While I despise Trump as a narcissistic conman and crook, the economic health of the US implies that, economically at least, he is doing pretty well. Of course, Trump is right when he talks about the US' trading power; it's a buyer's market and the US is the biggest market on the planet, so playing hardball and driving a particularly hard bargain is obviously going to be successful, even if using ludicrous security concerns to shaft the Canadians is not the sort of behaviour designed to win friends.
And it's quite clear that Trump views other Nations as business competitors and rivals, there to be bilked, short-changed and swindled in any way necessary to turn a quick buck.
Certainly, China has a history of rampant disregard for IP and a reputation for questionable economic practices, but Trump has turned his trade war guns on erstwhile allies as well.
Trumponomics is not a steady state. It is, by its nature, constant turmoil.
This is, of course, deeply self-serving. Trump gets to enrich his cronies and, one supposes, himself. He gets to distract the media and the public when there is unfavorable news about him. But I believe it is not right to assume that Trump—in his own experience—is solely cynical. His mentality, apparently, allows him to pay little heed to the forces leading him to prefer one action over another. Is he pitching Adelson and attacking the Fed because he wants to help himself or because it’s good for America? Who cares? They’re the same. If he wants to do it, it’s good for America, then it’s good for Trump, and vice versa.
Trump is no longer a mystery. He is among the most transparent of public figures. The mystery is that it all works. The stock market, even with this week’s drop, has been at record highs. Unemployment is at record lows. Consumer and business confidence is robust. How can this be? According to basic economic theory, businesspeople should look at this chaos and realize it is unsustainable.
G.O.P. politicians and some sympathetic economists argue that the tax cuts and deregulation are spurring business. But there is one idea that Keynesians and Chicago School thinkers have long agreed upon: It is always possible to give an economy a sugar rush, a short-term boost, by flushing huge amounts of government money through the system. One can do this through tax cuts or government spending. Or, in a sense, by weakening regulation. (When the government removes consumer protections, it makes it cheaper for banks to do business and operates like a tax cut or a subsidy.) This creates a promise of near-term profits for companies, which leads to higher stock prices, which can lead to business expansion and new hiring. The newly employed buy more things, increasing the rate of expansion. It can be exciting and self-reinforcing.