HONG KONG — Economic changes under the Donald Trump administration may be more significant than shifts from “the socialists to the capitalists” in the United Kingdom, United States, and Germany from 1979 to 1982, according to Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio.
Comparing Trump to Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Helmut Kohl, Dalio said the incoming administration may have a much bigger impact on the US economy than can be measured by tax changes and fiscal spending. The Trump era could “ignite animal spirits” and attract productive capital, the billionaire fund manager wrote in a LinkedIn post on Monday.
“By and large, deal-maker businessmen will be running the government,” said Dalio, whose Westport, Conn.-based firm is the hedge fund industry’s largest money manager. “Their boldness will almost certainly make the new four years incredibly interesting and will keep us all on our toes.”’
A stock rally has added more than $1.5 trillion to US share prices and lifted indexes to records since Election Day in November, as investors expect greater tax cuts and fiscal stimulus under Trump to boost business prospects. Higher returns under Trump could benefit endowments and foundations that have struggled to meet funding targets in the low-yield environment, Mohamed El-Erian, the former chief executive of bond-fund giant Pacific Investment Management Co., wrote in a Bloomberg column on Monday.
Skeptics include Kase Capital Management founder Whitney Tilson, who said in an e-mail on Dec. 17 that he expects “a lot of volatility” when the president-elect who had exhibited “reckless behavior” takes office in January. Bond manager Bill Gross said last month that Trump’s plan to cut taxes and increase infrastructure spending is unlikely to bolster economic growth or equities.
While Trump’s top appointees have less government experience than most administrations since the 1960s, they have by far the most business experience, Dalio said. They are “bold and hell-bent on playing hardball” to effect major changes in economics and foreign policy, and their leader “doesn’t mind getting banged around or banging others around.”
Bridgewater president David McCormick is said to be the front-runner to serve as Trump’s deputy defense secretary, Bloomberg reported Dec. 16. He had been considered for Treasury secretary, a post that ultimately went to former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. partner and hedge fund investor Steve Mnuchin. Trump has also picked Exxon Mobil chief executive Rex Tillerson to serve as secretary of state. He offered the chief economic policy adviser job to Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn and chose billionaire investor Wilbur Ross as the future commerce secretary.
Profit-makers are likely to become “heroes with significant power” instead of the “villains with limited power” they are today, said Dalio. In such an environment, a move by investors out of cash and into riskier assets could be huge, he predicted.