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On Wednesday May 3rd the ESADE Alumni Finance Club held a talk entitled ''Trump’s first one hundred days. Economics, geopolitics and leadership'' which focused on the highlights of the first one hundred days of the Trump administration.
Professor Xavier Mena of ESADE’s department of economics, finance and accounting; David Murillo, associate professor in ESADE’s department of social sciences; and Professor Àngel Castiñeira of the department of social sciences, together gave a thorough analysis of Trump’s trade, economic and monetary policies, the difficulties he has had to face; and the most noteworthy personality traits of this leader of the greatest economic power in the West.
It is already three months since Trump was elected president of the White House and the new government has had to implement policies in line with him short- and long-term goals. Many of his aims have, however, been thwarted by the strategies of other countries and the check and balance found in all democratic systems, i.e. the relationship between the executive, legislative and judicial powers. ''A lot of effort is needed to put words into action and Trump has had to sideline some of his goals; in fact, most of them have been frustrated due to the practicalities of carrying them out,'' said professor Xavier Mena.
''In the early days of the Trump administration there was obviously a desire to explain his programme by tweets and tv appearances,'' said professor Murillo. The electoral programme of today’s US president has five main areas: defence, anti-immigration, protectionism, nationalism and anti-establishment factors. Firstly, it is a defence policy, so the intention is to increase spending in this area considerably. The US is in fact the world’s biggest military spender and has increased its military outlay by US$54 million.
Secondly, his protectionist policy vis-à-vis immigration has driven him to adopt measures such building a wall along the Mexico border. But in the end, the check and balance mechanism has managed to halt such measures by voting it down in Congress.
The policy designed to prevent foreigners from entering the US has had a direct impact on several sectors and will be difficult to implement. Professor Xavier Mena explained that ''certain international conventions scheduled for the future are being cancelled due to fears that it might not be possible to enter the US at a later date. Even the NBA has players from Sudan who do not know if they will be able to return to the US.''
The third point is the powerful trade protectionism touted by Donald Trump along with the slogan Buy America, hire America to either eliminate or overhaul existing trade agreements with other powers, such as NAFTA, TTP and TTIP. This protectionism has not, however, been as easy to implement as the president expected. The trade balance with Mexico, for example, has been negative mainly due to American imports of automobiles, which is why Donald Trump wanted to impose tariffs on these products.
On the other hand, 27% of US corn exports go to Mexico, so Mexico could adopt the same measure as Trump, in which case, a large number of undocumented workers would be affected. Between 50 and 70% of agricultural workers are undocumented and would be forced to find other jobs so the president must give greater thought to whether this measure would really be beneficial.
The last two cornerstones of his programme are nationalism and his anti-establishment policy. Both of these are reflected in most of his policies and are closely linked to his rejection of immigration and his threat of withdrawing from certain environmental and international institutions such as the United Nations, a move which would seriously affect their funding.
Early comments about the president’s policies agree that there are contradictions. A great many citizens are very disappointed with Donald Trump: his credibility at home and abroad has plummeted in his first one hundred days. In addition, according to the Washington Post, he is rejected by 53% of citizens, and only six of the president’s promises, including two related to trade, have been fulfilled.
The part played by social media
During the talk Murillo said, ''Trump is not a passing fad, social media make us live in a bubble and our brains have already assimilated the guidelines imbued with propaganda applied by these media.'' In the US, society is in fact highly polarized and tends to support the media akin to their own ideology unconditionally.
Fake news is an increasingly common phenomenon amongst young people, whose main source of information is the internet. Some 40% of young people report that they only read Facebook or sources in line with their own political outlook, which means that they ignore a broad spectrum of opinions.
As a result, people are very wary of media with political views different from their own. In addition, the president has carved out a niche for himself amongst the general public by addressing it directly. As Murillo said, ''the president skips the media filter and speaks directly to the population.''
Another feature of the current US situation is the neoliberal crisis. Anti-globalisation movements are taking place during today’s economic shift and economic policies yet to be announced are being considered. Against the background of this systemic crisis, David Murillo suggests that the only three possible solutions are revolution, the creation of alternative socioeconomic frameworks or a takeover giving rise to cultural hegemony.
Narcissistic, unstable and aggressive: that’s Donald Trump
After many psychological analyses, several traits of the president’s personality have been defined. Power has revealed his greatest weaknesses because, as Angel Castiñeira points out, ''power does not corrupt people, it reveals what they are like.''
Castiñeira ended his speech by mentioning the traits he has noticed in Donald Trump: direct, intimidating, intrepid, stubborn, dominant, energetic, not afraid of internal or external confrontations and considerable populism thanks to his ability to empathise with the emotions in his surroundings.
All these traits add up to a charismatic leader able to control the situation well – giving cause for concern. He has the traits of a narcissist, is unstable and impulsive, and also has schizophrenic and bipolar traits and is very aggressive and inconsistent.
Each member may invite one guest.
A glass of cava will be served after the talk.
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