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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Trump victory brings an early Xmas rally to US stock markets

(Novewmber 17) Trump's campaign was in partly based on anti-establishment populism, including opposition to lobbyists and to the power of Wall Street. Much media attention has been focused on Trump's misogyny, racism and negative attitudes towards Muslims.

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However, stock markets reacted positively after Trump's election. While some Trump policies, such as his opposition to trade policies such as the TPP and NAFTA, may cause concern among some business people, overall, Trump's actions and appointments so far show an administration and transition team full of people linked to Wall Street. They are often establishment figures especially some within the Republican Party. As a recent article puts it: "A populist candidate who railed against shady financial interests on the campaign trail is now putting together an administration that looks like an investment banker’s dream."
One of the leading candidates for Treasury Secretary is Steven Mnuchin. Mnuchin worked for years at Goldman Sachs where he amassed a fortune of over $40 million. He supported Mitt Romney in the last election. In May of this year, he was made chair of the Trump election campaign. He lives in a $26.5 million dollar house in Bel Air.
A candidate for head of the Commerce Department is the billionaire investor Wilbur Ross. Even though he supports Trump he was at one time a Democrat and worked with BIll Clinton: "Ross in earlier years was a registered Democrat, served as an officer of the New York State Democratic Party and held fundraisers for Democratic candidates at his apartment in New York City." Wilbur specializes in leveraged buyouts and purchasing distressed businesses. Forbes lists him as having a net worth of $2.9 billion.
Steve Bannon is best known for being executive chairman of Breitbart news, a right-wing news outlet for the alt-right. The outlet often features anti-Islamic articles, and Brietibart has been accused of being prejudiced against Jews and also misogynist. However, he is also another Wall Street alumnus having worked at Goldman Sachs and even had his own investment bank. He also was acting director of the Arizona research project Biosphere 2 in Oracle Arizona. He left in 1995. Bannon was chosen by Trump to be his chief strategist and Senior Counselor.
Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase appears to be still in the running as a possible Treasury Secretary. In the past, Dimon has given mostly to the Democrats and has links to the Obama administration. Obama defended him during the financial crisis: ".JP Morgan is one of the best managed banks there is. Jamie Dimon, the head of it, is one of the smartest bankers we've got." There are conflicting reports about Dimon becoming Treasury Secretary. He may take on some type of advisory role.
Charles Geisst, a Wall Street historian at Manhattan College noted: “You would have to go back to the 1920s to see so much Wall Street influence coming to Washington. It’s the most dramatic turnaround one could imagine. That’s the truly astonishing part.” Richard Hunt head of the Consumer Bankers Association said that the group is relieved that it is not going to be subpoenaed every week.
Banks stocks are up, as deregulation is expected, along with higher interest rates and significant deficit spending. Also expected are massive tax cuts, elimination of the estate tax and more tax reductions for top earners. CNN notes that in order to shape his administration Trump is drawing heavily upon lobbyists and other denizens of the swamp he pledged to drain. A Salon article notes that Trump's transition team is rich in lobbyists plus a climate-change denier. An article in the Intercept claims that Trump's transition team is " preparing to hand his administration over to a cozy clique of corporate lobbyists and Republican power brokers." Trump has two prominent slogans: "Down with the Establishment" and "Long live the Establishment". The first slogan was operative just during the election campaign.

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