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Showing posts from August, 2011

On political matters

Watching politics from the sideline, I am always amazed by the lack of fortitude of certain of our elected leaders.That a member of parliament would suggest that certain ideas and concept should be reviewed by the population directly always makes a mockery of what politicians are suppose to do.
The latest culprit here is called Bernard Drainville, an ex-journalist (who should know better).It is evident that his objective was maybe not to make referendum part of the every day life of those who live in Quebec, but it is the one that has reverberated the most in the news (and blogosphere).First of, it seems that Mr. Drainville is trying to position himself in the event of a new race to the leadership for the Parti Quebecois. Secondly, this was one of ten different suggestions he had to make the political class more popular.
The popular perception of Quebec’s political class is often created in Quebec City – where a particularly toxic form of talk radio exist (BTW it makes FOX look like a …

Canadian House Prices: +1.7% in June

The Teranet National Bank House Price index came out this morning.  As the headline shows, the Canadian market continues its unstoppable price rise.  Year of year the price increase at 4.5% (up only 0.1%).  June's "winner" was Toronto which is up 2% for the month.  One notable aspect is that Calgary's house price are still 10.9% below their 2007 peak -- a combination of high oil price and an absolute shortage of housing (professionals were clogging hotel rooms as temporary housing -- while their condo were being built).  Overall, the Canadian housing situation remains worrying for the Bank of Canada.  Clearly this kind of price acceleration is unsustainable, is leading to excess consumption and indebtedness.

BTW Montreal and Vancouver lead the race for YoY price increase with 5.9% and 7% respectively.

Note:  There is some thought that these June number were inflated by the March deadline for revised terms for max mortgage terms.  Sometime closing on a house takes lon…

National Post: Canada's economy shrank in Q2/2011

OTTAWA – The Canadian economy shrank in the second quarter, the first quarterly fall since the 2008-09 recession, largely due to temporary factors such as Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, Statistics Canada said on Wednesday. Real gross domestic product fell at an annualized rate of 0.4% from the first quarter, worse than the median forecast of a 0.1% increase in a Reuters survey of economists. The first quarter grew by 3.6%. However, most economists expected a rebound in the third quarter from the temporary disruptions in the second. If this is the case, Canada would escape the technical definition of recession — two quarters of negative growth. The decline was marked by a 2.1% fall in export volume. This, in turn, was influenced by a supply disruption in the auto industry caused by the earthquake and tsunami, as well as wildfires and maintenance shutdowns that helped cut oil and gas extraction by 3.6%. Business investment, housing investment and consumer spending were all up in the qu…

THe Canadian dollar

I realize that I’ve not written anything about the loonie in a while (as the CAD is affectionately known here in the great white north – because of the image of the loon on side of the dollar coin). The reason is that the CAD “weakness” was obvious caused by oil prices falling of the cliff (correlation is around .85 – there are issues with the correlation when the CAD nears parity – one way or the other that break down the relationship). Guess what has been happening to both oil prices and the CAD over the past few trading sessions:You got it they’re both gone up. The CAD was trading around parity for about a month as the perception of the U.S. economy was the recession was at the door step.

Extraordinary women

Reading this morning about Germany's CDU minister stating that Germany like Finland wanted collateral for its Greek loans, I researched this minister:  Ursuala von Der Leyen, she is of a generation of women (52), who always scare me!  Not because she's only three years older than me and attended the LSE, but rather her accomplishments   Dropped out of LSE, in the early 1980s to do he medical degree -- eventually earning a PhD in medicine, in the middle of all that she had 7 children (count them), and got her MSc in public health.  What I want to know is what did she do with here "empty Tuesday evenings".

Another superwomen!



Sino Forest Update

This morning from OSC (Ontario's SEC equivalent)

The commission said in a release Friday that it has reason to believe the company and certain of its officers and directors have “misrepresented some of its revenue and/or exaggerated some of its timber holdings” and that some of the officers and directors – including chief executive officer Allen Chan – appear to be engaging in acts “they know or reasonably ought to know perpetuate a fraud.”
Don't know what it will do the the shares of Sino Forest, but it cannot be good!

Once again weirdness in the market, Sino-Forest shares are suspended in Toronto, but still trading on the Pink sheet down in the U.S. -- down to $1.65 a share, close yesterday in Toronto was $4.81

Is Jack Layton Canada's Diana?

