When you’re in the middle of something bad – a hangover, a child’s tantrum on an airplane, or a hard day at the office – its feels bigger, hotter, worse than anything else. At that second, the earth’s core is erupting because of it and your world is evaporating. Hyperbole (that is, enormous exaggeration) is the only thing that’s real.
This is like the American elections today. (Americans go to the polls on Tuesday… so we should know something about the winner by later Wednesday morning here in Asia.)
“American democracy’s gravest trial,” trumpeted the normally buttoned-down Financial Times over the weekend. “The system is teetering whatever the outcome of the U.S. election.”
“The United States has seen worse than Donald Trump… But that doesn’t make it any easier to contemplate the catastrophe that looms if we wake up Wednesday morning to President-elect Trump,” warns the New York Times.
“Hillary Clinton is just ‘normal’ bad. Donald Trump is civilization-imperiling bad,” proclaimed The Week.
People who feel very strongly about something often think that whatever is happening at this moment, to them, is the most important thing that’s ever happened, or will ever happen, in the history of humanity. And it flatters all 7.5 billion of us people on earth right now to believe that with the current American elections we’re in the midst of truly epic, historical, epoch-defining times.
“Why 2016 May Be the Most Important Election of Our Lifetime,” proclaimed a Bloomberg columnist last year.
Every American election is touted – by those vying for office in particular – as the most important election for everyone, anytime, anywhere (see this article for a good roundup).
And there’s a chance that a President Donald Trump would be truly apocalyptic for Americans, for global markets, for the international system as we’ve come to know it. And Donald Trump and his supporters speak of a Hillary Clinton presidency in similar terms.
“Donald Trump warns of a ‘constitutional crisis’ if Hillary Clinton wins,” said one recent headline. And that’s just a best-case scenario, according to many. “Some Donald Trump Voters Warn of Revolution if Hillary Clinton Wins,” warned the New York Times.
Sometimes – very occasionally – the worst-case scenario happens and a Black Swan rears its head. The hangover turns out to be brain cancer. The child’s tantrum forces the plane to land and you’re stranded in Reykjavik for three days. A bad day at the office bankrupts your employer and puts you in prison.
And the new president of the United States cancels the Constitution/announces guns are illegal/makes healthcare available to everyone/does something that you view as something anathema to humanity and everything you believe in.
But nearly always, things tick over. There are winners and losers in business and politics and markets (last week we wrote here about what sectors of the U.S. and global markets are likely to benefit – and suffer – depending on who becomes the next American president). The earth continues to rotate on its axis, and we all continue to put our pants on one leg at a time. And that’s what will happen on November 9, and November 10, and every day after that – in politics and in markets and everywhere else.