FISCAL BOOM

At least one bank strategist thinks a Trump presidency would kickstart the US economy

Obsession
2016
Obsession
2016

A strategist at the second-largest bank in the US says that if Donald Trump wins the presidential election, the economy “will probably take off in a big way.”

David Woo, head of global rates and currencies research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, told Bloomberg last week that Trump’s fiscal policy proposals could produce significant US growth. His optimism runs counter to doubts expressed by several economists about the viability of the Republican candidate’s plans.

Trump has said that, as president, he would spend huge amounts on infrastructure spending—$500 billion by some estimates—as well as cutting taxes and regulation. If the US Congress enacted even half of that stimulus, suggests Woo, the country would see its biggest fiscal expansion since after WWII. This could also see the dollar gain and US interest rates increase, he said.

He’s not alone in forecasting a boost to the US dollar if Trump wins. Stephen Lewis at ADM Investor Services says a stronger dollar would help the central banks of Japan and the euro zone by weakening the yen and the euro, and making policy makers’ efforts to ward of deflation easier. “Electoral success for the seemingly radical Mr Trump may turn out, at least in the short run, to be a stabilising influence,” Lewis wrote in a note last week.

Derek Halpenny, head of global markets research at Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi, also laid out a scenario where Trump’s presidency strengthens the dollar:

A more aggressive fiscal stimulus package with a large infrastructural investment program and aggressive tax cuts coupled with a more hawkish Federal Reserve beyond 2018 when Chair Yellen’s term is not renewed could prove attractive for the dollar. Furthermore, Trump has been vocal about aggressive tax incentives to encourage US corporations to repatriate earnings from abroad which would also add fuel to dollar demand.

But many are not enthusiastic about the economic benefits of a Trump presidency. Economists at Citigroup warn that the Republican candidate’s leadership would create less global economic growth—possibly even prompting a recession—due to the financial market shock and Trump’s aversion to international trade agreements. Oxford Economics estimates Trump’s presidency would shrink the US economy by $1 trillion.

No matter who wins the election, an even bigger issue could be political paralysis due to standoffs between Republicans and Democrats. A Harvard Business School study published last week found that the starkly divided political system was the biggest barrier to US competitiveness and economic progress.

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