Friday, August 7, 2020

The Upcoming Phases of Turmoil


Covid-19 was the forbidden key that opened Pandora’s Box which unleashed a tsunami of suppressed yet exponentially growing global problems percolating since the turn of the century. We hadn’t progressed 20 years into the supposed new enlightenment of the 21st century yet have suffered three calamitous events.

1.    First it was the aftermath of 9/11, the implementation of draconian, and more insidiously, codified security measures that facilitated the emergence of the surveillance state with the implicit approval of the citizenry.

2.    Second the Great Recession, man-made and preventable, was triggered by insatiable greed, exposed the unethical, conflict-ridden yet legal incestuous government-private industry relationships.

3.    Third emergence of an unstoppable virus without a cure which morphed from an epidemic to pandemic in the blink of an eye that shutdown the global economy affected each one of the 7.7 billion men, women and children.

The compounding effects of these calamities occurring in short order has exposed and widened the historic global inequalities in which, most disturbingly, the richest parties’ resources could easily provide the basic necessities to the billions in need. This growing dilemma has been expressed throughout the decades through well-known movies yet governments and the ultra-wealthy decided to kick the can further down the primrose path as long as the “salt of the earth” don’t take extreme and extended measures against the flawed institutional structures.

A cinematic compilation of financial avarice and amoral behavior by governments and the ultra-rich can be viewed through the following links:

·         Land baron Noah Cross played brilliantly by John Huston in the movie Chinatown (1974) in 1930s Depression-era California explains his reasons for dubious land acquisitions despite his advanced age.

·         The about to be released safecracker convict played by Sean Connery explains society’s hypocrisy between his profession and government/private industry laws and institutions in the movie The Anderson Tapes (1971).

·         The infamous investment banker Gordon Gekko played with unerring bravado by Michael Douglas in Wall Street (1987).

·         Finally the sequel to Wall Street – Money Never Sleeps (2010) – in which the greed mindset hasn’t change one iota as succinctly expressed by financier Bretton James played by Josh Broslin.

All this means that it’s time to pay the piper - the convergence of events behind a dam that can no longer withstand the pressure will unleash violence nationwide where there may be no safe haven from social unrest.

The following are three present-day and upcoming broad and critical phases with each succeeding one potentially more tumultuous, are already underway:


During these summer months we’re in a period of relative calm before the storm although there still exists an on-going smoldering cauldron of small violent firestorms here & there particularly in the northwest. Otherwise most other protests have been relatively peaceful. The progressive re-openings many of which were proven to be premature, were still nonetheless fortuitous because they served as a social safety valve.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is under considerable pressure to name a woman, particularly a woman of color, as his vice presidential running mate - and indeed there are several qualified candidates. I believe that Susan Rice, a highly experienced international affairs professional that America badly needs to repair shredded relationships with friends and foes alike, has the advantage of not serving in public office. This could work successfully the same way President Trump with no prior public service experience won the presidency in 2016.

It is probable that the VP running mate could assume the presidency well before 2024. Biden’s age and diminishing mental acuity will compromise his competence particularly under an unprecedented historic socio-economic powder keg. For this reason if his psychological barriers buckle, then the VP will have to step in.

Counter-intuitively, Biden’s double-digit lead in the polls over Trump will suddenly shrink dramatically after the announcement of his VP running mate. Why? Because Trump supporters and others (i.e. the undecided) were incensed over President Obama’s presidential victories in 2008 and 2012 both because the Democratic Party had fallen short for many years to address their concerns and also because of latent racism in that Obama is a man of color. The possibility that a woman, a particularly divisive politician even within her own party, could follow man of color and ascend to the position of Commander in Chief “inspired” them as well as closet misogynists to vote for Trump.

For this reason should a female woman of color, regardless how well qualified and experienced, as Commander in Chief will send them over the edge and vote for four more years of chaos regardless if Trump commit more outrageous faux pas than Chief Inspector Clousseau. In other words it may not show in the polls but the 2020 presidential election will be far closer than anyone can imagine.


Because of the country’s extreme divisiveness a victory by either Biden or Trump will result in severe post-election violent backlash and an increased intensity of social unrest. Here are the results and a perspective of the aftermath:

Biden Victory

Biden is neither a savior nor panacea for America’s ills rather a fatherly four-year placeholder. Despite his best effort and intentions as the elderly and ambulatory-aged Commander in Chief, it won’t be enough to snuff the flames of growing violent social unrest.

A Biden victory, particularly if his vice presidential candidate is a woman of color, will trigger unprecedented outrage among the Trump supporters and sympathizers. Trump supporters will have lost an authoritative figure whose words implicitly approve of their darkest thoughts and call to actions including a call to arms.

Trump’s Werewolves & Scorched Earth Tactics

While blaming dark conspiratorial forces that resulted in his election loss, Trump will initiate a scorched earth policy provoking chaos. For this reason it will be a rough administrative transition as the Trump crew may not provide the same professional and historical courtesy. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch if some of his official and unofficial diehard political supporters engage in werewolf tactics similar to what fervent young Nazis did for a brief period after WW II using guerilla tactics to terrorize the occupying powers.

A Biden post-election victory follows the old adage about playing chess with a pigeon. The pigeon will knock over all the chess pieces, defecate on the chessboard, fly away and tell all his friends that he won.

