Trump: So who will be the Apprentice?

Friday, January 20, 2017 // Written by Enzio von Pfeil

So who will be teaching whom as of today in America?  Who gets fired first? 

  1. Inertia

    Trump will run the country like he ran his reality TV show, "The Apprentice": nothing got done, but plenty got fired.  Nothing got done because this visceral, pugnacious TV host is a master at antagonizing everyone. Let's sketch  some such virulently entertaining  theatres: White House staff , ethics, Congress, economic policy, intelligence, and  foreign policy.
  2. The White House staff

    How will his triumvirate get along internally? Can you really see his 36-year-old son-in-law, Jared Kushner, hitting it off with feisty counsellor Steve Bannon or Chief of Staff Rence Priebus? Who will get fired first? Surely not Jared or Ivanka.
  3. Ethics

    Remember all of that internecine fighting about Trump's (lacking) ethics?  Just on 12th January 2017 his tax lawyer proclaimed that he would not get rid of his corporate assets or place them in to a blind trust; instead, the Trump Organisation (an oxymoron?) would be given to his sons in the form of a trust...
  4. Congress

    If I learned one thing from my few years of working with the Hill, it is how combative its occupants are. In short: just because the Republicans rule the roost in both Chambers does not mean at all that all Republicans speak with one voice!  Remember how fraught relations in this Party were before finally "uniting" (leerily) behind Trump?  My hunch is that he will antagonize so many members of Congress that they won't play ball, they will refuse to pass  his legislative proposals.  And remember that he cannot just spew-out "Executive orders" day and night.....So: who will get sidelined first? Trump the Grump, or Congressional "team" players?

    Economic policy

    Contradictions abound even before Trump & Co have reached  first base!  In the Financial Times (FT) of 20th January 217 p. 1, we read that Trump wants a weaker dollar whilst his designated Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, wants a stronger dollar. That is a pretty fundamental policy rift, one based on the myth that weak exchange rates boost exports (see my more recent book, Trade Myths, for more.)  Next to dollar-fights, watch Trump's other economic policy-makers fight it out, too: free-trade adversaries will face-off with more market-orientated advisers.  According to the Asian Wall Street Journal  (AWSJ) of 10th January 2017, China-hater  and general free-trade hawk Peter Navarro will lead the National Trade Council: label him the leader of Trump's free-trade adversaries. At the other end of the spectrum are the more market-orientated advisers such as Gary Cohn, the boss of the National Economic Council. As noted in the AWSJ, "A flat organizational structure could set these and other individuals against each other as they compete for Mr. Trump's support." So who gets fired first: free-trade adversaries, or free-market proponents?
  6. Intelligence

    We hardly need refresh memories about how pugnaciously Trump already has lashed-out at his nation's spy agencies   Having antagonized them, how can his intelligence agencies possibly be happy to support his domestic, anti-terror, as well as foreign policy?  So who gets fired first among his domestic and foreign-focused  intelligence agencies?
  7. Foreign policy

    And don't think for a minute that his designated Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, will be singing from the Trump hymn book.  Tillerson agrees with the findings of America's intelligence agencies when it comes to the hacking of Democrats' files; Trump grudgingly  conceded the point.  Already we read that Tillerson is a hawk on Moscow, whilst Trump is a Putin dove (or puppy?)  Tillerson does not want a blanket ban on Muslims entering the US; Trump, however, does.  And Tillerson wants to go softly on Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses, whilst on the campaign trail, Trump attacked the Saudis' human rights record. Meanwhile, there is that MIke  Flynn chomping at the bit. ,m So who gets fired first?
  8. Evidence-based investment implication

    Research suggests that President's don't really influence the direction of markets; the Economic Time®, however, does.  And we remain sanguine about improvements to America's.  But watch volatility soar with this impetuous, pugnacious President.  This means that Fama-French's size and value factors will provide plenty of buying opportunities.  Sun-Tzu quipped that victorious warriors win the war first and then go to war; meanwhile, defeated warriors go to war first, and only then seek to win.  Who gets fired (or assassinated) first?

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