Election Uncertainty and Economics
|speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
In business, I'd rather know what taxes and regulations are ahead of me. If you can plan for something, there's stability. You might not like the programs and proposals of Hillary Clinton (I don't), but you can plan for what she would pursue as president.
Donald Trump? His candidacy embodies the uncertainty businesses fear. It is like waiting for a natural disaster, but you don't know which type of disaster. Do we seek higher ground, to avoid a flood? Do we go into the basement to avoid a tornado? Trump is going to be something, but what will he be?
Don't assume Trump cannot win. He can and he might.
I'm not suggesting support for Hillary Clinton, either, but I am more concerned about Trump.
The world today needs free trade. We need open borders. We need economic flexibility. Trump makes the case that we can magically survive without our partners.
I don't know that Trump will lose. The map favors the Democrats, but Trump could win in the Midwest / Rust Belt. I was in California for the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger. He didn't have any core values, except self-promotion. I've also lived in Minnesota: ditto Jesse Ventura - self-promotion over all. Both men were all about themselves, not about any party or ideology. (I'm still not sure what Jesse Ventura believes, other than some conspiracy theories.)
Trump isn't anything at his core. And that's the problem. He's whatever "wins" for Trump. He isn't an ideologue, which a true fascist must be. Trump isn't even a true nationalist, or he wouldn't outsource in his own businesses. He lacks any depth, at all.
Historically, fascists have been "true believers" like their authoritarian cousins on the left. Trump is frightening because he might do anything, anything at all… if it is good for Donald J. Trump.
Trump would lead the Communist Party tomorrow if he thought he'd get to be the party leader. He'd be a Green, or a Libertarian, or a Democrat (oh, wait, he was). Trump was willing to destroy the GOP as a party to get his way. He would have run (and done well, sadly) as an independent.
He's a cry baby and whiner, who manages to manipulate systems to get what's best for him, no matter who gets crushed in his path.
I can't imagine a worse example of all the dangers mentioned by the classical rhetoricians. Here is a man able to ignore logic and reason, yet win and win again. Isocrates, Aristotle, and Quintilian all warned of such men. Trump is the master of Twitter… today's Agora.
Economically, I'm concerned because Trump lacks coherence. As the election approaches, if it looks close, the uncertainty will start to unnerve investors. Nobody knows what President Trump would really do, or what Congress would permit him to do. At best, we'd have severe gridlock. At worst, we'd have conflicting legislative actions.
What is the "base" of Donald Trump? It's not libertarian-leaning Republicans or independent voters. It's not the religious right (unless they really don't care what Trump has said and done in the past).
Hillary Clinton is predictably loyal to the Democratic majority. She would want to be re-elected by the Democratic base. I disagree with every major policy Clinton has expressed on the campaign trail. She would slow economic growth even more than the current sluggish economy. Yet, she might be better than Trump.
The Republican Party has lost its way. The Libertarian Party never had a clear vision (except to oppose everything).
The United States is experiencing a slow, painful recovery from the Great Recision. The recovery has left many people behind. Uncertainly will cause companies to invest less, setting reserves aside for security. Individuals will curtail spending.
Uncertainty is always there in a market economy, and risk is a given. You at least want government policies to be stable and predictable.