Category Archives: Trump Boom

17/5/18: U.S. Labour Markets and the Trump Administration Record

The Global Macro Monitor have published an exhaustive study of the U.S. labour market trends over the first 15-16 months of the President Trump's tenure. The  post is long, brilliantly detailed, and empirically and intuitively flawless (yeah, I know, I don't think I ever used this descriptor of an economics research piece before). So read it in full here:

Top line conclusions are:

  • Comparing the "first 15 [monthly] payroll reports of the Trump administration to the last 15 of the Obama administration",  "as of the end of April 2018, the Trump economy has generated 2.7 million jobs versus 3.1 million in Obama’s economy, or 373k fewer workers added to payrolls"
  • Growth in employment was of lower quality during the Trump tenure to-date too: "the private sector has also added 124k fewer jobs in the Trump economy. Net job creation in the government sector under President Trump is relatively flat." The latter metric puts a boot into the arguments that President Trump is a fiscal conservative aiming to reduce public sector weight in the economy. 
  • Earnings comparatives are also wobbly: "There is relatively little difference in the growth of average hourly earnings in the Trump and Obama employment reports." Which is more striking when one recognises that the Trump Administration inherited a tightening labour market, in which, normally, one would expect more wages inflation.
  • "Job creation in President Trump’s economy outperforms the Obama economy in 5 of the 13 private sector industry groups, most significantly in manufacturing and mining", but "Almost all of the relative outperformance in mining is the result of the reversal in oil prices. Coal mining and auto manufacturing employment has not recovered". In other words, even in the core industries targeted by the Administration for growth, the Administration efforts have little to do with any recovery in the mining sector./ 
  • Cyclically, the authors note that "The results are surprising as GDP growth was significantly higher during the Trump payroll reports, averaging of 2.53 percent on an annual basis, versus 1.56 percent during the last five quarters of the previous administration". However, this also means that current jobs creation is coming toward the end of the expansion cycle, and can be expected to be lower due to constraints of labour supply.
  • Key observation, from macroeconomic environment point of view is that "the economy continues to reward capital over labor disproportionately". There is a fundamental problem with this development. The U.S. labour markets flexibility represents a net positive for the private sector productivity in the short run. However, as capital and technological deepening of production processes progresses, the very same flexibility leads to lower degree of upskilling and re-training of the existent workforce. This is a huge source of risk and uncertainty for the U.S. economy forward in terms of longer run potential growth and productivity growth.

In short, read the original post - it is packed with highly informative and very important data and observations!


17/1/18: Apple’s Plans for Foreign Cash and the Need for Larger Reforms

There is a lot that can be criticized in the GOP/Trump tax reforms passed late last year, but some things do make sense. Back in November 2016, in my column for the Cayman Financial Review (see here:, I argued that a comprehensive tax reform of the U.S. corporate tax system, alongside a generous repatriation scheme for off-shored profits of the U.S. MNCs can provide a significant boost to the U.S. economy.

Today, we got some news confirming my assertion. Apple is planning to bring some USD350 billion back to the U.S. with a large scale investment portfolio aligned to this repatriation:

However, to really lock in the new investment, President Trump and the Congress need to significantly revamp the existent system of work permits, work and business visas, starting with the current H1B system. Returning financial capital back to the U.S. is but the first step on the road to increasing the U.S. economic potential.

The second step must be opening up U.S. labor and entrepreneurship markets to inflow of talent from abroad (these markets are currently extremely closed). This will require not only revising numerical quotas, but also the following:

  1. Shifting admissions away from contingent workforce employers (contractors) and in favor of direct employment and sustainable, skills-based self-employment;
  2. Increasing ability (and incentives) for integration into the American society for newcomers (including, but not limited to, improving bureaucratic barriers to access to permanent residency and naturalization, improving the culture and the climate of government bureaucracies vis-a-vis higher skilled newcomers, etc);
  3. Creating new, more open, programs for entry into the U.S. for highly skilled and entrepreneurial migrants; and
  4. Encouraging greater mobility across employers for foreign highly skilled workers.
The third step must involve regulatory reforms that remove markets, financial & contractual supports for incumbent monopolistic firms (the rent-seekers, like big telecoms, large banks, automakers, etc). Opening the sectors to genuine competition will be the only chance the U.S. has to compete with the likes of China, and increase its own potential GDP).

Finally, the fourth step (partially already targeted by the recent tax reforms) must involve reducing the burden of direct and indirect taxes on the American wage earners, especially those with higher skills levels. The key here is to focus on both, direct and indirect taxation, and the latter, in my opinion, includes the cost of healthcare and pensions. 

Apple's announcement is the good news. And President Trump does deserve credit on this.  But tax holiday alone won't fix the problem of economic sclerosis that has plagued the U.S. economy for a good part of two decades now.