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Trump's first 100 days

After entering office as the 45th president of the United States in January, Trump’s first 100 days were seen as a key indication of how the rest of his term will proceed. How did he fare at enacting policies, and how did the markets react?

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Why were Trump’s first 100 days important?

In electing Donald Trump as their next president last November, the people of the United States made a huge step into the unknown – choosing a president with no political experience, and a radical agenda.  

All of which made the first 100 days of his presidency even more significant, as the markets attempted to ascertain whether he was able to deliver on the lofty promises he made during his campaign.

How were key markets affected?

In his first ten days on the job, Trump signed seven presidential memorandums and seven executive orders. Those 14 actions brought few concrete proposals for traders to base decisions on – but still led to huge market moves.

And that set the tone for much of his first 100 days, with markets remaining largely enthused despite his attempts to enact a travel ban, dismantle Obamacare and increase spending all stumbling. The Dow Jones and S&P 500 were both particularly affected, hitting record highs at the beginning of March.

US markets did then experience a bout of scepticism, as fears over Trump’s ability to enact his ambitious plans took hold – before the announcement of a of an intended 15% corporation tax ensured that equities ended this period strongly. 

Renewed optimism over sterling and the euro thanks to political developments in Europe, meanwhile, ensured that the dollar had a more mixed run over the course of Trump’s first 100 days.

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Trump’s first 100 days, as it happened

Here’s what our expert analysts had to say about the first few months of Trump’s term:

Trumponomics

How much progress did Trump make in the four key tenets of ‘Trumponomics’ – and how did they impact traders?

What is Trumponomics?

Much of the growth seen in US indices and the dollar after Trump’s victory was based on the potential impact of ‘Trumponomics’, or Trump’s proposed economic policies for the US. Those policies mark a sea change from those of Barack Obama, with a focus on boosting US business with tax cuts, deregulation and infrastructure spending while restricting trade.

Tax cuts

As his first 100 days neared an end, Trump provided an update on his tax plans – insisting that he was still pursuing his reduction in corporation tax (to 15%) and domestic tax (reducing the number of brackets from seven to four).

An update is not legislation, though, and while Trump may not have abandoned his tax plan early in his term, he didn’t manage to make much progress in enacting it either.

Government spending

Trump’s proposed spending increases was never likely to sit well with Congress, especially with entitlement spending also set to rise. So it isn’t surprising that he struggled to make early headway here.

But his failure to replace Obamacare with the American Care Act presented a bigger problem. Few envisaged that Trump would end his first 100 days with his predecessor's controversial policy still intact – and no concrete plans for a replacement.

Deregulation

Trump’s stance on regulation proved popular with many Republicans, and he ordered a review of the Dodd-Frank act early in his term – though like many of his plans, it didn’t come to fruition in his first 100 days.

His budget proposal, released in March, saw the Environmental Protection Agency’s funding cut by 31%. It was a concrete sign that Trump planned on rolling back environmental regulation, but again, it wasn’t implemented before his first 100 days came to an end.

Trade tariffs

TPP was an early victim of Trump’s presidency, but otherwise free trade was largely left alone. The proposed 45% tariff on Chinese goods, for example, was quietly dropped. And he ruled out a withdrawal from NAFTA. 

Key appointments

A good early indicator of Trump’s commitment to Trumponomics comes from his appointments to governmental positions, including key personnel who appear set to pursue his agenda on tax, trade and deregulation.

Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson The CEO of ExxonMobil before stepping down to take over as secretary of state, awarded the ‘Order of Friendship’ by Putin in 2013.
Treasury Secretary: Steven Mnuchin A Goldman Sachs veteran who worked at the bank for 17 years.
Secretary of Commerce: Wilbur Ross A billionaire investor who has been outspoken about renegotiating US trade pacts.
Head of the EPA: Scott Pruitt Former attorney general who has previously sued the EPA.
Secretary of Energy: Rick Perry A previous candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, who vowed to abolish the Department of Energy during his campaign.
Director of the National Economic Council: Gary Cohn  The president of Goldman Sachs, and Trump’s third key appointment from the US bank (after Steven Mnuchin and Stephen Bannon). 

Wider economic policy

Learn more about Trump’s economic policy, and its long term market impact.

Trump vs the world

Just as important as Trump’s policies was his ability as a statesmen and how well he got along with key figures both globally and domestically. His attitude towards China, Europe and Russia was particularly pivotal.

China

Before his inauguration, a war of words between Trump and China threatened to expand into a trade dispute with grave implications. After entering office, Trump struck a more conciliatory tone – and a visit from Xi Jinping in April proved positive. Instead of branding China a currency manipulator and imposing strict trade tariffs, Trump asked for help in dealing with North Korea.

Watch out for:

  • Competition for influence in the Pacific and South China sea
  • Any signs that Trump’s attitude to China is changing
  • Trump making statements about Taiwan

Find out more about China in 2017

Europe

Trump was vocal about his support for Brexit throughout his campaign, and labelled the EU ‘a vehicle for Germany’ shortly before his inauguration. Once he entered the White House, though, he once again adopted a different tack. His meetings with key leaders like Angela Merkel proceeded largely without controversy, as did his tweets about major elections. 

Watch out for:

  • French presidential election outcome - 7 May 
  • German federal election - Autumn

Find out more about the EU in 2017

Russia

Trump’s relationship with Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, deteriorated. Their growing closeness appeared to backfire in the run up to Trump’s inauguration, and questions over his relationship with Russia never really went away. In April, the relationship soured after Trump sanctioned airstrikes on Syria in a radical change of policy.

Watch out for:

  • Any signs of Russian aggression in the Ukraine, or other Baltic states
  • What happens next in Syria

Trump vs the Fed

Another key figure who felt Trump’s ire throughout his campaign was Janet Yellen. Trump had previously claimed he could replace the Fed chair with a Republican, which suggested an intention to politicise the Fed, bringing it much more into line with Republican (or his own) policies. But in his first 100 days, he once again proved more conciliatory in tone.

That the US economy remained robust throughout his first three months probably helped matters. And with few actual changes in economic policy from government, the Fed may have found Trump’s first 100 days easier than many predicted.

Going forward, watch out for:

  • US durable goods reports 
  • US consumer confidence reports
  • US non-farms reports
  • FOMC rate announcement reports

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