Kiwi Chris Liddell passed over as Larry Kudlow named Trump's top economic adviser

Liddell with Trump on January 30 this year (Getty)

UPDATE / Mar 15: Economist, CNBC commentator Larry Kudlow has been named Donald Trump's top economic adviser.

The president made the announcement in a tweet this morning NZT.

The White House had confirmed two candidates: Mr Kudlow and New Zealander Chris Liddell.

Mr Trump labelled the New Zealander a "genius," but Mr Kudlow perhaps had the advantage of being a longtime friend of the president.

Mr Kudlow also flip-flopped on trade-tariffs during the selection process, coming around to the Trump World View on protectionism — making him more of a chief agreer than chief adviser, perhaps.

Kiwi Chris Liddell now has competition to become Trump's next top economic adviser
UPDATE / Mar 14: 
Kiwi Chris Liddell no longer seems a shoo-in to become Donald Trump's next top economic adviser.

Conservative commentator Larry Kudlow (70) has emerged as the new favourite, according to Reuters.

The White House has officially confirmed Mr Liddell is a candidate, but Mr Kudlow -- a long-time Trump supporter, seems to have the inside running.

“I think Larry has a very good chance,” Trump told reporters.

The president says Mr Kudlow originally disagreed with his steel and aluminium tariffs but has "come around" to seeing them as a useful negotiating tool.

Mr Kudlow was an economic advisor to the Reagan administration before a stint on Wall Street with Bear Stearns. The economist is now best known as a conservative voice on cable TV.

NBR Rich Lister Chris Liddell tipped to become Trump's top economic adviser
EARLIER / Mar 11: New Zealand businessman Chris Liddell (59) is the frontrunner to become Donald Trump's top economic adviser, says The New York Times.

The Kiwi is tipped to replace ex-Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn as the head of the director of the US president's National Economic Council.

During a January 30 White House event (pictured below), Mr Trump called Cohn and Liddell "geniuses," according to a Bloomberg Business account.

However, Mr Cohn subsequently took a dive in the president's estimation as he opposed tariffs on steel and aluminium and, according to Bloomberg, refused a request to stand behind Mr Trump during the signing ceremony for the tariffs (which took place Friday NZ time). Mr Cohn announced his departure on Tuesday NZT. 

Mr Cohn had a degree of support within Mr Trump's party. A group of 107 Republicans in Congress sent the president a letter in an unsuccessful bid to head off the tariffs. (Republicans in the Senate are still considering legislation to block the tariffs.)

Trump White House watchers will now be looking to see if Mr Liddell will pick up and run with the president's protectionist, populist agenda, or try to gently nudge him toward a more orthodox Republican view.

The expatriate has made few public comments since joining the Trump White House as director of strategic initiatives as the new president took office, and kept any views on Trumponomics to himself.

However, his political history indicates that Mr Liddell is like to be a free-trader and free-marketeer at heart, who may now try to change the Trump system from within. In the 1980s for example, Mr Liddell supported Bob Jones' New Zealand Party, and the broader push to move National away from the interventionist policies of the Muldoon era. And his route to the White House began as an adviser to presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, a conventional centre-right Republican.

US President Donald Trump (L) calls White House Director of Strategic Initiatives Chris Liddell (C) and White House Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn 'geniuses' as he arrived for a meeting with small business people in the Roosevelt Room at the White House January 30, 2017 in Washington, DC (Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Mr Trump's steel and aluminium tariffs have had a mixed reaction. They have driven up shares in domestic steel producers but beaten down the stock of car makers Ford and GM, and the market as a whole, on fears of retaliatory moves by the EU, China and others.

Trade expert Stephen Jacobi fears the tariffs could spark a trade war, which in turn would degrade the power of the World Trade Organisation. Smaller trading nations like New Zealand rely on the WTO and its rules-based approach, he says. (See more of Mr Jacobi's analysis in the clip below.)

Related video (March 7).

Road to the White House
Born in Matamata, Mount Albert Grammar old boy Mr Liddell has an honours degree in engineering from Auckland University and a masters of philosophy from Oxford. Initially an analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston, Mr  Liddell eventually became joint chief executive before he moved to Carter Holt Harvey in the mid-1990s as chief financial officer and then chief executive.

A shift to the US in 2003 as the chief financial officer of International Paper led to Liddell’s big career break when he became Microsoft’s chief financial officer with a reported base salary in 2008 of $US561,667 supplemented by a cash bonus of $US595,000 and share options worth between $US2-3 million. 

When he quit Microsoft in November 2009, Liddell had to sign a resignation agreement that stipulated he didn’t “make any disparaging remarks about Microsoft, its officers or directors.” In return, there was a severance payment of $US1.9 million. Two months later, he became chief financial officer at an ailing General Motors where he steered the business back to health with a $US23 billion IPO before suddenly leaving within 14 months.

