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Opinion: Are you nervous about trade? I am

There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty in the market regarding trade and that will continue to add to volatility

The political environment in Washington D.C. has entered the realm of absurdity. The Democrats simply don’t recognize President Trump as legitimately being the president and seemingly have vowed to oppose everything. I still remember when the Republicans were worried that President Trump was too Democratic-leaning, but irrespective, Democrats will oppose everything.  

 The Republicans seemingly are incompetent or unwilling to be the governing party. Even with the majority in both Houses, they are unable to pass legislation. The only notable exception is with the Supreme Court nomination, which required a rule change to get that done. 

It looks like we are still mired in a stalemate with no substantive legislation being able to emerge from Congress. Admittedly, I could be persuaded that is not all bad, but it puts us back on the same footing that led to such disastrous results with the previous administration.

President Obama, after losing control of both houses, was forced and/or allowed to rule by fiat and executive orders. It is ironic that like his predecessor, Trump’s only recourse appears to be the same, even though his party holds the majority in both houses.

The Supreme Court nomination process could be looked at as merely political payback and grand standing, but I think it is more reflective of the environment in general, which means the Senate and House are effectively unable to act on anything substantive to benefit the American people.

Bipartisanship is dead, and Republicans really don’t hold a majority in the Republican House, as the conservative wing appears to prefer that nothing gets done over making any compromise. Our system evolved as a two-party system, and while the Democrats have long been a party of interest groups, they were able to still operate effectively as the majority in Obama’s final years. The Republicans operate as a single party but they cannot bring their factions together.

Which brings us to trade. The Democrats will do nothing. The Republicans are deeply divided, and that means it will solely be in the hands of the Trump administration. The interesting part about that is that on trade, Trump doesn’t fit into any neat boxes. And as a result, there is a tremendous amount of anxiety that is justifiably being expressed.

Perhaps the Trump administration is finding its footing on trade, perhaps it part of a series of high stakes negotiating tactics that will result in advantageous deals for America, or perhaps it is as it appears and simply a shotgun approach with no discernible policy or goals.  

TPP was killed immediately but with no action to replace it. The U.S. beef industry needs trade and Japan is currently a key market for U.S. beef and hopefully China will be in the future.

Throw in the Middle East and Korea and the key roles these countries must play, and trade policy will likely be a pawn in the crucial game of geo-political maneuvering. Agriculture may have considered the Obama policies to be counterproductive but they did offer the benefit of certainty. There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty in the market regarding trade and that will continue to add to volatility and uncertainty in the marketplace.

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