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America’s Downward Spiral in 2017

Posted by on in NAFTA

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We are now four and a half months into the Trump presidency. While the president has not been able to achieve any significant legislative successes, he has been able to accomplish something much more far-reaching. He has managed to undo decades of American policy and dramatically reduce the country’s stature in the world. How do we make sense of Trump’s strange journey so far? These are my thoughts.

Donald Trump received 62 million votes in last year’s election. These votes did not come from a homogeneous base of voters. Rather, they came from the following groups.

Loyal Republican Voters

There are American citizens who vote for the Republican candidate in every election. While Donald Trump may have not been the preferred candidate for all Republican voters, the people who typically support this party voted predominantly for him. They expect him to uphold traditional Republican party values.

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A Lesson from the Comey Firing

Posted by on in Crisis Management

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The firing of FBI director James Comey by president Trump is the biggest story of the week. Most of the focus has been on the constantly changing rationale for the termination. The television networks have been filling the airwaves with a variety of reasons for the firing. The various spokespeople including the president, VP, and assistant communications director have stumbled badly in telling a coherent, consistent and honest story.

Director Comey has been accused of being a “showboat” and “grandstander,” that “the FBI was in turmoil,” and that he was not doing a good job. Of course, one of the major issues behind this firing was clearly that Mr. Comey was leading the investigation into the possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The director was in the third year of a ten-year term. According to the acting FBI director, in his testimony to Congress on Thursday, Mr. McCabe stated that director Comey had been highly respected throughout the agency.

There is no question that director Comey was a controversial figure. The Hillary Clinton e-mail server situation was a huge problem to the Democrats in 2016, possibly shifting the election at the last minute in favor of Mr. Trump. Then Comey mentioned in a public briefing to Congress earlier this year that he was investigating the links between the Trump team and Russia. In other words, he was investigating his new boss. This is not a winning strategy for job security unless the incoming administration has nothing to hide.

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The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States will likely have a profound effect for years to come. I cannot remember another point in my lifetime where there is the possibility of so much change and disruption to established norms and principles of business. How do we prepare for what could be a roller coaster four or eight years in North America and around the world?

Knowledge is power. The intent of this blog is to propose a set of KPIs that we can all use to measure the impact of the new president and his policies. Mr. Trump has made a number of bold promises in his pre- and post-election speeches. Specifically, he has promised to “Make America Great Again,” to stem the flow of manufacturing jobs overseas and to renegotiate NAFTA. By monitoring these KPIs, they will help us determine how his presidency is impacting our countries, our companies, and our personal wealth. Here are few KPIs to consider.

1. Gross Domestic Product

GDP represents the total dollar value of all goods and services produced over a specific time period (Source: https://www.bea.gov/national/index.htm#gdp ); you can think of it as the size of the economy. The US economy advanced an annualized 3.5 percent in the three months to September of 2016. (Source: http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/gdp-growth )

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