Lord Adair Turner, the former head of Britain’s financial regulator, says the prospect of Donald Trump becoming president of the US this week is “far more worrying” than Brexit.
In an interview with Business Insider, Lord Turner said: “I didn’t want Brexit to occur but I think compared with Trump, Brexit is quite a minor thing in some ways.
“The fact that it is still at least possible that on Tuesday the American people will elect a racist, sexist, buffoon – actually much more dangerous than buffoon. I think he’s a threat to world peace and a threat to the American constitution.”
Trump has repeatedly been in trouble for racist and sexist remarks. Early in his campaign, he suggested Mexican immigrants to the US were drug runners and rapists and Trump has been repeatedly dogged by historical accusations of sexual assault. Trump boasted he liked to “grab them by the p—y” in reference to women in a leaked recording from 2005.
Hilary Clinton’s lead on Donald Trump in the US elections narrowed dramatically after the FBI Director James Comey announced in a letter sent to Congress that the agency found additional Clinton emails while examining the laptop in a case unrelated to Clinton.
Clinton maintains a slight head-to-head lead, 46.6% to 45.1%, according to Real Clear Politics’ rolling average of polls. Americans will go to polls on Tuesday, November 8 – just two days time – to bring the contentious election to a close.
Despite Lord Turner’s strong anti-Trump views, the former regulator and business leaders says he understands why many Americans support the billionaire.
He told Business Insider: “This has happened in part because a lot of Americans feel they’re not getting their share of the growing American economy. And they’re absolutely right. The bottom 25% of the American wage earners haven’t received a real wage increase for the better part of 30 years. With that concentrated in particular towns, particular areas, particular rural areas that feel their whole industry is being stripped out – you are bound to produce a reaction.
“The danger is that then generates very strong protectionism or just uncertainty and then business is a bit more cautious and you get a further twist to the problem of subdued demand and economic malaise.”
Lord Turner believes similar economic inequalities contributed to the Brexit vote earlier this year. He say: “As a speech by Andy Haldane [the Bank of England’s Chief Economist] in June this year called ‘Who’s recovery?’ set out, over the last 8 years wealth holders in the UK have seen their wealth go up 40% and GDP per capita has hardly gone up at all. Not surprisingly then, you have a lot of people who don’t feel that the system is working of them, some of whom then voted for Brexit.”
Lord Turner told Business Insider in the same interview that he believe advances in technology are undermining the model of capitalism that has reigned for the last 200 years. He things the government may need to introduce measures such as universal basic income to ensure people feel society is working for them.
He told Business Insider that problems were evident outside of just Britain and the US, saying: “I think Europe is doing it too. Europe is doing OK-ish this year but not well enough to bring down unemployment or create a sense for the Italian people or the French people that they’re heading in the direction they want. That then could produce in Italy a rejection of this referendum that Renzi’s put forward, that could mean the resignation of Renzi, it might just produce a Five Start government.”
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is holding a constitutional referendum, asking the country to vote on a series of changes to the way Italy’s institutional frameworks are structured. If the motion fails, the Five Star Movement (5SM), a populist left-wing party, will likely try to take power.
Lord Turner added: “And of course in France, we could see a startlingly high vote for Marine Le Pen and the National Front in the elections next year. All of that tends to then have an adverse effect on business certainty which adds an extra twist to the problems of economic malaise which created the political uncertainty. This loop between the politics and the economics is I think very concerning.”
Lord Turner ran the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in the mid-1990s, before becoming vice chairman of Merrill Lynch Europe from 2000 to 2006. He then served as head of the UK’s former financial watchdog the Financial Service Authority from 2008 to 2013, taking the jobs on the eve of the global financial crisis sparked by the US mortgage security bubble.
Lord Turner is chairman of George Soros’ economic think thank the Institute for New Economic Thinking and this year authored “Between Debt and the Devil” on the global financial crisis.
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