Last Monday Jack Layton died, he was then the leader of NDP, a renewed and vigorous party that seems to have achieved an amazing political feat -- he destroyed the "Indendentist" movement in Federal politics (in my opinion that movement was long dead, it just didn't know it was - a bit like "Weekend at Bernies"), and dethroning the Liberal party of its 100 year reign as either government or official opposition.  
Mr Layton always came across as a sensible man, dedicated and courageous, but a simple man.  I suspect that he would be appalled by the show.  I mean no disrespect to the man, but he has left this mortal coil, he has moved on.  This mass hysteria is frankly strange.  A state funeral is a bit  much, but the timing of his death -- every politician starting with Steven Harper understood faith's fickleness can be harsh, and giving the man and his family this recognition may be a justified gesture, but still... now I understand that his corps will be par…

Why I’m against big government

As an economist I grew up in the shadow of Keynes -- literally every morning walking from my hall of residence to the London School of Economics I would walk in front of J.M. Keynes London home (the homes of famous residents are remembered with a blue circulate plate on the façade), where I was trying to become an economist.  Yes, LSE had a large number of professors (and students) where were very much in view of the western system was raping the world, and were into a balanced growth model, but LSE was one of the premier Austrian schools (Robins & Hayek both taught there), and a surprisingly large number of its professors were (mid 1980s) in monetarist think tanks.  BTW the reason LSE got a left wing image was simply that the BBC headquarters were literally down the street (about 50 yards) – so reporting from the front line of the “revolution” was easier at LSE than Oxbridge (50 km away) [So I got that chip of my shoulder].
Experience teaches that massive shifts in the social cont…

Another misguided effort: Blogger dismiss Canadian health care system

I just don’t know why they keep on doing this, but one of those respected blogger: Mark Perry here decided to go after the Canadian healthcare system by saying that it took some guy six years to find a family doctor. First off, he didn’t look very hard because there are many “family doctor like” options in Canada.
Once again the idea was to show how superior the American model was to Canada’s because some guy could not find a family doctor. Now as a Canadian the last thing I want to discuss is the relative of the two systems, we got ours and we don’t care about yours.
What was fascinating were the comments to the blog. All kind of justification why “Merica” is so great, how medical tourists are coming in drove (not true) you want medical tourists go to Mexico… I suspect that this behavior comes from “America is #1” view of the world. I cannot blame them for this reaction.It must be infuriating when virtually all metrics show that America’s health care system is inferior to Canada (als…

Devastation from yesterday's Virginia earthquake

Just too funny
(Source:  The Big Picture Blog)

Canadian real estate -- When will the other shoe drop

Until now Canada and Australia have been the great outliers in the real estate world.  Both saw large increase int he value of their real estate mainly because both economies were more protected by the nature of the make-up of their GDP, both are huge exporters of natural resources.

Now it seems that Australia's real estate tide is turning, although these are early signals, and the nature of the Australian real estate market may make it more prone to short sharp shocks.  it remains that in Sydney were wages are similar to those of Canadians (better weather but more flies) property prices have become stratospheric.  In Mosman (the posh neighborhood across the bay from Sydney opear house) house prices are usually in the $3/4 million for anything detached.  Also in Australia all properties are sold at auction, so on the day all those interested in buying show up and the house is sold (must be hard on the sellers in a falling market).  An article in the WSJ seems to say that in many m…

8th signal: Canada Q2 growth near zero

Number for retail sales (Consumption) are out this morning, nominally up 0.7%, but removing vehicle the growth rate drops to -0.1% (there's a good reason for removing vehicles sales -- they tend to be cyclical).   Specifically here vehicle volume sales were up 1.6% -- so heavy discount was to blame for accelerated sales at the beginning of the summer.


(Source: StatsCan)

On the other hand a positive aspect is gasoline sales that were down 1.3%, not in volume but in price, the first time (in several quarters) where energy price "positively" affected inflation (CPI dropped from 3.3% to 2.7% in a quarter).

