NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - This is the week when all Americans give thanks for the bounties bestowed on them by the Blessed Creator and recall the challenges faced by the Pilgrims when they landed at Cape Cod and relied upon the mercy of the Wampanoag people to survive their first brutal winter. It is also a time to reflect on the cornucopia of riches Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency has showered on so many of the offspring of those founders, particularly on the American coasts. Here follows a letter of gratitude from the liberal elite to those who propelled Trump into the White House.
Dear Trump supporter -
It has been a few weeks since you defied the polling-industrial complex and the media elite by making Donald Trump the 45th president of these United States. We must admit we were shocked. It’s one big reason why the stock market, where we are fortunate enough to store most of our savings, initially spasmed when your unpolished candidate won. As the enormity of what Trump will do has become a bit clearer – and we haven’t even gotten the tax cuts that help us disproportionately - it’s obvious we owe you an apology. For the financial blessings he has bestowed upon us grow with each open and close of the New York Stock Exchange.
Let us count the ways in which your candidate has already feathered our nests, months before he has even been inaugurated. Some 52 percent of Americans are invested in the stock market, according to pollsters at Gallup. But 72 percent of us that make more than $75,000 a year – or about 40 percent more than average folks – are invested in the market. Since you darkened the bubbles on your ballot for Trump and Mike Pence, the S&P 500 Index has been lifted by a healthy 4 percent, similarly enlivening our portfolios. Though no chief executive of a Fortune 100 company publicly backed Trump, they have you to thank for boosting the value of their restricted stock holdings and thrusting their options further into the money.
That only tells part of the story. Those of us who work in some of the industries your candidate professed to despise have done even better, on renewed hopes that less oversight will make our cups runneth over again soon. On Wall Street, the lucky employees at Morgan Stanley – who overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton’s run for office – are feasting on a 20 percent increase in the stock price since the election. Goldman Sachs, which paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to hear Clinton tell them how hard they worked, has seen a 16 percent bump. The two investment banks are now collectively worth $25 billion more than they were when your candidate vowed to take the country back from the bankers. It’s going to be a great 2017 in East Hampton.
You know who also must tip their hats? The New York Times, whose stock is up 17 percent since polls opened on Nov. 8. Your man likes to say the newspaper publisher is “failing.” Perhaps, but the more he says it, the richer its owners seem to become. Even shares of Time Warner, proud owner of HBO, have added 8 percent. Though it is populated by anti-Trump comedians such as Bill Maher, who branded your candidate the “voice of treason” and John Oliver, who ended his season of “Last Week Tonight,” by exhorting viewers to recognize Trump’s victory as “abnormal,” investors have become less concerned the president-elect will scupper the company’s sale to AT&T, as he pledged to do on the campaign trail.
Beyond the spoils of the equity market, we must also acknowledge another debt conferred by your man: the rising U.S. dollar. As the greenback has floated away from so many of the world’s currencies, our purchasing power abroad, where many of us will spend our vacations soon, has been lifted. A night at the Four Seasons George V in Paris will be cheaper than a month ago - and by just enough to buy an extra bottle of Pol Roger champagne. Santé!
Of course, the rising dollar also makes imported goods cheaper as we head into the holiday season. If you shop at Wal-Mart Stores, the biggest single purveyor of goods from China, you too will be able to buy more stuff. That is, until your man Trump imposes tariffs on imports from China, Mexico and elsewhere. One study by economists at UCLA and Columbia University found that Americans on high incomes would lose 28 percent of their purchasing power if borders were closed to trade. The poorest consumers, however, would lose two-thirds of their spending power because they buy more items brought in from overseas.
Also remember that the strong dollar makes American-made products more expensive far away. So, good luck with that vow to bring manufacturing back to these shores. Not that it won’t happen, it’s just that machines probably will have more work than you. Most folks in the blue coastal states that voted for Clinton work in services. So, once again, a humble debt of thanks is in order for boosting the value of our dollars as we book our European jaunts.
Finally, since you handed keys to the White House to the resident of one of Manhattan’s grandest penthouses, the bond market has behaved in unexpected ways. The amount we all pay to borrow money from the bank is effectively linked to yields on 10 year U.S. Treasury notes, which have surged since you elected Trump. That’s in part because investors think he may do things, like stop worrying about government deficits to fuel growth, or slap tariffs on overseas goods, thus creating inflation, which would make existing debt less attractive.
On a practical level, for rich people with lots of cash to invest, that’s super. It might mean the bank pays us more for the money we have stashed away. For working folks looking to buy a home, it does make life more expensive. Average interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages in the United States spiked to over 4 percent last week, according to Freddie Mac. That’s up from about 3.5 percent in the week before the presidential election. For a 30 year mortgage on a $300,000 house with 20 percent paid up front, that comes to a monthly check of about $1,150, according to Bankrate.com, or 6 percent costlier than before you picked Trump.
In all likelihood, these next four years are going to be especially difficult for many of you, as the very rich get even richer, housing becomes a bit less affordable and manufacturing jobs become harder to justify at home amid a soaring dollar. As we count our blessings - and our improved net worth - we must offer you an apology and heartfelt thank you.
Liberal coastal elites
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