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The sound and the fury

The man who promises everything is sure to fulfil nothing, and everyone who promises too much is in danger of using evil means in order to carry out his promises, and is already on the road to perdition. 

How often have we berated our politicians for promising the earth in their pre-election rabble-rousing speeches, only for those manifesto ideas to be swept under the carpet once they are elected?

Whatever we think of Donald Trump – and it’s a family newspaper so won’t be saying what I really think – he certainly didn’t do that.

He won the election on the grounds that, mainly, I think, he wasn’t Hilary Clinton – for reasons I don’t quite understand the Clintons are not a popular dynasty, but also for promising to make America Great Again. He promised the electorate a thumping great wall to keep out Mexican immigrants and he promised a ban on anyone likely to be of the Muslim faith entering the United States.

We haven’t got the wall yet, but he is still talking as though it’s going to happen. We have got an executive order banning anyone born in seven, mainly Muslim, countries from entering the States for 90 days, a move that may very well have handed Paris the 2024 Olympic Games on a platter. Having said that, the Telegraph is reporting a poll that says the number of Americans who support the ban is 49% against 41% who actively disagree with it.

I don’t know whether the fact that it is still early days is a good thing or not. Are we just seeing a bit of blustering and posturing before things settle down and he actually has to make this thing work? Or, more scarily, is the Trumpeter hogging the headlines so that his inner circle can beaver away behind  him, getting themselves entrenched in the upper echelons of US politics so that this is just a taste of what’s to come?

Meanwhile, our Government is heading for Brexit as fast as Parliamentary progress will allow it, although as no-one in the EU has ever actually left its grasp before, the actual negotiation process will be a case of making it all up as they go along.

All this uncertainty isn’t really doing anyone any good. The economy may not have nose-dived the way we were warned it might pre-referendum but according to the Nationwide’s latest housing report, UK house price growth, that barometer of consumer confidence, was the weakest since November 2015. It looks like getting softer still, with household budgets coming under pressure from higher consumer inflation at a time when jobs and wage growth are also stuttering.

Nationwide predicts that growth in house prices will more than halve in 2017 to 2% from 4.5% in 2016.

Depending on your point of view, that may be a good thing or a bad thing. House prices in many areas are and have been for a long time, too high for many first-time buyers to contemplate – even with Help to Buy. That said, consumer confidence is still bolstered by the thought that one’s property investment is worth more than it was this time last year.

Not sure I like where any of this is going.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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