Angry America

And so, it is finally over.

The American people have endured a long, bitter, divisive campaign where reasoned argument was subjugated by the dripping bile of social media and soundbite politics. This was a contest quite unlike any other. Yes, previous campaigns have been hard fought and at times the discourse has been rude, rambunctious and rancorous but this campaign was on a whole new level. There was no restraint, no respect and no rational attempt to persuade. Instead one candidate sought to insult his way through the campaign, the other called on the argument of, 'at least I'm not him'. What a choice the American public faced.

Once again as with both recent votes here in the UK (the General Election in 2015 and the EU Referendum in 2016) the polls were wrong. The pundits yet again underestimated the number of voters, previously disengaged from the political process, who this time made their voices count. And now, the morning after, it is time to consider what happens now.

Whatever one might think of the candidate and his campaign there can be no denying that Donald Trump has pulled off a remarkable feat. He defied the odds, the political experts and his own party to achieve a remarkable win. How? Because he sensed and exploited the fault lines in western society; the sense of disillusionment, anger and frustration. There are many theories as to why these fault lines exist; rising inequality, globalisation, generational division, social media and the outlet it provides for the angry to foist their views onto others. Whatever the reason the President Elect, Donald J Trump (get used to it) knew his market and played to it.

What comes now very much depends on what the real Donald Trump thinks. In a piece a few months ago, after he won the nomination, we expected the rhetoric to be toned down and a more sober candidate emerge. That happened to some extent but not as much as expected. There are some clues in the acceptance speech this morning however, that indicate an understanding now of the need for unity and healing if his presidency is going to be successful.

What of business? Well, the markets predictably have sold off this morning although, not as much as one might have thought. Interestingly three sectors where share prices have gone up are mining, defence and pharmaceuticals. Presumably the markets are pricing in that we're going to need more bricks (that's a big wall), more weapons and some headache pills.

In reality there are enough checks and balances in the US system to mean panic is unwarranted. More important perhaps even than Donald Trump's victory is the breaking of the logjam in Congress with the Republicans set to take a majority potentially in the House and Senate. This at least means government can govern.

For business here in the UK, what this at least shows is that whilst Brexit has created uncertainty, there is uncertainty everywhere; in Europe, in the US, in China, in Russia. This is just life; it's always been there and business just needs to navigate with care, advice, support and determination. In the short to medium term the pound may see some relief from recent selling, monetary policy may come under further pressure as both the UK and US political leadership challenge central bank independence and the prospects of a meaningful trade deal with the US may have just got a little closer.

Let’s not overdo the gloom. You never know. Maybe, as a certain former TV reality star would say, ’it’s gonna be great’.