So This Is Why Trump Tweets About Oil

Today's Agenda

So This Is Why Trump Tweets About Oil

Seeing Red at the Gas Pump

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Never let it be said President Donald Trump doesn’t understand his voters.

Back in April, he started tweeting angrily at OPEC about high oil and gasoline prices. Last month, he pushed Saudi Arabia to raise production. It’s hard to say how effective he’s been – oil is more expensive than when his jawboning started, though it’s fallen a bit since his Saudi pitch. National gas prices have stabilized just below $2.90 a gallon, up about 60 cents from a year ago. There’s still talk Trump might tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The truth is, neither he nor OPEC can fully control the market, which has been squeezed by his threat to bottle up Iranian oil.

Still, it’s politically important for Trump to be seen doing something, anything, about gas prices. To understand why, just look at a series of charts put together by Liam Denning and Elaine He showing just how much rising gas prices are especially painful for Trump voters. Here’s one example:

So This Is Why Trump Tweets About Oil

Liam and Elaine break down gas prices and incomes in the 60 House districts that will be competitive in November’s midterm elections. Again, the message for Trump and Republicans is stark:

So This Is Why Trump Tweets About Oil

“[W]hoever sits in the Oval Office gets blamed for high oil prices despite having little control over them. But as he attempts to reconcile his foreign-policy goals with the midterm math, it’s easy to see why Trump may go all out to try anyway,” Liam and Elaine write. Click here to read the whole thing.

The Bond Market Declares the Fed’s Independence

It’s hard to fault a president for talking gas prices down. It’s tougher to take one working the Federal Reserve, which is supposed to be politically independent, putting the economy ahead of partisan concerns. This doesn’t always go so well, but for a long time now the lines have been respected. Trump crossed them today in a CNBC interview, complaining about interest-rate hikes by his hand-picked Fed Chairman Jerome Powell. This echoed the recent central-bank bullying by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that cratered the lira. The U.S. dollar did fall after Trump’s remarks, but rebounded after the White House walked them back. Judging by interest rates, Brian Chappatta writes that, “at least for now, the markets are betting the central bank won’t be swayed.”

And Dan Moss reminds Trump that Powell holds his economic legacy in his hands – one reason presidents learned a while back to leave central bankers be. 

Still Stinky From Helsinki

The blowback from Trump’s Helsinki summit with Vladimir Putin is still hitting Washington. Today the White House said Trump didn’t agree with what he had previously called an “incredible offer” from Vladimir Putin to interrogate each other’s citizens. This offer wasn’t just based on a whim; there’s a real law behind it. Leonid Bershidsky writes the law gives Putin the right to ask for such a ludicrous exchange, but also gives Trump the right to reject it.

Some people call Trump’s public submission to Putin “treason.” Several Bloomberg Opinion writers – Jonathan Bernstein, Noah Feldman, Eli Lake, Ramesh Ponnuru, Cass Sunstein and Frank Wilkinson – debate using this label for Trump. Is it fair? Is it even legally accurate? Is it politically damaging to the people who wield it?

Further Helsinki reading: 

Google vs. EU: The Aftermath

The European Commission’s $5 billion fine of Google parent Alphabet Inc. was a record, but not enough to bother Alphabet much, what with its $103 billion in cash and all. But the ruling could add to Google’s growing cost of being a tech behemoth, if it forces the company to pay still more to make sure its apps are ubiquitous, writes Shira Ovide.

Bloomberg’s editors argue Europe’s action against Google was wrong in almost every possible way – in its verdict, in its punishment, in its timing, and in its unintended consequences: “[T]he European Commission is threatening to harm consumers, impede innovation, make life difficult for developers, and undermine the security and usability of applications, all in pursuit of thoroughly implausible goals.” Other than that it’s great!

Bonus Google reading:

Media Megamerger Mania: 2 Fast 2 Confusing

The first phase of the media industry’s game of musical-chairs-with-giants ended today, when Comcast Corp. surrendered in its bidding war with The Walt Disney Co. over 21st Century Fox Inc. entertainment assets. Comcast still won, sort of, by forcing Disney to pay dearly, notes Tara Lachapelle. But now it’s time for the sequel: The fight between the two over British pay-TV company Sky PLC – oh, and also Hulu, which is jointly owned by Disney, Comcast and, believe it or not, AT&T Inc. If you, dear reader, are confused by all of this, think how consumers will feel. Read Tara’s predictions for what comes next here.

Chart Attack

Um, where did all of Russia's Treasury bond holdings go? Brian Chappatta asks.

So This Is Why Trump Tweets About Oil

Unilever PLC shunned a Kraft Heinz Co. deal, but it hasn’t proven it can thrive on its own, writes Andrea Felsted:

So This Is Why Trump Tweets About Oil

A Trump administration drug-pricing proposal slams right into the rationale for two insurer-pharmacy megadeals, writes Max Nisen:

So This Is Why Trump Tweets About Oil

Speed Reading

China seems to have figured out how to avoid recessions. – Noah Smith 

Trump is driving Europe into the arms of Japan and China. – Ferdinando Giugliano  

Don’t expect Labour to mop up the UK’s Brexit mess. – Therese Raphael 

Saudi Aramco buying into a state-owned chemical company would delay its IPO even more. – Liam Denning

India is clamping down on burning a dirty refining byproduct for fuel – great for its people and environment, a headache for the oil industry. – David Fickling 

No, Donald Trump, you are not “ in charge of the country.” – Jonathan Bernstein 

ICYMI

Stocks dropped. Trump’s trade damage will take years to repair. Best Buy Co. Inc. is far from dead. They opened that mysterious sarcophagus.

Kickers

The rich are still partying like it’s 2007.

Please, somebody buy the Brady Bunch house before some developer buys it and knocks it down.

Note: Please send soccer balls, suggestions and kicker ideas to Mark Gongloff at mgongloff1@bloomberg.net.

***

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.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Mark Gongloff is an editor with Bloomberg Opinion. He previously was a managing editor of Fortune.com, ran the Huffington Post's business and technology coverage, and was a columnist, reporter and editor for the Wall Street Journal.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.