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OPINION

Trump is honoured by rising stock prices

I don’t know why at first, but watching Donald Trump tell Fox News in October that because the value of the US stock market has risen by $5.2 trillion since he became president that “maybe in a sense, we are reducing the debt” makes me feel warm inside.

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Eventually I realize that it is taking me back to my early days as a graduate trainee at Euromoney. I had spent my first week dutifully asking impatient and invariably pompous syndicated loan bankers to tell me the fees and margins on the deals they had out in the market. I had no idea what any of this was about and decided to seek help from one of the wise old hands on the editorial desk.

He must have been at least 25, maybe as old as 27, and looked at me through narrow eyes. “Do you understand the difference,” he asked, “between debt and equity?”

Oh, what a world he was about to open up. I look back now and revel in the innocence of embarking into a new life, like Newton on the beach, finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, and just sensing for the first time the great ocean of finance that lay all undiscovered before me.

There is often something touching about a character who tries to talk big but obviously has no idea of just how little he knows his subject, although perhaps not when he is about to nominate the next chair of the Federal Reserve

Nobody takes any notice of ratings agencies anymore, so no doubt Trump has not glanced at the recent Scope report into how the polarized political environment in the country is impeding the federal government’s ability to address US structural weaknesses: low productivity growth and labour force participation; a high and rising federal government debt level; and elevated contingent liabilities due to social security and healthcare programmes.