Aside from that not much to say about sales, except that it is a further proof (if any was needed) that Canadian are putting the breaks on spending.  Its not entirely clear what is driving this trend among consumers (probably American news of a possible new recession -- apparently now a 40% probability), since Canadian still (rightly) live by the motto "America sneez…

Sad news: Jack Layton leader of NDP died early this morning

Early this morning, the second biggest winner of the recent federal election -- Jack Layton died from cancer.  It is more than likely that already during the election that "something was wrong" but the desire to win (and he did win big after all)  delayed the process of seeking medical advice.  
Those who say politicians are in it for themselves will never reconcile the act of "giving your life" with the idea that politicians are all corrupt or are looking to enrich themselves, probably do not understand the dedication of certain people to the democratic process.  In a sense Mr. Layton ended is political career on an incredible high.  Hopefully his successor (whoever it is) can follow his class act.


Little Canadian news

Instead I've been reading one of my favorite Australian bloggers, who wrote a persuasive article on why's HP's decision to divest itself of its PC hardware business is the right decision. Read it here.  Bottom line hardware is dead and gone, everything is software.

Also a fascinating "review" of the state of the G7 economies (not entirely good news),  Read it here.  Bottom line  Germany choose your poison!  Stay in the Euro, and Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland are out, and your banks go bust, or take your saner brothers (Finland Benelux) and leave the Euro, have a stronger currency and face a recession.  Last option is Germany takes over fiscal policy in Europe (not going to happen).

Finally a graph & review of G7 economy since the beginning of the crisis.  The outlier is Canada -- but not for good reason (in my opinion) of course Canada had saner policies -- after all Canada's banks are too big to fail, and have for years so they are run conservativel…

Inflation decelerating to 2.7%

In July inflation dropped to 2.7%, still higher but better than 3.3% in May, and 3.1% in June.  However, July 2011 marks the first full year of implementation of the new HST tax (harmonization in several provinces), so in fact the overall inflation picture is slightly muddied.  It would be fair to say that inflation pressure has not altered that much.


(Source:  StatsCan)
Culprits are the usual suspect:  Food and fuel!Food prices rose 4.3% in the 12 months to July, matching the increase in June.  Excluding food and energy, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 1.2% in the 12 months to July, after advancing 1.4% in June.


Not the end of the world, but not great.  As usual removing energy and food from the CPI is a poor measure of inflation pressures felt by Canadians.



Stagnation at best – Probability of recession is rising fast

I didn’t want this to be a rambling post, but it is because there are many interconnected issues here. I also insist on being amusing!
The problem with additional data that sometime it confirms you worse fears. More data points this morning confirm that Canada is now operating at stall speed. Today’s data is unemployment benefits and wholesale trade.Last May both had been going in the right direction (fewer people were receiving unemployment benefits and wholesale trade was rising 2% -- annualized rate), both these metrics are just about flat in June which augurs poorly for June’s GDP numbers; overall Q2/2011 could be slightly negative!

(Source: StatsCan)
So far I’ve counted 7 data points that all say the same thing.Canada is decelerating fast.While Q1 was on fire, that’s no longer the case.Inflation has been tamed (more or less), interest rates are still ridiculously low and will probably drop further.Since this new recession is not “made in Canada” there is little that the policy maker…

American politics: like watching a crash on the motorway

Canadian politics are boring, especially since the election cycle is usually very short (30-60 days max), the rest of the time the party in power governs and ignores the opposition (more or less).  American politics are exiting, but exiting in the way of a car crash.  You slow down to see the carnage, but eventually if you are "lucky" to see real pain and suffering you become disgusted with your voyeurism   
That's what the political process is like now.  The vitriolic has become such that it is painful, moreover, the process has become insanely long.  Imagine Barack Obama has begun campaigning -- more than a year before the elections are set to occur on Nov 2012!   
At heart I am a conservative.  I have major issues with the size of America deficit, but I also have issues with the way the government is funding its operations.  First,  the idea that funding two wars on the charge card is a terrible idea.  Second, the status quo in health care is just not a reasonable alter…

Foreigners reducing CAD bond holdings

It seems that June (aside from very bad economic data points) also saw foreigners reducing their Canadian bond holdings.  This is being spun as debt "retirement"  It seems that in June more than CAD 6 billion in Canadian bonds were retired --and that foreign investors took this opportunity to invest elsewhere.  First there is no doubt that sovereign rates in Canada are getting insanely low (5 years at less than 2%) so its natural for investors to view Canada (which is closely associated with the U.S.) to view this as a subpar investment.


