Sree Iyer: Namaskar, Hello and welcome to episode 104. Today is the 23rd of February and this is Sree Iyer from PGurus Channel. I would like to now welcome my co-host Sridhar Chityalaji. Sridharji, namaskar and welcome to be PGurus Channel.
Sridhar Chityala: Namaskar and Good morning to you sir. Good morning to everybody.
Sree Iyer: So, let us start with what Trump plans to do at his meeting in CPAC looks like he has a big announcement to make, doesn’t he?
Sridhar Chityala: Yes, he does. I think that if you recall, we had covered yesterday morning that you would be attending and he would be speaking about the last day in his priorities and focus were to be around China, Manufacturing, Small Business, Immigration, Bringing Manufacturing Jobs back Etc. Now, late last night, the breaking news is that he wants to be or he may announce that he is the presumptive presidential candidate or nominee for the 2024 elections to come.
Sree Iyer: So, this kind of you know, precludes a lot of other people who might be hopefuls like Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz or any of the Republican Governor who maybe fancying their chances. It also kind of unites the party behind him or at least he gets a fairly clear indication as to how much of the party is behind him, isn’t it?
Sridhar Chityala: It does, I think that given he continues to enjoy wide support among the Republican Party, which is over 75%. Today poll states should he quit and form his own party close to 56% will leave the Republican party and join him. So, all these polls kind of indicate that there is continued support. Lindsey Graham has stated without Trump 2022 and 2024 elections are unwinnable. He remains the most influential candidate those sentiments have been endorsed not just by Lindsey Graham, but it’s also been endorsed by you know, Jim Jordan and few other Senators who have been with him including Ted Cruz. So, as you rightly pointed out that once the candidate is known, then it becomes very clear to be a party to unite behind and focus around the campaign organization and orchestration of what is to come in the next four years. So, that’s what this trend will lay the framework.
Sree Iyer: Now, Newt Gingrich has demanded that Cuomo should resign after the Ex-Department of Justice Official says that the state stonewalled a pro. What is this probe, sir? And do you think that your Governor is in trouble?
Sridhar Chityala: My Governor is never in trouble. We are in a very liberal state and we can pretty much do anything and kind of getaway because we have a very collaborative, you know federal government. Andrew Cuomo is a big figure in the Democratic party because they were if you recall when we were covering going back in April, May, June timeframes, New York had a very high number of cases relating to the rest of United States in covid, we just could not figure out and constantly President Trump was blamed and even today those who are ignorant and naive. I know we will get some adverse comments to continue to blame President Trump as the person responsible because mainstream media doesn’t cover when for example the PPE and the mask were given, he went and chose to order the mask from China and when there was a ship at the Javits Center that was sent to address the needs of the Manhattan and New York, particularly Manhattan to treat the patients, he chose to ignore. It is now, becoming evident that he didn’t want this count to be escalated and count to be reflected as a glaring number and CDC to initiate a probe and that has come out with his own secretary admitting that that was the case and close to 50% of the cases have been suppressed. There is no investigation even the Democratic people’s party members are suggesting that he should go. If it is the case, if it is the truth as secretary Rosa has pointed out then, it’s a very serious situation of miss reporting the numbers and whether there was you know an opportunity where the federal government could have intervened and helped to recover and retrieve the situation and given the perilous position that we were in.
Sree Iyer: Now the presumptive Attorney General Merrick Garland, has said that he has not investigated or he has not talked about Hunter Biden to the President. Should we read something into it, or should we wait and see what happens or what are your thoughts?
Sridhar Chityala: Well, the three essential things that that Mr. Garland’s position, one is he has not confirmed whether Dunham who was appointed as the deputy by Mr. Barr has not confirmed what he would do to him, because he supposed to be investigating the Hunter Biden and the Russian interference case kind of follow through on that. He has not made your statement on Hunter Biden, he is basically saying that he has not spoken with him. Imagine the incoming attorney general nominee not speaking with a very specific and controversial issue that propped up on the hue of the elections. The third thing he is also been silent on the situation? How we would have dealt with especially on the Portland kind of the riots. And the fourth for which he has this political rhetoric is he is going to personally monitor and supervise the prosecution of the Capitol Hill rioters and make sure that the law takes its course, so he is been very selective playing to the Democratic Gallery in the House and Senate, so, that his nomination gets through.
