Brexit Won’t Make Great Britain Great Again, Like Trump Won’t Make America Great (Again)
Want to know what erratic, sound bite Trumponomics means for American prospects? Behold the ready experiment triggered by the Brexit shocker: imagine England in a few years, conceivably with fewer jobs, reduced growth, less outside capital investment and thus inevitably lower government revenues. Where exactly are the positive levers to offset the negativity that scores of (no doubt, elitist) economists predict?
Soon enough, how will older, white, angry, ill-trained UK workers, fretting over lost prosperity, react when jobs stay offshore and already austere-ridden social supports wither further? Not with another orderly whimper of a referendum. If EU secession is about alienation by older, white males bereft of decent employment, life options, or self-esteem, how does less economic/European global leverage defeat the recession still afflicting English working stiffs?
We’re traveling mysterious waters here, rife with unintended consequences. Old map makers captured unknown realms as “Here be dragons.” Brexit argues that making key trade and connectivity less automatic (ladden with different rules) will magically produce more wealth. Say what? What places went isolationist and prospered? Switzerland, but long ago, unlike Cuba or other quasi-colonies dependent on outside subsidies. Consider Puerto Rico’s indebtedness without US backup? What South American countries thrived by going rogue, certainly not Venezuela? Putin’s Russia stands alone, but oil resource prices beyond its control determine much of its core prosperity. Need we add that top-heavy, topdown, global capitalism, as elitists boast, has in less than two generations lifted literal billions from utter privation?
Marvel of Myopia Tied to a Falling Star
So Trump, that marvel of myopia, in love with his own fact-free BS, cheers on Brexit as the redemptive wave of the future. Here’s the candidate as gambler, seizing the tail of an unpredictable tiger, embracing the idea without considering anything below the surface. Worse still for Trump, any benefits from Brexit will take years to confirm — and “I guarantee it” (echoing TrumpTalk) that pluses come with serious, permanent trade-offs. Formal dissolution itself will take years so in the near term — loads of political negatives. Longer term, Brexit is the ultimate crap shoot (now with amateurs in charge).
So, what we know is 52% willingly shun EU directives, instead taking a giant leap in the darkness (funnily, defenders were apparently unprepared for the next step after victory). Yet, tell us, Brexit promoters, which industries and workers gain? With instant approval, here’s Trump’s populist revolt, sharing his pitch for nativism, nationalism and hardcore borders, for people and shipping crates. Did I miss when Trump magically reinvented the world wherein second-order trading countries aren’t cogs in an increasingly complex wheel? Which cog ever turns itself?
If Brexit gets predictably bad press throughout this summer, then the Donald has, as with his border wall or banishing Muslims, tied his fate to an unstable star (perhaps to a dark hole). For a myriad of reasons, some justified, enough Brits bought the wingnut logic the only solution to global negatives is to cut and run. Not unlike willfully ignorant parents battling vaccination; after all, their families aren’t yet plagued by pandemic.
So lucky us, getting to test economic Trumpery without doing anything. Palin, the great history dunce, analogizes Brexit to American independence, equating their departure from a club UK joined by choice vs. our violent revolution that drove a tyrannical king from our shores. If we can break free from then the greatest empire, why can’t UK win “independence” from easy, known and predictable trade, communication, travel and financial linkages? When know-nothings instantly unite, like Trump and Palin, savvier minds take the counter bet.
If experts are right, millions of fragile UK voting egos should brace for less growth and less outside investment, wary of places where business laws could be overturned suddenly by unsophisticated, aggrieved voters. That means the English under-employed could be doubly suckered — a kind of self-imposed lifestyle reduction. Someone explain how giving up your place at the European table improves England’s leverage with neighborly foreign affairs? Just as Trump promised many more jobs at his upscale Scottish golf course than have materialized, Brexit could foreshadow how belligerent (even racist) isolationism, threatening tariffs and trade wars, even ripping up intact agreements, improve one’s standing, wealth or influence. That growling dog isn’t making allies or friends.
The Underdog Goes Under
Belligerence on trade and currency drive Trump’s American Firstism, disdaining any co-operation or agreements (even on global climate) that can arguably (or emotionally) impact our autonomy. That ways lies isolation, all right, plus refusal to understand complexity and trade-offs or, like GOP dinosaurs, the joys of necessary compromise. Ignoring complex challenges (as with burgeoning, war-torn migrations) is Trump’s knee-jerk denial, simplistic even by rightwing ideological standards. When George Will, no model of nuance, just now bolts his life-long Republican Party, denouncing Trump, that augurs earthquakes to come.
If Brexit press looks bad by October, that should clarify choosing between HC’s more of the same vs. Trump’s unthinking leaps in the dark, perhaps apocalypse. Of course, the US is not England, our staggering economic house looks better than most. But the more explosive the criticism about devastating long-term costs from this retreat, the greater the toll from Trump’s facile endorsement on his already his underdog campaign, a marvel still of struggling to look or sound “presidential.”
On Friday, British stocks lost over £125 billion — or 15 years worth of the UK’s controversial yearly EU contributions. The British pound fell 8%, equal to months of “ordinary” currency decline after “ordinary” bad news. That means this big trading nation pays higher prices for imports, with some advantage for cheaper exports. Will such losses be offset by more English tourism this summer or the next? Bond analysts will lower UK national interest ratings on debt, now totaling £74 billion. So the UK with fewer resources will pay higher national interest rates. Jolly good show, old man.
Bad News Brexit Bears
How many global powerhouses will up their investments where the rules change so radically, thanks wholly to self-inflicted wounds? Will capital flow (for what’s been a banking mecca) not decrease? And will that not inevitably impact all revenues, private and government, reducing consumer buying power and state supports? What UK-source or breakthrough or technology will offset such body blows, especially as North Sea oil production wanes? Any undiscovered gold fields, diamond, platinum or rare earth mines? Bids on towers, castles or masterpieces at the National Gallery?
Brexit will expose for all to see the contradiction of one leaving the many in an increasingly inter-related world. Close allies may well look askance at agreements with officials scolded by electoral loose cannons. Reality, like it or not, confirms an efficient global economy with advanced, inexpensive transport, communication and financial systems like never before. We need not disregard the gross income and asset inequality that crowns crony capitalism, but unforced, self-inflicted, bunker busters spawn more mayhem IMO than progress for the multitudes.
So, brace for reams of critical Brexit analysis, implying the UK just cut off its nose to spite its face. And let’s never forget Trump’s high-risk, gambling world is “winner take all.” That means “losers gets nothing.” Hardly a great model for municipal or state agreements, let alone large-scale, global business planning or healthy, necessary trade for complex, modern nation-states. Gambling for adults works when betting disposable dollars on transient sporting events when the results are instantly known. Will voters in November here not in months to follow add false flummery about Brexit shortfalls as another crack-brain spoke in Trump’s stumbling, amateur wheelhouse?