Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Well, that was unexpected.

As of 2 AM Eastern, neither candidate has conceded, but it's pretty clear that my predictions were wrong, and Donald Trump is likely to be elected President. It looks quite clear that we will have a Republican Congress.

So - what does that mean? How much of his agenda will be enacted, and how much of it will be relevant to chemists? I predict poorer funding for both NIH and NSF (more cuts at NSF than NIH, I suspect), and I predict emigration of scientists from the United States to their countries of origin.

Mr. Trump was not particularly friendly to pharma during the election season, but it's not like Secretary Clinton was either. (Incidentally, it looks like that pharma initiative from California is going down.)

It's hard to see how macroeconomics will go. He made noises about raising interest rates, but I could easily imagine his tune on the Fed changing.

Your thoughts? 

17 comments:

  1. Should be fairly good news for chemists and those in the STEM field in general in this country. The H1B visa situation in this country has been abused for too long, and Clinton wanted to bring in more. More and more chem graduates are leaving the field because of a lack of jobs, some going to globalization overseas and a lot going to H1B visas. Trump will hopefully curtail this, once again allowing chem graduates to find jobs in the field.

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    1. The man who cheated American investors out of money to keep his floundering buildings and casinos afloat, while making his clothes in China will certainly care about the common American worker!

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    2. Anon 8:42, don't come in here with your rational-thinking agenda!

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  2. In the short term, I worry that stocks will go down enough to threaten where I work (if stocks to pay pension obligations drop too much in value) and that oil prices will rise enough (from a falling dollar) to raise prices significantly. I don't know if trade will be disrupted; I imagine that if panic happens, Obama and the GOP will probably try to reassure other countries that we've not gone off the deep end. I don't know if they'll believe us.

    If he enacts significant tariffs, some businesses may just relocate, and some will stay but may not be able to replace their outsourcing with other output, which means that there might be fewer places. I don't imagine that Trump is going to want to hurt businesses much (although given that he needs popular support, pharma may be a target of opportunity). I don't know how removing ACA will affect pharma and medicine - unless hospitals can refuse treatment, states and the federal government are going to get stuck with increasing bills, and I think there's a fiasco waiting to happen with hospitals refusing care.

    I think the unpredictability (both of Trump's actions, and of the quality of media information/prediction of the election) is going to be a constant cost for a long time, which won't help anyone.

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  3. In my oppinion academic departments have not been hiring the best applicants; they have been hiring people who will not make the white guys in their 40s/50s look bad. They are the gatekeepers to a career that allows that puts one in a compelling position to apply for research grants. I don't want to fund people who are mediocre at best.

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    1. If I understand this thinly-veiled stereotyping correctly, the best applicants are always white males and everyone else is a compromise in quality. This sort of thinking is disgusting and inexcusable. It's the notion that the only reason non-white folks or women rise into prominent positions is because of some mythical easier path paved with pity. It's insulting and degrading. Frankly, it's a load of excrement--even if it's just an "opinion" without relation to observable facts (e.g.: http://justlikecooking.blogspot.com/2015/01/chemistry-bumper-cars-2015-2016.html )

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    2. That's funny, I read that comment a completely different way. ie that the boring old white males who are already established are hiring the weakest candidates that they can get away with so that they are not outshone by the up-and-comers.

      Good job to both commentors on egregious stereotyping and cynicism.

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    3. @DDTea: You misunderstood entirely. Most of the tenured folks are white males. Many are not very good at what they do. They could hire extremely talented non-white and non-male folks, as well as white males (the race and gender of the applicants was not meant to be an issue). But instead, they often skip over candidates who have better credentials than their tenured faculty (these skipped over candidates include female and non-white). They want to keep their departments mediocre at best. They don't want to be outshined, or to have competition for consulting gigs or collaborations. While I would expect this to be less likely at a top 10 or 20 department, there are lots of low level departments out there and they are doing a good job of keeping it low level, despite many exciting opportunities.

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    4. @Anonymous 10/2016/9:24

      I interviewed at a mid level R2 where my publication list was longer and higher end than all of their assistant professors, and two of their tenured associates (I don't mean at the point they were hired, I mean independent career + Ph.D. postdoc). Even after expressing genuine interest in working there, I did not get the job, in favor of someone local with an underwhelming CV.

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  4. If science research depends solely on Fed money, then science is not neutral/unbiased anymore. Everything will be politics.

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  5. According to a professor friend of mine and her following of the Mandarin chemistry twitter, the Chinese are pretty happy with a Trump win because they dislike the democrats for restricting entry of Chinese students to the States... Its sounds like a not very important point to me, but I don't know if she follows a representative part of Chinese twitter though, since she's pretty happy with Trump winning too.

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  6. Here are some questions.

    Will the GOP really become the RWP (Republican Workers Party)? Strike up "Bandiera Rossa".

    Will Trump be able to do for the US what he did for Atlantic City? You may replace "for" with "to" in the previous sentence.

    Will the Great Wall of America be visible to the naked eye from low earth orbit?

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  7. Would Trump really want higher interest rates? If you raise interest rates, debt service costs go up (some of them - T-Bills, etc. are likely locked in, but new ones would not be) - on one hand, that forces cuts in government spending (if you're not willing to raise taxes, which he likely is not), but if also means that everything his tax cuts cost will have to be met with corresponding cuts in spending immediately. Cutting most of the discretionary budget will probably meet with significant dismay and dislocation.

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    1. The debt-service cost rationale seems to have been used for a long time now, unnaturally long. IIRC inflation is inversely proportional to employment rates, so policy aimed at lowering inflation > low interest > minimal service on increased national debt + stock market growth at the expense of more "natural" economic factors. So perhaps the idea is small rate increases to promote employment and more overall growth, hoping that gets you revenue.

      As you say, direct budget cuts are a big fight. Avoid if possible.

      Kind of a guess on my part, though, can't really say I feel well-informed here either.

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    2. Maybe...I imagine low interest rates might discourage investment and encourage consumption, so raising them might help with investment which you might want to build new businesses (because you probably can't get back the outsourced or automated ones). I'm somewhere beyond my competence here, though.

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    3. I don't actually think Trump wants higher interest rates, but he made a couple of Twitter comments and debate comments about how we need to raise interest rates.

      The standard political reasons for raising interest rates is about lowering inflation/those on fixed income. Will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

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    4. I believe interest rates have been near historical lows for a historically long time. They used to be a big part of monetary/fiscal policy manipulation that could be used to boost/brake the economy. Unfortunately like many things they seem exhausted from overuse--like Keynesian injections of money into the economy. So while I don't have a good understanding of the situation I do expect "let's try something different" to be a sufficient rationale for some stuff shortly, and that's one of the things they can control.

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