Profile of the new US president; Asia on edge after Trump win; Trumponomics is more of the same

1 Profile of the new US president (BBC) Long before he was a contender for the US presidency, Donald Trump was America’s most famous and colourful billionaire. Once considered a long shot, Trump is now the next president of the United States.

The 70-year-old businessman had the last laugh when he defied all predictions to beat much more seasoned politicians in the Republican primary race. Mr Trump is the fourth child of New York real estate tycoon Fred Trump. Despite the family’s wealth, he was expected to work the lowest-tier jobs within his father’s company and was sent off to a military academy at age 13 when he started misbehaving in school.

He attended the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and became the favourite to succeed his father after his older brother, Fred, chose to become a pilot. Fred Trump died at 43 due to alcoholism, an incident that his brother says led him to avoid alcohol and cigarettes his entire life.

Mr Trump says he got into real estate with a “small” $1m loan from his father before joining the company. He helped manage his father’s extensive portfolio of residential housing projects in the New York City boroughs, and took control of the company – which he renamed the Trump Organization – in 1971.

His father died in 1999. “My father was my inspiration,” Mr Trump said at the time. There are Trump Towers in Mumbai, Istanbul and the Philippines. Mr Trump also built an empire in the entertainment business. From 1996 until 2015, he was an owner in the Miss Universe, Miss USA, and Miss Teen USA beauty pageants. He has written several books, and owns a line of merchandise that sells everything from neckties to bottled water. According to Forbes, his net worth is $3.7bn, though Mr Trump has repeatedly insisted he is worth $10bn.

Trump has been married three times, though his most famous wife was his first – Ivana Zelnickova, a Czech athlete and model. The couple had three children – Donald Jr, Ivanka and Eric – before they filed for divorce in 1990. He married actress Marla Maples in 1993. They had a daughter named Tiffany together before divorcing in 1999.

He married his current wife Melania Knauss, a model, in 2005, and the couple have one son, Barron William Trump. His children from his first marriage now help run Trump Organization, though he is still chief executive.

He took inspiration from the successful campaign to get Britain out of the European Union, saying he would pull off “Brexit times 10”. He will be the first US president never to have held elected office or served in the military, meaning that he has already made history before he is sworn in as America’s 45th president in January.

2 Asia on edge over Trump win (Ravi Velloor in Straits Times) Asians who listened to Mr Donald Trump’s victory speech will take comfort from his vow to rebuild America, “get along with all other nations willing to get along with us” and double the growth rate of an economy that is still considered the market of last resort.

Beyond that, for now at least, a Trump presidency looks like a stare into the deep unknown. While Asian leaders have come forth to greet the president-elect and vowed to work with him, there is no denying that Mr Trump’s domestic-focused diatribes on trade, immigration and jobs all cause deep unease, particularly to those that rely on open economies to keep their growth engines ticking.

There is no question that for the immediate future at least, the all-important Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will be on hold. Had Mrs Hillary Clinton won, there was a chance that Mr Barack Obama might have tried to push it through during his lame-duck period in office. But given the message delivered by voters, it would be morally wrong for Mr Obama to push TPP further.

Mr Trump has threatened to slap as much as 45 per cent duties on Chinese goods entering the US market. He also has threatened during the campaign that the US may leave the World Trade Organisation under his watch. Government leaders in India, Asia’s third biggest economy, worry that his stiff positions on immigration and jobs may hurt their outsourcing industry at a time when their business model is under threat.

More worrying is the prospect of a renewed arms race, especially if Mr Trump should show signs that he will turn away from the region. His foreign policy positions – that Japan and South Korea should do more in their own defence – could presage the unleashing of a nuclear arms race in north-east Asia as Seoul and Tokyo prepare for the contingency of a reduced US commitment to the region.

3 Trumponomics is more of the same (Aditya Chakrabortty in The Guardian) So America’s ruling classes have lost to a billionaire who plays at being a man of the people. Donald Trump ran against the hierarchy of his own party, without the blessing of commentators or the big CEOs, without the speeches to Wall Street or the funding from Silicon Valley. Amid all the justifiable dismay expressed, don’t forget one thing: Hillary Clinton was the establishment candidate; it was Trump who ran as the perennially unfancied outsider.

Trump is an outsider politician leading an insurgency of self-declared outsider Americans: the white men who feel homeless in their own country and the coal-mining and rustbelt states that got written off by both parties – but that won’t produce outsider policies. But Donald J Trump won’t be the president who reads the last rites for neoliberalism – for the simple reason that the empty-headed narcissist has no idea what to replace it with.

What the head boys and head girls miss is just how old-fashioned Trumponomics is. Look at the people around him. Among his top economic advisers is Stephen Moore from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative thinktank last seen laying down many of the policy planks for Ronald Reagan.

Sure enough, the policies are pure Reagan: slashing red tape and business taxes, “a major tax cut” on income, a repeal of estate taxes and a hankering for high interest rates and sound money. His latest position is that “I would like to see an increase [in the minimum wage] of some magnitude. But I’d rather leave it to the states.” Gee thanks, Donald!

You can see the paradox. Much of Trump’s base was voting against the great unravelling of America’s social contract. They were rebelling against Reaganism and its love for Wall Street over Main Street, its property boom and industrial bust. Yet what they’re about to get is more Reaganism, from a man whose glory years were the Reagan years.

A revolt isn’t a revolution. The head prefects in our politics and media see disorder and immediately cry insurrection. That’s what they did in Britain after the Brexit vote and it’s how they’ll mark 20 January, 2017, the date of President Trump’s inauguration. Just as they called those events wrong, so they’ll call the aftermath wrong.


About joesnewspicks

This blog captures interesting news items from around the world for those strained by information overload and yet need to stay updated on global events of significance. The news items displayed are not in order of merit. (The blog takes a weekly off — normally on Sundays — and does not appear when I am on vacation or busy.) I am a journalist for nearly three decades.
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