I will leave it to others to debate whether Herman Cain and Stephen Moore are the best-qualified people to serve on the Federal Reserve Board. But there is little reason to think their appointment will lead to dangerous politicization of the Fed, or to irresponsible economic policy.
We’ve been here before. I covered the Fed for the Wall Street Journal in 1985, when Ronald Reagan appointed two governors—Manuel Johnson and Wayne Angell—with the explicit intention of challenging the power of Fed Chairman Volcker. And the two did just that, successfully pushing a plan to reduce the bank’s discount rate. But in the end, they didn’t seriously compromise monetary policy. The most important monetary policy decisions are made by the Fed’s Open Market Committee, which includes a dozen people. And any group pursuing a blatantly political agenda is likely to prompt the others to coalesce against them.
The broader lesson here is this: American institutions have proven remarkably resilient in resisting a president whose modus operandi is to undermine anything that he sees as a threat—be it the intelligence agencies, the FBI, the courts, the Justice Department, or the press. The Federal Reserve will be no exception.
Separately, Ray Dalio took to 60 Minutes last night to express his view that capitalism faces a crisis. “Capitalism needs to be reformed. It doesn’t need to be abandoned,” he said. “I don’t think it is sustainable. We are at a juncture. We can do it together, or we can do it in conflict…conflict between rich and poor.”
Dalio said odds are 60-40 that “it will be done in a bad way.” But he is working to improve those odds. He posted a fuller explanation of his views on reforming capitalism on his website last week; you can read it here.
More news below.
Pinterest will reportedly price its IPO below the valuation at which it last raised private money, which is to say $12 billion or $21.54 a share. It’s always a tricky balancing act, trading off part of the IPO payout for the image of a successful flotation. Wall Street Journal
Kirstjen Nielsen has been sacked as Homeland Security secretary. Her acting replacement is Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan. President Trump has been increasingly dissatisfied with Nielsen’s performance on the issue of security at the Mexican border, which Trump sees as very important. Bloomberg
The U.K.’s GCHQ spy agency thinks Huawei’s equipment should be banned from sensitive parts of the country such as Westminster in London—the nerve center of the British government and civil service. Why? The Chinese company’s “shoddy” engineering practices, which were highlighted in a recent report. BBC
Amazon has been hiring former SpaceX managers to run its nascent satellite internet program, Project Kuiper. The project is being led by former SpaceX satellites chief Rajeev Badyal and some of his staff. Elon Musk fired Badyal in June, due to frustration with the pace of SpaceX’s Starlink project. CNBC
Around the Water Cooler
France vs. Ireland
As Brexit’s crunch week (perhaps the last one) begins, the French and Irish leaders are butting heads over whether or not to grant the U.K. another extension, to avoid a hard Brexit on Friday night. Emmanuel Macron appears to be seriously considering vetoing the request, which would effectively push Britain over the cliff edge. But Ireland’s Leo Varadkar warned that any country exercising the veto “wouldn’t be forgiven for it,” due to the disruption a no-deal Brexit would cause to the U.K.’s closest neighbors. Politico
The German city of Duisburg isn’t famous for much, but it’s the world’s largest inland port and has effectively become the potential gateway to Western Europe. The German government is pretty hawkish on the European expansion of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, but city officials in Duisburg see the modern-day Silk Road scheme as a “huge opportunity.” Financial Times
Carlyle and Cepsa
Carlyle Group is buying a 30-40% stake in Compañía Española de Petróleos (Cepsa,) Europe’s biggest privately-owned oil and gas company, from the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund, Mubadala, which will remain Cepsa’s majority shareholder. The stake could be worth up to $4.8 billion. Reuters
Is the era of cheap flights in Europe now fading? In the last year and a half, a plethora of small, discount airlines have collapsed. As Phil Boucher writes for Fortune, this is largely because Europe just has loads of airlines, but it’s also partly due to labor and fuel costs—some airlines are overpaying for fuel thanks to their decision to hedge their contracts, and when margins are very low, that can be fatal. Fortune