Sunday, February 10, 2019

Trump, The Wall, Pemex, Mexico And All That Jazz -- February 10, 2019

Idle rambling on a Sunday afternoon while watching a golf tournament that won't make it to the finish line before sunset tonight. The fourth round will have to be extended to Monday morning. Later: Phil won his fifth ATT pro-am; won this tournament by an easy 3 strokes; he was two or three strokes behind the leader when the fourth round began. Good for him.

We all know that President Trump made "the wall" a huge piece of his presidential campaign, but for a year or so after his election I don't recall hearing or reading much about the issue. In fact, it seems I forgot all about that campaign pledge.

It is possible that after losing the US House, President Trump realized he needed to get back to his base, and the most visible (?) plank in his campaign that he had not yet addressed was the wall. Maybe that's why he made the wall an issue. But it seems that from that point on things seemed to go a bit south (no pun intended): his approval ratings tanked; the stock market fell; the partial government shutdown transpired.

It seems like a lot of political capital was wasted.

Again, smarter people than I will suggest that the reason Trump began campaigning for the wall was most likely due to the GOP loss of the US House.

Presidents are change agents. Their horizon is thirty years. Yes, they have short term problems to address, but at the end of the day, they are looking thirty years out.

There is no question that there are tens of thousands of migrants on the move toward our southern border. Everyone knows that. It's my understanding that most of them are coming from Guatemala and other countries south of Mexico. The caravans are not originating in Mexico. That is not to say the majority of illegal crossings are not Mexican in origin but right now it appears that the failed nations south of the (Mexican) border are driving the new caravans, some of which are rumored to be quite huge.

Failed nations.

What if Mexico were to implode? It now looks like Mexico could very easily follow the road to Venezuela.

Mexico "failing" is a national security issue for the United States. Under the Obama administration, the international briefings would have included the chance of Mexico "failing." At the time, the probability of Mexico going the way of Venezuela was probably rated less than 5% by the US intelligence community, and knowing how well the president knew foreign affairs, he probably felt the likelihood of Mexico imploding under his watch was even less than that, more likely close to 0%.

All US presidents since the 1980s have well understood that Mexico's very survival is tied to the very survival of its oil program. If Pemex fails, Mexico fails.

Did anyone ten years ago think that Pemex could fail? Did anyone ten years ago think Venezuela could fail? US refineries along the gulf coast are optimized for heavy oil. The oil companies need a secure source for heavy oil. Enter stage right: the Keystone XL. The US oil companies knew that Mexico and South America were weak links in the heavy oil supply chain. 

Venezuela has failed.

Now it looks like Pemex is about to fail.

Link here.

President Obama probably felt that the likelihood of Mexico imploding under his watch was 0%. President Trump knows the likelihood, as they say in physics and math, is non-trivial. Non-trivial means a greater than 0% chance that Pemex will fail, and will take Mexico down with it.

My hunch is that Trump figured this out when the leftist Lopez Obrador was elected president of Mexico. And that's about the time President Trump started talking about the wall again.

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