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Trump and May are both heralds of a new protectionism, and gold will benefit

Trump and May are both heralds of a new protectionism, and gold will benefit
Trump is already closing doors on free trade
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The pound rising on the imminent meeting of a once lukewarm but now arch-Brexiteer and the king of protectionism and sexism?

It would have been an outlandish prediction to make a year ago. Outlandish perhaps even after both Brexit and the US election had been called and won.

But markets, famous nowadays for their short-termism, are staying true to form.

The Dow hit a new record this week, the dollar weakened, and gold went sideways. But the pound strengthened ahead of a the first meeting of what may turn out to be a pioneering new Anglo-Saxon bloc of anti-free trader.

Lead, of course, by Donald Trump and Theresa May.

How much influence Theresa May will have in any such partnership is open to question, of course. Both sides seem to have added the word “very” to the hackneyed old term for this long-established “special relationship.”

But what that means when trade relationships are being torn down rather than going up is open to question. Yes, new relationships will be established. But can the UK become the new Mexico? No, wages are too high. Can it become the new Canada? No, there already is a Canada.

What can it do then? It can act as a bridge for American interests into a broadly hostile Europe. Suddenly Boris Johnson’s allusions to World War Two don’t seem quite so out of the bounds of good taste.

This time though, Europe doesn’t want to be liberated. To be sure it’s grateful for the US nuclear umbrella, but if Trump ends up cozying up to Russia, as he’s shown every sign of doing, then the Europeans will have very little to be thankful for. They have little enough already.

It was US cops that caught them cheating on emissions. It was US cops that busted FIFA corruption wide open. It’s US cops and regulators that are doing the most to crack down on malpractice in European and global banking, in spite of heavy-handed and largely ineffectual EU regulations.

And the likely US disengagement from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will unsettle European policy wonks who have run the most sophisticated economic models known to science and attempted to implement their findings with a view to maximum global wealth creation.

This is not enough for Trump. What he wants is maximum American wealth creation, not maximum global wealth creation, and in this he does at least have a soulmate of sorts in Theresa May.

She carries the torch of the Brexiteers with her to the US, and the demands of workers in England’s industrial northeast to be given a say in who does and who does not get wealth created for them by high level policy decisions.

So as TTIP bore no relevance to out-of-work steel workers in Sheffield, nor did it bear any relevance to out-of-work car workers in Detroit. It may have been put together by high-level economic whizzkids, but it was not voted for by crucial electoral constituents.

The same is true of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TTP) which has already gone, although to be fair that one was already dead on the floor of Congress.

But one way or another, what we are witnessing is a new approach to trade and economics from the Anglo Saxon countries. Critics and the Chinese may point to this new approach as a sign of weakness. Trump supporters see it as a prelude to making America “great” again.

That’s a clear divergence of narrative, and while the two narratives are battling it out across the airwaves, internet and on the trading screens of global markets, we are likely to witness a sustained period of volatility in the valuations of all sorts of assets.

That, as Doug MacQuarrie of Asante Gold (CSE:ASE) put it last week, in a Proactive Investors Stocktube video, should be good for gold.

And he’s not the only one saying that. Fitch argued this morning that the demise of the TTP and the rise of US protectionism has become a credible “downside risk” to the Asia Pacific region.

And this is the region which looks set to be pivotal in world affairs over the coming century. Not surprising then that while the major miners showed strength early in the week, they gave up gains later on with even more gusto. There is some strength in this market, but it is not yet strength in depth.

And how long it will last is very much up in the air.

 

 

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