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.