Trump presidency

Initial reaction

An -11% plunge in the value of the Mexican peso and a -5% decline in Japanese equity prices appeared to show investors were not fully prepared for a Donald Trump win.

The atmosphere in financial markets this morning is akin to that on 24 June. It is most aptly - and presciently - summed up in the "Skrik" paintings crafted by Edvard Munch more than a century ago. Investors didn't see it coming and they are ever so slightly horrified. 

Their initial reactions - for that is all they were - included selling equities, selling commodity-related and emerging-market currencies and buying sandbags. Nobody knows quite what a Trump presidency will mean for the global economy, let alone for currency and capital markets, but many fear it will have negative implications, just as they did following the Brexit vote.

The winners and the losers

Other than the Clinton dynasty the biggest losers of the night are the opinion pollsters, who are nursing a hat trick of wooden spoons; last year's UK general election, the EU referendum and now this. The third biggest losers are the investors who set store by their predictions.

Among the major currencies the commodity-oriented Australian, Canadian and NZ dollars dropped towards the rear of the field but the South African rand was hardest-hit. As the proxy for other less-easily-traded emerging market currencies it was down by -3% at one point this morning. The winners so far today are, in order, the Japanese yen, the euro and the Swiss franc.

Sterling has been left by the wayside, as is usually the case when there is a rush into or out of the dollar. The most liquid currency pair is euro/dollar and it is there that investors tend to head when they change their minds about the dollar. The pound is therefore a cent and a quarter lower against the euro though it has added one US cent.

What next folks?

In the same way that Britain's departure from the EU has had an effect even before it happens, so President Trump will have an impact even before his inauguration. Policy-makers in government and commerce will have to reassess strategy and central banks rethink their monetary stance.

The Federal Reserve has less than a month to work out how to respond to the election before it makes its next policy decision. Thus far the assumption has been that the Funds Rate would be raised by a quarter of a percentage point. That assumption may no longer be valid.

For the US dollar the question is whether President Trump will be as bad for it as the initial reaction of investors suggests. Looking on the bright side, corporate tax breaks could mean the repatriation of billions of dollars of profits currently held offshore.