Trump’s approach to government corruption

PEOTUS Trump is giving conflicting signals on his policy toward government corruption. He seems to recognize clearly the conflicts of interest in the “military industrial complex,” when he criticized the F-35 fighter plane and the revolving door between the defense department and the defense industry. “On Monday, Trump also took a shot at Lockheed Martin’s $400 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the most expensive in the history of the Pentagon, saying the “cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th….Trump said there should be a “lifetime restriction” of top defense officials going to work for defense contractors ” “Trump-takes-aim-at-pentagons-revolving-door-and-lockheed-martins-400-billion-f-35-program”

This is commendable. But it is only one example of conflicts of interest that can arise in government. We await with interest to see how Rex Tillerson, Trump’s choice to head the State Department, will handle his conflicts of interest arising from the extensive business deals between Exxon-Mobile, the company he currently heads, and Russia and his friendship with Russian President Putin.

But we particularly await Trump’s clarification of how he will handle his own conflicts of interest. As a private citizen, Trump did not hesitate to use the power of government to force private citizens and companies to bend to his will. “And-so-here-we-are.” While Trump apparently has no direct businesses in Russia he has plenty of indirect business relationships. “Donald-Trump-ties-to-Russia” He has delayed until January his promised Dec 20 clarification of how he will handle this. “Trump-corruption-conflict-of-interest.” He still has not disclosed his personal and business tax returns that would clarify some of the potential conflicts. Given his strong position on the Pentagon’s revolving door, perhaps we can be hopeful that he will take equally strong measures with regard to potential conflicts of interest of his own and of his cabinet’s.

About wcoats

I specialize in advising central banks on monetary policy and the development of the capacity to formulate and implement monetary policy.  I joined the International Monetary Fund in 1975 from which I retired in 2003 as Assistant Director of the Monetary and Financial Systems Department. While at the IMF I led or participated in missions to the central banks of over twenty countries (including Afghanistan, Bosnia, Croatia, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgystan, Moldova, Serbia, Turkey, West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Zimbabwe) and was seconded as a visiting economist to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (1979-80), and to the World Bank's World Development Report team in 1989.  After retirement from the IMF I was a member of the Board of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority from 2003-10 and of the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review from 2010-2017.  Prior to joining the IMF I was Assistant Prof of Economics at UVa from 1970-75.  I am currently a fellow of Johns Hopkins Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise.  In March 2019 Central Banking Journal awarded me for my “Outstanding Contribution for Capacity Building.”  My most recent book is One Currency for Bosnia: Creating the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I have a BA in Economics from the UC Berkeley and a PhD in Economics from the University of Chicago. My dissertation committee was chaired by Milton Friedman and included Robert J. Gordon.
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2 Responses to Trump’s approach to government corruption

  1. Robert Schadler says:

    I would be stunned if anyone can determine, from an income tax filing, his own or anyone else’s net worth. Or his business partners. Fine to want to see it, and make it a political issue if it’s not forthcoming, but each voter has to weigh this fact together with dozens of others.
    We need much more thought on “conflict of interest” (and I hope Warren helps in this). Some forms of property are easily disposed or put in a blind trust; others are not.
    Can a journalist or author put his “brand” (i.e. is personal name) in a blind trust? Say, if Bob Woodward writes future books without his name on the book, but just anonymous. And if Trump sells a property how will we know that the buyer hasn’t added a bribe as part of the price?

  2. Joe Cobb says:

    I do not view the business interests of Rex Tillerson (as distinguished from those of his employers, the stockholders). He will leave Exxon’s assets to their care and assume office. I think Trump wants to make “a deal” with Putin. After all, Putin is not a STRATEGIC threat to America any more. It is a disgusting authoritarian place, with kleptocracy run amok. But a threat? Hardly.

    Trump might well give Putin a free hand in Syria, and just police the situation to favor US client, Israel. What’s the harm? John Quincy Adams and Grover Cleveland, would have approved of withdrawing and reducing the span of the empire, to save money.

    It’s about time; cold war is over. China is more interesting, and Putin might be a help for US Neocons there.

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