Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Dumb Genius of Donald Trump



Donald Trump has brilliantly dominated the media and diverted all the attention to himself from not only the GOP but also the Democratic Party. This political provocateur has in some perverse way achieved a stunning lead in the polls due to his political incorrectness that represents the repressed personal frustrations, justified or not, of many Americans who only dare say such things privately. But Trump can because he’s rich and fearless. For that reason he’ll always have admirers.

Like financial bubbles Trump’s behavior and political campaign buffoonery to maintain such stratospheric popularity ratings in the polls and a possible GOP nomination are unsustainable. Sooner rather than later the public will grow weary and recognize it for what it is as nothing more than amusing entertainment. It is assumed that Trump’s early big lead as a front runner of this horse race will be overcome easily and that Trump’s pace will be reduced to a leisurely gallop. Though the will never admit it publicly, the GOP doesn’t really mind Trump’s antics because it’s so wild, flamboyant, and out-of-control that any other GOP candidate will seem totally rational.

But here’s the genuinely frightening part, particularly for the GOP. What if Trump doesn’t follow the historical script of the eccentric and extrovert front-runner who flames out, self-destructs and vanishes? What if he suddenly morphs into a normal and serious presidential candidate just prior to or during the upcoming August debates? In other words, Trump may have deliberately became a public relations attention grabber as part of his master plan to grab a large lead in the polls but now realizes that he’s achieved something beyond his wildest dreams as a dominant front runner.  Like a front running horse, through behavior modification he can now set and even dictate the pace making it quite difficult for the other GOP candidates to make up ground as the political campaign progresses.

Trump knows this best. It’s not just politics. It’s business. Big business. This outrageously fortuitous moment in time is when, during the debate, he can state, “Now it’s time to get serious”, fess up to his unprofessional or unorthodox behavior and loquaciously provide a well-thought out campaign program and establish a solid political platform. Like a brilliant comedic actor who now proves that he can be a serious actor with the very best of them, Trump can capture lightning in a bottle. Then it’ll be Trump who’ll have considerable leverage and can dictate his terms going forward when the presidential campaign process becomes serious about GOP nominations.

So what’s Trump’s end game? The GOP is unlikely to tolerate Trump as a presidential or even vice-presidential candidate. However, should the GOP win the presidential election, they could offer Mr. Trump a high-level governmental position. This would be yet another case of a wealthy individual in private industry securing a high-level governmental position before returning back to private industry with more influential contacts and a particular level of prestige such as public service, than if they stayed in private industry. Like any wealthy and powerful businessman, if Trump plays his cards right, he’ll not only get what he wants, he‘ll get more.

 Copyright Indo-Brazilian Associates LLC 2015.  All rights reserved.

Indo-Brazilian Associates LLC is a NYC-based global advisory service and think tank with connections at the highest levels specializing in international investment, political and security risk assessments. International business is increasingly complex featuring a highly mobile professional class in all corners of the globe. We provide you the tools to successfully negotiate cross-culturally in your global business endeavors. Tell us about your challenges.  We'll get you on the "Short List".

Available for speaking engagements and workshops. Contact us at http://www.indobrazilian.com

Friday, July 24, 2015

Brazilian Fado – Tropical Gloom



As it enters the 21st century Brazil seems to be psychologically exhausted from falling short of particular real and symbolic achievements that would catapult it to the next level – that of an upper-tier developed nation. Yet somehow during this interminable quest it always arrives at the cusp but manages to sabotage itself. Brazil seems to embody the tale of a people who build a prison and are both the guards and the prisoners and can who never escape their creation.

During the past decade there was not one, but three almost once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to catapult Brazil over that barb-wired prison wall each of which was somehow frittered away:


1.       Winning the bid to host the World Cup

2.      Discovery of potential vast amounts of offshore oil

3.      A change of economic policies that lifted millions out of poverty into the middle class

From an emotional perspective, there are several almost concurrent events that have had a toxic effect on the Brazilian psyche. Brazil's middle class increased dramatically resulting in higher expectations. This newly arrived middle class fears that with a weakened economy, they may slide back into poverty just as quickly, a bitter disappointment after tasting the nectar of economic freedom. While the middle class teeters on this precipice, the politically connected and wealthy elite continue to maintain their lavish lifestyle and reap exorbitant questionable benefits particularly. The Petrobras scandal represents how the elite can never have enough even in a weakening economy.

In my opinion, three factors are keeping most Brazilians in economic and psychological lockdown:


1.       Brazil's humiliation at home in the World Cup to Germany by an unprecedented score, a profound psychological sign that Brazil (even if this was only a soccer match) a powerful metaphor that Brazil may not be as strong as it has been led to believe.

2.      There have been few tangible or enduring direct economic benefits to the general population from World Cup venue construction or revenues. This probably means that there will unlikely be any benefits from the upcoming summer 2016 Olympics.

3.      The Petrobras scandal with alleged payments to political parties that includes a former top executive and current President Rousseff, severely undermines the still fragile equitable democratic mindset.

There’s a title to a Brazilian comedy movie called “God is Brazilian” (2013).  The plot is that God decides to take a vacation but first he must find a suitable saint as his replacement.  If that’s the case, Brazilians must be wondering why he treating Brazil like the Greek king Sisyphus condemned for eternity to roll a boulder up and hill only to have it roll back down plunging Brazil into a collective tropical fado.

 Copyright Indo-Brazilian Associates LLC 2015.  All rights reserved.

Indo-Brazilian Associates LLC is a NYC-based global advisory service and think tank with connections at the highest levels specializing in international investment, political and security risk assessments. International business is increasingly complex featuring a highly mobile professional class in all corners of the globe. We provide you the tools to successfully negotiate cross-culturally in your global business endeavors. Tell us about your challenges.  We'll get you on the "Short List".

