In a bizarre turn of events, on the January 20, 2017, Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. Under him, the question is not if the damage will be done to civil liberties, environmental protection, human rights, economic stability and international relations, because this is a fact made undeniable given the current ethos of the Oval Office. The real question is how much of the damage is going to be reversible? How much will fall to waste? 

Economy will be at the top of Trump’s agenda as president and serve as the most important barometer of his performance. On the campaign trail, Trump admitted the economy wasn’t something he looked forward to tackling. In a January 2016 interview with “Good Morning America,” he offered up a bleak assessment and added that, in terms of fixing it, it’s a task he’d rather skip. “We’re in a bubble,” he said. “And, frankly, if there’s going to be a bubble popping, I hope they pop before I become president because I don’t want to inherit all this stuff. I’d rather it be the day before rather than the day after, I will tell you that.” 

In a subsequent April interview with the Washington Post, Trump reiterated his doomsday view of the economy, suggesting we might be headed for recession. But that time around, he appeared more open to the idea of his being in charge of finding remedies. “I can fix it. I can fix it pretty quickly,” he said. Trump was the 2016 election cycle’s most riveting and controversial figure. He initially focused his attention on immigration reform, calling for a wall to be built between Mexico and the US and demanding the deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants. He later rolled out other policies and positions: a major tax code overhaul; repeal and replace Obama-care; renegotiate or “break” NAFTA; stop hedge funds from “getting away with murder” on taxes; reforming the Veteran’s Administration; and impose import tariffs as high as 35%. 

Those who fear Trump’s plans should find common cause with those who love them: “I’m not sure how much of what he actually says today will be his positions a year from now,” said Michael Busler, professor of finance at Stockton University. “Take Trump seriously, but not literally,” has become a common refrain. Trump’s own campaign suggested he is playing “a part” to garner votes. The impact that the new president will have on the economy of not only the US but also the other countries involved in trade with it are yet to be seen. 

SHABRAIZ MUSHTAQ,  

Islamabad, February 1.