Trump and Macron: Strange bedfellows

Trump and Macron's confusing relationship, explained
Trump and Macron's confusing relationship, explained

Quest's Profitable Moment

The relationship between French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. President Donald Trump simply defies explanation.

For decades, the European leader holding the ear of the U.S. president has traditionally been Britain's prime minister.

Think of Kennedy and Macmillan. Reagan and Thatcher. Even Bill Clinton and Tony Blair. Trump and May? Not so much. It's Emmanuel Macron who seems ready to keep the transatlantic relationship alive.

Macron has succeeded where all others have failed, managing to criticize U.S. policies without becoming the latest Twitter target. In Trump's eyes, Emmanuel seems to do no wrong.

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Trump will finally hold his first state dinner this year, and the honored guest has already been chosen. Emmanuel Macron -- youthful, energetic, with a desire to bring about serious economic change.

Maybe it's the drive for reform that unites the two presidents. Though their strategies to bring about change are starkly different.

Macron's declaration to business leaders and world trading partners that "France is back" is at odds with Trump's policies, perceived as protectionist and divisive.

So how has this relationship come about?

Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were called "political soulmates," ideologically in step from Day One. Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump appear to be more "political odd couple" than anything else.

Yes, yes, I know what you're thinking, "Opposites attract, Richard." (So they tell me.)

Well, if we want to draw comparisons between love and politics, in this particular case, I think there's an old adage a bit more apropos: "Politics makes strange bedfellows."

Stock market enters rollercoaster mode

market rollercoaster down

The quiet on Wall Street has been broken, sending investors on a rollercoaster ride. The Dow suffered its worst two-day drop of the Trump era earlier this week. The sell-off, occurring right before the State of the Union, came at a bad time for a president who likes to brag about the market boom. While stocks have bounced back, the rebound has been bumpy. Some think market euphoria is overdone, especially given the turmoil in the bond market. Treasury yields have crept up to levels unseen since 2014. Former Fed chief Alan Greenspan even warned that the market is in a "bubble." So is this the long-awaited pullback, the start of a more serious downturn or just a blip? Stay tuned. 

-- Matt Egan

Can Trump fix 'injustice' of health care prices?

trump health insurance

It's been a tough week for health care stocks. Big Pharma companies tumbled after President Trump renewed his campaign promise to lower drug prices. And big insurers and pharmacy chains got whacked after JPMorgan Chase, Amazon and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway announced a plan to offer health insurance to their employees. Investors probably have good reason to be nervous. Amazon has a history of disrupting retail. It did so to the book business and is shaking up supermarkets with its Whole Foods deal. Could lower drug prices and insurance premiums be next?

-- Paul R. La Monica

NAFTA talks make progress, but major divide remains

nafta flags

The United States, Canada and Mexico are making progress on renegotiating their trade pact. Very. Slowly. Negotiators concluded the sixth round of NAFTA talks Monday with a mix of optimism and criticism. Canada offered what amounts to a counterproposal on a divisive issue (auto manufacturing) but the United States found it unacceptable. Still, all three sides agreed to continue talking for at least two more rounds. Experts say that is undoubtedly better than President Trump pulling the United States out of NAFTA. 

-- Patrick Gillespie

Fuji takes over Xerox

It's the end of an era. Japan's Fujifilm is taking control of Xerox and shedding 10,000 jobs at their existing joint venture in Asia. Xerox was a tech pioneer. In 1959, it debuted the first photocopier, a product that would become ubiquitous in offices around the world. But Xerox was swallowed up in the digital era by a different technology it helped develop at its Palo Alto research lab: personal computers. In 1979, Steve Jobs toured the facility. Xerox had been an early investor in Apple before it went public in 1980. But Xerox was too big and focused on copiers to make the shift to computers. It missed out on the pot of gold it discovered.

-- Nathaniel Meyersohn

Quick takes

Alan Greenspan thinks the stock and bond markets are "bubbles." 

Mysteriously low inflation may not be a problem for the incoming Fed chair.

McDonald's cheaper menu items are a big hit.

It's a caffeine lover's dream: Dr Pepper Snapple is merging with Keurig.

What's next

Jobs report: On Friday, the Labor Department will report the number of jobs the U.S. economy added in January. Economists forecast 175,000 new jobs and expect the unemployment rate to remain at 4.1%.

Energy earnings: ExxonMobil, Chevron, Valero and Phillips 66 report earnings on Friday. Exxon announced earlier this week that it will invest $50 billion of the money it expects to save from U.S. tax cuts.

Powell takes over the Fed: Jerome Powell is about to take the helm of the world's most influential central bank. Powell will begin his four-year term as Federal Reserve chairman on Saturday, the Fed announced. He will replace Janet Yellen.

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