By Geoffrey Smith
August 10, 2017

Good morning.

Global markets are jittery, but mostly shrugging off the escalating war of words between the U.S. and North Korea. The BBC offered the case for optimism this morning, pointing out that a war on the Korean peninsula serves no-one’s interests.

But it is interesting to note the role reversal that has taken place. Kim Jong Un’s regime has long thrived on its unpredictability, making bellicose statements and sending off missiles when no one is expecting it. President Trump has turned the table, and become the unpredictable one. The world learned yesterday that, while he has surrounded himself with experienced generals, he consulted none of them before making his provocative “fire and fury” comment.

Meanwhile, the North Koreans have become more precise, providing unusual detail about plans to launch four intermediate range missiles in mid-August that would fly over Japan and land in the water 30 to 40 kilometers from Guam. While North Korea regularly promises to destroy the U.S., it seldom offers such precise details.

Guam Governor Eddie Calvo says he’s not worried, and told Reuters that North Korea’s actions are a sign of caution. “They like to be unpredictable. They’ll pop off a missile when no-one is ready. They’ve done it many times,” he said. “They’re now telegraphing their punch, which means they don’t want to have any misunderstandings. I think it is a position of fear.”

Let’s hope he’s right. More news below.

 

Alan Murray
@alansmurray
alan.murray@fortune.com

 

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