The worlds of constitutional law and political science were rocked this week by Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s campaign promise to block approximately thirty percent of the world’s non-US population from entering the United States on the grounds that they at least nominally adhere to Islam, the world’s second largest religious community. However, after some reflection, we at Mediolana believe that it is the domain of economics which could potentially be forever transformed by Trump’s deeply controversial initiative in at least three critical ways:
- Autarky. The idea of banning a significant segment of the planet from visiting your country is a clear indicator of the desire to follow an autarkic path, where international trade is shunned in favour of a purportedly self-contained economic unit. However, in modern times the theory has been rather more attractive than the practice: Nazi Germany, 1980s Romania and today’s North Korea have almost entirely discredited this model; it is unclear exactly how a Trumpian Juche would function.
- Contraction. With even established emerging market groupings such as the BRICS experiencing low growth and structural bottlenecks, economists have identified new sources of global prosperity. Arguably the most notable of these is MINT – like BRICS, an acronym popularised by Jim O’Neill of investment bank Goldman Sachs – which encompasses the economies of Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey. Given that Trump has gone out of his way to alienate both Mexicans and Muslims, American access to the MINT nations (as well as other blocs with large Islamic populations, such as ASEAN) is likely to be grudging at best under his hypothetical future presidency.
- Collapse. As previously discussed on this blog, the US economy suffers from perhaps one towering flaw above all others: the country’s infrastructure was designed for oil prices of US$10/barrel. Given both this and the fact that the true opportunity cost of a barrel of oil in the 2010s has been estimated by the respected American author Christopher Martenson at more than US$5,000.00 per barrel, the United States is substantially reliant on the willingness of its Middle Eastern allies to sell it petrol as cheaply as possible. Whether a President Trump would have it in him to keep this vital constituency onside is anyone’s guess – as are the consequences for not doing so.
Indubitably one of the more compelling current affairs shows on a globally-syndicated television station, RT America’s Boom Bust is one of very few programmes that our Creative Director & CSO will go out of his way to record. Its unique content mixture of news, technology, economics and finance – in combination with a per-episode runtime of approximately twenty-five minutes – means that it makes for both informative and efficient viewing.
However, can this remarkable series be further improved? With established hostess Erin Ade back in RT’s Washington studio from 1st January 2016, we at Mediolana thought it an appropriate juncture to riff on five ways to make Boom Bust even better; after some contemplation, here they are:
- Rebalance the agenda. Boom Bust is an admirably global and eclectic effort. However, it would benefit greatly from more coverage of emerging markets. The BRICS, MINT and Next Eleven countries are not just acronyms or convenient groupings: they are the likely source of most future economic growth and innovation in the medium term. Conversely, there is now little that has not been said about the essentially stale Eurozone Crisis: dwelling on the fortunes of economies of barely ten million people (such as Greece and Portugal) can scarcely be justified outside the context of contagion.
- Define Bianca. Bianca Facchinei is a talented young journalist whom we would like to see more of. Her Boom Bust role – presenting a short précis-style item towards the beginning of the second half of each instalment – would work better if she had an explicit remit to cover youth items; this is generally implied by much of her excellent reporting, but not consistently so.
- Rewind the tape. Early seasons of Boom Bust featured a funky dubstep theme tune which helped give the show its unique identity. In time, this was replaced by a power-chord heavy ditty which screams foreboding and which is inconsistent with the friendly tone of the show. Reinstating Boom Bust’s original music (or a similar variation thereof) would constitute a great step forward.
- Surround us with sound. Erin Ade’s brilliance as a presenter is explained not just by her ability to capture the essence of a complex idea – a quality that was in evidence earlier on in her career when Ade was a newscaster on both the Turkish-owned US network Ebru TV and ESPN Star Sports in Singapore – but her sublime use of facial expressions and gestures. These visual devices could be accompanied by Korean Broadcasting System-style sound effects that would augment the video.
- Relax into it. Arguably Boom Bust’s greatest USP is that it is a genuinely analytical finance show which is defined by reflection instead of hysteria. More pieces such as Erin Ade’s fantastic interviews with Manhattan Venture Partners’ Max Wolff will go a long way towards cementing its reputation as one of the more cerebral bits of programming on the international news scene.
Filed under Finance, Media