We ended last week watching Trump open a second front on his petulant campaign of constant trade war against our friends and enemies. Wall Street allowed that moment to reinforce its sense of creeping discomfort and the bond market's evident sense of real panic. And everyone pretty much doubled-down after Peter Navarro went on the White House lawn to lie about how tariffs actually work.
And we're starting the week thusly:
Hassett has been the platonic ideal of the good soldier. A moon-faced boy with just enough bona fides and fringey conservative economic beliefs to hold Trump's water on the White House lawn. Essentially, Hassett has been a boring Kudlow and a saner Navarro, a harmless-looking voice of what we accept "reason" to be these days. But after last week, it is pretty clear that Hassett is just the first person to throw up his hands and yell "Uncle," crushed by the constant cognitive dissonance it takes to keep saying some version of "President Trump is the greatest president ever who has created the strongest American economy ever, and now The Fed needs to cut rates because also he is insane."
Of course, Hassett is selling his departure as regularly-scheduled programming, but it seems statistically significant when the head of the CEA takes a powder in the middle of two trade wars and a tanking stock market. This "data" also leads us to believe that Hassett won't be the last guy out the door this month [or even this week]. Robert Lighthizer has been essentially neutered by Trump on his China negotiations and Larry Kudlow is coming back from his second major surgery in less than a year, only to return to a White House that is doing very little of what he wants to do. With Peter Navarro back on TV making shit up and yelling at CNBC anchors, it stands to reason that Larry might elect to convalesce in Connecticut.
We can only fathom who Trump will get to replace the few adults in the room on his economic team...other than Maria Bartiromo.