Coming up Trumps

THOUGH many outside America are dismayed at the prospect of Donald Trump as president, not everyone is despondent. When the news of Mr Trump’s victory reached the floor of the Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, the assembled politicians burst into applause. Such enthusiasm in Russia is in part a reflection of the bromance between Mr Trump and Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president. But it is also because Russia may be one of the few economies that might benefit from—or at least, be indifferent to—a Trump presidency.

It helps that Russia’s economy has endured a rough time recently and that some kind of rebound is probably due. Its GDP fell by 3.7% last year and will shrink again this year, according to the IMF. Russia has one of the cheapest currencies in The Economist’s Big Mac Index, which compares the relative cost of burgers across the globe. By this measure, the rouble is around 60% undervalued against the dollar. Inflation, which rose to over 16% in early 2015 after a big fall in the rouble, has fallen to around 6%. That has allowed Russia’s central bank gradually to reduce interest rates from a peak of 17% to 10%. Mr…Continue reading

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Our election, your problem

IT IS not clear precisely how Donald Trump will govern, the extent to which he will carry out some of his scarier promises on trade and immigration, and who will be his economics top brass at the Treasury and in the White House. But a decent first guess is that President Trump will be bad for the world economy in aggregate; and a second is that his actions are likely to do more harm, in the short term at least, to economies outside America.

When America has in the past stepped aside from its role at the centre of the global economic system, the damage has spread well beyond its borders. In 1971, when Richard Nixon ended the post-war system of fixed exchange-rates that had America at its centre, his Treasury secretary, John Connally, told European leaders, “The dollar is our currency, but your problem.” This election result, to paraphrase Connally, belongs to America but is potentially a bigger economic problem for everyone else.

The scale and nature of that problem depend on the interplay of the two main elements of Mr Trump’s economic populism. The first is action to boost aggregate demand. Mr Trump favours tax cuts and extra public…Continue reading

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