Available for speaking engagements and workshops. Contact us at www.indobrazilian.com


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sanctions: Unequal Opportunity for Iran and Cuba



There are several similarities between Cuba and Iran with respect to the possible lifting of sanctions.

1.       Revolutionary Exporters: After their respective revolutions, both countries were anti-US, anti-western and aggressively tried to export their revolution through their military proxies and propaganda. Cuba put boots on the ground in Africa while Iran has placed military personnel in Iraq.

2.      Commodity Based Economies: Cuba’s main export is sugar cane used in barter agreements with the Soviet Union for goods including oil, and later with Venezuela. Iran’s main export is oil which they sell legally to China as an exception to the sanction provisions.

3.      Nuclear Connection: Cuba for a brief period indeed had nuclear missiles on its soil courtesy of the Soviet Union which were soon removed after their discovery. Iran has yet to develop one. Nuclear missiles in Cuba were an existential threat to the US however nuclear missiles in Iran are not.

However, the possible lifting of sanctions with Iran is a starkly differently beast compared with lifting of sanctions with Cuba, and in some ways can be interpreted as a double standard for the following reasons:

1.       The Iranian sanctions are a multi-country collaborative arrangement while the Cuban sanctions are US-specific. For this reason the political mechanisms to lift sanctions are different for each country. Additionally, because of the multi—generational one-on-one imposition of sanctions on Cuba, there’s a perception that the sanctions are more personal than economic.

2.      With the lifting of sanctions, Iran secures $100 billion in froze assets. Cuba is bankrupt.

3.      Cuba has no military presence overseas unless you split hairs and count the security advisors in Venezuela. Iran is deeply involved in supporting the Shiite militias in Iraq.

4.      Interestingly Iran represents a direct military and existential threat to its regional neighbors and economic powerhouse yet whose sanctions may be lifted before those imposed on Cuba, a small country, a small economy and which threatens no one.

5.      Trade with Iran will focus on military sales, commercial ventures and energy development. Cuba will rely on investments in non-military, non-energy industries such as tourism, communications, construction, agriculture, and pharmaceuticals which probably explains why there is no snapback provision in the lifting of sanctions against Cuba.

For Americans, because of geographical and cultural considerations, Cuba is the ‘it’ destination for frolicking on the beach featuring year-long tropical weather. Unfortunately, because of obsessive, out-dated domestic political thought, Americans may have to wait longer than expected to enjoy using their tropical umbrellas, those on the beach and those in their Cuba Libres.

 Copyright Indo-Brazilian Associates LLC 2015.  All rights reserved.

Indo-Brazilian Associates LLC is a NYC-based global advisory service and think tank with connections at the highest levels specializing in international investment, political and security risk assessments. International business is increasingly complex featuring a highly mobile professional class in all corners of the globe. We provide you the tools to successfully negotiate cross-culturally in your global business endeavors. Tell us about your challenges.  We'll get you on the "Short List".

Available for speaking engagements and workshops. Contact us at www.indobrazilian.com

US and Iranian Rapproachement - A Reset in the Battle Against ISIS?



With respect to the continuing diplomatic and economic battlefield between the west and Iran comes another unspoken issue and possibly never discussed: with the possibility of the lifting of sanctions, how will this new relationship impact the battle against ISIS? Iran has invested considerable resources supporting the Shiite militia while the US has supported the Iraqi government forces with few, if any, direct coordinated military efforts.

What happens on the economic front won’t necessarily translate on the same level of cooperation and coordination on the battle front. Nonetheless it will be more difficult for ISIS to play one side against the other. In fact ISIS has more to worry about Iran than the US.

Overseas military adventures are an exceptionally expensive endeavor for any country, Iran is no exception. Which begs the question as to how Iran managed to project their military efforts under tough sanctions? 

With the lifting of sanctions, Iran will have access to critical international financing which will be enhanced through the sale of oil and natural gas. Iran can then increase their military efforts in the region by providing the Shiite militias more sophisticated weaponry with greater firepower. Ironically in this role Iran may reluctantly become the US’ proxy. For the US this is a rather inconvenient arrangement yet more politically acceptable than sending in US ground troops.

It’s a similar approach and concept to how the Allies and Soviet Union battled Nazi Germany. Neither side was fond of the other, yet the war required a certain level of coordination to defeat an implacable enemy. The US provided Uncle Joe Stalin substantial amounts of materiel when the Soviets factories were in ruins.

In the never ending Iraq campaign, the US might provide more satellite intelligence and coordinated air strikes supporting ground based Iranian-led Shiite assaults to retake ISIS-occupied provinces, cities and towns. With respect to military operational performance, the Shiite militias are highly motivated and are superb ground fighters who lack air support. The Iraqi government forces have poor ground fighters who require extensive air support.

Particularly with any major historical agreement there are always embedded secret agreements and understandings with respect to topics outside the scope of the signed documentation. Iran’s presence in the Middle East has been a vexing issue not only for the US but many Arab countries especially Saudi Arabia. The key to whether such agreements were made is to be vigilant of any change in Iran’s movement in the region, regardless how subtle. Despite all the hard-liner posturing, it’s always the specific acts after such agreements are made that confirm whether unwritten mutual understandings are being carried out.

Copyright Indo-Brazilian Associates LLC 2015.  All rights reserved.

Indo-Brazilian Associates LLC is a NYC-based global advisory service and think tank with connections at the highest levels specializing in international investment, political and security risk assessments. International business is increasingly complex featuring a highly mobile professional class in all corners of the globe. We provide you the tools to successfully negotiate cross-culturally in your global business endeavors. Tell us about your challenges.  We'll get you on the "Short List".

Available for speaking engagements and workshops. Contact us at: www.indobrazilian.com