Anthony Brown, director of sales and marketing at BW: Workplace Experts
This October 2016 marks three decades since the Big Bang, the dramatic deregulation of financial markets in 1986 which prompted the sudden arrival in the City of London of US banks. This event also heralded the birth of the British office fit-out market, so there has always been a direct link.
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Today, approximately 30% of the fit-out turnover is from US clients. My view is that if Clinton wins it’s “business as usual”, in the highly unlikely event that Trump gets the gig, then everything changes. He is incredibly pro-business and the predicted cuts in corporate tax, for example, could create a mini short-term boom.
What is far more interesting, however, is the potential for a Clinton/May dynamic, two hawkish women in charge of the world’s leading economies. Don’t think for one moment that these women represent a soft option!
Alex MacLaren, architect at Wyatt MacLaren and member of the BIM 2050 Group
The US election highlights the enormous power of social media. Vast swathes of voters are being won over on spun images attached to 140-character slogans, without recourse to more complex arguments. That’s scary. The potential implication and ramifications for the whole planet are utterly horrifying.
Do we see similar trends, at a more regional scale, in our own construction industry in the UK? Some might suggest that, until recently at least, the swift and sweeping success of London’s Garden Bridge proposal (a convincing photogenic one-liner) over the turgid progress of infrastructural and housing reform (really boring but very earnest and extremely important to us all) tells a similar story. And then there’s Brexit…
Monika Slowikowska, founder, Golden Houses Developments
My first thought is that neither candidate will satisfy the US public. The UK construction industry will be watching the election closely. I believe the US could turn very ugly very quickly. I don’t believe anyone is expecting good news following the result.
Investors expect things in the US to be bad or, at best, they’ll be able to just scrape by. The UK has strong business links with the US and the election will have a huge impact on investors’ confidence: how they think, the risks they are willing to take, whether they look at short-term gains or long-term investment. A general strategy of risk reduction will be undertaken by most.
I suspect commercial property activity will slow down even further in terms of building, buying and selling. People are already putting some high-end projects in London on hold and only average priced property will continue to be built.
Sarah Fox, author of How to Write Simple and Effective Letters of Intent in Just 500 Words
It’s been an interesting process following the US election. From my view neither of the candidates are seen as trustworthy and that’s a huge issue.
If we don’t trust them, how can we trust their leadership, direction, agenda and choices? Trust has to be at the core of politics, as their actions will impact everyone from the lowest person right up to the most wealthy and big businesses.
This lack of trust will not sit well with the public and could be an issue in the future of whoever wins.
Adriano Amorese, partner, Non-Contentious Construction, Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP
The race for the White House has been taken up with so much mud-slinging that little is known about the detail of either candidate’s policies. However, we can make some rough assumptions and concerns for UK construction include the following:
A prolonged dip in the value of the dollar could lead to a slowdown in US investment activity in the UK property market. Presidential elections traditionally result in a dip in the value of the dollar, which corrects once the new president is elected and stability returns.
A Clinton victory would be less of a shock to the political system and is likely to result in the established trend of a resurgent dollar.
A Trump victory, by contrast, could result in a prolonged period of uncertainty and downward pressure on the dollar. However, the significant drop in the value of the pound due to Brexit should (hopefully) mean the dollar has further to fall before this starts affecting transatlantic investment decisions.
The prospects of brokering a beneficial UK/US trade deal is likely to have increased in significance in the post-Brexit landscape where access to the “single market” could be more costly and administratively burdensome.
Such a trade deal should (in theory) be easier for the UK to conclude alone than as part of the EU, but how much appetite is there stateside? Despite his isolationist posturing and aversion to international trade deals, Trump values the UK as a long-term ally and says we would be at the front of the line for a trade deal.
Clinton also acknowledges the special relationship which exists between the US and the UK/Europe, but she is only interested in new trade deals that will create jobs and raise wages for Americans.
David Savage, partner, Charles Russell Speechlys LLP
The US has one of the largest infrastructure investment needs of any industrialised country, and issues around candidates’ approaches to infrastructure investment feature regularly in US Presidential election contests.
Clinton’s plan involves increasing federal infrastructure funding by $275bn over five years, funding these investments through business tax reform. $250bn would be allocated to direct public investment, the other $25bn to a national infrastructure bank.
The bank would leverage these funds to support up to an additional $225bn in direct loans, loan guarantees, and other forms of credit enhancement. This allows Clinton to claim that her infrastructure plan will result in up to $500bn in federally supported infrastructure investment.
The Trump campaign claims that 28% of US roads are in substandard condition and 24% of US bridges are structurally deficient. Its general economic plan will “provide the growth to boost our infrastructure”. They do not commit to a specific investment figure over time.
The one Trump infrastructure investment everyone is aware of is his plan to build a wall on the border with Mexico. This is no small boast. The US border with Mexico is around 2,000 miles long – by contrast, the Berlin Wall was 96 miles long.
However, building a wall to keep out illegal immigrants is not an entirely new plan. The Bush (Jnr) administration actually constructed 670 miles of fencing on the US-Mexico border following the passing of the US Secure Fence Act 2006. That fence cost $2.4bn. Trump’s wall is estimated to cost between $15bn-$25bn, with annual maintenance likely to be up to $750m.
US infrastructure policy matters both in terms of engaging with the quite pressing physical asset challenge resulting from historic under-investment in maintaining existing assets, but also, more generally, in terms of the contribution of infrastructure investment to the US economy.
The White House Council of Economic Advisers claim that every $1bn in infrastructure investment creates 13,000 jobs, and it is estimated that for every $1 of infrastructure investment there is a $1.60 increase in GDP the following year, and twice that level of annual return over the ensuing 20 years.