logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo
star Bookmark: Tag Tag Tag Tag Tag
United Kingdom

ALEX BRUMMER: No surprise that 'America First' nationalist Donald Trump protects digital predators

When it comes to picking trade fights, Donald Trump has the upper hand. Most of US commerce is internal, with 26 per cent of total output represented by foreign trade.

That is still a huge number, worth about $5trillion (£3.8trillion), so is globally of great significance.

In comparison, 62 per cent of UK output is accounted for by overseas trade and for tiny Luxembourg the figure is 424 per cent. So while it is relatively easy for Trump to impose $2.4 billion (£1.83 billion) of tariffs on champagne, cheese, handbags and other French products, in retaliation for taxes imposed on the digital giants, it is far harder for European trading partners to respond effectively.

Talking tough: US President Donald Trump is defensive of the Silicon Valley giants

The scale of internal commerce in the US means that it can absorb punishment without succumbing to recession. There has been much discussion as to when China, with its supercharged growth rates, will take over from the US as the world's largest economy. That may still happen but we should never forget the US may be on the cusp of a new industrial revolution.

Among the reasons that Trump is so defensive of the Silicon Valley giants, when it comes to foreigners imposing taxes, is that the digital economy is the main driver of growth. It takes several decades for new technology to fuel expansion.

The golden Victorian age in Britain arrived long after the invention of the steam engine in the late 17th century.

Even though the pace of change speeded up in the 21st century, the full impact of digital innovation and artificial intelligence has yet to be felt. Google is moving to second-generation leadership with the choice of Sundar Pichai as chief executive of holding company Alphabet.

Just two decades after Google was founded, the US economy is in only the foothills of transformation. Harvard economics professor Dale Jorgenson's research shows that the reason for optimism on US productivity is that IT will continue to have a positive impact.

Indeed, the way in which Silicon Valley is sucking in all of the talents and patents from the rest of the world – from Israel to the UK – will ensure that as Dow giants, such as GE, become technologically sophisticated, the more entrenched US economic hegemony will be.

It should not be surprising that 'America First' nationalist Trump seeks to protect the digital predators. They own the algorithms which will propel the US forward.

Even if Trump or the next administration pushes harder for anti-trust action, and dismembers Google, Amazon and compatriots, the intellectual property looks set to drive America forward. In any trade war, the US holds the whip hand.

Bucket shops

As if fund management doesn't have enough of a reputational deficit as a result of Neil Woodford's reprehensible antics, one of the more trusted names in savings, M&G, is suspending a property trust.

For the second time in three years M&G Property Portfolio is locking in savers. Not quite the start M&G's chief executive John Foley wanted as it begins life as a separate entity after splitting from Prudential.

M&G blames Brexit uncertainty and the retail sector for its travails. You wouldn't have to be a genius to see these problems coming and to have made sure there was liquidity to meet strong outflows.

Property may be difficult to shift but most of the anecdotal evidence suggests the sector has weathered the storm reasonably well. As chance would have it, the latest bulletin from Woodford is equally dispiriting. The £245m Woodford Income Focus is in never-never land and Woodford is still collecting fees, with the count at £245,000.

This is unconscionable from the person who has brought shame on the trust sector and dealt a violent blow to savings culture.

Audit trail

M&C Saatchi is better known for its creativity than its financial competence.

Even so, the discovery by PwC that it booked revenues long before the money arrived and allowed depleted assets to sit on its balance sheet was a bitter blow to investors. It sent shares plunging by 46 per cent.

Among the biggest losers will be the four top executives, including Maurice Saatchi, who own 4.5 per cent of the equity each.

But there are big questions for a star-studded board, which includes political writer Michael Dobbs and royal courtier Michael Peat.

This is the mess you get when companies place faith in dispatched auditors KPMG.

Themes
ICO