President Trump: Procurement, Supply Chain and Policy Perspectives – an alternative view

Posted by Pete Loughlin in Supply Chain 11 Nov 2016

I read with interest Jason Busch’s assessment of the world of procurement and supply chain in the impending Trump era. I tend to agree with Jason that Trump’s pre-election rants were more bluster than real commitments. His view on tax policy is interesting too. Economists have ridiculed it but the impact is somewhat unpredictable and again, I wouldn’t disagree too strongly with Jason’s assessment. I wouldn’t quite align myself with Jason on the impact of Trump’s environmental policy though. My view is somewhat more nuanced.

Site LogoLet me quote Jason: “Just as the E.U. decimated the U.K.’s manufacturing industry with emissions and production regulations, so too has the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under President Obama, weighed on heavy industry in the U.S. In keeping with the populist tone of Trump’s campaign and jobs creation pledge, we’ll likely see a 180-degree reversal in policy in this area.

“The change in presidential leadership will likely mean a reversal of some of the policies that have inhibited investment in sectors such as mining. Specifically, regulatory policy surrounding climate change, the Clean Power Plan and Boiler MACT rules may change. The shift in the regulatory environment alone could be a game-changer from a mining and investment perspective. Other, more subtle changes could also impact business investment in general — the removal of rules such as the “overtime rule” set to go into effect in December and other labor policies could also prove game changers for U.S. mining, manufacturing, etc.”

As insightful observations, I think Jason and Lisa are probably spot on but Jason then goes on to endorse Trump’s environmental stance:

“I personally believe that a Trump presidency will improve the business climate in the U.S.”

An interesting view there from Jason. Curtailing labor laws that protect workers’ rights, health and living standards whether in the US, Europe or China will certainly be good for business. And getting rid of those pesky regulations that limit harmful emissions would certainly allow us to dig more stuff out of the ground much more cheaply. We can line our pockets while we watch it burn, safe in the knowledge that climate change was always a hoax.

But why stop there? If we can reverse the progress that we’ve made globally on human rights and the environment over the last few decades, why not tackle the progress we made over the last couple of centuries. Bring back slavery FFS – that will get us even richer.

OK – I’m getting carried away but no,  I can’t agree that a Trump presidency will be good for the business climate in the US and neither will it be good for the business climate anywhere else. There is a chance that Trump will delegate to a team of wise advisors, a chance that Trump’s ego can be restrained and common sense will prevail but I wouldn’t put money on it.

It is said that Trump may offer an amnesty to business in order to encourage them to repatriate the $2 trillion of profits that big business has stashed abroad in the hope that this money will contribute to the investment in rebuilding America’s infrastructure. That’s an interesting idea if a little isolationist. It resonates with the protectionist stance that Trump is so keen on but hiking levies and tariffs will seriously disrupt global supply chains. The US car industry for example relies heavily on Mexico for the supply of components and would anyone not expect China to retaliate to excessive protectionist moves by the U.S?

But it is Trump’s attitude to the environment that disturbs me most. Giving credence to the myth that climate change has somehow been fabricated and that energy firms should be offered carte blanch to tear up the country in pursuit of cheap energy is plain irresponsible. The success of the Paris agreement on climate change was won through a great deal of hard work and it was a source of great pride and satisfaction when the United States endorsed it. Ripping it up and throwing back in the face of the rest of the world will not go down well and Trump can expect some frosty discussions with his opposite numbers across the world. It will be very interesting to see how that Trump temperament will respond to that.

I know that Jason is taking a purely business view on Trump’s policies but I don’t believe you can separate business from society or the environment just as America can’t isolate itself from the global economy or think it can call all the shots.

I’m no great respecter of “the establishment” – particularly the British establishment but I’d rather have it with its imperfections than have riots on the streets. And I have some respect for the American voters who wanted to see the Washington establishment get a bloody nose. The disenfranchised who successive U.S. administrations turned their back on have used their democratic right to say “enough”. But when you vote against something you better know what you’re going to get in its place and when I consider what’s happened in the United States this week and what happened in Europe during the summer, I’m reminded of the closing lines of the classic Hillaire Belloc monologue about Jim, who ran away from his nurse and was eaten by a lion: “Always keep ahold of nurse for fear of finding something worse”.

Pete Loughlin can be found on twitter @peteloughlin

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