The Slatest

Just How Scared Should the World Be of a President Trump? Very.

Even scarier than he looks. Above, Donald Trump speaks at the CFE Arena during a campaign stop on the campus of the University of Central Florida on March 5 in Orlando.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Just how terrified should the world be about the prospects of a President Donald J. Trump? About as worried as it is about jihadi terrorists destabilizing the global economy. That’s the official assessment from the Economist Intelligence Unit, a major global geopolitical analysis firm that keeps tabs on what it believes are the biggest threats to the world.

In its latest global risk assessment, the Economist magazine’s sister company rates the danger posed by a potential Trump presidency a 12 on a scale of 1 to 25—classifying it as slightly less of a threat to the world than a new cold war between Russia and the West and slightly more of one than an armed conflict in the South China Sea. So, um, yeah, pretty bad!


Here’s the full Top 10. As the firm’s name might suggest, the group tends to give economic concerns top billing. (British spellings theirs; emphasis mine).


1.) China experiences a hard landing [20/25]
2t.) Russia’s interventions in Ukraine and Syria precede a new “cold war” [16]
2t.) Currency volatility culminates in an emerging markets corporate debt crisis [16]
4t.) Beset by external and internal pressures, the EU begins to fracture [15]
4t.) “Grexit” is followed by a euro zone break-up [15]
6t.) Donald Trump wins the US presidential election [12]

6t.) The rising threat of jihadi terrorism destabilises the global economy [12]
8t.) The UK votes to leave the EU [8]
8t.) Chinese expansionism prompts a clash of arms in the South China Sea [8]
10.) A collapse in investment in the oil sector prompts a future oil price shock [4]


The group rates both Trump and the threat of jihadi terrorism as “moderate probability, high impact” events. The short-but-to-the-point Trump assessment notes that it’s difficult to predict exactly what the GOP front-runner would do if elected since he rarely goes into detail when it comes to policy and, when he does, those specifics tend to differ from one day to the next. Still, the EIU experts believe that the combination of his anti-trade rhetoric and general hostility toward Mexico and China “could escalate rapidly into a trade war.” Oh, and there’s also the not-so-insignificant matter of his “exceptionally right-wing” positions on the Middle East and terrorism, which range from his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States to specifically targeting the families of terrorists. “His militaristic tendencies towards the Middle East,” the group writes, “would be a potent recruitment tool for jihadi groups, increasing their threat both within the region and beyond.”


The major reason that a Trump administration isn’t even higher on that list? The firm believes that Hillary Clinton would likely defeat him in November, and that even if he somehow did win the White House—say in the event of a domestic terrorist attack in the days before the election—Washington gridlock would prevent him from following through on many of his more dangerous campaign promises. Hooray, gridlock?

Read more Slate coverage of the GOP primary.