would be weapons drawn and fired.

Are the protesters trashing and looting the place?? I havent seen any footage

I've only been paying a little attention, but for sure they've smashed their way into the capital building. There are broken windows etc. Not sure about looting at the moment.

I'll have to go looksy. Last time I heard they were just milling around outside

Complete contrast to the riot police in Baltimore. White people mounting a coup/insurrection storming the most important building/symbol in the USA and are treated with kid cloves. Disgraceful. If this was BLM there would be dead bodies everywhere.

This is the big story.

Worrying developments. If police were to open fire on a crowd at Capitol Hill, surely that would declare civil war? But by not showing force they anger those against Trump voters, so will further ignite tensions. Not looking good...

Have you not seen the footage of Antifa riots around the country. Hardly an arrest to be seen while they burned, looted and beat people up wherever they went.

Depends entirely on what social media bubble you are in. Either you saw the Police brutality and mass deployment of force against peaceful protestors, or you saw the gangs going crazy with no Police action and burning the place.

Both are true to some extent.

I'm in no social media bubble (I dislike Antifa and the Trump activists in equal measure), but to claim that the Police are only showing brutality to certain groups
now doesn't hold up to any objective scrutiny. The Portland riots have been going on for months and the Mayor himself (until recently) told the Police not to make arrests while they terrorised large parts of the city.

"The Police" are not one single institution, so comparing actions between cities isn't necessarily helpful. The pictures of Police turnout for BLM protests in DC vs the turnout there today are more illustrative.

Yup - white folks so no shots from Police

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For risk averse, prudent investors who thought they could retire on fixed income, this is the worst of times to be coming up to retirement.

They're the most toxic financial markets - shares, treasuries/bonds, property - of my lifetime.

I think the reckless bureaucrats of the central banks lose control of this Frankenstein they've created, and possibly this year: the seeds are in the US now with upward pressure on treasury yields, a weakening USD to import inflation to wipe out their out of work consumers, and the prospect of even larger lunatic deficits under Biden.

Perfect storm.

But Dow up 500 points: unbelievable. Albeit, the big slide last year started February 25 - but there's no coming back from the post-Covid crash once it starts.

Most nearly retired realise that they will need to just keep working until they drop. No expectation of any fixed interest income anymore.

And so the good King of Id proclaimed to his gathered peasants. “I have good news and bad news. First the bad news, all your pension funds are to be nationalised. And the good news is, you will all be allowed to work until you are eighty.”

Well, there’s your 70k of Kiwisaver at 65 - that should keep you going for a year.
And a freehold house hopefully - once again a house is the most favoured investment and the only perceived safe haven investment for retirement.

....at some point they will realise these low rates are all to keep the landlording class in clover.

The RBNZ most recent baseline scenario forecast for the TWI is 71.2 ( 17 currency ) thru 2021. At 75.2, it is currently so far out of whack, that when fed thru its models must raise concern for its other 'current ' forecasts.

Their - especially the Fed - forecasting is uniformly dreadful. That's why central banking always was hubris and the end of free markets (price discovery by now well destroyed). The Fed is just a Gosbank by this stage (Google it). Anyway, as they can't forecast, ever, something as complex as the transactions of millions of individuals, and central bank stimulunacy is shown for the reckless endeavour it is, when will we finally get a government that looks at the entire institution?

The Fed can print to infinity in an effort to create inflation - it becomes a zero game without velocity.

a) The Fed can't print to infinity. For starters they collapse their currency (yeah I know, reserve currency); but worse, they just complete the total zombification of their economy which readies it for total collapse on interest rate rises ... and

b) look at the data, the Fed will get its wish, inflation is coming, but they won't be able to control it given the excess of the distortions they've created, hence will have to let interest rates climb.

Now go back to (a).

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What we have is a cascading, Systemic reaction to humanity reaching the global Limits to Growth.

Many will try and apply their pre-held assumptions to what is unfolding; many will try and address single-issue 'fixes' or 'failures'. If their actions are big-picture-valid, it will just be by chance.The trick, this year, will be to apply as much big-picture perspective as possible. A Titanic analogy is worth contemplation: reporting on (or betting on) renting more deck-space out on the stern (so much demand increasingly so quickly, don't you know) is obviously a temporary move.

