January 20, 2017

What We’re Learning About Donald Trump

Trump Scrabble

Here is an interesting piece from Washington insider Greg Valliere who spoke at our Financial Planning Symposium back in October. We thought it was appropriate to send today as the nation swears in the 45th President of the United States.

What We’re Learning About Donald Trump – Ten Key Takeaways
Greg Valliere

UNDERSTANDING DONALD TRUMP: He likes surprises and can’t be pigeon-holed; he’ll be the most unique president in American history.  Like everyone in our industry, we’re trying to get a handle on Donald J. Trump… After talking with sources, here are ten key observations:

1.  He’s incredibly detail-oriented: This is quite a surprise. Trump doesn’t delegate well; he’s planning virtually every detail of the Inauguration, and he’s getting into the weeds on legislation. He understands the mind-numbingly complicated “border adjustability” tax provisions, which only hard-core wonks fully grasp.

2.  Trump has no great affinity – or loyalty – to the GOP leadership: Trump will never have warm relations with Paul Ryan, and he has no reluctance to blindside his own party.  Senate Republicans are still dumbfounded by Trump’s assertion that universal health insurance will pass quickly.  They weren’t consulted – and they’d better get used to that.

3.  Surprise!! Trump doesn’t like a strong dollar: The financial markets were stunned yesterday by Trump’s declaration that the dollar is too strong; no president – or Treasury Secretary – has ever waded explicitly into currency policy. If Trump really believes in a weaker dollar, that’s a very big deal.

4.  He’s deadly serious about tariffs: For decades, Trump has asserted that the U.S. was getting ripped off by trading partners.  He will not be dissuaded on this issue; he’s adamant that the U.S. has been fleeced by countries like China.  Trump will talk tough, hoping for concessions, but he’s fully prepared to raise tariffs and pull out of trade deals.

5.  He listens to Pence and Priebus: Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but Congressional Republicans we talk with are convinced that Trump’s rough edges will get smoothed over by Mike Pence and Reince Priebus, who are essentially pragmatists. “Trump likes to sound like a provocateur, but at the end of the day, Pence and Priebus will run policy,” says one insider.

6.  Impulse control issues: This is a great worry, even in his inner circle.  Trump’s remarks often are aimed at his adoring base, so he has no reluctance to differ with his Cabinet nominees on NATO, climate change, deficit spending, etc.  He also has a vengeful streak and can be easily provoked — as North Korea and Iran surely must realize.

7.  The tweets will continue: Get used to this; everyone we talk with is convinced that no one will take his Twitter away; he’s a huge fan of this new bully pulpit. The first thing we do, very early in the morning, is check what Trump tweeted overnight, because obviously he can move stocks and markets.

8.  His bark is worse than his bite: One day Trump blasts the press, the next day he’s complimenting the New York Times.  He’s a genius at generating publicity, he masterfully manipulated the press in 2015.  He growls initially, starting negotiations with something outrageous, then he looks for a deal. After the election, he essentially said many of his broadsides – such as locking up Hillary Clinton – were just theater.

9.  He has a vision: Ronald Reagan had three major goals – diminish the clout of the Soviet Union, reduce the role of government, and lower taxes. That was basically it. Same with Trump — he wants to make the country more secure, he wants to reduce taxes and regulations, and he wants to reverse the economic malaise in the Rust Belt. Trump does have a vision; his opponent last fall did not.

10.  Trump has blind spots: Everyone we talk with proclaims that Trump doesn’t care about the deficit; he’s remarkably comfortable with the concept of debt. He’s tone-deaf on race and many social issues.  And he has no reluctance to meddle in the private sector, intimidating companies that displease him.

Bottom Line: No one really knows what the next four years will hold. We are learning more all the time.

Source: http://www.barrons.com/articles/10-things-weve-learned-about-donald-trump-1484758301


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