”Winter is Coming” or ”Springtime with Trump”?

The United States has elected itself a new president. Real estate mogul and reality-TV star Donald Trump emerged victorious from an unusually vicious election campaign, beating establishment candidate Hillary Clinton despite often being considered not just a populist and protectionist but a racist and sexist to boot. The truly prepared have already accounted for this outcome in their scenario planning, but judging by the genuine shock many exhibit, the prepared appear to be in the minority; most of the economic and political establishment seem as surprised by Donald Trump as they were by the Brexit vote.

The result is less shocking if you look at it from longer historical perspective. Internal pressures have been rising for decades before underlying systemic imbalances finally manifested themselves as ’Sir Trump’ charging Washington. However, what the success of his campaign (sic) will lead to is genuinely uncertain. Its effects on geopolitics and global trade are unpredictable, and the extent to which Trump’s success will grant momentum to similar populist movements in Europe is an open question, one of great importance.

What kind of policies a President Trump intends to pursue have been less than clear. He is at once an prewar-nostalgic isolationist apparently supporting closed borders and global non-intervention, and an activist who expresses support for ”bombing the shit out of ISIS”. Another seeming contradiction is the promise to stand with middle America against the rich coastal establishment while having tax cuts benefiting mostly the rich as his only real economic policy proposal.

Speaking long term, the big question is if Trump’s election signifies something genuinely new, a sharp course change in western society’s culturaleconomic trajectory. If it does, where are we headed? Do the events of 2016 mean it’s ”springtime for the world” or is a long, cold winter approaching? What do seasons have to do with the global economy?

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Published: 2016