In 2019 don't be surprised if the president defaults on the US's national debt and unleashes chaos. Lewis speaks to Prospect's Jay Elwesby Jay Elwes / December 6, 2018 / Leave a comment
Trust is everything. Donald Trump is going to teach you that—and sooner rather than later.
Here’s the game—there are all these bad things that are going to happen because Trump’s not managing the government. Nothing really bad’s happened yet that you can trace to government mismanagement, unless you’re in Puerto Rico or you’re a kid in a cage on the border. But his wilful ignorance is ripping America’s fabric. In time, that will erode faith in all sorts of institutions, and play out in all sorts of ways no one will be able to ignore.
What kind of thing might I mean? Let me give you an example, even if it’s something that sounds preposterous now. It seems to me perfectly plausible to imagine that Trump is on a collision course to default on the US’s national debt. I think he’s going to stand up at a rally whenever something gets bumpy and say “we don’t actually owe the Chinese that money.”
If you look at him, he’s a trust-devouring machine. Everywhere he goes, he finds the thing where there is still trust and he undermines it. He’s undermined trust in the media, he’s undermined trust in the electoral process, he’s undermined trust within the political process—he’s changed relationships between Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill. So what’s left? The money.
People still trust the dollar, and it’s amazing to me. Because if I were a foreigner I’d be looking at Trump and thinking, “this guy doesn’t pay back his loans. He’s stiffed people his whole life and he has no compunction about that.” That would make me worried. He’s already making noises about the Federal Reserve, saying Jerome Powell, the Governor, is destroying the stock market.
But the minute Trump says, at some rally, “Oh, we don’t have to pay that back. They stole that money in bad trade deals,” what happens in financial markets is possibly catastrophic. Because if you get a free-falling dollar that’s under siege, you don’t really have a mechanism for arresting that. Well, you did used to have a mechanism for arresting a financial crisis—but that mechanism was… the government, a government that this man now controls.
“The minute Trump says ‘we don’t…