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How to Trade a Second Trump Presidency



Video transcript:


Betting on US elections is big business.

On one British betting exchange alone, $1.7 billion were traded for the 2020 U.S. presidential election

Odds on Donald Trump returning to the White House in 2025 shortened last week to make him a clear favorite with an even chance.

What does a second Trump presidency mean for America and, more importantly, for the world?

Trump doesn’t mince words. 

Based on his recent public statements, what can we expect of American foreign policy in a second Trump term?

Will the world be more or less peaceful under another Trump presidency?

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The Washington Post says that a Trump dictatorship in increasing inevitable.

America was born of a rebellion against tyranny.

The result is that Americans are paranoid about tyranny.

Tyranny of all kinds, including what James Madison called the tyranny of the majority.

America’s founding fathers were so paranoid about tyranny that they established a constitution mainly known for the many safeguards against it.

Federalism, Separation of Powers, Checks and Balances, are the central features of American constitutions.

These safeguards sometimes make it more difficult to get things done, but there is no denying that they serve America well during crisis when they become a source of resilience and unity.

There is no evidence that Trump wants to be a dictator.

But even if he wanted to, it is difficult to see how he could undo these safeguards that have stood the test of time for 250 years. 

We tend to think of the American president as the most powerful man in the world.

But is this really true?

Money is power.

The American constitution invests the power of the purse in Congress and not in the Presidency.   

In other words, Congress and not the president decides how much tax to levy, how much to spend, and how much to borrow.  

What this means is that an American president is truly powerful only when his party controls both Houses of Congress

And this does not happen too often.

But even a majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives is not a guarantee of power given that it takes 60 votes to overcome a filibuster in the Senate.

The last time one party enjoyed a filibuster proof super majority in the Senate was in the first two years of the Obama presidency. Even then it lasted only 72 working days.

It goes without saying that whether Trump will be a powerful president or not in a second term will depend importantly on whether the Republican Party will be able to increase their majority in the House and win back the Senate in November.

Polls make it very clear that a Republican super majority in the senate carries zero chance.

However, given twice as many Senate seats controlled by the Democrats are up for grab as Republican controlled seats, the Republicans stand a good chance of winning a simple Senate majority in November

But even this is far from being a done deal.

A lot will be riding on what happens in Arizona and Montana that remain wide open races.

Trump has outlined an ambitious domestic agenda for his second term.

But even if he gets elected, he will still need the buy-in of Congress to implement most of his agenda.

He can count on the support of House Republicans assuming they hold onto their majority.

But the Senate is a very different story.

Even if the Republicans succeed in regaining their majority there, there are enough Never Trumpers among Senate Republicans that Trump will not have an easy time implementing his domestic policy agenda.

Trump will try to govern by resorting to executive orders. But executive orders have their limitations and can be challenged in courts.

For this reason, I don’t think we will see huge changes in American domestic policies in a second Trump term.

We can expect immigration reforms and de-regulation, but I am doubtful we will see big tax cuts, especially given the huge budget deficit that Trump would be inheriting from Biden if he wins. 

Foreign policy is a very different matter. 

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There are 3 major conflicts in the world today

The Russia-Ukraine conflict

The Israel-Iran conflict

The China-Taiwan conflict

The US is not only heavily involved in all 3 conflicts but US policies under Biden have encouraged these conflicts and as a result made things worse.

Let’s start with the Ukraine war.

It is difficult to see the Ukraine war as anything but a proxy war that the Biden administration is waging again Russia.

Biden knew well that Ukraine’s NATO membership was a redline for Russia

He knew well that Russia could never accept the possibility of the deployment of NATO missiles capable of striking Moscow directly on its border

Yet Biden decided to ignore Putin’s ultimatum and left him with no choice but to invade Ukraine

Two months into the war, Kiev and Moscow were closing in on a deal that would end hostilities in exchange for Ukraine promising to renounce its intention to join NATO before Boris Johnson made an unexpected visit to Kiev with the message that Ukraine should fight on.

According to the head of the Ukrainian negotiating team, the western partners advised Ukraine “not to go into security guarantees with Russia” 

I am going to assume that by western partners he meant the Biden administration

It is impossible to prove intent definitively

But we cannot rule out that the Democrat Party may have wanted to settle its score with Putin whom they suspect to have helped Trump win the 2020 election.

Nor can we rule out that the defense hawks in Washington might have seen in this war an opportunity to recycle America’s outdated military hardware so that they can buy new ones

But it is difficult to see how the Ukraine war serves US national interest.

Indeed, all that the war seems to have accomplished is to push Russia and China, America’s two biggest adversaries, into each other’s arms.

This is why Trump is opposed to sending more money and weapons to Ukraine.

This is why he says at every interview that he will end the war in 24 hours

In a CNN interview last year, when he was asked whether he wanted Ukraine to win the war, he said that he doesn’t think in terms of winning and losing. He said that he thinks only in terms of settling the conflict so that people stop dying.

24 hours is not an exaggeration.

Trump knows that without US support, Kiev will not be able to keep fighting. Trump knows that this means the US has leverage over both Ukraine and Russia.

By the way, I don’t think this means that Trump will hand a victory to Russia.

We should assume that Russia might have to give up some Ukrainian territory in exchange for Ukrainian neutrality and keeping Crimean and Donbas.  

Russia has to extend security guarantee and make substantial contribution to Ukraine’s reconstruction.

