Biden Unscripted is a Verbal Mine Field

by Greg Valliere, AGF Management Ltd.

Insights and Market Perspectives

IT’S NO SECRET that Joe Biden’s advisers cringe when the boss meets with the press; Biden unscripted is a verbal mine field. And so it was overnight, as the president diverged from his pro-trade message in Asia with comments on Taiwan that required an immediate White House clarification.

ONCE AGAIN, BIDEN HAS SEEMINGLY REJECTED his staff’s pleas that he stick with the carefully nuanced U.S. assertion of a “strategic ambiguity” on Taiwan. Biden indicated this morning that he would use the U.S. military if Beijing ever attacks Taiwan, which is not the official U.S. stance.

BIDEN SUGGESTED that he would be willing to go further on behalf of Taiwan than he has in helping Ukraine, the New York Times reports this morning. Biden said the U.S. had previously made a commitment to intervene military if China attacked Taiwan, but in fact Washington has never been so explicit.

BIDEN’S AIDES SCRAMBLED TO CLARIFY his comments, which they did earlier this year after he made a similar assertion. Biden seemed to indicate last night that the U.S. would respond militarily to any invasion — perhaps even more aggressively than Washington’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

THIS PROMPTED AN IMMEDIATE CONDEMNATION FROM CHINA that Biden is rhetorically reckless, and it scrambled what was looking like a relatively successful trip that bolstered U.S. trade ties and improved relations with South Korea. Now the trip will be remembered for Biden’s misstatement of U.S. policy — still another un-forced error by a president who is dangerous when he’s unscripted.

* * * * *
FOR THE FIRST TIME IN WEEKS, there’s a glimmer of hope that negotiations could resume between Ukraine and Russia on a possible cease-fire. President Volodymyr Zelensky said over the weekend that negotiations eventually will end the war; his demand for talks are that no captured Ukrainian troops are mistreated, and that the Ukrainian-Russia border must be returned to its pre-war status.

THE LATTER is a non-starter for Moscow. Its troops now control much of the eastern Donbas region, with just one major city left to fall — Severodonetsk — one of the last areas of the eastern Luhansk region still in Kyiv’s control, with a high-ranking Ukrainian official stating that the city is becoming “a new Mariupol.”

TWO OF RUSSIA’S GOALS, the capture of the Donbas region and control over the Black Sea, are close to being realized. The cost has been enormous — at least 25,000 Russian troops killed, another 50,000 wounded or captured, and at least a third of its tanks, helicopters and military equipment ruined. Ukraine’s losses also are mounting, with hundreds of its soldiers killed every week.

ZELENSKY IS CORRECT — negotiations are inevitable. But a truce doesn’t seem to be imminent — and it may not be until both sides realize that “winning” this war is virtually impossible. Eventually there will be a deal, with new borders and security assurances, but a deal may not come until thousands of more troops are killed.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of AGF, its subsidiaries or any of its affiliated companies, funds or investment strategies.

The views expressed in this blog are provided as a general source of information based on information available as of the date of publication and should not be considered as personal investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy and/or sell securities. Speculation or stated believes about future events, such as market or economic conditions, company or security performance, or other projections represent the beliefs of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of AGF, its subsidiaries or any of its affiliated companies, funds or investment strategies. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy in these commentaries at the time of publication; however, accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Market conditions may change and AGF accepts no responsibility for individual investment decisions arising from the use of or reliance on the information contained herein. Any financial projections are based on the opinions of the author and should not be considered as a forecast. The forward looking statements and opinions may be affected by changing economic circumstances and are subject to a number of uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated in the forward looking statements. The information contained in this commentary is designed to provide you with general information related to the political and economic environment in the United States. It is not intended to be comprehensive investment advice applicable to the circumstances of the individual.

AGF Investments is a group of wholly owned subsidiaries of AGF Management Limited, a Canadian reporting issuer. The subsidiaries included in AGF Investments are AGF Investments Inc. (AGFI), AGF Investments America Inc. (AGFA), AGF Investments LLC (AGFUS) and AGF International Advisors Company Limited (AGFIA). AGFA and AGFUS are registered advisors in the U.S. AGFI is a registered as a portfolio manager across Canadian securities commissions. AGFIA is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland and registered with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission. The subsidiaries that form AGF Investments manage a variety of mandates comprised of equity, fixed income and balanced assets.

About AGF Management Limited

Founded in 1957, AGF Management Limited (AGF) is an independent and globally diverse asset management firm. AGF brings a disciplined approach to delivering excellence in investment management through its fundamental, quantitative, alternative and high-net-worth businesses focused on providing an exceptional client experience. AGF’s suite of investment solutions extends globally to a wide range of clients, from financial advisors and individual investors to institutional investors including pension plans, corporate plans, sovereign wealth funds and endowments and foundations.

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This post was first published at the AGF Perspectives Blog.

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