We saw the same yesterday; a commentator calling Trump's policies (?) "disastrous". Disastrous to who(m)? Global trading (in processed parts of the planet) was always going to Peak, then decline, was it that? Or was it the closing of borders to migration - essentially acknowledging that the US is 'full'? Interestingly, there was no reply.

Coming up against Peak Limits, the biggest Empire (the biggest resource-sucker) was obviously going to be compromised, there was obviously not going to be room for another of equivalent size, and the ever-increasing forward bets were going to be ever-less underwritten.
Individually addressing issues (building more houses without addressing population, for instance) are doomed to fail. Investing (without ensuring the physical underwrite actually exists) becomes an increasing gamble. Frustrated disenfranchised will storm Capitols/Bastilles, the problem being too many wanting more than can be delivered. Don't blame the Trumps of this world, blame the conditions which threw a Trump up.

Gonna be an interesting year.

Identity politics leads to Tribalism = violent outcomes.

I thought you were in Antartica, I was envious without the sea sickness.

Nailed it

PDK,
So what would be your specific recommendations to the Government as to what they should do this year; i.e., things that they, with their specific three-year mandate (already reduced to 33 remaining months) should address right now.
Keith W

They could start with a big-picture-vision instead of piecemeal reactions which means current settings are wrong

Keith W - great question.

*Advocate a Systems-meshing think-tank (We have good folk in silos, not enough talking cross-discipline).
*Address population; acknowledging that 'humanitarian grounds' are obsolete with an overpopulation of 7-8 billion. So aim for zero immigration, two-or-less per incumbent couple (it needs the energy-studiers to explain why, not the economists).
*Eliminate interest (forgive or retire, probably results in the demise of commercial banks as we understand them). No prob, it was eliminating itself anyway. Allow a flat fee upfront, maybe.
*Address the 3 categories of resource, aiming for sustainable levels of stock-reductions as in: None.
*Plan a staged withdrawal/triage of existing infrastructure; keep some, drop some, adapt as much as possible.
* Explain why - good leadership required there, FDR/fireside chat stuff.
* Re-think money - maybe a 'credits' system re energy, resource-access, pollution-rights. Must be related to the 3 resource categories, not to the idiocy which was us believing those economists who projected endless growth within a bounded system.
*Go back to basics; food production in a long-term-capable manner (ex fossil energy), long=term maintainable infrastructure (I'm of the opinion that road-type rolling stock on rail is more maintainable than bitumen), accessible services (above ground or under covers, no need diggers/reinstatement). Energy-efficient-ise the existing housing-stock, including ease of maintenance (we're out of replacement-time).

I'll think of more..... :)

Entirely off topic pdk, but how did the trip south go?

Did you head down to the Auckland islands?

Can you do a report pretty please?

It wasn't a pleasure cruise - it was a service trip straight there and back

That's fine, doesn't make going down there and back any less interesting.

IMO the Trump administration has been disastrously inept mostly through complete disregard of democratic norms and institutions. Surely today that is apparent. Similarly handling of the pandemic has been abysmal. The transactional approach to diplomacy and abandonment of allies has also been extremely poor.

It's not so much policy disagreement. That's not really possible in that DT doesn't really have any policy except his own personal interests.

If US interest rates do go up, they go up worldwide. All the banks are interconnected, with low interest loans made internationally between banks, which are then onloaned to clients. This is why our banks never run out of loan money for housing, unlike the old days, when my neighbour got the last Wellington POSB house loan, until their funds built up again. If these interest rates start going up, which I have difficulty believing will happen, all sorts of bad results will occur. Luckily, a lot of politically powerful people overseas run grossly indebted companies, and will be applying a lot of pressure to prevent this happening. This just shows, once again, the value in having one's investments in properties, with a bit of equity to protect oneself. As a lot of Kiwis have done.

NZX - prices of all the Electricity-Gentailers going nuts in the NZX30 - does not bode well

It's offshore green energy investment funds buying up. Wouldn't necessarily see the extent of price run ups for the power companies as representative of a market wide trend.

