Year of the Dog: Will Trump still be president in a year?

AsianInvestor looks into the coming year and asks whether the US's erratic, controversy-ridden president will still be in his post by the end of 2018.
Year of the Dog: Will Trump still be president in a year?

After 12 months as US president, Donald Trump has met many expectations. He has proven more dedicated to his campaign promises than many of his predecessors, to the delight of many far-right or nativist Republican voters.

However, a combination of his incessant lying, narcissism, political inexperience, disregard for the daily requirements of policy-making, tweeting and desire to dominate the news cycle has led many observers to express doubts about his ability to act as leader of the free world.

These concerns continue to be exacerbated by the ongoing investigation into Trump's political campaign and any potential links to Russian attempts to subvert or confuse the US presidential election of 2016. 

These fears appear to be raising questions about Trump's ability to see out the next year of his presidency. That led us to ask the question: 

Will Donald Trump still be US president at the end of 2018? 

Answer: Yes

A year into the presidency of Donald Trump, the world has come to better understand the man that inhabits the White House. 

The 45th US president must be the most disinterested policymaker of any man to hold the role. Trump is self-absorbed, ill-disciplined and prone to uttering falsehoods. Yet he is also a captivating and relentless salesman, unencumered by shame. 

Supporters revel in Trump’s braggadocio and constant putdowns of rivals or critics, and lap up his populist and nationalist slogans. About 36% to 39% of the US electorate cannot get enough of Trump. 

Most of the rest have already had more than their fill—Trump’s popularity rating has rarely broken through 40%. Liberals and many independents hate his divisive rhetoric and signs of casual racism, and are alarmed by his resistance to an investigation into possible collusion between his presidential campaign and Russian actors during the 2016 presidential election. 

But the opposing Democratic party sits in the minority in the House and Senate. Even if they won big in November’s mid-term Congressional elections, they would lack enough seats in the Senate to successfully impeach Trump. 

Meanwhile, Republican politicians are increasingly willing to ignore or defend ‘their’ president’s transgressions. Few believe the president’s own party would take him to task unless vast signs of wrongdoing are unearthed. This is no longer the 1970s. 

And Republicans have good reason to like Trump as president. For all of its chaos, the administration has enjoyed legislative successes. Its chainsawing of regulations has made it less irksome for businesses to set up and operate in the US, and it oversaw the largest tax cuts in almost a century. These may primarily benefit companies and wealthy individuals, but working families gained some reductions too. 

Meanwhile, Trump has offered up red meat to his hard-right followers. This has included appointing a right-wing judge to the Supreme Court, anti-abortion policies, plans to relocate the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and above all railing against immigration. 

Overseas, the US’s international image has suffered, with its government no longer promoting democracy and human rights. But so far Trump has avoided any military confrontations or trade wars (despite tweet-baiting the volatile North Korean regime). 

For markets, the honeymoon period of Trump's presidency appears to be ending. But the US economy remains in fine fettle, as does global economic growth, and while the stock market might experience more volatility it should remain in broadly good shape. The outlook for Treasuries is in less certain shape, and yields have widened as of early 2018, but barring a major ramping up of interest rates debt is unlikely to be a very bad place to be. 

Ultimately, Trump is presiding over a healthy economy and (until recently) stock market, and his presidency is very business-friendly. Many (including most Republican lawmakers) evidently consider unsettling rhetoric about immigrants and threats of trade tariffs to be a small price to pay to get their favoured policies. 

Trump’s habitual lying and controversy may eventually catch up to him in the 2020 presidential election. But he’s not going anywhere over the coming 12 months. 

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