President Trump: What would that mean for Cayman?

Money. Power. Influence. Popularity.

Whatever “it” is — Donald Trump’s got it.

Leveraging his pop culture stardom and personal fortune, the straight-talking multibillionaire real estate mogul has launched a passionate campaign for the highest elected office in the United States. In addition to leading an upheaval in the “conventional wisdom” in American politics, Mr. Trump is also leading in most major opinion polls on the continuing Republican primary contest.

We admire many of the characteristics and accomplishments of Mr. Trump — his disdain for political correctness, his undistilled entrepreneurial spirit, his string of businesses successes (and demonstrated ability to shake off the occasional, inevitable failure), and his eponymous luxury real estate developments across the globe.

On a more personal note, our co-publishers have had the pleasure of spending time with Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who is a businesswoman, designer, model and TV personality. During a brief visit to Grand Cayman in 2011, where she introduced her Ivanka collection at Diamonds International, Ms. Trump was an impeccable combination of elegance, grace and professionalism. (This speaks well to her upbringing and the working environment of her family’s business empire.)

If Mr. Trump weren’t running for president of the United States, in fact, we’d be keen on inviting him down to the Cayman Islands to attempt to persuade him to invest in a golf course, resort development, skyscraper, maybe all of the above. “Trump” and “Cayman” — Could there be a better duo?

However, Mr. Trump is running for president. And as good for Cayman as developer Trump would be — that’s how potentially bad for Cayman that President Trump might be.

You see, one of the key planks in Mr. Trump’s economic platform is the “repatriation” of American corporations, and their potential tax revenue. Basically, by revising the U.S. tax code and offering certain incentives, Mr. Trump would seek to bring those American companies and their earnings back to the U.S.

That sort of philosophy, of course, is bad news for jurisdictions such as Cayman. We, after all, are in the business of keeping such money parked securely offshore. When it comes to corporate profits, America’s “loss” is Cayman’s “gain.”

In response to the above scenario, we anticipate two points of contention. Does Mr. Trump have a real chance at becoming president? And, does the identity of the U.S. president actually make a difference to Cayman?

The answer to both questions is, emphatically “Yes!”

Poll results consistently place Mr. Trump at or near the top of the Republican Party field in the key “early” states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Winning all three would make Mr. Trump pretty much unstoppable all the way through the GOP primary.

In the betting parlors, oddsmakers are giving Mr. Trump about an 11 percent chance of winning the general election in November 2016, ahead of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (7 percent) and behind Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (20 percent).

For those who may be skeptical of what impact the U.S. president has on Cayman’s financial outlook, consider current President Barack Obama’s infamous campaign condemnation of our own Ugland House (home to law firm Maples), followed by the rollout of draconian measures such as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. (Do you think things may have been different under a Mitt Romney presidency, who in contrast is rather familiar with the workings of Cayman’s financial sector?)

The policies of the Obama administration have been practically punitive toward Cayman, compared to the previous regimes led by George W. Bush and Bill Clinton (who, along with Jimmy Carter, are former presidents who have stepped foot as guests on our welcoming shores).

Which brings us to the alternative scenario to Mr. Trump, who would be his most likely Democratic opponent in the general election, and whose husband, as we mention above, has not been particularly unfriendly to our fair islands.

We speak, obviously, of — gulp — President Hillary Clinton.



  1. The main fiscal and foreign policy difference between a Trump president and a Hillary president is that yes, it is true that Trump would seek to repatriate foreign companies and revenue. However Mr Trump would do so using incentives and free markets. Hillary would attempt the same by expanding the reach of the US tax code, wealth confiscation, penalization of both US and foreign entities, heavy fines and bolstering vehicles such as FATCA.

    With a Trump president, Cayman will still legitimately compete in the free market, with a Hillary president, Cayman would be sanctioned, neutralizing/bypassing/criminalizing Cayman secrecy laws, forcing local banks to because IRS auditors, and penalizing Cayman into non-competition as has happened in an Obama presidency, and continuing to happen via FATCA and other laws.

  2. The people of Cayman and their government should read this article very carefully, and read it again and again.

    The content of the above article points to a serious issue for this country and it is that if the US changes its laws to allow US companies to actually repatriate dollars, there will be a huge hole in the Cayman economy. I believe if the suggested repartiation were to occur the golden goose of tax revenue for the country would soon whither and die. What would happen then? Who would be left to pay the debts of the nation? Who would trigger the massive development of luxury homes, shops, office buildings and other amenities?

    If you believe the US has little influence on Cayman, look around and check out the restaurants, hotels, cable TV offerings, grocery products and general merchandise, just to see that country’s influence on Cayman. Like it or not the US is a huge force on things beyond investments and banking economic mainstays of the Cayman economy.

    I suggest the Cayman people take a look at St. Kitts and Nevis and see how the people allowed their government to squander the wealth from their "Golden Goose" – the Citizenship By Investment Program, and look at that country now that the program has found new competitors and loss of prestige in the marketplace. Perhaps people will see how quickly Cayman’s golden goose could shrivel and die, seemingly over night.

    The point is, Cayman people should insist their government proceed with caution, demand accountably, professionalism and openess in all government projects ensuring the resources of this great nation are treasured and protected for generations to come; and not allow for one minute squandering of these resources – as they could go away in the blink of an eye, or swipe of a pen.

  3. I believe Donald Trump will win, in fact I hope so. It will be good for Cayman in many ways. I believe he will get rid of the FATCA. Maybe we will change to US currency . Property that will come after some people leave will be sold at a cheaper price. Jobs that remain will be offered to more Caymanians. Some money will leave but it will only be some american businesses, because of new incentives. I also believe it will help cost of living to go down. He will make deals for USA citizens to do business in Cuba. This will open opportunities for Cayman. A lot more deals in real Estate.