Friday, June 24, 2016

The Brexit Won't End The World; Will Trump?

I had a moment of panic tonight, when I read reports about the Brexit vote. I never imagined Britain would actually vote to leave. I was not prepared, despite the close polls.

I guess after that young MP got murdered by a wacko Britain First guy, I figured people wouldn't want to vote on the same side as a xenophobic domestic terrorist. But Britain was so afraid of being attacked by immigrants that they decided to attack themselves first.

Their currency is currently collapsing. No one knows whether you'll ever be able to buy tea and crumpets in Brussels anymore. Even Game of Thrones, GAME OF THRONES!!! will probably never film its scenes in Northern Ireland again (but where will Yara and Theon call home?).

What's worse, markets everywhere are crashing. That means your... Well,  everyone's, investments will drop considerably in value. You will be worth less tomorrow because of some racist British guy.

And the bottom could be really low. We're bound to see Northern Ireland and Scotland (and possibly other territories--like Gibraltar) make their own Brexits, leaving England behind. That would send markets tumbling further.

So yeah, I was flipping out. About to write an email to my investment advisor... SELL SELL SELL! But then I remembered something I read, a truism preached by Ben Graham and Warren Buffet. I can't be a slave to "Mr. Market." He can offer me $20 for my shares in a company one day and $5 the next. Yeah, the price someone will pay for my investments will drop... For now. But if the things I've invested in are solid, those pieces of companies and properties--they will still be solid no matter what Mr. Market offers. They won't disappear. New deals will be cut, commerce will resume. It may take a while, especially in this political climate. But we'll get most of the value back with time if people do what's in their best interest and don't do things that will sell their investments short.

But... Will people do what's in their best interest? Panic tends to make us do things that hurt ourselves. And make no mistake, the Brits will suffer for this, that's clear by the market's reaction.

There's a lot of panic in the United States right now too, obviously. People so scared of Mexicans and Muslims that they want to elect a mealy tomato (sorry, that's insulting to tomatoes) who vows to kick those immigrants out, keep them out, and hey, maybe send Muslim citizens to some sort of secret "summer camp."

The blog FiveThirtyEight, in trying to explain the Brexit and its impact on the EU, used the United States as a point of comparison:
Imagine that the states of the Northeastern U.S. — New York and New Jersey, plus New England — don’t like the outcome of November’s election (not that far-fetched!) and decide they would rather split off on their own. After all, the Northeast is culturally different from the rest of the U.S., it has the most prestigious universities and the dominant financial capital, and it pays far more in taxes than it gets back in benefits. Why should people there let leaders they didn’t vote for impose policies they dislike?
Now, this is really getting eerie and makes me wish I hadn't slacked off writing my novel. But in the story I envisioned, New Jersey and New York DO secede. The President (elected on a nationalist platform) announces a new policy of "Discernment," where Muslims are required to report to centers where they will undergo interrogation and investigation to establish their loyalty to the U.S. (You could see Trump proposing this!) New York and New Jersey immediately refuse to contribute their tax receipts to the federal government and declare they will not enforce or cooperate with the order. Troops are sent in to make sure they do, some shots get fired, and the states officially secede. The independent nation of New New Amsterdam is short lived, however, as federal troops arrest the Jersey governor (not Chris Christie, in my book) and New York gets in line under a Vichy-like regime puppet-mastered by Washington.

I honestly thought the plot was, perhaps, too complex and unrealistic. But now? Our country is panicking just as bad as the Brits, and its easy to see how some may be ready to break it all up too.

We've got to remember something. We haven't just invested in some invisible concept called America, that is worth $20 one day and $5 the next. We bought into something real. The same land our parents bought into, and those first generations of immigrants: from those who crossed a land bridge from Siberia to follow wild game, to those who crossed an ocean to flee famine, war, and hate. America is something real--houses built and businesses grown and yeah, even cars parked on the Moon. We bought into a land built by people who had seen enough of the misery people make for one another and wanted to lift their families up. That America is still here, despite what some will say, despite its flaws. America doesn't need to be "great again."  It is great. It always was. Now is not the time to panic. Now is not the time to sell.

Some people want us to. Because it benefits them when things fall apart. One of those opportunists cheered on the Brexit, knowing full well it would launch a recession. He's also cheered on other policies that will lower us in the eyes of the world, wither away our perceived value, make us forget how great we are with vague promises of how great we'll be.

Donald Trump wants to buy us for $5.

Don't sell low. That's how people lose everything.

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