Sree Iyer: Now, Neera Tanden for OMB looks like this nomination is running into trouble. Because Susan Collins of the Republican side or senator also has said that she would not be supporting her. And I think, I read somewhere that Mitt Romney said that he will not be supporting her. So, what are the odds that she is still going to get the OMB Nomination?
Sridhar Chityala: It very much depends on Obama more than Biden. He is the influential czar of the Democratic Party. He is the Invisible hand perhaps, Michelle Obama. So, Biden is just a person navigating the process. So, most of these nominations appear to have come from that side of the fence. So, how exactly they will galvanize the party to get her through remains to be seen. But, there is a growing chorus both within the Democratic as well as the Republican Party around her questionable competence in terms of managing the OMB. If I’m correct, also, Bernie Sanders had some reservations about her too.
Sree Iyer: John Kerry had held hand back-channel negotiations with Iran’s ambassador to the United States while Trump was still in power. What is one to make of that?
Sridhar Chityala: Well, yesterday we heard the news which we reported in PGurus that there were some senior officials from the previous Obama administration who has had four laced with the Iranian Ambassador who is a very fluent speaker who is educated in the United States. It was last night yesterday; it is becoming very clear that Robert Malley also held discussions in October/November 2019. John Kerry has had a discussion with the Iranian ambassador with his Excellency the Iranian Ambassador. And what it points out to me is two things one, as someone said in the headline John Kerry never got out of bed with the Iranians. He still is continuing, that’s one big headline that was. What is more intriguing and what is equally perplexing is can past President interfere and undermine the authority of a sitting elected United States President. If it was Obama and Obama officials were directed by him, it clearly, there’s no Biden’s names mentioned in any of these reports and it raises concerns as to whether there was a deliberate attempt? There was if you read the report, which I think PGurus will publish it says that in the event, that there is a change in government in 2020, there is ground laid for reopening the doors with the Iranians. This is when Trump was doing well, the economy was doing well, I am not talking about this National polls, which are mainstream media projects and gives his wide-ranging percentages, but, this is about within the Republican Party and the general kind of percentages. So, having said that all this being done basically with some kind of preconceived data that was available to people like Obama and the under what Authority that they could have these type of discussions when they know that there is a president and this is the time if you recall 2019, it was very hot because there were restrictions. There was there were more sanctions. Iran was under the tight noose. Israel had somewhere around the time taken out the big depot in Lebanon, which had a cache of arms supplied by Iran, alleged to be supplied by Iran. So lots of things were going on at that point in time and then that slipped into 2020. So, it raises some questions sir, in terms of having these discussions.
Sree Iyer: Let’s take a look at the Pennsylvania GOP mail-in ballot case looks like Supreme Court has rejected that one, too. And this was something that perhaps President Trump had pinned his hopes on, that maybe he would get a favourable decision. Can you explain or expand on this a little bit?
Sridhar Chityala: I cannot explain logically what seems to be illogical. Sam Alito, who is sitting Supreme Court judge made a clear observation that those that voted that came after and because the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the secretary had come up with a procedure and the law, which says that they could accept these postal ballots three days after. Sam Alito had passed a ruling to set aside these two. One, which fell on the normal course and one, where all of those things that came after. Basically to be counted separately. Leave alone being counted, nothing happened, the election results were announced. It goes to the Supreme Court out of no reason which only the Lords of the SCOTUS can interpret set aside perhaps the election is over, there’s no point in going back. But, Clarence Thomas and Sam Alito and Neil Gorsuch have made stinging descent, basically saying if Supreme Court is not the place or SCOTUS in this instance is not the place to clarify the law and the role of the legislature in enacting the rules and process, then I am not sure which is the body to do this and would you allow. This was the same case that was contested by the Texas Attorney General as well. So, I think SCOTUS has landed itself into a lot of hot water in terms of dismissing the cases, justifying all these Democrats, all these liberals who say, this is a no case, so, therefore, the election is done. So, we are going to be in a situation where there is going to be no investigation on breach of rules, no violation of the constitution, no procedures as to who is the person, who is supposed to be the authority in laying down the rules and all other kinds of, Fraudulent events that were alleged everything is going to be cast aside, you know, suddenly the United States looks in this instance like a third world country, to be honest.
