Tags: Trump Refugee Ban | trump | immigration | ban | investors

Immigration Ban Sparks Fears of Trump Intentions

Immigration Ban Sparks Fears of Trump Intentions

A demonstrator prays as protests against President Donald Trump's executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries continue at Los Angeles International Airport Sunday. (AP/Ryan Kang)

Monday, 30 January 2017 07:16 AM Current | Bio | Archive

President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration that suspended, among other things, all refugee admissions for 120 days and blocked citizens, refugees or otherwise, from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen unleashed chaos on the US immigration system.

While specifics and legality are still to be determined, the controversial move will have economic importance and consequences.

There is no doubt that such a kind of action sends a signal and the big question becomes how will the markets perceive from here on the wider intentions of the new administration.

Investors could do well keeping a close eye on the whole complex development of events as, at a micro level, there is already concern about corporate efficiency if the US government is effectively telling firms who they can and cannot employ and at a macro level, how capital flows into the US could be affected.

The Middle East has been a significant investor into the United States for many years with both public and private investment. If Middle Eastern investors believe that the Trump travel ban signals hostility to Islam, regardless of whether that is the intention or not, then such investors may question whether their assets are safe in the United States.

As it is the signal, not the action that is relevant here, that concern extends beyond citizens of the 7 targeted countries. This is not about whether US assets are more attractive in terms of return, but the political risks associated with holding US assets.

The freezing of Iranian held US assets in 1979 under President Carter is still sufficiently remembered by economists and experienced people in finance.

Middle Eastern investors have already been selling US assets in order to finance the purchase of non-US goods and services. As far as this is possible, investors could do well monitoring capital flows closely to see whether this tendency is going to accelerate or not.

Staying with politics, in France the perceived anti-establishment Hamon defeated former Prime Minster Valls in the socialist primaries with almost 60 percent of the votes. Hamon is on the left wing of the French socialist party. The socialist party has lagged in the opinion polls and at this stage their candidate is not generally perceived as being likely to make it to the second round of the French presidential election on May 7. Nonetheless, those that wish to look for anti-establishment trends in politics can look to this result as another signal in support of the populist argument, which will impact over the short to median term markets, no doubt about that.

On the data calendar, today we have German consumer price inflation that is expected to rise further and which is likely to be a repeated focus this year. German inflation has been surprising on the upside and it is expected to comfortably exceed 2 percent at some point this year.

Of course, inflation in the Euro area is not likely to reach the heights that German inflation will reach, but the divergence of Euro area inflation with Germany leading the way, is likely to be a source of increased tensions. If German inflation were to accelerate to 3 percent, which is a risk case, but not an impossible risk case, then the tensions within the European Central Bank (ECB) would be magnified.

Japan’s inflation problems still seem to be damaging their economy. Japan has the highest inflation in the developed OECD economies if you believe the Japanese consumer. The fact that inflation is very low in reality is not especially relevant here. Consumers believe inflation to be high and that belief shapes their consumption patterns. The upshot is that a belief in high inflation, coupled with the reality of poor wage growth, is constraining the consumer.

Retail sales in December disappointed coming in up at 0.6 percent from a year earlier, but noticeable weaker than had been expected as the median forecast was an increase of 1.3 percent.

Etienne "Hans" Parisis is a bank economist who has advised global billionaires and governments on the financial markets and international investments.

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There is no doubt that such a kind of action sends a signal and the big question becomes how will the markets perceive from here on the wider intentions of the new administration.
trump, immigration, ban, investors
Monday, 30 January 2017 07:16 AM
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