Friday, July 19, 2019

Interview: Christopher Whalen explains the economics of Donald Trump's victory

Editor's note: This interview was originally published in April 2017.

This is the final part of my discussion with Christopher Whalen. The first and second pieces are available. 
Story by Joseph Ford Cotto
As always, there is a lot going on in Washington, DC nowadays. No small measure of it relates to money, but not necessarily campaign spending.
How Donald Trump and, to a lesser extent, his administrative personnel -- along with Republicans on Capitol Hill -- handle the economy will make or break this presidency's legacy. Trump promised a great deal to his supporters, and managed to unilaterally see through some of his pledges, but found congressional-slash-judicial opposition toward others.
Most intriguing is that Trump tied the seemingly non-fiscal matter of immigration to his economic platform. Foreign trade, while more relevant to national wages than border patrol hirings, has traditionally been in the realm of international policy. Trump broke from precedent by tying it to the average American's quality of life.
Politics have not been the same since, and it seems unlikely that they will revert to business-as-usual anytime in the foreseeable future. 
Christopher Whalen is a longtime observer of -- and participant in -- fiscal happenings.
Displaying Headshot_rcw.jpgHis publicity biography describes him as "the ultimate Wall Street insider who understands the intersection of politics and finance, and is known for telling his readers the truth.  He has worked in politics, at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and as an investment banker for more than 30 years.  Considered one of the most incisive and thoughtful financial analysts on Wall Street, Christopher coverers a wide range of subjects from banking to housing to global economics and the Federal Reserve.  He is the author of three books Inflated (2010), Financial Stability (2014) and Ford Men (2017).  Christopher publishes the blog “Washington & Wall Street” and contributes to many other publications and appears in media outlets including CNBC, Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal."
Whalen recently wrote Ford Men, which strives to tell the full story of how Henry Ford's family built the automotive empire we have all come to love (or hate). Whalen chatted with me about Trumponomics and Ford Men. Some of our discussion is included below.


Joseph Ford Cotto: What led Ford Motors to brush much of its history under the rug -- specifically so Henry Ford would achieve more of a starring role?

Christopher Whalen: The public relations team at Ford Motor Co is very good and featured some of the giants of the PR industry over the decades.  They have polished the narrative to emphasize the legend of Henry Ford and not the details and other people in the tale.  The image most American’s have today of Henry Ford is a very carefully curated fiction created to serve the marketing needs of Ford Motor Co and the family.

Cotto: Insofar as the electorate in November's race was concerned, did Trump's economic proposals motivate unlikely support, was there such dissatisfaction with the financial status quo that Hillary Clinton was bound to lose against almost any outsider candidate, might there have been some combination of these, or are all of these explanations off track?
Whalen: Hillary’s closeness to Wall Street did not help her cause.  Trump campaigned on an explicitly anti-big bank platform, yet today he panders to the same institutions.  Is this a wonderful country or what?

Cotto: While researching Ford Men, what was the most surprising thing you learned about the Ford family?

Cotto: As a group the Ford family are a generous and unremarkable bunch, who mostly avoid scandal and notoriety.  They have been very good to their home town of Detroit and many other communities and charitable causes.  They’ve owned a mediocre football team for some time.  Henry Ford II was of course a bit of a character. Bill Ford seems to be a very decent and sincere individual who also displays the courage of his ancestors.  I am sure his dad William and grandfather Edsel would be proud of how he and Alan Mulally turned around the company.