Sree Iyer: And Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi wants the United States and the West to lift all sanctions and also stop meddling in its Affairs namely in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Taiwan and so on. He might as well ask for the kitchen sink. It looks like they want everything, isn’t it?
Sridhar Chityala: It is, It is. You see what’s happening is they don’t know whether Obama is running the United States invisible or whether Biden is running the government. You have inconsistent statements coming out of lack of clarity on Myanmar and then, of course, now they are making a statement that you’re going to have more impositions of more bans being imposed today. Two generals were imposed with some sanctions. Then you have is Iran negotiations, which is up and down and then you know coming back. Today, Biden makes a statement that WHO officials must really dig deep to find the answers on the origins of covid.
And WHO officials yesterday said we were denied information. The documents that relate to the origins have been denied to us by CCP not the Chinese government. So you can see that the present Administration is sitting like a lame duck and of all the people Wang Yi making a statement, get off my bag and then further start engaging people to people dialogue, lift the sanctions, trade sense that exists, and by the way we are going to have troops all around the world and we went to harass you in Taiwan, we are going to harass Japan in Senkaku, we are going to harass you in the South China Sea and by the way you back off from all these kinds of human rights stuff and get on because we are more powerful than you. That’s the message Wang Yi is giving.
Sree Iyer: Now take a let’s take a look at Global News and 2021 might be the year of multilateralism. And also it could be a turning point in the history of the world. Why do you think so?
Sridhar Chityala: The three types of alliances that are emerging, the one is the Quad alliance which is emerging on the back of the architecture that was presented by Trump to the court at that point of time Britain, Germany, and France got themselves entangled. So, therefore, they see that as a very important part of the security, trade, and commerce architecture because we have discussed ad nauseam the topic. It is also home to 54% – 55% of GDP. So you have one set. On the same, extending into the Indian Ocean to have another alliance which is Turkey, Iran, and China. So you have the second.
Then getting into this side you have the Atlantic. Now, Borris Johnson is saying NATO was neglected, so we should now re-establish NATO. He calls it the Transatlantic Quad comprising of Germany, United States, France and UK. Where is the threat? Russia. Now when you look at the policy of Biden, the Nordstrom pipe which goes from Russia into Germany into Europe, Biden has stated no further sanctions, contrary to Quad. That was the whole point of contention, and Navalny, the opposition leader was arrested the issue has died. Initially, the EU raised objections. So what we’re saying is this is the format of multilateralism. I should not ignore West Asia, Israel peace deal where that stands with the context of what the United States is doing with Iran. So we are in a very strategic and nimble formation of alliances, which is being shaped by a lack of leadership in the United States. That’s why I say that this is very polarizing.
Sree Iyer: In other news, Minister of External Affairs of India. Dr Subramanian Jaishankar is visiting Mauritius amidst political tensions over there. Is this like a real reassuring visit or easy? Is he trying to calm down some tempers in Mauritius, sir?
Sridhar Chityala: I think for most it’s a reassuring visit. I think the second is, he is close to both Mr Anirudh as well as Mr Bodha, the Foreign Minister with whom he has negotiated the trade deals. Both of them have welcomed the visit. So, he is clearly going there not with just making sure that the relationships are intact, but he’s also going there for some political compromises to work out in the event that there is a transition or in the event, there is a status quo.
Sree Iyer: In Thailand, the Prime Minister has survived a second no-confidence motion, but the protests are now started happening on the streets and the protesters were trying to storm the Parliament House. Thailand was at best is a military-controlled system. I don’t know of any democracy there. What are your thoughts? Is this just a puppet government just like Myanmar, Pakistan and other countries or is there more substance to it this time?
Sridhar Chityala: You have put the strategic context behind this. There is always Army, there is always the royalty, and then there’s always the corrupt government which is prevalent in Thailand, but he has a majority. I think something like 270 to 206 votes. It is obviously the local policies in terms of the economy and other factors. Remember Thailand also faces threat to the Chinese on the Mekong River, which is one of the big areas of their rural Thailand and Agro development and Fisheries, which is the key economic activity and jobs for the broader Thailand economy. So I think you’re seeing a lot of discontent at the people’s level while at the urban level you have superficial peace and tranquillity prevailing. So that’s what you are witnessing. As you know money plays a big part in Thailand and hence you’re seeing the turbulence. He has survived the second one and he’s got a big majority, it is not like he is hanging by a razor-thin edge.
