Trumponomics Daily—Thursday, February 16
For our new cover story, live online this morning, Fortune senior editor Shawn Tully goes deep to map the promise and peril of Trumponomics. Corporate executives are feeling a “big improvement in animal spirits,” as Honeywell CEO Dave Cote puts it, a sentiment reflected in the markets’ post-election giddiness and surging small-business optimism. But the expectations of huge gains in economic growth come with fears of downsides that Trump could just as easily unleash if he, say, sparks a trade war or imposes a draconian immigration crackdown. “Put simply,” Tully writes, “American has never witnessed such a contradictory mix of free-market and antigrowth policies in the White House. Or a President who operates in such an unorthodox and unpredictable way.”
Needless to say to anyone who’s been conscious in the last month, it’s made for a highly combustible dynamic. Even Tom Barrack, one of Trump’s closest friends and chairman of real estate investment manager Colony Capital, acknowledges that while he thinks things are moving in the right direction, he’s “seeing lots of nervousness.” Washington is now the center of economic gravity in a way not seen since the eruption of the financial crisis. Tully writes it revolves around a “hair-trigger temperament [with a] penchant for launching scorched-earth attacks on a daily basis.” That’s prompted some second thoughts on Wall Street, with Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio and Goldman Sachs alike recently warning clients that the damaging effects of populist policies could overwhelm the benefits of the pro-business portion of the agenda. Piece by piece, Tully lays out the stakes in each plank of Trump’s plan — tax reform, deregulation, infrastructure spending, immigration enforcement and trade — handicapping their potential impacts and the challenges to getting them done. Trump’s debut hasn’t done much to help. But Barrack, pointing to daily conversations with Trump, says that the turmoil doesn’t bother the president: “He thinks it’s a revolution, and all of the tumult is normal. He’s not bothered at all by all the divisions in Congress and the electorate.” In other words, if you hadn’t already, buckle up.
Decades-old abuse allegations by his ex-wife and his hiring of an undocumented immigrant helped sink the nomination of the fast food executive.
Trump’s push to roll back federal regulations got its official start Wednesday when he signed a measure canceling an SEC rule that would have required oil and gas and mining companies to disclose their payments to foreign governments. It marks Trump’s first use of the Congressional Review Act, an obscure 1996 law only used once before that the new administration plans to wield to gut Obama-era rulemaking.
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg was in Trump’s office days before he took office when the then-incoming president called an Air Force general to discuss replacing the Lockheed Martin jet.
Trump is considering naming Stephen Feinberg, the billionaire cofounder of Cerberus Capital Management, to conduct a sweeping review of U.S. intelligence agencies — setting off fear in a community already on edge after the president’s criticism of it.
After calling Trump a “real asset for our country,” Kevin Plank faced a storm of popular blowback; now he’s trying to temper his position without offending the White House.
More than 61% of respondents to a recent survey said Trump should stop naming and shaming companies that cross him.
Trump has extended an olive branch to the pharmaceutical industry in the form of accelerated drug approvals, but most big players in the sector agree the current FDA process strikes the right balance.
Number of the day
Our trade imbalance with China is by far the biggest contributing factor to the nation's overall $2.5 trillion trade deficit — almost six times the shortfall with Mexico, though our economic relationship with our southern neighbor appears to have dominated Trump's early attention.
A Very Early Look At The Battle For The House In 2018 [FiveThirtyEight]