From an NZ perspective - that's exactly why I hold the view that NZ made a collossal mistake going for the centralised business model instead of the distributed roof-top-solar model

Not that knowledgeable on power generation or electricity pricing but I understand the cost of power would be considerably higher than hydro if we had a higher reliance on roof top solar in this lower sunshine hour country. Given NZ retains a controlling interest in the generating companies I don't have an issue with ethical funds taking a stake.

Don't need sunshine - cool clear daylight is best

Can you explain that a bit further.

Solar panels less efficient when hot
Overheating reduces the efficiency of the panels dramatically ... The temperature coefficient of the PV panels used in this research is −0.5%/°C, which indicates that every 1 °C of temperature rise corresponds to a drop in the efficiency by 0.5%
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2090447913000403

Ok. I live off-grid and can tell you a "hot inefficient" panel in sunshine makes probably ten times the power of a cool one not affected by direct sunshine. Your average overcast day it only puts out about 5%. As an aside, using power from batteries costs about 40 cents per kwh in wear on the batteries. That applies to both lead and lithium.

Rooftop solar is pretty useless here, in big picture terms. We don't run much AC but do have a lot of electric heating. Overall demand is higher in the winter exactly when the solar production is lowest. Wind and/or geothermal would be much better.

So, why are a couple of the gentailers building massive solar farms?

Define "massive". Currently solar is well below 1% of NZ's generation.

It's perfectly possible to have an environment in which companies are incentivised to build things which don't really make sense if you take a big picture view.

Here is an example of one - although it's by a corporate NZ Refining - 32 hectares or 76 acres - and yes it was just prior to their current proposal to close the refinery
https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/refining-nz-plans-countrys-biggest-s...
Is that big enough

Well, out of ~9GW of total capacity, 26 MW isn't much, no. The refinery is an... interesting case, but doesn't change much about the picture for the overall grid. They want to do what makes sense for them (obviously), which isn't necessarily what makes sense if you're thinking about NZ as a whole.

If you want big solar installations, have a gander here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_photovoltaic_power_stations

You might notice something about their latitudes at the same time.

Look on the bright side. With the USD plummeting, the median house price in Auckland may soon be USD1 mio. Victory for the reserve bank.

Watch NZ and global house prices go up even further. "A new wave of international Chinese company expansion is about to start."

Woman killed in DC was ex Airforce did four tours.
The USA is a mess scratch the surface and the inequality/unemployment/debt are huge issues. The US army are highly supportive of Trump I doubt they will want troops on the street or things could really go wrong.

It's not Trumps fault these problems go way back, the biggest failure is of the Media, publishing opinions as fact. There is no faith in media anymore, me included, I don't even have a TV. The medias obvious bias towards the Biden's dealing with China is for many the last straw. Democrats used to be the working mans party, now all parties bow to the monied elite.

It is Trumps fault 100% and he had four very long years to fix things! He'll go down in history as the worst, most divisive president ever.

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give the guy a break, whats happening in the USA is not Trumps fault it the result of poor leadership and the lust for power by previous administrations.

Clintons were probably the worse, Bush Junior, Obama they all enriched themselves while in poor, just like a petty dictator would.

The USA was happy to see Libya destroyed, Syria, Iraq,Afghanistan,Yemen, now they are getting some of their own back. Don't make this about partisan politics, none of these parties are better than the other. The all enriched the rich and elites while middle America crumbled, open this can of worms and you ain't seen anything yet.

I'm happy to agree that the USA has deep seated problems that transcends specific individuals and presidencies. However surely it is correct to say that Trump has been the most divisive and worst president ever.

Most divisive could go to Bernie Sanders, he put the fire under the democrats, the USA government was no longer going to be about the elites, Clinton had to make a move, she started the dirty politics. Truman still holds the prize.

Listening to the MSM yep, Trump was the most evil man in America, but he represented a huge number of middle class people who felt left out. The people who couldn't afford Obama care, who didn't like the homeless all over their streets, the crime and drugs the low wage migrants. Big Pharma running a racket in broad daylight. The Private jets lined up at Jackson hole.

