What Trump means for US busi­ness

The Week Middle East - - City -


The Econ­o­mist Don­ald Trump’s at­ti­tude to­wards busi­ness “has three con­tra­dic­tory strands”, says The Econ­o­mist. “He is pas­sion­ate about un­leash­ing the might of the pri­vate sec­tor to re­vive growth.” Yet he is also a pro­tec­tion­ist and “a pop­ulist who thinks the econ­omy is rigged in favour of big busi­ness and crony cap­i­tal­ists”. Those three dif­fer­ent strands will re­spec­tively “ex­cite, worry and scare” US com­pa­nies. Poli­cies that boost com­pe­ti­tion and at­tack crony­ism make sense. But the risk is that un­der Trump they spi­ral into a nas­tier con­fronta­tion – with Wall Street and Sil­i­con Val­ley as flash points. Trump’s pro­tec­tion­ist poli­cies are also “clearly bad for busi­ness”: 44% of the sales of firms in the S&P 500 in­dex are now earned abroad. Plenty of cor­po­rate chiefs will ar­gue that “what­ever Trump’s other man­i­fest flaws, he un­der­stands busi­ness”. But though he has an “in­stinc­tive feel” for cap­i­tal­ism, he is also an in­ter­ven­tion­ist who “be­lieves that Amer­i­can busi­ness can be an in­stru­ment of his power, to be bought, bul­lied and re­moulded in or­der to achieve a na­tional re­vival”. Life un­der the “new boss” will be far from straight­for­ward. Who will Pres­i­dent-elect Trump choose for his top eco­nomic roles? Re­ports that Jamie Di­mon, the boss of JP Mor­gan, had been ap­proached to be­come trea­sury sec­re­tary have been dis­missed, said The Daily Tele­graph. Since Trump once called Di­mon “the worst banker in the United States” – and Di­mon re­turned the favour with “thinly veiled at­tacks” on Trump’s cam­paign – it may not have been the most har­mo­nious re­la­tion­ship, said the FT. No sur­prise, per­haps, that Trump ap­pears to be look­ing closer to home. This week, it emerged that two lead­ing New York in­vestors, Steven Mnuchin (pic­tured) and Wil­bur Ross, are on his short­list for the roles of trea­sury and com­merce sec­re­taries. Both are “prag­ma­tists and free mar­ke­teers”, and long-term Trump sup­port­ers.

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