Industry News is Quiet – Has Something Been Happening?

Well, I’m beginning to think I have to stop travelling to Munich. On Wednesday morning, I woke up in my accommodation in Munich to find that Donald Trump had been elected US president. In June, I woke up in Munich during the Digital Signage event to find that my fellow citizens had voted for Brexit!

After saying how much news there was last week, the effect of the election was clear on the general level of news from the US. Clearly, everyone had a lot to think about. However, I managed to find plenty of news as I was in Munich for the biennial Electronica trade show. As we’re also very busy with quarterly data, this was a flying visit to Bavaria. There was plenty to see at the show and a chance to meet a number of companies that I don’t regularly see. We’ll have the report for you next week.

In general, I stay away from politics in my editorials. Trump is in many ways an appalling individual, but a lot of Americans voted for him. I know a lot of people that have stereotypes of America and Americans that are very negative, but in more than thirty years of regular travel all over the US, not just on the coast regions.

I have found the vast majority of people I deal with in the US are decent, polite and courteous. A lot of these people must have voted for Trump, perhaps ‘holding their noses’ as they did so. It does suggest vast frustration at the current political systems and the elite that controls that system (and across the political spectrum) that even this individual was electable. The same frustration is apparent in the UK. Many feel that politicians don’t care for them or their interests.

The worst aspect of the Brexit decision and the Trump election (if, and it may be a big if, Trump maintains the views that he expressed during the election) is that it suggests that both the UK and the US may turn inwards and be isolationist. It seems to me that the economic and political benefits of the globalisation of the last twenty or thirty years are clear, but there needs to be a way to ensure that the benefits of that globalisation are more widely and evenly distributed. That the US and the UK are among the countries that come towards the top of the list of countries with the most income inequality is not just coincidence, in my view.

I have spent some time over the last fifteen years or so looking at the international trade negotiation scene, especially when the fractious dispute over monitor duty was at its height. The then Customs specialist for the European commission, Jan Foltmar (now retired), and I sparred several times. However, he did give me a sense of the immense complexity and detail involved in these negotiations. He also saw one of his successes as managing to maintain the 14% duty over TVs, which meant that those wishing to sell TVs in Europe had to assemble in Europe. Although Western Europe lost its jobs in TV manufacturing, those jobs moved to Eastern Europe and to Turkey rather than moving to Asia, because of those tariffs. Foltmar saw this as a big achievement, but he was also clear that the battles over trade deals were fierce.

Anyway, I will do what I can to try to promote the idea that collaboration and communication with others around the world is a positive thing for the world.