×

Trump’s protectionism will bite the US economy: SocGen chairman

The U.S. and President-elect Donald Trump have more to lose taking a protectionist path than the emerging economies that would be affected by a renewed anti-globalization policy, the chairman of Societe Generale told CNBC.

There are widespread concerns that Trump's promises to rip up trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, will affect the economic potential of emerging markets. This is particularly sensitive at a time when such economies are already struggling to keep previously-seen growth rates.

"If (emerging economies) start developing a free trade zone among Asian countries, for instance, in the end it will be the U.S. economy which will be penalized by its own measures," Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, chairman of Societe Generale, told CNBC on Tuesday.

The former member of the European Central Bank's monetary policy committee said that "there are growing areas" in emerging markets. For example, stocks in soft commodities, such as palm oil and rubber, should benefit from Trump's election.

President-elect Trump promised to put forward a package of fiscal stimulus, but his protectionist rhetoric could harm the U.S. middle-class, Bini Smaghi said.

"And then there is the protectionism threat, which is not clear how it will be implemented, it's not clear either how it will help the middle class in the U.S," he added.

Nonetheless, Trump's fiscal expansion, along with a less accommodative monetary policy, should strengthen the dollar and weaken the euro - a "positive scenario" for the European Central Bank.

Smaghi said that extending the quantitative easing program "is unavoidable" but amid such environment ECB President Mario Draghi won't have to do too much further bond-buying.


Italian referendum will weaken Renzi

Italian PM Matteo Renzi
Franco Origlia/Getty Images
Italian PM Matteo Renzi

The chairman of the French bank told CNBC that Italy needed to adapt and reforming the constitution is just a much-needed first step.

"We need to move on, otherwise this would be a signal for future politicians that Italy cannot be reformed, and is a signal to the whole financial market and that's not positive," Bini Smaghi, who is from Italy, said.

The Italian referendum, which will decide whether the constitution should be reformed, has Prime Minister Renzi's future at stake. He said that if voters were against his reforms, he would resign from government.

"Wherever will happen, (Renzi) will be weakened, I think, and will have a weaker government, Smagji told CNBC.

"Let's not forget that there is an election at the latest by February 2018. So there will be a government for a little more than year. What can that government do with all the uncertainties? It will be another lost year," he added.

Follow CNBC International on Twitter and Facebook.