Donald Trump has set foot in the White House for only 90 minutes, as a guest of President Barack Obama on November 10.
The President-elect will move in on January 20, yet he is already starting to have a significant impact in many ways, suggesting that Trump’s World will be a much different world than anything we have seen in the past.
For stock investors, the question is will it be bullish or bearish? For now, Joe and I think it will be bullish.
However, like everyone else, we are doing our best to stay on top of all the after-shocks that have resulted from the initial shock of Trump’s big win.
Consider the following:
(1) Will Ford stay home? Trump was widely viewed as a bully during the election campaign. Nevertheless, he won. Now the bully-in-chief will soon have the world’s most prominent bully pulpit. He might already be starting to achieve some of his policy goals as the world responds to the fact that he will soon have lots of power to change it as he sees fit.
For starters, Ford seems to be responding to Trump’s criticism of the company during the campaign for moving factories out of the US to Mexico. Trump berated Ford for planning to move all its North American small-car production to Mexico, where wages are 80 percent lower than in the US. He threatened to slap Ford’s Mexican-built cars with a 35% tariff. He also said he would terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement, which lets goods flow between Mexico, the US, and Canada without tariffs.
Bloomberg reported: “Ford, which has expressed a willingness to work with Trump since he was elected, has been in ‘constant contact’ with his transition team, Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks told analysts Thursday.”
At the end of last week, we learned that Ford announced that it would not move its Lincoln MKC plant from Louisville, Kentucky to Mexico. Even though the company had never previously indicated that it was even seriously considering the move, Trump issued a victory tweet on Thursday: “Just got a call from my friend Bill Ford, Chairman of Ford, who advised me that he will be keeping the Lincoln plant in Kentucky--no Mexico.”
(2) Will Apple come home? While speaking at Liberty University in January, candidate Trump said, “We’re going to get Apple Computer to build their [email protected] computers and things in this country, instead of in other countries.” On Friday, the Nikkei Asian Review reported, “Key Apple assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry, also known as Foxconn Technology Group, has been studying the possibility of moving iPhone production to the U.S.”
It is conceivable that if Trump can score enough tweet points by bringing jobs back home using the power of his bully pulpit, he won’t pursue a much more damaging legislative agenda to restrict trade.
(3) Will China promote free trade? On Saturday, Chinese state media blasted Trump for “trade-bashing” rhetoric that threatens global economic stability. “The billionaire-turned-politician needs to prove that derailing the global economy has not been one of the reasons why he ran for U.S. president,” the government’s official news agency, Xinhua, said in a commentary piece.
At this weekend’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Peru, Chinese President Xi Jinping strongly defended free trade. He said the best response to rising protectionism would be for APEC’s 21 members to negotiate a free trade area encompassing the entire Pacific Rim. “Closed and inclusive arrangements are not the right choice,” Xi said, taking a veiled stab at the TPP. “Building a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific is a strategic initiative critical for long-term prosperity.”
(4) Is Iran dumping heavy water? Saturday’s WSJ reported: “Iran will ship around 11 metric tons of heavy water out of the country in the next couple of days, according to people familiar with the plans, defusing a conflict with the U.S. and others over the Iranian nuclear deal.” Heavy water is used to cool uranium in a process that can be used to form plutonium, which can be used in a nuclear weapon. Iran’s nuclear deal set a limit on how much heavy water Iran could store.
The article noted: “People involved in overseeing the Iranian nuclear deal say that at the very least, they believe Mr. Trump is likely to crack down on any breach of the terms of the nuclear deal by Iran.”
(5) Will Europeans have to defend themselves? In addition to wanting to make America great gain, Trump has said that he would like Europeans to defend themselves. Apparently, they got the message. In December, the European Council is expected to vote on the creation of a European Defense Community with its own headquarters. “Europe needs to be able to act for its own security,” French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters. He said, “This will allow Europe to take a step towards its strategic autonomy.” Le Drian, along with Germany and EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini, has led the EU efforts for greater independence from Washington.
Dr. Ed Yardeni is the President of Yardeni Research, Inc., a provider of independent global investment strategy research.
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