(Source; StatsCan)

Anyway take what ever view you want is that foreign investors' view of the CAD bond market is that there are better ways of investing money -- also June marked the high point for the CAD so that it may have been seen as a good exit strategy -- come back when the CAD is again in ascendancy!

As for Canadian investing abroad has been mostly in blue-chip shares -- and not fixed income.  The vision may be that the yield on…

S&P downgrades Google following its acquisition of Motorola

First off rating agencies have lots o"splaining" to do with their rating activities.  No so many years ago, several rated all the Icelandic banks AAA -- based on the idea that they were TBTF and therefore had an implicit government guarantee.  Never mind that with a population of 230,000 Iceland's banks were dwarfing the local economy.

Then there was the rating of CDO/CLO and other bastardized complex financial structures, taking a bunch of BB rated debt instruments and magically creating AAA rated paper.

The downgrading of America was a "political" decision, in view of the intractable nature of the discussions in Washington, and the dogmatism shown by the republicans.  S&P's rating decision (America is still AA+ rated -- which is not so bad) is a true reflection of a government's spending decision and its inability to find realistic solutions to the problem.

The latest downgrade of Google that decided to acquire Motorola Mobile on Monday is sheer …

The world seem to think that Canada is in a recession

This morning reading a number of blogs and newspapers every mention of Canada was that we are either near a recession or in a recession.  I guess it just doesn't feel like a recession yet.  Granted the market is pricing a reduction on short term interest rate before the end of the year (around 25 bps), but that is all.  Canadian bank stocks are down a bit from their high, but are still within 10% of their historic highs -- maybe that's a signal.  
Not that I am in the secrets of the gods, but rumors in the market is that all Canadian banks are doing remarkably well with predicted strong Q2 performances ... again, I have no special knowledge here but it is interesting that National Income numbers, retails sales, construction (Industrial commercial and personal) are all strong (and rising) demand for construction permits is up in all three of the last quarter...
Maybe the missing link is that since about 1/3 of Canada's GDP is trade related it doesn't matter how well Canad…

Politics & the separatists

It is well established that I live in the province of Quebec (the French speaking bit of North America), and for more than 60 years there has been a movement for Quebec to secede from the rest of Canada, its best incarnation (and most long lasting) has been the Parti Quebecois ("PQ").  The cause has hit a number of roadblocks over the years, but the past 6 months have been nothing short of disastrous for their cause.

First, its important to note that between 20 and 30% of all Quebec resident are "pro-independence".  Amusingly enough the most "pro-Independence" sentiments are in places that have virtually no contact with the rest of America, not that they live in no-men's land rather they live in the heart of Quebec, speak French (only) and get 100% of their entertainment in French.  They have a separate and different culture where Shakespeare and Monthy Python do not exist -- yes even in the internet age it is easy to ignore the rest of North America!…

Recession in Canada?

A fortnight ago GDP Q2 numbers emerged and were troubling, while the first quarter GDP was up 4%, second quarter is looking flat overall (April was up a bit and May was down).  Now more data is emerging (its not only the German's that are seeing slowdown after all) which shows that manufacturing for June 2011 was down 1.5% (which is rather a lot -- BTW should't "a lot" be one word...) looking at the trend below it is worrying.

(Source: StatsCan)

No wonder the market is pricing a solid 25bps fall in CAD interest rates.

At the same time sale of durable goods was down 1.9% -- granted much of that drop is due to the oil sector (Don't ask its complicated... but its true) because not only did volume collapse in June (so did prices).  On the bright side inventories are flat -- so it would appear that Canadian companies have been good at tracking the drop in sales without the build up in inventory (although with interest rates as low as they are its hardly expensive in…

Rumors, truth and other fictions

Somehow a Mail on Sunday article about SocGen's difficulty in funding its operations is being blamed on a typical Franco-British failure to communicate:  A fictional account published in Le Monde (12 part series) of a financial crisis impact on the 2012 French election cycle.  The story used the liquidity collapse of  SocGen and Unicredit two large banks well known in France, to mark its story line 

First, despite the attractiveness in blaming the Mail on Sunday for misunderstanding a "fake" story on the impact of the demise of two European institutions as being the real thing forgets two important facts:  First, Italy is going through a spot of difficulty which is true.  After Greece, Italy has the highest level of state debt (120% of GDP) of any European country, and a government who has been otherwise busy (Bunga Bunga Parties).  That's its banks (large holder of sovereign Italian banks) would be in difficulty is not that hard to imagine.  Moreover, Italy's e…

1.12% and the week will be a wash

This afternoon, Friday the 12th of August, the S&P500 is just 1.14% short of its Friday Augsut 5th closing of 1199.  In a nutshell, if you had been on holiday all week on a desert Island, and return to the office on Monday, nothing of this week would have transpired to you.  In fact, oil and Nat gas prices are also back to where they were a week ago!

