Donald Trump’s full-on assault on every single long-standing American norm and institution has left the country in a political free-fall that should frighten the hell out of investors. It risks turning the United States into a so-called “Frontier Market,” a somewhat derogatory term reserved only for the most volatile, lawless nations.
After all, it is the rule of law, and the asset safety that comes with it, which has underpinned America’s global financial primacy and the dollar’s privileged status as a reserve currency.
Trump’s reaction to the brutal murder of American journalist Jamal Kashoggi by Saudi thugs — a shrugging of the shoulders and deference to the Saudi kingdom’s own farcical investigation into itself — is just the latest green light to the rest of the world that the propriety and the rule of law are out the window in the country that used to be one its prime stewards.
His daily flouting of conflicts of interest rules, the daily corruption scandals within his administration, racist attacks on immigrants and misogynistic comments about women, his attacks on the free press — all carry echoes of past fascist movements.
For all its fault and military misadventures, American institutions have functioned robustly over the years in part because of at least an attempt at making federal appointments based on skill and experience. Under Trump, we are back to the future to a sort of dystopian 21st century version of railroad robber barons where suitcases full of cash literally rule the day.
How will the rest of the world react? Perhaps the starkest example comes from my (other) home country — Brazil, which looks set to embark on a similarly hateful, right-wing, militaristic political wave that could make Trumpism look tame. Jair Bolsonaro, who looks set to become Brazil’s next president barring a major upset in second round elections being held October 28th, is a repulsive individual whose entire platform is built on anger and hate. And guess who’s helping him? Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon.
Everything is on the line this November — from global democracy to, given the rapid deterioration in climate conditions and the need for urgent coordination action to counter it, perhaps even the globe itself.
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