US leader urges world to adopt the successful ‘American model’

US President Donald Trump speaks during the Global Chief Executive Officers dinner at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on January 21, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 22 January 2020

US leader urges world to adopt the successful ‘American model’

  • The Middle East received only a passing mention, in reference to the G20 summit of global leaders in Riyadh later this year, but energy policy figured high up the president’s comments

DAVOS: US President Donald Trump told the World Economic Forum in Davos that the “American dream is back, bigger, better and stronger than before” in an address that celebrated his economic record after three years in the White House.
Trump’s 30-minute speech to a packed Congress Hall at the opening plenary session mainly consisted of statistics aimed at showing his success in creating jobs, raising earnings and stimulating growth. “This has been a blue-collar boom. We are determined to create the highest standard of living that anyone can imagine,” he said.
“It is an economic boom the like of which the world has never experienced before,” he added.
The President made no mention of the reported $3 million “bounty” that had been offered by an Iranian legislator to anybody who killed him. Ahmed Hamzeh, from the province that was also home to Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian general killed in a US air strike this month, made the threat in the Iranian Parliament, according to local media.
Trump also proclaimed his triumph in the trade war with China, after the recent “phase one” deal to reduce some tariffs and normalize some aspects of US-China commerce. “We have been addressing chronic problems that have been around for decades. China’s predator practices have been getting worse and worse under previous administrations,” he said.
In the wake of the trade deal, he said that US-China relations had “never been better,” adding: “President Xi is for China, and I am for the USA, but apart from that we love each other.”
Apart from Chinese relations, and some remarks about the trade deals he had concluded with Japan and South Korea, the speech — in the week that impeachment proceedings begin in Washington — focused almost exclusively on American domestic economic policy. He said that American markets had risen by 50 per cent under his presidency, despite the policies of the Federal Reserve, which has kept interest rates low.
Trump highlighted the fact that some economies had negative interest rates, drawing a rare laugh from the delegates when he said: “That means that they pay you to borrow money. That’s something I could get used to very quickly.”
The Middle East received only a passing mention, in reference to the G20 summit of global leaders in Riyadh later this year, but energy policy figured high up the president’s comments.
He said that the US was “by far” the biggest energy producer in the world, with other energy exporters “not even close,” and he said that energy policy under his administration had been “so successful we no longer have to import energy from hostile nations.”
In a nod to climate change — the other great content of Davos 2020 — Trump celebrated his environmental policy which he said had produced the “cleanest air and water,” and committed the US to joining the WEF campaign to plant 1 trillion trees over the next decade to combat emissions of carbon dioxide.
The Trump address was introduced by Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the WEF, who praised the US president for bringing a note of optimism to the annual meeting, which has been more downbeat on global issues than for many years. He was preceded by a Swiss male choir singing an Alpine song.
Trump urged other countries to adopt the “American model” to unify their countries and develop “pro-worker, pro-citizen and pro-family” policies.
“Only when governments put their own citizens first will people become invested in their own futures,” he said.
Trump closed his speech by urging delegates to emulate the efforts of the Renaissance builders of the Duomo in Florence and the workers repairing Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.

S&P 500 inches closer to record high

Updated 12 August 2020

S&P 500 inches closer to record high

  • US stock market index returns to levels last seen before the onset of coronavirus crisis

NEW YORK: The S&P 500 on Tuesday closed in on its February record high, returning to levels last seen before the onset of the coronavirus crisis that caused one of Wall Street’s most dramatic crashes in history.

The benchmark index was about half a percent below its peak hit on Feb. 19, when investors started dumping shares in anticipation of what proved to be the biggest slump in the US economy since the Great Depression.

Ultra-low interest rates, trillions of dollars in stimulus and, more recently, a better-than-feared second quarter earnings season have allowed all three of Wall Street’s main indexes to recover.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq has led the charge, boosted by “stay-at-home winners” Inc., Netflix Inc. and Apple Inc. The index was down about 0.4 percent.

The blue chip Dow surged 1.2 percent, coming within 5 percent of its February peak.

“You’ve got to admit that this is a market that wants to go up, despite tensions between US-China, despite news of the coronavirus not being particularly encouraging,” said Andrea Cicione, a strategist at TS Lombard.

“We’re facing an emergency from the health, economy and employment point of view — the outlook is a lot less rosy. There’s a disconnect between valuation and the actual outlook even though lower rates to some degree justify high valuation.”

Aiding sentiment, President Vladimir Putin claimed Russia had become the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine. But the approval’s speed has concerned some experts as the vaccine still must complete final trials.

Investors are now hoping Republicans and Democrats will resolve their differences and agree on another relief program to support about 30 million unemployed Americans, as the battle with the virus outbreak was far from over with US cases surpassing 5 million last week.

Also in focus are Sino-US tensions ahead of high-stakes trade talks in the coming weekend.

“Certainly the rhetoric from Washington has been negative with regards to China ... there’s plenty of things to worry about, but markets are really focused more on the very easy fiscal and monetary policies at this point,” said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.

Financials, energy and industrial sectors, that have lagged the benchmark index this year, provided the biggest boost to the S&P 500 on Tuesday.

The S&P 500 was set to rise for the eighth straight session, its longest streak of gains since April 2019.

The S&P 500 was up 15.39 points, or 0.46 percent, at 3,375.86, about 18 points shy of its high of 3,393.52. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 341.41 points, or 1.23 percent, at 28,132.85, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 48.37 points, or 0.44 percent, at 10,919.99.

Royal Caribbean Group jumped 4.6 percent after it hinted at new safety measures aimed at getting sailing going again after months of cancellations. Peers Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. and Carnival Corp. also rose.

US mall owner Simon Property Group Inc. gained 4.1 percent despite posting a disappointing second quarter profit, as its CEO expressed some hope over a recovery in retail as lockdown measures in some regions eased.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners 3.44-to-1 on the NYSE and 1.44-to-1 on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 35 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 50 new highs and four new lows.