President Harry Truman and Secretary of State George Marshall in 1947. (Photographer: Hulton Archive/Hulton Archive via Bloomberg)

RIP, Post-World War II Global Order

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Welcome to Bloomberg Opinion Today, an afternoon roundup of our opinions on business, politics, markets, technology and more. New subscribers can sign up here

Today’s Agenda

ICYM

Stocks struggled. It’s primary day in many U.S. states; there’s still time to vote. Trump and Kim have a meeting place.

RIP, Post-World War II Global Order

RIP Marshall Plan?

On this day in 1947, U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall announced an amibitious proposal to rebuild war-ravaged Europe. The Marshall Plan, as it became known, cost the U.S. billions of dollars and years of human capital. Had President Donald Trump been on Twitter at the time, he might have called it “SUCH A BAD DEAL.”

But it was a great deal in the long run, writes Hal Brands, bringing European nations together while binding them to the U.S. The runaway post-war economic boom might not have been possible without it. The West's Cold War victory almost certainly would not have. 

In threatening trade war with European allies and others, Trump ignores the Marshall Plan’s lessons, writes Brands. We are retreating to attitudes that prevailed in the 1930s, based on the Trumpian conviction that international trade and diplomacy are zero-sum games. Clive Crook argues Congress has the power to stop Trump from doing further damage to Marshall's legacy, if only it would use it. As for Europe, it’s reluctant to play Trump’s tit-for-tat game, echoing Marshall's foresight, writes Leonid Bershidsky. Trump's "beggar thy neighbor" approach to trade and diplomacy led to depressions and the catastrophic wars Marshall's generation had to repair.

Trump may never be convinced of the rightness of this attitude – though it might help if he knew Marshall won the Nobel Peace prize.

Vape Escape

One of the things people will vote on in San Francisco today is Proposition E, to keep the city’s ban on flavored e-cigarettes. Bloomberg's editors say voters should approve Prop E (Michael R. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP and has helped finance the "Yes" campaign; tobacco companies have put their money behind “No”). Repealing the ban would only make it more likely that kids get hooked on tobacco products.  

Fun With Numbers

Quick, what is 17 times 6? Is it:

a) 94
b) 1,112
c) 102
d) both a and b

If you answered c), then you are right. If you answered d), then you are qualified for a high-level job in the Trump Organization or running the country.

Tim O'Brien recounts the time Trump and his son Don Jr. struggled to answer this math problem on Howard Stern's radio show, along with some of his own interactions with the real-estate mogul. All suggest the president has never been particularly good with numbers. This is relevant now that Trump is ostensibly in charge of the world’s biggest economy. His recent economic assertions show numbers still aren't his strong suit, Tim writes.

Schultz for President?

Howard Schultz is leaving Starbucks Corp. in good hands after an epic run, writes Sarah Halzack.

RIP, Post-World War II Global Order

There's a lot of speculation that Schultz’s next run will be for president, and he hasn't exactly tamped that down. But he can make more of a difference outside politics, argues Joe Nocera: “He is guileless, and he wears his sincerity on his sleeve. These qualities may make him a decent human being and a charismatic CEO, but he’ll be ripped to shreds if he goes into politics.”

Apple Vs. Facebook

Apple Inc.’s changes to its Safari web browser, announced at yesterday’s tent revival/developers conference, are an attack on efforts by Facebook Inc. and others (but mostly Facebook) to vacuum up and sell personal data, writes Shira Ovide. Apple's big market share in web browsing means it “may be able to do with a single policy change what global regulators and politicians couldn’t do: potentially force Facebook to slim down the types of information it collects on internet users.” 

How to Succeed in Business Without Trying So Hard

With the labor market tight and economy strong, companies are trying to wring more productivity out of their existing workforce. Instead they should ask workers to do less, on average, argues Conor Sen. That will make them more attractive to potential hires – and more productive. 

Chart Attack

In asking OPEC to pump more oil as gas prices rise, Trump made it clear he's a wild card for the cartel and for oil bulls, Liam Denning writes.

RIP, Post-World War II Global Order

Falling prices and recent policy moves in Washington and Beijing have pounded solar companies lately. But the industry's future is brighter than ever, writes David Fickling.

RIP, Post-World War II Global Order

W.W. Grainger Inc. is the surprise top performer in the S&P 500 this year – but it's still threatened by Amazon.com Inc. and Warren Buffett, writes Brooke Sutherland.

RIP, Post-World War II Global Order

Speed Round

California’s election process is absolute garbage. – Jonathan Bernstein (sign up for his newsletter)

Bond traders have taken to betting the Treasury yield curve won’t flatten. This is dumb. – Brian Chappatta

A $1 billion valuation for a scooter company is also dumb. – Jared Dillian

Rupert Murdoch’s Sky PLC win suggests a Brexiting UK is amenable to both foreign and hostile deals. – Chris Hughes

Brits barely got to enjoy a post-Royal-wedding spending splurge before gas prices ruined the fun. – Andrea Felsted

It sure looks as if the ECB was purposefully under-buying Italian bonds last month, just when Italy could have used the help. – Marcus Ashworth

Kickers

“Atlanta” is the best show on TV, decrees Noah Smith – and it also happens to be a great lesson on the economics of struggling to get by in America.

Sure, injecting yourself with unproven herpes and HIV vaccines sounds insane, but the people who did it recently are just part of a long scientific tradition, writes Faye Flam.

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

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