No one saw this coming.
In the month since the election on November 8, America burst out of the longest economic malaise since the Great Depression. Historians will credit the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. Those historians will be right, of course, but how can that be? President Trump won’t take office until Friday, January 20, 2017. Today is December 8, 2016. Yet Trump has already transformed America more in four weeks than Barack Obama did in eight years.
Look at what Trump’s done.
Stock Market, Economy, Outlook
Almost immediately following the election, the stock market rallied. On November 4, the last trading day of the last week before the election, the Dow close at 17,888. On the day following the election, November 9, the Dow was up to 18,589. Tonight, that index closed at 19,614. In between, the Dow, the Nasdaq, and the S&P 500 have set more than a dozen all-time high closes. The stock market loves Trump.
But the stock market is not the economy. So what’s the economy doing?
First, 1,100 jobs we thought were headed from Indiana to Mexico are staying in Indiana. Next, Soft Bank is investing $50 billion and creating 50,000 jobs in America. Then, the CEO of US Steel announced he hopes to re-hire 10,000 laid-off steelworkers. Those are all signs of good things to come. But there are even better signs.
Look at this headline from Business Insider:
Americans From All Corners of the Economy Are Loving Life Since Trump’s Election
Check out these leading indicators (link):
Business Insider points out that across-the-board positive sentiment quickly lifts the overall economy:
This sort of upswing in confidence usually starts to show up outside of surveys and in real data in a short amount of time, according to Meyer’s analysis. The increases in business indexes usually point to an increase in capital expenditures, while the consumer confidence indicators can predict consumer spending.
Expect major good news as retailers begin reporting their Christmas sales.
China On Its Heels
Donald Trump brilliantly told China, “America’s no longer your punching bag.” Some people got all worked up because President-elect Trump took a phone call from the President of Taiwan. The career diplomats and the dishonest media acted like Trump had just threatened to bomb China. But not all career diplomats got bent out of shape.
Jack Tkacik was a careeer diplomat who served overseas in Taipai and Beijing during the Carter and Reagan administration. Mr. Tkacik writes in National Interest:
I am pleasantly amused by the media kerfuffle that engulfs Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen’s congratulatory phone call on Friday (December 2) to President-elect Donald J. Trump. The president-elect’s subsequent tweet that it is “interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars in military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call” made eloquent sense of the incoming president’s approach to foreign policy in general and of his disdain for self-imposed sensitivities about U.S. policy toward China in particular.
Mr. Tkacik then reminds us that the US never adopted the so-called “One China” policy. Never.
For the record, let me interject that the United States does not now recognize, and never has, a “One China” of which Taiwan is a part.
The December 15, 1978, U.S.-China Normalization Communiqué states that the U.S. side “acknowledges the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.” It is often forgotten that two months later, on February 22, 1979, President Carter’s deputy secretary of state, Warren Christopher, explained in Senate hearings that the United States has “acknowledged the Chinese position that Taiwan is part of China, but the United States has _not_ [italics in original] itself agreed to this position.” This remains the position of the United States today.
And even though I’m a fan of Mr. Trump, I don’t believe he thought of this on his own. While I’ve seen reports that former Senator Bob Dole arranged the call, I think it’s more likely Henry Kissinger set it up. Kissinger is a master of sending signals. Mr. Trump is the perfect front man to pull the flag toward America in our tug-o-war with China. Breaking phony diplomatic protocols seems as natural to Mr. Trump as a red necktie.
Consoling Victims and Honoring Heroes
Today, Mr. Trump traveled to to Ohio State University to console the victims of last week’s Muslim terrorist attack. He also honored the heroic law enforcement officers who responded. In particular, he praised the cop who shot the terrorist. He never looked more presidential or more human than he did today.
Then, Mr. Trump went to Des Moines, Iowa to thank voters for their support. He began his remarks with a tribute American legend John Glenn who passed away earlier in the day. Mr. Trump spoke of Senator Glenn as a hero who has inspired generations. Again, Mr. Trump appears to have already stepped into the office.
And He’s Not President Yet
You might be thinking, “Bill, all Presidents do this stuff.” True, more or less. Obama hasn’t been too keen on consoling victims in the past two years. And he’s never praised a cop without also criticizing the police. But that’s not the point.
The point is that Trump is not President yet. Mr. Trump is not on the payroll, but he’s doing the job of President anyway. For free.
I haven’t seen all America’s presidents-in-waiting, but I can’t find a single example of a President-elect working so hard at making America great, even before taking the oath of office. By contrast, Franklin Roosevelt refused to call for a bank holiday during his waiting period. FDR refused to endorse President Hoover’s call for a bank holiday, intentionally maximiming damage to the US economy. FDR wanted to get the credit for the recovery.
Trump doesn’t care who gets credit. He wants to deliver on his promises. And he’s too eager to wait for the formality of a swearing-in. So Mr. Trump has become acting president a little early.
For my money, that makes Donald J. Trump the greatest President-elect in American history.