Biden and the democrats are the government of big government, big handouts. Trump was in his heart a Patriot, he knew past policies were unsustainable. Love or hate him what he said appealed to a lot of people in heartland USA.

The democrats had the nerve to make Harris his running mate, a women who didn't get a single vote in the primaries. Don't be surprised if the USA blows up.

Here, images of tent cities in California.

https://www.google.com/search?sxsrf=ALeKk03RqJveAlmpvAIjz6ZRTgUaGBfiZA:1...

"What he said" might have appealed, his statements about the stasis and corruption of US society were true... but the idea that a man who shits on a golden toilet, born into immense wealth, who has made a career out of ripping off subcontractors and running away from debts... the idea that such a man will be a hero of the common people is ridiculous on its face. The fact he was elected (and remains popular) is proof that Americans have swallowed their own propaganda -- they think they are too exceptional to need a competent government, or any government at all. It's a generational thing, I think. It's been too long since they had a catastrophe or war requiring their society to pull together and cooperate. They don't understand civil society anymore.

Is Kamala Harris any better?

Probably. She isn't a fraudster like Don. She's had a respectable legal career, obtained through her own efforts rather than through nepotism.
I'm not a fan of the Democratic Party, btw. Hillary's a war criminal. Republicans are worse though. The American two-party system is their fundamental problem. Their Constitution is a joke, not fit for purpose, but they treat it like a religious document.

Harris slept her way to power if you belief the MSM, she then decimated the LA police department by retiring experienced offers so she could spend money elsewhere on pet projects. She didn't get single vote in the primaries and yet could be the first female president by default.

The USA and perhaps all the West is in decline, the world is going to enter a chaotic period where anything is possible.

No - just look at her credentials.

Saunders was not a president. Truman is fairly well appreciated in recent decades, the little I know of him makes me like him - he is condemned for using Nuclear bombs on Japanese cities but I reckon he was both right to do so and had no choice given the reality of politics and war. I've minimal knowledge of US history so welcome a better informed comment. I had read somewhere that Harding was considered about the worst and Lincoln the best but I'm fairly sure Trump will become the worst once history gives us a dispassionate long view. Maybe best / worst is a sterile debate.
Trump as most divisive seems a reasonable proposition. Of course the media did not and does not help but Trump went out of his way to needlessly antagonise.

Despite Trumps shortcomings he didn’t take the US to war like his predecessors who lied and duped us into believing Iraq had weapons of mass destruction - would they’ve invaded for large reserves of Broccoli instead of oil?

We wouldn't be here if the MSM had demanded transparent elections.

Blaming the MSM is pathetic at this point, I’m sorry. Trump is a cult at this point. Whatever evidence was presented against him and what he stands for, you’d simply say ‘CNN! Hillary! Fake news!’ And if it came from Fox, suddenly Fox would be fake news. And if it came from the Federalist, suddenly they would be fake news. Mike Pence is fake news now! It’s a cult.

A bit worrying that the pro trump posts seem to get more likes than the anti trump. The guy is a total fruit loop.
I’m not at all surprised that the states that vote republican are the ones with issues. The extreme right politicians are only concerned about themselves, they will tell any lie to their stupid voters to get elected, then rip the place off for their own good and their mates. Some of the things they say are so god damn idiotic, no wonder your state sucks if you vote them in. Will be interesting to see if Georgia ever looks back!

It's more worrying that people think Biden will magically fix the broken US political system. The fact that Trump even made it into office is a harbinger in itself

I guess with both houses he might be able to do something at least, maybe universal healthcare. They will never fix it for everyone. I think to a lot of US citizens the desired fix is to have millions of low skilled high paying jobs - I’m not sure that is possible anymore though.

The jobs were sold offshore decades ago, they're long gone. Universal health care is a pipe dream - no way the federal or local governments can orchestrate that in a country with 350+ million people. Besides, what's the point having free health care if you're unemployed anyway?

Not dying can be a pretty powerful motivator.

You'll die quicker without food, shelter and security than you will healthcare. Triage the threats accordingly

7 million new gun owners in the USA 70 million extra rounds of ammo sold, could get interesting.

No point restricting guns, thousand cross the boarder every year, perhaps not millions but getting an illegal gun is easy.