Nobel laureate in economics, and Professor at Columbia University. His most recent book, co-authored with Bruce Greenwald, is Creating a Learning Society: A New Approach to Growth, Development, and Social Progress.
One of the important powers of any US president is to appoint members and heads of the many agencies that are responsible for implementing the country's laws and regulations and, in many cases, governing the economy.
Although America's right-wing plutocrats may disagree about how to rank the country's major problems—for example, inequality, slow growth, low productivity, opioid addiction, poor schools, and deteriorating infrastructure—the solution is always the same: lower taxes and deregulation, to “incentivise” investors and “free up” the economy.
Under President Donald Trump's leadership, the United States took another major step toward establishing itself as a rogue state on June 1, when it withdrew from the Paris climate agreement. For years, Trump has indulged the strange conspiracy theory that, as he put it in 2012, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.” But this was not the reason Trump advanced for withdrawing the US from the Paris accord. Rather, the agreement, he alleged, was bad for the US and implicitly unfair to it.
Trump sees the world in terms of a zero-sum game. In reality, globalisation, if well managed, is a positive-sum force: America gains if its friends and allies — whether Australia, the EU, or Mexico — are stronger. But Trump's approach threatens to turn it into a negative-sum game: America will lose, too.
Donald Trump grasped the spirit of the time: things weren't going well, and many voters wanted change. Now they will get it: there will be no business as usual. But seldom has there been more uncertainty. Which policies Trump will pursue remains unknown, to say nothing of which will succeed or what the consequences will be.