Trump could use gradual easing of sanctions to ensure Russia meets its end of the bargain.

Middle-class Americans would be major beneficiaries of the end of the Ukraine war. 

A potential easing of economic sanctions on Russia should push commodity prices lower, settling the stage for easing inflation and interest rate cuts.

The end of the Ukraine war would help extend the economic expansion.

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What about the Israel-Iran conflict?

The most stark difference in American foreign policy between Trump and Biden is their Iran policy.

Whereas Trump walked away from the Iran nuclear deal, Biden has been working to revive it.

Whereas Trump imposed harsh sanctions on Iran, Biden has been easing them.

Whereas Trump blocked Iranian oil exports, Biden has stopped enforcing these sanctions. 

Trump says that the Hamas attack on Israel on Oct 7 would never have happened under his watch.

He pinned the blame of the attack on Iran.


In a recent interview, Trump said that under his watch "Iran was broke”.


He said that Iran "had no money to give to Hamas and Hezbollah."


"For four years, we had no terror," Trump said. "We had the terror ban. They called it the Trump travel ban, but it was really the Trump terror ban.”


I never really understand the decision by the Obama administration and more recently the Biden administration to cozy up to Iran


It is not clear to me how pandering to Iran serves US national interest.


Not only Iran is the biggest sponsor of terrorism in the world, but its nuclear ambition risks setting off a nuclear arms race in the region


Iran threatens not only Israel but also moderate Sunni Gulf countries that are opening up and reforming their economy and political systems.


A second Trump term will likely see the US reverting back to the harsh sanctions against Iran under Trump’s first term.


Four more years of tough sanctions might weaken Tehran’s hardline clerical regime enough that it might fall in the next round of protest.


If Trump manages to end the war in Ukraine quickly, he might even be able to persuade Putin to distance Russia from Iran and isolate Iran further.


My bet is that peace will return to the Middle East if Trump wins in November. 


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What about the Taiwan-China conflict?


Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August 2022 resulted in a dramatic escalation of tension between Taiwan and China.


China expanded its military presence in the Taiwan strait on the ground of protecting territorial integrity.


Even the Washington Post, which seldom has anything bad to say about Biden’s foreign policy, acknowledged last year that Pelosi’s visit had "done considerable damage to Taiwan’s security", and that Biden should have blocked the visit


Whether Biden gave the green light for Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan or not, last August he signed the first-ever military aid to Taiwan through a program typically used only for sovereign nations


If Biden is waging a proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, it feels like he is planning a proxy war against China in Taiwan.


Trump have been asked on several occasions over the past year whether he would send in the military to help defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.


This is what he said on one occasion:


"I won't say, I won't say, because if I said, I'm giving away...you know, only stupid people are going to give that (away)"


Trump’s strategic ambiguity on Taiwan is in sharp contrast to Biden’s  statement last year that the US will defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion.


Neither Biden nor Trump wants to go to war with China


But Biden’s explicit commitment to protect Taiwan is making war more rather than less likely, by emboldening the pro-independence camp in Taiwan and forcing Beijing to contemplate a pre-emptive strike.


It is safe to assume that Trump’s strategic ambiguity would have the opposite effect.

Trump seems to have an excellent understanding of game theory and how to maximize America’s power of deterrence.


In my view, a Trump victory in November should help ease tension in the Taiwan strait.

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I am an American who grew up in Taiwan and who lives in Israel today.

There is nothing I want more than peace


The world is wary of America’s self appointed role as the global policeman.


This is because American foreign policy is at times more destructive than stabilizing

In my view, for America to be a force for good in the world, America has to think and behave more strategically


What is clear is that Trump plays chess while Biden plays checkers


I strongly believe that If the world has more chess players, it will be a safer place.  

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11 comentários


Love your insight

Curtir
Respondendo a

Thank you Ian

Curtir

Hi David, I agree that Ukraine Russia war would like end under Trump 2 presidency, but don’t think he would be able to stop conflict in the Middle East.

I strongly believe that Oct 7 attack happened because Netanyahu/Mossad let it happened. It is because of the conflict that Netanyahu is still in the power in Israel. So, he will let it go as long as possible.

Curtir
Respondendo a

Viv, Maybe 6 million Jews were exterminated during the Holocaust because they also brought it on themselves. Israel is a democracy. There are many checks and balances in the political system to ensure any prime minister, Netanyahu or anyone, does not over-reach for political or personal reasons. The army and the intelligence agencies enjoy a very high degree of independence and most of the senior leadership of the army and intelligence agencies are anti-Bibi due to their leftist leaning and their unconditional support for a two-state solution. According to the logic of anti-Israel propaganda, if Bibi does not allow foreign money to reach Gaza then he is trying to starve the Gazans; if he allows foreign money to reach Gaza,…

Curtir

DAVID BAYFIELD
DAVID BAYFIELD
26 de jan.

I doubt that Trump knows how to play chess. Too many rules. He does not come across as intelligent or strategic in his communication or behavior. The only game he seriously plays is the politics of personality. From my observations, his narcissism, grudge holding, and lying make him completely unreliable and often unpredictable. He is, however, a master of creating whatever reality suits him and persuading millions to join him. I strongly disagree with much of this video but, as always, appreciate hearing a viewpoint highly divergent from my own.

Curtir
Respondendo a

When you question Trumps intelligence please list "your" accomplishments. I would like to compare.

Curtir

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