ALTHOUGH he styles himself as a chief executive who can turn the country around, Donald Trump is an outsider in the world of American business. His commercial operation is tiny by the standards of the country’s mega-firms and few of their bosses have ever viewed the president-elect as an equal or ally. He has “no friends” among the business elite, sniffed a private-equity baron a few weeks ago, who will doubtless now join a queue of executives waiting at Trump Tower to curry favour and to assess the new man’s priorities before he assumes office.
Those supplicants will soon discover that Mr Trump’s attitude towards business has three contradictory strands. He is passionate about unleashing the might of the private sector in order to revive growth. There is certainly plenty of scope: last year listed American companies invested a mediocre 46% of their total cashflow. Yet he is also a populist who thinks the economy is rigged in favour of big business and crony capitalists, and he is a protectionist. In the coming months these three different strands will respectively excite, worry and scare the business world.
Start, first, with the…Continue reading