lower taxation and higher defense spending, combined with the abandonment of Bernanke/Yellen-style monetary policy, are fairly mainstream in Republican economic thinking…It is also not that far removed from the policy mix that has been pursued by some previous Republican Presidents, notably Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and even Richard Nixon. The change in the policy mix under Reaganomics is particularly reminiscent of what might happen under a “respectable” version of Trump’s plan…Another important consequence, which would damage US equities, could be a further rise in the dollar. Under Reaganomics, the dollar started to rise almost immediately after the 1980 elections, and surged for four years until the Plaza Accord in 1985. Despite general dislike among international investors for a President Trump, the probable change in the US policy mix, and the rise in geopolitical risk globally, could cause a large capital inflow into the US.More on this in a bit but first permit me to express a frustration with an often seen claim that center left types want a strong dollar. I guess this goes back to the suggestion that Robert Rubin pushed a strong dollar in the 1990s. This strikes me as very wrong for reasons that I will note shortly but I will give credit to Tim Duy for this discussion:
The strong Dollar policy takes shape in 1995. At that point, Rubin made it clear that the rest of the world was free to manipulate the value of the US Dollar to pursue their own mercantilist interests. This should have been more obvious at the time given that China was last named a currency manipulator in 1994, but the immensity of that decision was lost as the tech boom engulfed America.In other words, the U.S. would adhere to freely floating exchange rates even if other nations did not. If one thinks about the Clinton policy mix – fiscal restraint with easy monetary policy – it was the opposite of the Reagan policy mix. To the degree we lowered our interest rates relative to the rest of the world, one would expect ceteris paribus that the dollar would devalue increasing net exports. Of course the dollar appreciated and net exports fell but that was the result of the investment boom which led to a strong increase in real GDP, employment, and even real wages. When progressive critics complain that U.S. macroeconomic policy cost growth and jobs by letting net exports fall, they confuse cause and effect. We might also note this story from early 1997:
Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin, taking a little air out of the rapidly rising dollar, suggested today that the Administration had ended its two-year-long effort to drive up the dollar against the world's other major currencies…But it is unclear whether Mr. Rubin and the finance ministers of the other countries will be able to stem the rapid run-up in the dollar's value, a trend that reflects such fundamental forces as a healthy American economy, continued stagnation in Japan and increased nervousness about a unified European currency.Let’s also remember the history of our exchange rate. The dollar appreciation of the late 1990’s pales in comparison to the dollar appreciation of the first half of the 1980’s. This is what Davies alludes to. Let’s remember that the Reagan policy mix massively appreciated the U.S. dollar which led to a significant fall in net exports. This decline and the crowding-out of investment overwhelmed any aggregate demand benefits from fiscal stimulus leading to a massive recession. Trump’s advisers might argue that he wants to impose tariffs to raise net exports but this Navarro nonsense ignores the prospect that trade protection will only further appreciate the dollar especially if interest rates drift up. In fact, recent financial events where our interest rate have drifted higher than interest rates for many of our major trading partners have drifted up has led to the most recent dollar appreciation and decline in net exports. Center left economists do not advocate a strong dollar or current account deficits but we do understand the interplay between fiscal and monetary policy and how they impact the exchange rate and net exports.