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Trump picks Pence to lead new transition team

Donald Trump has appointed Mike Pence, his running mate, to head his transition team as he prepares to start naming people to fill top posts in his administration.

Mr Trump also appointed four members of his family, including his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, along with the financiers Anthony Scaramucci and Steven Mnuchin. The team will also include Stephen Bannon, his campaign chief executive, Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman, and Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire investor.

Mr Pence, the governor of Indiana, replaces New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who had led the transition team for six months but will now be one of half a dozen vice-chairmen, Mr Trump announced.

Mr Trump separately told the Wall Street Journal that while he would move to repeal Obamacare, he would consider maintaining two of its provisions — the ban on companies denying coverage to people with existing conditions, and a measure that allows parents to keep their children on their policies for a period of time.

Earlier on Friday, his economic team vowed to push forward with a campaign promise to launch a $1tn fiscal stimulus plan and cut corporate taxes by as much as 20 percentage points.

The prospect of Mr Trump holding to his campaign pledges has led to a tumultuous week in global financial markets, with investors being forced to quickly adjust to an incoming economic plan that could stimulate traditional industries and slash business regulation. 

The rapid change in sentiment has led to a shakeout across nearly all asset classes with banks and other financials rallying in hopes of a deregulation push; tech stocks selling off amid fears of trade wars hitting their Asian supply chains; and US Treasuries plummeting in anticipation of heightened government debt and inflation.

The post-election equities rally that has reshaped the markets cooled off on Friday, with the S&P 500 closing down 0.14 per cent, after the Eurofirst 300 fell 0.6 per cent, paring back this week’s gains.

Writing in the Financial Times, Mr Scaramucci, a member of Mr Trump’s economic advisory council, said the president-elect would finance the new spending plan with “historically cheap debt and public-private partnerships” and insisted it would reduce deficits by stimulating economic growth.

“Economies around the world are fighting deflation largely because of a post-crisis movement toward fiscal austerity,” Mr Scaramucci writes. “We can close the wealth gap in America by replacing emergency-level interest rates with fiscal stimulus.” 

A new debt-fuelled spending plan has spooked the bond market, with yields on US Treasuries jumping to their highest levels in 10 months as investors prepare for the prospect of renewed inflation. 

“It’s a tectonic shift,” said Henry Kaufman, the former Salomon Brothers chief economist and the first analyst dubbed “Dr Doom” for correctly calling the last bond bear market in the 1970s.

Mr Kaufman predicted the end of a three-decade bond bull market, because of the likelihood of unfunded tax cuts, infrastructure spending and a radically reshaped Federal Reserve. 

“I would say the secular trend is going to be upwards now,” he told the FT. “Secular swings are hard to forecast, but the secular sweep downwards in interest rates is over, and we are about to have a gentle swing upwards.” Bond yields rise as their prices fall. 

Mr Trump tweeted on Friday that he would soon start revealing the names of people who he wanted to serve in his administration, with many in Washington focused on who will be chosen as chief of staff, arguably the most powerful White House position after the president. 

One key question is whether Mr Trump will choose someone from his campaign inner circle such as Mr Bannon, the former head of the rightwing Breitbart news site, or a more traditional Republican such as Mr Priebus, chairman of the national party committee who has good relations with Capitol Hill leaders.

Under Mr Trump’s tax cuts, outlined by Mr Scaramucci, corporate tax rates would be slashed from 35 per cent — “the highest in the developed world”. Although Mr Trump would like to see the rate lowered to 15 per cent, Mr Scaramucci said that was “a negotiable starting point”.

In order to encourage multinationals stashing profits abroad to bring the cash home, Mr Scaramucci said Mr Trump would propose a “10 per cent one-time repatriation fee”.

“We have not had a workable tax plan since [Ronald] Reagan,” said Tom Barrack, head of the Colony Capital real estate fund and another Trump economic adviser. “Now we have a Republican House and Senate so the odds getting tax policy through is much better.”

With investors starting to bet on accelerating inflation and surging federal deficits, the Federal Reserve signalled on Friday it was preparing to lift interest rates at its policy-setting meeting next month. 

Some analysts have believed that market volatility following Mr Trump’s election might prompt the Fed to hold fire next month, but Stanley Fischer, the vice-chair of the Federal Reserve Board, said the case for gradual rate rises is “quite strong”.

Additional reporting by Sam Fleming

Follow Demetri Sevastopulo on Twitter: @dimi

Via FT