Every morning, we run the Narrative Machine on the past 24 hours worth of financial media to find the most on-narrative (i.e. interconnected and central) stories in financial media. It’s not a list of best articles or articles we think are most interesting … often far from it. But for whatever reason these are articles that are representative of some chord that has been struck in Narrative-world. And whenever we think there’s a story behind the narrative connectivity of an article … we write about it. That’s The Zeitgeist. Our narrative analysis of the day’s financial media in bite-size form.
To receive a free full-text email of The Zeitgeist whenever we publish to the website, please sign up here. You’ll get two or three of these emails every week, and your email will not be shared with anyone. Ever.
Thug: I wanted to come by and personally say thank you. You’re making me good money. I’m making you good money.
Joker: Are you sweet talking me?Suicide Squad (2016) – executive produced by Steve Mnuchin (no, I am not making this up)
It’s my favorite part of any Batman movie … that scene where the henchman pays a visit to the crazed supervillain – the Joker is the gold standard here – and you just know that the meeting is about to go terribly, terribly awry for the thug.
I couldn’t help but think of that classic trope when I read this article the other day:
Trump Berated CEOs Of ‘Big Three’ Airlines In Private Meeting, Says Report [International Business Times]
“The CEOs of the Big Three — American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines — met with the President, in hopes of getting a positive outcome but ended up being on the wrong side as Trump berated them in the meeting.
Trump also reportedly reprimanded Delta airlines, whose CEO Ed Bastian was not present, for buying aircraft worth billions from European firm Airbus and pointed out that Qatar Airways — one of the companies the U.S. airlines have a beef with — was buying its jets from Boeing.
NBC news quoted a person who had attended the meeting: “The President kept going back to it [Bastian’s absence], there was a lot of yelling.”
For almost a year, the Big Three carriers have been in a tussle with Qatar Airways, Etihad and Emirates, claiming that the Gulf-based airlines were undercutting them by offering below-market fares, aided by government subsidies.
The CEOs had presumed that the President would take their side in the dispute.
The meeting quickly turned into a confrontation, with Akbar al-Baker [Qatar Airways] calling the American CEOs ‘liars’ and President Trump hitting back.“
I mean … we’ve all been there, right? It’s the meeting where we are all prepared and all confident that we have the agenda under control, that we know how to “manage” the Boss or the Board, but then it all goes wrong. You can feel it start to go bad with some stray comment or someone on your team who’s late to the meeting, and then before you know it all hell breaks loose and the Boss is yelling at YOU.
It all goes sideways.
I physically LOL’d when I read this note, because you just KNOW that Parker and Munoz and Bastian were CERTAIN that they had this meeting with Trump wired from the get-go. They had Peter Navarro set up the meeting, they had Kudlow there, they had Bolton there … they had even run ads on “Fox & Friends” to tee up Donald on this!
Not enough sweet talk, I guess.
Plus the Qatar Airlines dude brought a powerpoint deck showing all of his Boeing purchases, and he “fought back hard”.
I don’t feel bad for Parker and Munoz and Bastian and the gang. They’re all thuggish mini-oligarchs, and the sole purpose of this meeting was to wield the power of their government to further their oligopoly against some other oligopoly wielding some other government’s power.
But I gotta think this has happened one way or another every single day for the past two-plus years, where thuggish mini-oligarchs (and not-so-mini-oligarchs) have the run of the place. Where you go in for a meeting with someone you think is the President of the United States, but it ends up being a meeting with the Joker.
It’s a funny scene in a movie.
It’s a crappy way to run a country.