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Finally, Trump the person promised to roll back the regulatory state bloated by the Obama administration, and Trump the policymaker is doing just that. Almost every businessman I have met attributes at least part of the stepped-up rate of economic growth in the US to the fact that he no longer wakes up wondering what the government will do to him rather than for him. And so far it seems that in key areas, such as financial services, deregulation is being practised with a scalpel rather than an axe, more a trimming around the edges of rules that have proved excessively costly rather than the wholesale repeal of laws such as Dodd-Frank.

Not that Trumpian policy is all that it should be. His blinkered attitude towards the need for policies to cope with the possibility that the planet is warming goes far beyond appropriate scepticism of what Barack Obama and others like to call “the settled science of climate change”. The recent tax cuts, and the consequent addition of about $1 trillion to the national debt over the next ten years — $1.5 trillion if you don’t believe the reductions will increase the growth rate and hence generate at least some new tax receipts — were a bad idea. Even the great John Maynard Keynes would not countenance running large deficits in the presence of full employment, and the unemployment rate in the US is now only 4.1 per cent. And he would probably either splutter in rage or fall down laughing at the President’s newly-unveiled $4.4 trillion budget that adds an additional $7 trillion to the national debt over the next ten years.

Fortunately, that budget is DOA at the Congress, which has no intention of cutting social services as Trump’s budget calls for, or of raising taxes without White House support. Instead, Micawber-like, Congress seems to be hoping that something will turn up to prevent the country from going over the fiscal cliff towards which it is racing. Only an acceleration by the Federal Reserve Board of its plans gradually to raise interest rates, or a rescue by the so-called “bond vigilantes”, investors who sell off bonds to drive their prices down and thereby drive up interest rates, can restore a bit of sanity to economic policy. It is just such a fear — that interest rates might rise to 3 per cent — that prompted the spectacular share sell-off early in the New Year. Trump, the titular leader of the Republican Party — in fact, a New York Democrat who engineered a hostile takeover of the Republican Party — has ended his adopted party’s long-standing position as guardian of the national fisc and of money that is worth as much tomorrow as it was yesterday. Trumpian populism has thus gone the way of older populist movements that have cropped up in the course of America’s history. These favoured inflationary printing of money to enable debtors to repay their loans with cheap money, something with visceral appeal to Trump, a perpetually over-indebted businessman who in that life styled himself “the king of debt”.
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