Global sales of semiconductors crossed above 400 billion for fisrt time in 2017

This shouldn’t surprise anyone, but public trust in the federal government is eroding. Sixty years ago, 75 percent of Americans expressed faith in the government to do the right thing “most of the time” or “just about always.” Seventy-five percent! You can’t get 75 percent of people to agree on anything now, as the recent “Laurel or Yanny” video proved.

Today, only one in five Americans—a near-record low—believes our leaders make decisions in the country’s best interest. If you’re reading this, you might very well be in the camp that has some serious doubts.

United States public trust in federal government near historic lows
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Presidential biographer and historian Jon Meacham

The polling data, provided by the Pew Research Center, was shared by Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Jon Meacham, who spoke this week at an Investment Company Institute (ICI) meeting in Washington, D.C. Although no fan of the president, Meacham believes, as I do, that fed up, disillusioned voters turned to Donald Trump to take on the beltway party and career bureaucrats and roll back out-of-control regulations. Similarly, Brexit in the U.K. was a populist backlash against excessive rules from unelected bureaucrats in Brussels.

Love him or hate him, Trump has so far stuck to his word, and he doesn’t seem to have any reservations about whose applecart he upsets. He’s an equal-opportunity disruptor, and for that he has opponents on all sides of the political spectrum.

It's little wonder, then, that “Trump” is likely the most spoken word in the English language right now, according to Meacham. Just don’t tell Trump that.

The presidential historian—who last month delivered the eulogy for former first lady Barbara Bush—also reminded the audience that, as bad as many people believe things are right now, they used to be much worse. Remember slavery? Remember Jim Crow?

Some people believe Trump is determined to weaken First Amendment protections, but he’s not the biggest threat to free speech this country has ever seen, Meacham said.

A little over 100 years ago, in preparation for America’s entry into World War I, Congress passed and President Woodrow Wilson signed the Espionage Act, which gave the U.S. government sweeping new authority to control and censor the press. Overnight, it became illegal to “convey information with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the armed forces of the United States or to promote the success of its enemies.” Hundreds of communist and pro-German newspapers and magazines were banned or otherwise forced to shut down.

It’s important to put things in perspective. Trump might regularly criticize what he perceives as “fake news,” but at least those outlets—the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and others—are allowed to continue operating.

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Trump Maintains a One-In, Five-Out Pace for Regulations

Many attendees of the ICI meeting, all representing investment and wealth management firms, weren’t so optimistic about their ability to communicate effectively with shareholders and potential clients. Some of them shared with me their observation that regulators are increasingly getting bolder about what financial firms can and cannot say, and the rules keep piling up.

Within the past year, we were asked to add disclosure under a picture of Elvis Presley in one of our gold presentations, if you can believe it. And during the conference, a fund manager said he found it ridiculous that, in a company slideshow, he was asked to add disclosure beneath a picture of Aristotle to inform clients that the ancient Greek philosopher was not, in fact, affiliated with the fund in any way.

It raises the question: What reader would assume that Elvis and Aristotle—the former having been dead 40 years, the latter 2,000 years—are affiliated with an investment firm? This is a financial blog, not the National Enquirer.

It’s common knowledge in the business that the number of investment advisors and brokers is shrinking day-by-day. You would think that the number of rules and regulations would likewise shrink, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. In such a climate, the only ones who manage to stay ahead are the Vanguards and BlackRocks of the investment world.

I believe this is among the biggest reasons why many people voted for Trump—to cut the red tape and rein in rampant bureaucracy. Here again, he’s kept his word, having so far eliminated, on average, five federal rules for every new rule created, according to the libertarian think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).