A reader commented on my blog of January 4, 2017. The topic was about leadership. In it, I referenced an article where researchers had concluded values, above intelligence or experiences, was the primary quality for a statesperson. The woman recounted a discussion she’d had with her uncle over this point. At the end of their debate, her relative shrugged. Hillary Clinton, he said, was a bitch and Donald Trump, despite his rough edges, was going to save the nation.
Many people share the uncle’s opinion, which is why Trump resides in the White House. For the moment, those folks have a right to feel smug. Since Trump won the election, the stock market has soared, and the president-elect has been quick to take bows for business deals arranged prior to his political debut. True, he has saved jobs for 800 air conditioning workers and successfully encouraged Ford Motor company to reopen a manufacturing plant in Michigan. In anticipation of Trump’s promise to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, companies that sell industrial equipment are experiencing increased sales. Overall, the nation seems poised for a pro-growth leap.
Those choking on their euphoria would be wise to peek behind the wizard’s curtain, however. Part of the stock market’s glee stems from its belief the Dodd-Frank Act will be gutted or repealed. Dodd-Frank was put into effect after the mortgage debacle that dragged the country into the Great Recession in 2008-09. It regulates financial markets, calls for periodic reviews of bank solvency and provides rules for consumer protection. I see no reason for working people or the unemployed to rejoice in the Act’s repeal.
True, higher interest rates on U S Treasuries anticipate “higher inflation resulting from stronger economic growth.” (“Sunny Side Trump,” by Peter Coy, Bloomberg Business Week,11/1-11/27, pg. 9.) But the reverse side of the coin is that while the stock market continues to enrich itself, higher interest rates harm the working stiff who wants to buy a home or a car. As writer Peter Coy admits, “The dirty secret of macroeconomics is that it’s actually easy for a sitting president to goose the gross domestic product higher for a year; increases in spending and cuts in taxes reliably do that.” (Ibid pg. 9) But what gets borrowed must be repaid. Trump’s plan, says Coy, will swell the public’s debt to 105 % of GDP in 10 years. Donald Trump will be back in his tower by then, but John Q Public will be around to foot the bill.
Call my a cynic, but I think it’s unlikely Trump is going to save the nation. His proposals for profligate spending, exchanging short-term results for long time debt, forces me to recall the words of France’s Louis XV’: “aprés moi c’est le deluge.” Under Hillary Clinton the country would have experienced slow but steady growth. She may well be a bitch. But here’s the thing about labels: one man’s bitch is another woman’s leader.