Despite all that, the market is nervous, volatility is sky high.  Maybe its the plunge protection team at work again.

Have a great weekend

What Canadians worry about?

Early today I was reading David Frum’s blog/news site, and wondered a number of things. Despite having left Canada more than 20 years ago, he remains interested and connected to the country of his birth. Not only is his sister a Senator (in Ottawa) but he remains well connected in Canada’s intelligentsia.
Apparently, David was invited at the last get together that Jim Flaherty hosted near Ottawa a few days ago, and where political and economic topic about Canada were discussed.Chatham house rule applied (where you cay discuss the ideas raised but not who took what position) to the entire get together.
So what worries Canada’s leading lights?In no particular order these are the main themes:
Canadian health care costs are rising at more than 6% per annumCanadians incurred too much debtIs the Federal government correct in keeping its target for a balance budget to 2014

When discussing America there is a certain amount of despair; the dogmatism in America seems out of control.When a political…

A commentary about the London riots

I lived in the UK, first as a student and later as a banker.  London is an amazing city, but the spectacle of the city  (and as a microcosm for the country as a whole) was to behold in the early 1980s.  It is hard to express how London was "failing apart" during that time (yes Thatcher was prime minister, but had not yet embarked on her fight against the coal miners' union).  You could see the rot as it were.
Over the last few nights violence has exploded in the city, first it appears caused by the death of a young black man, 20 yards from his home in troubling circumstances.  Penny Red, and Englishwomen blogger wrote the following:
Riots are about power, and they are about catharsis. They are not about poor parenting, or youth services being cut, or any of the other snap explanations that media pundits have been trotting out: structural inequalities, as a friend of mine remarked today, are not solved by a few pool tables. People riot because it makes them feel powerful, e…

Canadian Data: Trade balance is dropping

This morning StatsCan released its June 2011 trade data, and while import track a growing economy (with a strengthening currency), exports tell a different story.  Canada's trade deficit that had grown to $1 billion in May is now $1.6 billion, and in view of the price for natural resources (including energy) over the past two months, I would suggest that Canada has "worse to come" in terms of trade balance.
(Source: Stats Can)
The usual culprits are to blame;  Energy and automotive (but considering their importance in export trade) this result is hardly surprising.  Exports dropped by 2.2% to $ 36.5 billion.  Import volume rose by 1.9% but there was a nearly identical drop in import prices (its easy to forget that the CAD become very strong in early June -- and that this trend -- peaking at 1.05/0.95 in early July) will reverse throughout the summer.  
One issue because Canada is very dependent on energy import/exports summer months can create false sense of euphoria or doo…

Brief note: Canadian Futures say 50 bps cut in interest rates!

Title says it all.  Six months ago the market priced a small rise in interest rates (25bps) in early 2012.  A month ago this had shifted to no increase in interest rate for the next year, Monday the futures market was saying a 25bps drop in interest rates.  This morning:  50bps drop in rate is on the card by the end of 2011!

Granted this is the "today" market perception, yet the reality is that worldwide economic conditions appear to be heading south. China has 6.5% inflation rate (the authority there said that 5.1% was way too high a few months ago... so 6.5% is probably not too good either).  For some reason, the same guys who think that the U.S. government cannot find its Ass with two hands, thinks that the Chinese can engineer a soft landing, while I am certain that the Chinese can engineer a statistical soft landing (after all they control the whole show) the reality may be otherwise.

