TV pundit is next top US economic adviser

Mr Larry Kudlow, seen here in an appearance on CNBC this month, will replace Mr Gary Cohn as director of the National Economic Council. Mr Kudlow was an informal adviser to Mr Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.
Mr Larry Kudlow, seen here in an appearance on CNBC this month, will replace Mr Gary Cohn as director of the National Economic Council. Mr Kudlow was an informal adviser to Mr Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.PHOTO: REUTERS

'Supply side' policy advocate's appointment adds another loyalist to Trump's inner circle

WASHINGTON • United States television commentator and conservative economic analyst Larry Kudlow will replace Mr Gary Cohn as President Donald Trump's top economic adviser, the White House and Mr Kudlow said, adding another loyalist to Mr Trump's inner circle.

Mr Kudlow, a Republican who served as an economic adviser to former president Ronald Reagan in the 1980s and also worked on Wall Street, is an ardent advocate of "supply side" economic policies that focus on cutting taxes and reducing regulations.

Mr Kudlow, 70, said on Wednesday that Mr Trump offered him the National Economic Council (NEC) director job on Tuesday evening and he accepted it.

White House spokesman Sarah Sanders also confirmed that Mr Trump had offered him the position.

Mr Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Independent Advisor Alliance, said Wall Street generally viewed the pick positively because of Mr Kudlow's Washington experience and his policy views. "He's generally regarded to be more of a free trade advocate than (White House adviser Peter) Navarro or the others," said Mr Zaccarelli.

Mr Stephen Massocca, senior vice-president at Wedbush Securities in San Francisco, said: "Mr Larry Kudlow is very much a free trader. This shows that (Mr Trump) wants to hear the other side of the argument as well."

Mr Kudlow, a CNBC contributor, has acknowledged the ups and downs in his life, having been addicted to drugs and alcohol before getting sober over 20 years ago.

The NEC director can have wide influence over the president on a variety of issues, ranging from steering economic policy to offering guidance on who to choose for open positions at the US Federal Reserve.

Mr Cohn, a Democrat who was seen as a moderating influence on Mr Trump's nationalist economic instincts, announced his resignation last week after a disagreement over the President's decision to impose steep tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium.

Mr Kudlow, an informal adviser to Mr Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, had also criticised the President's decision, saying tariffs would harm steel-consuming producers.

In an interview with CNBC on Wednesday, Mr Kudlow said he was relieved that some countries would get exemptions from the tariffs, did not think they would hurt the broader US economy, and believed China deserved to face tough action over trade.

"China has not played by the rules for a long time... I must say, as somebody who doesn't like tariffs, I think China has earned a tough response," he said, adding that he hoped a coalition of countries could act against China on trade.

Mr Kudlow also said a strong and stable dollar was important for US economic health and that he had no reason to believe Mr Trump disagreed. He echoed his future boss' views that the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico needed fixing and said the European Union had "very bad protectionist policies".

His appointment comes as Mr Trump increasingly seeks to surround himself with like-minded advisers.

Mr Cohn's exit and the dismissal of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have cleared the way for Mr Trump to elevate advisers who are more inclined to implement his campaign promises ahead of congressional elections this year.

Mr Trump, who has described Mr Kudlow as a long-time friend, had hinted on Tuesday that he was likely to give him the job. He said Mr Kudlow had "come around" to view tariffs as a useful tool for renegotiating trade deals.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2018, with the headline 'TV pundit is next top US economic adviser'. Print Edition | Subscribe