Peter Morici Blog | Decoding The Donald's Approach | Talkmarkets
Professor Emeritus, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland

Professor Peter Morici is a recognized expert on economic policy and international economics. Prior to joining the university, he served as director of the Office of Economics at the U.S. International Trade Commission. He is the author of 18 books and monographs and has published widely in ... more

Decoding The Donald's Approach

Date: Tuesday, December 20, 2016 7:09 AM EDT

Cozying up to Russia, questioning the “one-China policy,” disputing CIA intelligence and naming several generals and billionaires to his Cabinet, Donald Trump has set aghast many foreign policy analysts, economists, security experts and mainstream journalists who are accustomed to orderly thinking and a pretense of what they view as principled decision-making from Washington’s political leaders.

Sadly for them — but not for the voters who elected Mr. Trump — the president-elect has no big, idealistic vision of an orderly world to anchor American international policy or limit strategies at home to resurrect the economy.

Mr. Trump lacks John Kennedy’s inaugural confidence that America has the wealth and will to bear any burden, endure any price to defend freedom in every corner of the world. Nor does he embrace Barack Obama’s sense of American responsibility and guilt to risk our national prosperity, cultural identity and security to promote an ethereal global community.

Mr. Trump has a tougher, more realistic view — appealing mostly to ordinary folks who must bear the economic and social costs of globalization, the threats of terrorism in public places and risks of serving in the ranks of our military. Simply, American foreign and domestic economic policies should promote American interests — after all, Berlin, Tokyo and Beijing are busy looking out for their citizens’ welfare and national interests.

Similarly, American corporations who profit and benefit from Washington’s largesse at home and protection abroad should weigh the interests of workers and taxpayers when they consider whether to locate a factory in Indiana or Shanghai.

In Germany, which is supposed to be bound to the same World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations to promote free trade and investment as the United States, Volkswagen must contend with provincial government officials — who together with union leaders hold majority seats on its supervisory board — when deciding whether German or foreign facilities must bear the brunt of layoffs made necessary by automation and competition, and where the next generation of automobiles and components are to be made.

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