Sree Iyer: In markets, the Federal chairman will be speaking to Congress twice this week and one wonders what he’s going to be telling, perhaps that the interest rates are going to stay low for an extended period of time. What are your thoughts?
Sridhar Chityala: I think the FED is always looking at data differently. They have their own data. Their forecast for 2021 to be a good year, they predicted the GDP growth to be 4.3%, but there’s also enough slush of cash that is being put in. The markets have done well. There is a fear and if you go back one year which is around February-March, the 10-year T-Bonds were around 1.3%, roughly somewhere around that number. Roll the clock forward, it is about 1.34% today. So the bond yields have risen. so the question that may come up is whether the rise in yields in the bonds is an early indication of pressure on the FED to raise interest rates. When you move three months later, which is April, around the end of April, when the pandemic is formally announced and the numbers begin to shoot-up, if you recall, the rates dipped to 0.64%. Around October November December, we saw interest rates were abnormally low and people were able to get 30-year mortgages at around 2.5%. So now the fear among the minds of the investors, in the markets is, we’re still not out of the pandemic, but the yield is at 1.3%. So, is there a pressure to raise the interest rates to bring the yield a little bit down the curve, which is always the opposite? So this is what is driving the minds and question around what exactly Powell is going to say. Thus far even in the last meeting, he had mentioned that still there’s a lot of neglected segments of the community which are out of jobs and which need help. So we cannot raise rates on the back of what we see in the markets, which is effectively the stimulus money.
Sree Iyer: Now, let’s quickly wrap up on Bitcoin. It is fallen 10% after Elon Musk said that it was overvalued and Janet Yellen has also said that Bitcoin is a very inefficient way of transferring money. Could you please touch upon these two and why do you think Elon Musk thinks that Bitcoin is overvalued?
Sridhar Chityala: Well, I think that Elon is talking about Bitcoin as a commodity and it has got no intrinsic commercialization for intrinsic value beyond it being a unit of, be listed as a unique commodity for trading. So she is saying is obviously trying to cool the prices is to say, what is in it for it to be $50,000? Is there going to be a demand that’s coming? That’s Janet Yellen’s point of view.
As far as Elon Musk is concerned. He invested a billion-dollar and he’s already made billions, we reported a million dollars when he was billion dollars worth and what is the ecosystem that Tesla could be building. He has made a billion dollars profit since we said that and it is not long ago. it is probably less than a month or so he made that announcement. So suddenly when he sees, on one day it going up by 10% -12% and then coming back then he is saying there’s a problem with trading on this, the volatility is too high. Today, actually it dipped 10% and eventually it recovered by about 5.5% down or 6% down by the end of the day. So I think that is Elon’s statement which is this irrational pricing cannot be sustained. Having said that the markets are predicting Bitcoin to be crossing $100,000 before the end of the year.
Sree Iyer: It’s almost double of where it is today, which is that 54,000. So let’s wait and see how things play out. Lastly, Biden has announced that he’s tweaking the PPP – Payment Protection Plan to help some of the small business owners and I think that’s a welcome move. 3-4 months ago, I had mentioned that those companies or those small businesses where the owner, i’s like a single person company, the owner doesn’t take a salary unless there is a profit earned by the company. And since the person is not taking a salary, he’s not having a paycheck and therefore he was missing out on PPP and let’s wait and see how the new plan helps such one person or a husband-wife owned small businesses and help them also after all everybody suffering in this pandemic.
Sridharji, thank you very much for joining us and we will be back again tomorrow, same time, same place, namaskar.
Sridhar Chityala: Namaskar sir. One more important announcement on behalf of PGurus. We’re going to have a fireside chat for 20 minutes with Mohandas Pai on the rising oil prices or petrol prices in India to share his views from an Indian perspective. I think Professor Vaidyanathan has already given his point of view. I think Sree Iyerji tries to bring various people’s perspectives. So people can get an understanding of what each of the people is thinking as to this price is at a political fatality or is this something that one has to live as a normal course of life.
Sree Iyer: And that would be starting in about 30 minutes from now. Thank you very much, sir, Namaskar.
Sridhar Chityala: Namaskar and thank you very much. Have a wonderful day.