No Good Will Come of Separating Immigrant Families

Today’s Agenda

  • Separating children from their families
  • Breaking up the “big four”
  • China vs. the U.S.
  • Democracy on death watch
  • Whither oil prices
No Good Will Come of Separating Immigrant Families

No Dilemma; Just Immoral

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The Donald Trump administration’s policy of stripping immigrant children from their parents at the southern border is already a moral nightmare. History suggests the situation will only get worse if it doesn’t end soon. 

About five years ago, Australia started holding undocumented immigrants in “offshore processing” camps, David Fickling points out. One rationale was to deter people from making dangerous boat trips to Australia. But these people now live in increasingly grim conditions. Some have become so hopeless they’ve committed suicide. It is, David writes, “a stain” on Australia.

Trump officials have used something like Australia’s “boat people” argument to defend taking children from immigrants, saying it will deter people from bringing children on the dangerous journey here. (Of course, their story is inconsistent: Sometimes they say the policy isn’t even real; other times they say it’s the Democrats’ fault.)

But both Australia and the U.S. have created this mess by arbitrarily limiting legal immigration, David writes. That limit means desperate people coming here to escape life-threatening problems at home are more likely to do so illegally. That in turn gives the government excuses to treat them poorly. Such trends never go in positive directions.

One other rationalization for Trump’s policy is that when U.S. citizens go to prison, they lose their children, too, so why should undocumented immigrants be treated differently? This is obviously bogus for many reasons. And Tyler Cowen suggests maybe we shouldn’t take away those children, either — it's just another moral failing, another example of how poorly we treat "outsiders." 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions justifies policies like these with Biblical verse. Here’s a counter-verse : “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, that you do unto me.”

Break Up the Big Four?

The “big four” auditing firms — Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PwC — have been problematic for a long time. They do a public service by warning investors of corporate financial troubles. But they’ve also gotta eat. So they do consulting and other work for the very same companies they’re auditing. Such conflicts occasionally lead to things like Enron’s meltdown, and lately there have been more such debacles — so many that some are calling to break up the big four. Bloomberg’s editors suggest that’s a little drastic right now; new regulations should get a chance to work first. But breakups are a suitable next resort if that fails. 

China Takeover Watch

Last week was China Week here at Bloomberg Opinion, and the theme is still going strong this week. Trump and other U.S. politicians complain about China coddling its own industries (even as Trump coddles dying U.S. coal and steel). But Michael Schuman argues China isn’t doing its economy’s long-term health any favors with such policies.

On the other side of the Pacific, Trump would make a similar mistake by trying to hamper the growth of China’s high-tech industry to protect America’s, writes David Fickling. Trading with a prosperous China would be preferable for all involved.

Democracy Death Watch

Bloomberg Opinion has a series this week on the interplay of economic growth and democracy. It’s become something of a worry lately, partly because inequality, stagnant wages and immigration have led to a bit of an authoritarian backlash in developed nations. In the first piece, MIT historian Daron Acemoglu points out that authoritarianism isn’t necessarily better for economic growth, despite the oft-cited example of China’s fast-growing command economy.

But Tyler Cowen writes that authoritarianism has evolved, taking just enough democratic features to make it longer-lasting and more popular.

Bubbling Crude

As you may have heard, oil prices have risen a bit lately, inspiring the wrath of President Trump, who has called for OPEC to do something about it. OPEC, meeting this week in Vienna with its new BFF Russia, may respond by pumping a bit more oil. But Trump has only himself to blame for oil’s rise, writes Julian Lee: The U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement has raised worries about global supply. 

Meanwhile, Jihad Azour reckons oil’s recent rebound has put $210 billion into the coffers of oil-exporting countries, and they shouldn’t waste it.

Chart Attack

Banks look like they’re giving away too much capital again, warns Mark Whitehouse.

No Good Will Come of Separating Immigrant Families

General Motors Co. is lapping Ford Motor Co. in autonomous cars, writes Brooke Sutherland. A Cruise IPO could be next.

No Good Will Come of Separating Immigrant Families

There sure are a lot of biotech IPOs coming this week! But don’t call it a bubble yet, says Max Nisen.

No Good Will Come of Separating Immigrant Families

Speed Round

It may seem weird to charge Theranos with wire fraud; if you prosecuted every example of wire fraud in Silicon Valley, then you would no longer have a Silicon Valley. But Theranos is a special case. — Matt Levine

The New York attorney general’s complaint against the Trump Foundation is a preview of Robert Mueller’s report, suggesting Trump is both “profoundly corrupt” and “staggeringly sloppy.” — Francis Wilkinson

Trump’s foundation was a lot like Michael Cohen’s corporation — an “empty shell” treated like a bank account. It’s easy to break all kinds of laws when you operate this way. — Noah Feldman

Inflation really isn’t a problem, and the Fed would make a big mistake trying to fight it right now. — Barry Ritholtz

The market might be complacent about trade-war risks because of estimates showing it won’t much hurt business. But history shows the negative effects keep growing. — Komal Sri-Kumar

The Supreme Court punted on the Wisconsin gerrymandering case, but it sure looks as if Justice Elena Kagan is cleverly setting Justice Anthony Kennedy up to later rule such gerrymandering is unconstitutional. — Noah Feldman


Join the new U.S. Space Force now; it’s as yet unclear whether service guarantees citizenship. Climate change is already affecting the housing market.

The Kicker

Fan reaction to Mexico’s incredible World Cup goal against Germany (presented here by Telemundo, the only way to watch this) caused an earthquake in Mexico City yesterday.

Note: Please send earth-shaking applause, suggestions and kicker ideas to Mark Gongloff at


New subscribers can sign up here

Like Bloomberg Opinion Today? Subscribe to Bloomberg All Access and get much, much more. You'll receive our unmatched global news coverage and two in-depth daily newsletters, The Bloomberg Open and The Bloomberg Close.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.