A stint as Xero chairman was headed off when Mr Liddell was appointed to the Trump White House. He resigned his position and sold his shares in the online accounting company to comply with ethics and conflict-of-interest guidelines.


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49 Comments & Questions

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Great news for him and New Zealand. However, how long will he last in the role , and does he have to sell his soul like the remaining White House staff to stay in the White House role ?

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As long as he supports Trump, he's a "genius". As soon as he opposes him on anything, it's out the door with you.

We will look back and have Trump as the shining, perfect example of absolute narcissistic behavior.

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Why would he have to sell his soul.
Nothing wrong with Trumps policies

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Ah...protectionism and tariffs, increase borrowing to fund tax cuts for mates. Yes - great policies!

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and yet investing in defence is wise. Especially after 20 years of war-fighting without significant modernisation, and half-measures and neglect at the hands of the previous administration, which have weakened the US Military. The peace and prosperity of the West meanwhile depend upon these instruments of policy wielded by the world's only hyper-power. The 'arsenal of democracy' as Churchill put it. Let them rebuild and recharge. It was ironic when Ardern argued that the world was "less safe because of President Trump" - because in fact the opposite is true. And whether we will even see modest contribution to global security, for example replacement Frigates for our now aging ANZACs, or closer cooperation with the United States, also seems fairly dubious under this new government of our own.

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Correct but it is good for America.
I think you a thinking on an NZ standpoint

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Kiss of death from Trump for Liddell.

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Liddell for National Leader as we need a great leader ! Our PM Smiles as she is destroying hard working Home Owners and Housing rental providers.

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Couldn't agree more. Liddell has got all his neurones connected; has natural empathy and is so well grounded, he could be a lightening rod. Would love to see an individual of his calibre back in NZ. Trump is a lucky man

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After a severance pay of nearly NZ$3 from Microsoft I can't imagine Chris, whom I know from my CHH days, to be our PM at that low salary.

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According to a disclosure, Liddell's White House salary is $US30,000, so he's not in politics for the money (and he already has enough lettuce from his business career; the NBR Rich List puts his wealth at $120m).

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If Chris Liddell is going to be a real friend to New Zealand while he is in the White House, he will be advising both the President and the Administration not to fully engage with or grant concessions to this country until it has purged itself of its socialist failings.

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to be fair I think Ardern's indulging of her own so-called 'beliefs and values' has already ruined any opportunity for New Zealand to work with the current American administration. A remarkable achievement for her first 100 days in office. It took John Key 8 years to rebuild that relationship.

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Fair comment Steve, but look who Key was colluding with. !!!

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Wow. Unbelievable he's still there. No shame. Paul Krugman in the NYT today; "What economic thinking went into the Trump tariffs announced last week? None at all. In fact, the economists (“economists”?) who currently have his ear seem to regard their job as being to confirm the wisdom of whatever he decides to do. Peter Navarro: "My function, really, as an economist is to try to provide the underlying analytics that confirm his intuition. And his intuition is always right in these matters."

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After the money, it's the power.

And power corrupts.

And Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Is there any person of integrity left at the White House?

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Do you mean the Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Carter, Lyndon BR Johnson Presidencies ?

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NYT along with MSM does not report the truth. Trump is cleaning out the swamp before your eyes and people have no idea because they will not question what is being dished up to them by a lazy (or is it a 'controlled' media). Big things happening in Australia with investigations of tax payer money going to the fraudulent Clinton Foundation. Will NZ be next?

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Trump cried, "Drain the Swamp!" during his election campaign.

He didn't tell you the second part though...

"Fill it in again - deeper, and wider than ever!"

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Bang on assessment!

Once a shyster, always a shyster plus Trump is a serial cheater and adulterer as well. Poor Melania, fancy being in her shoes and putting up with that humiliation.

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'A serial cheater and adulterer'... Well then, Trump is well qualified to be the POTUS.

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And what was Bill Clinton? Poor crooked Hillary, fancy being in her shoes and putting up with that humiliation

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You mean to say Chris Liddell is deeper and wider than the likes of the Comeys, Zuckerbergs, George Soros' New World Order, let alone the rogue C.I.A.

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Turn Leighton off and back away from the radio for a while.

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Strange as it may seem to you I don't get my information from Leighton. There are so many wonderful folk reporting on what is happening in the USA (not reported by the MSM). Its all there on the American Intelligence Media site -Aim4truth.org; Dan Bongino, Farmer Jones, George Webb just to name a few.

Amazing isn't how blind so many people are. In my mind this sums up the bias and closed minds.

