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As the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump approaches, the best way to assess the incoming administration may be to focus on the ultimate factors that led to his victory.Trump won by challenging the credibility of both the political and academic establishments, relentlessly highlighting discrepancies between their depiction of the United States' political economy and the reality that many voters experienced. While Hillary Clinton and Republican rivals such as Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio tried to build coalitions based on cultural issues and partisan traditions, Trump and Sanders set their sights squarely on what mattered most to voters: a political economy in which elected officials strongly promoted a broad-based prosperity that included them.In fact, a recent paper by MIT's David Autor and others shows that the social distress caused by U.S.-China trade has polarized American politics, and probably increased certain voting cohorts' support for "nativist politicians" such as Trump.In his 1922 essay "The Dismal Science," H.L. Mencken suggested why economists would ignore the negative social effects that globalization can have on an advanced economy such as the U.S. Such misrepresentations, Mencken argued, reinforce the power of those who already hold it. Anything less would constitute a failure by Trump to honor those who brought him to power.
A better bailout was possible after the 2008 crisis
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