The New Age of Protectionism - Trump's Attack on Germany and the Global Economy - Der Spiegel
It has been quite a scene at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York recently, with a never-ending parade of stretch limousines and armored S-Class Mercedes pulling up to the building. The heads of Ford, Tesla, Boeing and dozens of other companies have all dropped by for an audience with Donald Trump. The president has consistently gushed about the "great meetings," but little more than silence could be heard from the other side.
Behind the scenes, this much has become clear: They didn't come for negotiations or even to offer advice to the new president. They came to hedge their bets. They are on the defensive, in the hopes that Trump will be less aggressive with those who he knows.
Senior executives in Germany have been keeping close tabs on the stream of visitors heading for an audience with Trump, full of concern and nervous about what the future might hold. They have refrained from speaking about Trump publicly, but internally, it's the only thing they are talking about.
There is significant fear that they too might become Trump targets. Nobody knows what rules are still valid in this new political era, one in which billions in value can be destroyed by a single tweet. An era in which it is no longer clear who is a friend and who is an enemy.
It is an era that began on Donald Trump's first day in the White House, when he turned away from what has been the global economy's most important motor for decades: free trade and globalization no longer have any place in America's new populism.
Trump immediately backed out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and is intent on renegotiating other such free trade deals, these "horrible deals," which he sees as the source of America's downfall. "This wave of globalization has wiped out totally, totally, our middle class," he said while on the campaign trail.
On the same Monday, he received dozens of America's most important executives, representatives of the country's leading economic sectors. Trump called it a "listening session," but he didn't appear to be the one interested in listening. Rather, it was the business leaders who were to receive the new rules of this new era. "America first," is the only relevant philosophy, and those who go along will be rewarded by way of massive tax cuts and investments.
Those who resist will be punished, with tariffs, special taxes, government reprisals and, more than anything, the fury of the president -- announced on Twitter and followed by a plunge in the stock price on Wall Street. - Read More, Der Spiegel