Europe has discovered that the "Can that has been kicked down the road" is …

Technical note on ETFs

I’ve often said that I am a terrible stock picker. I don’t believe in stock picking, for every good pick there is the equivalent terrible selection. What makes a good stock trader is not his ability to pick winners, but to have the guts to “cut-out” the losers quickly, and I am crap at that part of the equation!
Anyway, my favorite stock investment instruments are ETF – Exchange Traded Funds that allow me to take position in virtually any global strategy (did very well for a while investing in Taiwanese stocks as a proxy for China). Funny enough the first ever ETFs were invented in Canada – really, but the real big ones are the QQQQ, spiders etc that provide access to some of the biggest stock plays in the world (in the case of the above two:Nasdaq top 100 stocks and the S&P500). The reason I like ETFs is that since I am a terrible stock picker (alpha) the way I make money in the stock market is following the trend of the market in general (beta). The other attractive feature of ET…

Where should the American government cut first?

I will give you hint or three
Expenditure in this segment of government has risen by 81% between 2001 and 2010 It is equal to 43% of world wide expenses in the segment America spends six times more than anyone else in the world It consumes 4.8% of America’s GDP No other segment of the US government comes close to the military in increased expenditure
Military Expenses

Two fascinating post I am reading today

Fist, is Bank of America death watch by Yves Smith on Salon.  A must read for those who are still curious of  the impact of Level 3 assets on bank's balance sheet.  In a nut shell, today Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) has tangible net worth (difference between total assets and total liability) of $222 billion.  One of the many Level 3 assets held by BAC are second liens mortgages for a total book value of $125 billion.

The average American mortgage created between 2002 and 2008 was for 90% of the then market value of the house.  First, and often conforming mortgages are limited to 80% of the value of homes (so that they can be securitized), the balance is a second mortgage.  in view of the AVERAGE drop in home value between 2007 and 2011 of 30%, what's the bet on the value of these second mortgages?  In fact, the value is near zero (and in some case its negative -- don't ask).  My guess is therefore that there's not much value in this $125 billion "asset".  That…

Bogus Data of the day!

Ok, so at 8:30 this morning Q2 productivity for non-farm labor was released and it printed at -0.3%, seriously better than the anticipated -0.9% target, except for one little hiccup, the number for Q1 was revised slightly, you seen a few weeks ago BLS released Q1 productivity to be +1.8%, a decent number that shows an economy still growing well, you see the revision was rather large from +1.8% to -0.6%, a 150% movement, but that's ok right?  Well it means that the first half productivity is not up at least 0.9% (with the fall off in Q2) rather its down a staggering 0.9%, literally 1.8% below Q1 target.  It means that the economy is slowing fast in Q1 -- even faster than the GDP Q1 forecast revision of +1.8% to -0.3% implied.

Now many in the market "hang on" these daily/weekly states to determine the "direction" of the market (not only financial but also the underlying economy).  Well it turns out that all that stuff is complete and utter B.S. because there is a…

Banking sector getting slammed today!

Canadian banks are getting slammed today.  The smallest (and the most "Canadian") National Bank (TSE:NA) saw its stock go from $79.65 a few weeks ago to $69.66  today a drop of 13%.  Granted that is nothing like what the US banks are suffering right now.  Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) is down 17% today -- Citibank (NYSE:C) is down 15%.  BAC is down 44% since its "high" of $15.25 in January 2011.  America's most well regarded bank JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) is only down 29%.

The rest of Canada's finest are:

RBC  down 3.13%, CIBC down 3.00%, TD down 3.32% and BNS down 2.57%.  Not a good day to own stocks in Canada or anywhere else for that matter.  Question for the market close with the S&P 500 breach the 75 pts drop in one day...

Waking up to an interesting day!

The world has suddenly decided that “Risk Off” is the proper strategy, gold it $1,700 this morning – it was below $1,600 just a few weeks ago.  Euribor has decided to freeze up (the implication here is that European banks are declining lending to each other… think of Bear Sterns and Lehman Brothers period).
Obviously the problems that affected G7 countries 4 years ago are still largely present today, and investors have noticed that the attempt to sweep all these realities under the rug has failed.   The highlights:
Greece is still a mess, and despite all the ECB/IMF efforts its debt to GDP is greater today than it was 18 months ago.Spain will have elections in OctoberItaly has finally woken up to the fact that after Greece it has Europe’s second highest level of debt to GDPSwiss Franks has risen by nearly 50% in the past 18 monthsBelgium has been without a government for more than 418 days (a world record)America’s continued internal brinkmanship …