Trump Re-Election Victory

This is the ultimate worst-case scenario for social unrest. A Trump re-election victory will signal four more years of dysfunction, incompetence, corruption and malignant narcissistic behavior. For Trump it will literally be the best of times because he won’t see himself as a lame duck rather confirmation as a legacy in the making and consider this second term carte blanche to do whatever he wants.

His re-election victory will signal to the downtrodden, mostly citizens of color, that not only is the system broken but it’s perpetually rigged so nothing can ever be fixed. For this reason imagine the intensity of the infamous Hong Kong riots in 2019 but in every US city with far more violence and requiring overwhelming military force to quell.


Sadly the only good news will be the approval and initial distribution of the many Covid-19 vaccines under development worldwide. Although the initial distribution will be to frontline and essential workers, the fact that it will inevitably be available to the general public will be reassuring to a certain point.

Again, counter-intuitively with greater (potential) protection from the virus and greater re-opening of the economy, Americans on both sides of the political divide will be free to engage in more aggressive acts. The perception is that Biden won’t order or endorse excessive force to quell any violent social unrest which, in my opinion, is mistaken.

Even under the prospects of a vaccine coming to market, the Democrats will be astonished that the growth and intensity of the protests will continue well after the inauguration. It won’t be about Biden personally, rather the corruption and inertia of the system that has greatly exacerbated socio-economic inequities.

Even if a clinically proven safe vaccine was applied today to every man, woman and child on the planet, the fundamental deeply embedded structural socio-economic problems remain and cannot be undone in one administration term. It’s a multi-generational process that requires strong bipartisan support that goes far beyond the trillions spent for Band-Aid solutions.


Copyright 2020 Indo-Brazilian Associates LLC

Indo-Brazilian Associates LLC is a NYC-based think-tank and advisory service that provides prescient beyond-the-horizon contrarian perspectives and risk assessments on energy investments, geopolitical dynamics and global urban security.

Monday, July 6, 2020

V-Shaped Hospitality Industry Recovery to be Short-Lived


The leisure and hospitality industry (hospitality industry) has briefly rebounded with a V-shaped recovery just in time for the summer season. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the industry lost 4.86 million jobs in a April 2020 as a result of global lockdowns due to Covid-19.

 With the progressive re-openings throughout the US, the industry has rebounded sharply employing 2 million jobs according to the June 2020 BLS. Though it represents only 50% of the jobs lost in April 2020 it’s a significant turnaround.

 The projection of this turnaround specific for this industry was articulated in my published article entitled Economic Micro-Burst During the Viral Ceasefire, 20 May 2020 under the section Hospitality and Travel Industry Ready For Take-Off. The figures are impressive considering that the US is not open for business to foreign travelers. And because of the strong second wave outbreaks many Europeans may prefer staying within Europe.


The following are the before & after charts (lockdown vs re-openings) on the hospitality industry’s position furnished by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and provided by Statista, an online German statistical firm.


According to the following chart The Industries Worst Affected by the Covid19 Job Crisis the hospitality industry has hit rock bottom with an unemployment rate of 39%.




The following chart entitled Hospitality Sector Leads June Job Gains shows the stark turnaround in the industry.



With respect to tourism’s global impact and which countries’ depend more heavily on the hospitality industry, the following chart entitled Who’s Most Vulnerable to Covid-19’s Impact on Tourism?, provided by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and presented 14 April 2020 by Statista.

With respect to tourism role in the US economy, the article explained further, “In the United States for example, the total impact of travel and tourism was considerably smaller at 8.6 percent of GDP. Even at that lower rate, travel and tourism directly support more than 6 million jobs in the United States, with the total contribution to employment amounting to 16.8 million jobs in the U.S. according to World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).”



The hospitality and tourism industry’s V-shaped economy recovery will be short-lived, barely airborne in fact, because of the following three reasons:

Covid-19 Resurgence

Firstly the most immediate is the Covid-19 resurgence whose effects are decimating the three most populous states: California (39.5 million), Texas (29.0 million) and Florida (21.5 million) for a total of 90 million. Their populations account for 27% of the total US population and are prime internal and external vacation destinations.

More importantly is the annual tourism revenue generated by these states plus Nevada. Below are the top 4 generating states in 2018 for tourism revenue all of which are suffering most severely from the Covid-19 resurgence:


2018 Tourism Revenue


$164 billion


$141 billion


$112 billion


$60 billion


$477 billion

Although tourism impacts only 8.6% of the US economy, the resurgence in these critical hospitality & tourism behemoths will be outsized and flatten the economic curve well before the population flattens the Covid-19 curve.

Lockdown Part II

Secondly, the explosive resurgence itself is discouraging out-of-state visitors. Should the resurgence continue unabated then these states may institute another lockdown which would snuff out any and all economic progress and effectively ‘cancel’ the hospitality & tourism industry for the summer, its most lucrative season.

Hurricane Season

Thirdly, hurricanes are always capricious in a season lasting from June to November. The trend these past several years has been, whether caused by climate change or not, is increasingly more frequent and powerful hurricanes. For this reason, with Florida and Texas as the most vulnerable of the four states aforementioned states for hurricanes, the arrival of even a modest one could scuttle any economic recovery.

Below is an overview on the status each state with respect to their re-openings is indicated in the following chart entitled State Re-openings Stall Amid Covid-19 Resurgence provided by The New York Times 30 June 2020 and presented by Statista.