If we get nuked it will be by:

1/ Missiles built with American Technology sold to China by Bill Clinton.
2/ Funded by billions of American dollars given to Iran by Barack Obama
3/ With warheads of American Uranium sold to Russia by Hillary Clinton.

BUT somehow TRUMP is the Traitor!

Wake up people!

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President Trump disparaged by the NYT? Really?

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.. he has a MASSIVE ego and a mixed record ...

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The atomization program at CHH was a cut and paste from the GE textbook. A huge cost to rearrange a few deck chairs for little result.

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If Trump's people did any due diligence, they must've decided that leaky houses were to be expected in a Land of the Long White Cloud. Nothing to see there, I'm sure!

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Pity Chris has gone to the dark side. Not the best example of his judgment.

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Liddell current position speaks of political aspirations, and probably has a better understanding of bringing employment back to the US than most..

While vested media interests like to sell half truths, the reality with Trump is he's bringing back business to the US. US middle class has been hollowed out by exporting manufacturing jobs and population to Asia. Hawaiian Airways are now buying aircraft off Boeing is but one example.

Asia has its own set of rules, or lack thereof, regarding employment and human rights. US is the one country who is big and ugly enough to level the playing field. They initially tried dealing with the matter through currency manipulation, which didn't work. Now its round two.

Unfortunately, New Zealand has been stupid enough to export a large part of its manufacturing to Asia as well. Perhaps explains why we are so vulnerable to boom and bust cycles engineered by the overseas banksters.

There has never been free trade. Its either the ignorance of politicans that bought into it, or they have been bought off by those with vested interests. Now the only solution is manufacturing growth by mass importation of people, to keep the overseas interest bills at bay.

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Yep, North Korean Juche is the way forward. Where is today's William Sutch when you need him. Is it you Richard S? You seem to understand how it all works

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Dont worry Bruce, we understand being an Act Party member you have extreme views on economic management.

Pity those extreme views benefit the few. Have you not understood the banksters model is flawed, by the fact we live on a planet of finite resources.

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I guess his career overseas was long enough for him to lose his laid back Kiwi mentality of “I’m on coffee break and knock off at 5, might get started on it later...”. Amazing what New Zealanders can do when you take them out of their natural habitat.

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Chris will do a great job, he's totally non pc and is able to discern BS from MSM. Getting tbe best out of big administrations is something he's totally capable of, so all those socialist swamp dwellers had better start packing their tails and move to Mississippi pronto, or California or Mexico.

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The word on the street is that the position is actually going to go to Larry Kudlow, an American, well known on Wall Street who has impeccable conservative( in the economic sense) credentials and who previously, had served in the Reagan Administration. I hope he does get it, as he is no friend of socialism. And between him, Wilbur Smith and Trump himself, socialist countries like New Zealand are going to get no favours from America.

Interestingly, Trump has tied the tariffs on steel and aluminium to US national security, and countries that wish to apply for an exemption are going to have to show that they require that on US national security grounds, i.e., that they have a defence treaty with the US and that they are pulling their weight in terms of that treaty by spending enough of their GDP on defence. New Zealand, as a notorious defence sponger and bludger demonstrates neither of those things.

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So that didn't happen.

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Remember that one week where Liddell was gonna be economic adviser ? That was so cool.

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Arguably if Liddell was that smart he would work for his own country.

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It seems that Trump is advising his potential advisers how to become his adviser of the moment! Is this really a surprise?

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A Trump leader is needed in New Zealand to stop Political correctness and fake news on housing.

Jacinder wants 20 yo to have the same wealth as a 50 yo home owner ? Without the 30 years of hard worked wages ?

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And Micheal Cullen wants to address inequality by making us all poor via the taxation system. Not for him New Zealanders getting richer by keeping the rewards of their hard work and labour and their risk-taking while the poor also move up the income and asset scale, oh no. He's happy to take via taxation the reward from those who succeed to keep everyone equal. He's happy to keep the poor poorer and more dependent by taxing incentive and the reward that goes with it for everybody else.

And New Zealanders, most of them, are simply sleepwalking to their execution.

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For country that lists the US among its short list of friends we seem to think our vocal criticism of their chosen leader occurs in a vacuum. Perhaps that's our collective approach on this.

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Bullet = Dodged

When Larry gets the boot (and we know he will - look at him flip-flopping on tariffs already to appease Drumpf!), Liddell would be very wise to say, "pass" if the position comes up again.

Anyone want to take bets on how long Kudlow will last? I give him 6 months tops :)

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Personally, I would have felt safer with Liddell a heartbeat away from the prez. Dare say I don't hold with all of his politics, but at least he's got all the plates in his picnic set. 

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Yeah, he sure has: Chipped, cracked and mismatched.

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Can you cover this story from here? Turns out he did get a job with Trump after all.

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