Donald Trump has won the U.S. election. And we're being told that Dow futures have plunged, that Australia's All Ordinaries Index has fallen more than 100 points, and that markets are generally showing signs of uncertainty. On Wednesday, $34 billion was wiped off the ASX.
Uh-huh, but what does that all mean? Will a businessman whose business enterprises have gone belly up at least half a dozen times do the same thing to the U.S. economy? And if so, will he take the world economy with it?
In short, will we suffer?
For the benefit of those who bypass the finance pages, we visited the Australian Stock Exchange to try to make sense of things. At the ASX, we found financial analyst Arman Arakelian. Here's what he had to say:
- Donald Trump equals uncertainty and when there's uncertainty, the sell button [on stocks] is usually pressed;
- With the news of Trump's likely win, most people have taken money out of stocks and put it in safer places like gold, or even wheat;
- We asked Arman if that was the financial equivalent of loading your basement with canned food and he said "yes, gold is a safe haven";
- Oh, and Dow futures, in really, really simple terms, are a bet on how the market will perform tomorrow (bearing in mind that it was night time in America as the election results rolled in). So if Dow futures fall, which they did, it signals a day of imminent chaos on Wall Street.
But we wanted to know more. So we spoke to Will Shepherd, Head of Treasury at ASX-listed foreign exchange company OFX. We basically asked him three questions. Our exchange went like this:
1. Donald Trump does not have the greatest business record. What will he do to the U.S. economy? Well, he's had some bankruptcies, but he actually been able to build a lot. Many of the trade deals which were struck 20 or 30 years ago don't seem to be benefiting the U.S. Only the wealthiest are better off now, and it's about taking that system apart. The fact that he is seen as a good deal maker means he can approach countries like China and India and build constructive trade deals. With the Republican clean sweep, he should also be able to get things through the Senate.
2. So we have market jitters right now. When do things settle down? Do we stay jittery? The jitters will keep going at least this week. It's going to be a very volatile time for currencies, equities and interest rates. It's uncertainty that breeds volatility, and people are unsure what he's going to do [when in office] and the effect that will have on global trade. It's much like Brexit when the pound and UK stocks weakened because there was uncertainty.
3. What about here in sunny Australia? Do we have anything to fear? We're not like Canada, which is America's primary trading partner. The U.S. is third on our list. Ultimately we're not as reliant on them as we are on China.
So there you have it. It's probably OK not to panic for now. As for when Trump starts to govern early next year, that's anyone's guess.