I won’t be around for the next couple of weeks because I’m going on holiday. Guess where I’m going? I’m not sure how this happened, but I’ve cunningly decided to pick the week of the US presidential election to visit the West Coast.
On the day of the election, I will be in the vicinity of Big Sur, probably glued to the TV in the corner of a bar somewhere trying to avoid the mayhem… and there will be mayhem I fear, given how tight the polls are less than a week out.
It couldn’t happen, could it? After the shock EU referendum result earlier this year, I wouldn’t rule out ‘The Donald’ trumping Hillary Clinton, even if he has run what one Time magazine columnist described as the worst presidential campaign in the history of American politics.
If he does pull it off - and if the email scandal around Clinton deepens then the unthinkable becomes increasingly thinkable - Trump himself has boasted it would constitute an upset of “Brexit times 10” in magnitude.
Tremors have already been felt in the Asian financial markets following the latest ABC News/Washington Post tracking polls, which showed Trump ahead for the first time in the wake of the FBI’s reopened investigation into Clinton’s use of a private server.
And Wall Street’s “fear gauge”, the Vix index, has also approached highs last seen post-Brexit vote. The flipside is that sterling has rebounded slightly, and you can expect it to bounce back even further should Trump win.
Aside from the prospect of him rebranding the White House ‘Trump House’, what the fallout for the property industry would be no-one knows.
Having the most famous developer in the world as leader of the western world should be a good thing. But almost everyone I have spoken to expresses only anxiety at the prospect and, as my predecessor Giles Barrie noted this summer when he revisited his interview with Trump from 2003, “relaxed and affable” though he found him, he also came across as “a bully and a bull****ter” - attributes that have defined his election campaign and are hardly the qualities you want in a US president.
Would overseas investors really want to plough their money into a country run by a bloke who has divulged little about policy and spent most of his time slagging off other people or defending himself against unsavoury allegations?
Actually, the picture is not quite as clear-cut as you might think. While the latest poll from FTI Consulting shows 51% of global institutional investors and 53% of global corporates back Clinton for president versus 22% and 19% who back Trump, opinion is divided over their potential impact on the US economy.
Although 54% of global corporates think Clinton would boost the economy versus 25% for Trump, only 29% of global institutional investors think Clinton would compared with 35% for Trump.
On most metrics, Clinton was convincingly ahead among both groups, and while most of the national polls suggest the contest is on a knife edge, as Property Week went to press, Clinton - despite being a Clinton and a ‘she’ - was ahead in pretty much all the battleground states, although not Florida. That is the one I’ll be monitoring… quietly… somewhere near an exit…