Trump Dollar View Shows Team ‘Feeling Its Way,’ Millstein Says

  • Millstein says weak currency, tariffs tough on consumers
  • Health care another area where easier to campaign than govern

Donald Trump and his team are still adjusting to the difficulties of reconciling campaign slogans with the economic complexities they’ll face, said Jim Millstein, a former U.S. Treasury Department official, citing the president-elect’s comments that the dollar is too strong.

“The new administration is feeling its way through a series of conflicting policy initiatives that they have proposed,” Millstein said Thursday in an interview on Bloomberg Television.

Trump will be sworn in as president Friday after defeating Hillary Clinton thanks to the support of blue-collar voters. Millstein said the president-elect’s idea of pushing down the dollar’s value seems at odds with the plan to make it more expensive to ship goods to the U.S.

“The macroeconomics behind that assumes a stronger dollar to offset the tariff or tax that would be placed on imports, so as not to increase the cost of goods,” said Millstein, who runs his own financial advisory firm and was the chief restructuring officer for the Treasury in the early years of President Barack Obama’s administration.

A weaker dollar could help another Trump goal, however, by making U.S.-built products more affordable in international markets. Still, his comments in the Wall Street Journal about the greenback helped depress U.S. bank stocks Tuesday, as they fell the most since June.

‘Much Harder’

Republicans also face challenges on health-care policy after pushing to undo Obama’s insurance reforms that brought coverage to millions more Americans.

For years, Republicans in Congress “talked only about repeal,” Millstein said. Now that the party has more power, “They realize they actually have to have an alternative. And the details of policy making are much harder than the slogans of campaigning.”

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