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Trump earns 'high marks' from UBS for his economic policies

  • President Donald Trump deserves "high marks" for his pro-growth policies, including the recently passed tax code, UBS says
  • Trump's tax reform and de-regulation plans could help to make the U.S. a friendlier place for investors, the bank says at its client gathering in Singapore
  • Despite that, a protectionist U.S. and any conflict the country has with North Korea could derail the current "Goldilocks" environment, says UBS

Swiss bank UBS said Monday that President Donald Trump deserves praise for his pro-growth policies.

Those efforts in making the U.S. a more business-friendly economy, which include the recently passed tax reform, are often under-appreciated, said Mike Ryan, UBS Wealth Management's chief investment officer for Americas. But the president has "changed the perception of what's possible in Washington," he said at the bank's client gathering in Singapore.

"I think prior to his election, the prospects of tax reform, of regulatory relief, or any sort of sensible approach to infrastructure were off the table," said Ryan, who added that Trump defied those expectations by getting the new tax bill passed.

The president deserves "high marks" for his economic achievements so far, Ryan added.

Before the bill was passed in December 2017, the U.S. tax code was "very inefficient," he said. Heavy regulation in the U.S. that businesses faced was also not an environment that gives confidence to investors, he added.

The reform, which drastically cuts corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent, was therefore a positive development even as the new tax code is "not everything that we hoped for," Ryan said.

Despite that, the Trump administration remains a key risk that the bank is watching, according to Mark Haefele, UBS Wealth Management's global chief investment officer. Protectionist policies and a conflict with North Korea could derail the current "Goldilocks" environment.

U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he departs from the White House on July 12, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson | Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he departs from the White House on July 12, 2017 in Washington, DC.

A "Goldilocks" scenario is one where growth is healthy, inflation is low and financial conditions are accommodative.

UBS also named China's slowing growth as a major risk this year, but added that it is also optimistic about investment opportunities the world's second-largest economy could offer. UBS Wealth Management holds an "overweight" position on Chinese equities.

Investors' interest in investing in Asian assets has helped the bank grow its business in the region. UBS Wealth Management is the largest private bank in Asia Pacific, managing more than $300 billion in assets in the region as of the second quarter of 2017, according to Edmund Koh, Asia Pacific head of wealth management at UBS.