The Trump Take From BRICS: Russia 'Cheers', Brazil Mostly 'Gets It'

Thu, Nov 10, 2016
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President elect Donald Trump points towards his vice president Mike Pence. Trump was elected in a close election on Tuesday. The world reacted with shock and dismay as if America had somehow let them down. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

As expected, Trump was the “shot heard round the world” in world headlines on Wednesday. Similar to the Lexington, Massachusetts battle that brought on the Revolutionary War with the British crown, the U.S. voter told the modern day East India Company to take a hike and sent Donald Trump packing…to the White House. Voters asked him to go to Washington to “ drain the swamp” of establishment insiders and their lobbyist bosom buddies. It won’t be easy.

The media weighed in across the globe.

Disdain and cheer fell along ideological lines. For the left, the feeling was mostly shock. Trump is a mysoginist. He hates Muslims. He wants to build a wall.

For the right, Trump is Brexit on steroids. An example of how the average person, one not living in a $3,000 a month studio in Manhattan, was given a chance to kick to the curb a political class that promises more of the same. The same’s not working for about 52 million Americans who voted for Trump.

The Mexican press was the most, logically, horrified. Their fears of Trump go beyond left and right identity politics and cut to the heart of the matter: money.  Business daily El Economista‘s headline on Wednesday simply read “Nightmare”. La Jornada ran an op-ed titled “Dark Times”.

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But in other parts of the world, those outside of Europe who depend on the United States for leadership, trade and regional peace, Trump’s victory was a mix of Oh, Good God! shock sprinkled with the usual vitriol about dumb redneck Americans and cautious optimism from Brazil, Russia, India and China.

One Russian hedge fund investor who did not want to be quoted on the record said that the view from Moscow was subdued. Happy, she said, would be too strong a word. “We are not sure what to expect from him. At least it was nice to hear that he is eager to improve relations with us. For some reason, I believe he will do that.”

The Market Vectors Russia (RSX) exchange traded fund absolutely clobbered emerging markets today, rising by nearly 2.5% compared to a 3% decline in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index on the news that Moscow has a new BFF in town.

Vladimir Putin sent Trump a telegram congratulating him, the Kremlin announced today. Putin told Trump he hoped relations between Moscow and Washington improve. Sounding like Trump, he said the ties between Russia and the U.S. must be “based on principles of equality and mutual respect.” Trump is widely considered in the U.S. as the Putin of American politics.

Russians overwhelmingly rooted for Trump because his challenger, Hillary Clinton, was so negative on them.  Moscow locals felt that Hillary’s America would be antagonistic, giving red meat to the hawks inside of the Kremlin.

“Most of my family and friends were hoping for Donald Trump and yet no one believed he would win,” says Regina Apakina, CEO of the PR Trinity Agency, a marketing and events firm in Moscow. “Social media here were full of pictures of Trump and Putin, like — finally, we can just be friends! This is very good for us for sure. We think he is the right choice for America. He is a good businessman and has good geopolitical views,” Apakina says.

In the Russian media, U.K. born journalist Bryan MacDonald wrote in an op-ed on Russia Today that maybe latest Cold War will finally be put in the deep freeze.

Despite these worries, Trump does offer one thing: the end of Washington insiders controlling the White House, for the first time since Ronald Reagan. In fact, the parallels with the latter are striking. He was also smeared by the establishment and derided as an idiot. But now Reagan is broadly regarded as a great statesman. Maybe one day we will be able to say the same of Trump.”

Kommersant business daily had pictures of an American wearing a red “Make America Great Again” cap, flipping off the camera.

Trump with the Russian Michael Jackson, singer Philip Kirkorov, in Moscow at Crocus City Hall in 2013. Trump has many Russian friends, including Crocus’s billionaire owner, Aras Agalarov.

Brazil’s business and investing news portal InfoMoney seemed to get it.

Alan Ghani, writing in a blog called Direct to the Point, said “there’s not only a gaping distance between politicians and the public they govern, but also between the large media and reality. We keep hearing from intellectuals, journalists and analysts that Trump’s win was a surprise. …but one possible explanation for this surprise on their part is that they mix their analysis with cheer leading, often contaminated by progressive ideologies of multi-culturalism and victimization. This establishment is so contaminated by their cheer leading that they fail to see the people are, by and large, more concerned with how to pay their bills, protect their children from drugs, crime and terrorism. They pray, they hang out with their families and they tell politically incorrect jokes to each other.”

An op-ed in Folha de São Paulo by former U.S. correspondent Patricia Campos Mello says “American voters are not stupid; we are deaf.”

The silent majority has spoken and their message was brutal. We are the ones who are stupid to have not witnessed what was coming. And for thinking that globalization was good for all, and whoever didn’t like it would have to bend to its will.”

Oddly enough, an op-ed in the same paper by American-born Mike Kepp echoed what the vast majority of the Western media have stated all along: Kepp underestimated that the “populist xenophobic” classes of “white middle class America” (NOTE: this is a terrible thing to be now, apparently) could vote in such large numbers for such a “racist misogynist”.

“I feel very disconnected to my people and my country,” Kepp wrote. He has been living in Brazil since the 1980s, having done what hundreds of Hillary supporters said they would do — left the U.S. as a self-imposed political refugee.

Some Indians seemed to like Trump. One Hindu nationalist group said they liked the idea of Trump’s temporary ban on Muslim’s from war torn Middle East nations. India has an on-again, off-again dispute with Muslim nation Pakistan.

An editorial in The Economic Times said investors there should “beware” of Trump but not get too wary. Again, much of the criticism is on political rhetoric and Trump’s “locker room” banter. He is a sexist pig, but having extramaritals in the Oval Office is no big deal…if you’re not a sexist pig.

President Trump would be constrained to act on the basis of America’s legacy of policy commitments and engagements that cannot be reneged on easily. Then again, he needs the support of the Republican Congress, which again would act as another reality check on wild policy intentions. Therefore, it would be premature to expect any radical departures in U.S. policy towards the world outside. Where Trump will definitely make an impact is on the normative discourse. A world view that endorses suspicion of and contempt for racial, national and religious minorities and objectifies women is bad news for inclusive politics in the U.S. and elsewhere.”

For the rest of the world, including China, the U.S. with Trump will require some adapting. Corporations want to know what is going to happen with tree trade deals. How can one price a widget when that widget next year may cost 45% more? Worth noting as well is how a Trump administration can possibly go slapping tariffs on countries without those countries challenging those duties at the World Trade Organization? This is where Trump will have to prove his “deal making” skills.

As it is, the president election has vowed to impose high tariffs on Chinese exports coming into the U.S., particularly those that compete with Made in America. Trump has also accused China of manipulating its currency and stealing U.S. jobs.

“A President Trump may think differently than Trump the presidential candidate,” a China Daily op-ed said today. “But that does not mean there is no need for Beijing to brace itself for what lies ahead, even if Trump does prove to be more down-to-earth in handling ties with China. His many statements and partisan affiliation have offered few clues as to what his policies will be when he takes office, although his assertion that Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo is likely to shape them.”

In Asia, Trump has promised to scrap the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which did not include China so China certainly will have no qualms with that. China Daily also doubts Trump will ever give up on American presence in the region. The region is a geopolitical chess board, not to mention a money maker for U.S. multinationals. Even Trump knows that this is too good a deal to pass up.

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