Trading under Trump's shadow

Contrary to expectations, stocks went up after Donald Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States in November 2016. Jewell Jones, a Democrat and the youngest-ever state representative of Michigan, says “businesses sort of like Trump.” Part of Trump's support in the business world is explained by some of the policies he adopted so far, like a tax cut plan that benefits high-income earners and high-income companies.

Tony Schwartz, a journalist who worked as Trump's ghost writer for the best-selling book "The Art of the Deal," argues that the President of the United States is seen by his fellow Republicans as a “golden opportunity” to pursue an agenda that includes tax cuts and reducing government regulations. “It is an agenda Republicans have not been able to advance, even in their administrations, since Ronald Reagan," Schwartz says.

There are probably few people in the world that know Trump's mind better than Schwartz, who spent 18 months with the real estate mogul in the 1980s to write the book. Do not expect, however, kind words on Trump. “Uninterested in people,” “impulsive” and “fragile ego” are some of the terms Schwartz uses to describe the US President. "I do not think Trump has changed since he was seven years old," he says. "Whenever Trump does something right, he has to do something self-destructive or destructive to others very quickly.”

“I felt guilty for writing The Art of the Deal.“ - Tony Schwartz

How is the international business community managing their business in the US since Trump took office? Adrian Nösberger, CEO of the Zurich-based Schroders & Co Bank, offers some perspective on President Trump: “Trump can be an advantage to the EU,” he says. The uncertainty in the US may drive companies to look elsewhere. “We have started thinking about looking for talent in alternative markets, like Europe and Asia.”

Sibylle Kammer, managing director of the Swiss consulting company Zühlke, says it’s difficult to prepare in a concrete way for any possible consequences of the Trump presidency. “Trump is unpredictable. You never know what he’ll do,” Kammer says. Might companies leave the US as a result of his policies? “For businesses, it is not that easy to change locations,” Kammer says. “Whatever he does, we just have to deal with it.”

“Trump can be an advantage to the EU.” – Adrian Nösberger

Anat Bar-Gera, a board member of Bank of Cyprus and the chairwoman of the Swiss-based cyber security company Cyverse, says Trump has no direct influence on the US companies she invests in. “I am looking for the next unicorn,” she says. “If people are great at what they do, their nationality plays no role. Trump’s policies will not affect this, because the top people are too good at what they are doing.”

Trump “has no influence over the world – yet,” says Philipp Weckherlin, co-founder and partner of the Swiss-based consultancy firm CE Asset Management AG. “We were expecting uncertainty in the business world, but it did not happen.” The Trump presidency has shown that business works independently from politics. As an aside, Weckherlin adds, “that is good to know.”

Luca Martinelli, from the private investor network Btov which has offices in Germany, Luxembourg, and Switzerland, is more wary. He thinks small companies are just “waiting and seeing what happens” with Trump because “they do not have the money to create a plan B.” “Obviously, he is a crazy guy, so it is a dangerous situation,” he says.

People from the business world outside the US seem cautious but not too pessimistic about the Trump presidency. Michigan’s Jones does not entirely share this view. “I think we need to pray for the US,” he says. Jones believes Trump “has the potential to erupt” and destroy the relationships the US developed with other countries. He sums up his opinion of the new President of the United States in one sentence: “Trump is good for business, but not good for America.”

“Obviously, he is a crazy guy, so it is a dangerous situation.” – Luca Martinelli