Today’s Asian Wealth Daily is something different. Last weekend I was in Washington, D.C. and saw the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States… and these are my thoughts, about the event and what it means.
First, what it was like to be there: Imagine a political protest that’s happening in the middle of a big outdoor rock concert, which is taking place in an area that’s being forcibly demilitarized. In summary: Security, security, lines and lots of waiting, and more security.
Although I now live in Singapore, I’ve lived in the Washington, D.C. area a few times for a number of years (and I am kind of American). Before this one, I’d never experienced an American presidential inauguration in the flesh.
Here are a few of my thoughts on the experience…
Americans take their security seriously
I’ve been in some heavily armed places, but never have I seen so much security, anywhere. Media reports said there were 28,000 security personnel on duty. Military police, the FBI, the Secret Service, the city police, the TSA, Homeland Security, the Capitol police, the national guard, snipers on roofs, bulky men wearing earpieces and probably lots more who I didn’t see were all out in full force.
Violence is a good story, but it certainly wasn’t everywhere
“Violence flares in Washington during Trump inauguration,” announced a Reuters headline. And many other media outlets followed suit, trumpeting similar headlines. My personal experience wasn’t quite as sensational. I wandered all over for three hours and saw pockets of protestors, but not much more. Violence was not sweeping through downtown Washington, D.C. A tiny disruptive minority makes for a good media narrative but isn’t necessarily accurate.
Long lines may have been partly to blame for small crowds
President Trump has made a big deal of media reports that the inauguration crowds were small. I didn’t see huge hordes of people, but I wasn’t everywhere, and I have nothing to compare it too. But part of the reason for sparse attendance – in photos of the main venues in particular – may be that to get to any of these spaces, you had to go through a thorough security check. And the lines for those checks were very, very long. I wonder how many thousands of people missed the parade because they were waiting to get through security. (Perhaps the same thing happened during previous inaugurations – I don’t know.)
This is how an American democratic event works today
On the day, we (Marcus – Truewealth Publishing’s head of marketing – and I) set out from a friend’s house in suburban Virginia and arrived in downtown Washington about an hour before the inauguration was to begin. The metro was almost empty; either everyone else had already arrived downtown, or there just weren’t that many people interested in the event (Washington, D.C. and its suburbs are heavily Democratic, and overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton).
The line to get an unobstructed view of a huge video screen of the inauguration (when the president places his hand on a Bible and pledges to defend the country’s Constitution) was long and slow. (To see the event in the flesh would have involved getting a special pass from your congressman many weeks in advance, or else waiting in a line that I didn’t see.) So we watched the actual inauguration on a huge screen through a fence, with a foreground of dozens of portable toilets. Some people around us cheered, but most didn’t; presumably the more enthusiastic people had found their way into the secure areas with a better view.
Afterwards, we headed for the parade, thinking that it wouldn’t be long before President Trump would make his way down Pennsylvania Avenue. (It’s a long-standing tradition that the newly minted president travels about a mile down the street to the White House). After gaining access to the police-lined parade area – following a short (20 minute) wait in a security line – we waited expectantly.
But it was chilly by tropical Singaporean standards, and it was lunchtime. In the secure parade area, there was nowhere to get lunch. So we left the parade venue (in the meantime the line to gain access to the parade area had grown to at least an hour) in search of sustenance, at a bar about a mile away.
We watched the parade with beers in hand. The president’s post-inaugural lunch wound up going long, and didn’t start until about an hour after it was initially scheduled (thereby confirming our decision to not wait for the parade).
A few weeks ago, we wrote that the end was approaching for the so-called Trump rally. In the bigger picture, as the unpredictable President Trump takes office, these are two steps to protect your portfolio:
2. Tread lightly in Asia. In some ways, China may turn out to be a winner from the Trump era. But at this point, no one knows how many of Trump’s campaign promises (and threats) – like labeling China a currency manipulator and scrapping long-standing geopolitical relationships throughout Asia – will turn into policy. And those issues cast a cloud of uncertainty over markets in the region.
I’ve written a number of times about how Asia – and investors in Asia – may suffer from the policies of President Trump. A free special report about this is available here.
Finally, the first issue of the Asia Alpha Advisory focused on a stock that stands to benefit from Trump’s China-related saber-rattling. And our next issue – due out later this week – will tell subscribers about a sector that, paradoxically, will benefit from another dimension of the proposed policies of President Trump. If you’re not a subscriber and you’re interested, click here to learn more.