Harvard economist Rogoff: I'm 'nervous' about Trump winning

Ken RogoffCNBCKenneth Rogoff

Kenneth Rogoff isn’t the kind of guy who makes political endorsements. As a public policy professor at Harvard University, and the former chef economist at the International Monetary Fund, he tries to avoid taking political positions at all.

But this year is different.

He says the prospect of Republican nominee Donald J. Trump winning the presidency has him “nervous.”

“It just creates so much uncertainty,” Rogoff told Business Insider. “I don’t know what his economic policies would be. I know what he says.”

That’s not to say Rogoff agrees with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton on everything, but he said, “I feel safer having someone I think I know and understand better — Secretary Clinton — than I do with someone as erratic as Trump.”

It’s not a potential Trump presidency’s domestic policy that worries Rogoff. He believes presidents have less power at home. It’s foreign policy that has him scared.

Trump’s economic policies tend to be anti-trade and anti-globalization. He’s railed against free trade agreements such as NAFTA, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He’s suggested he could levy tariffs on goods coming in from China, Mexico, and Canada.

That’s an affront to economists like Rogoff who believe globalization is a good thing.

“On net, it benefits Americans a lot, benefits the poor a lot,” Rogoff said.

Trade with China, for instance, has driven down prices for goods in America, he said, and a Trump win could jeopardize those gains.

Rogoff is hardly alone among top economists. Many are concerned about Trump.

In August, when The Wall Street Journal surveyed 45 former White House economic advisors — from the Richard Nixon administration through today — not one from either party endorsed Trump or his economic ideas.

Rogoff said he’s met Clinton, and was “super impressed with her” one-on-one.

As for the prospect of Trump winning, he said, “It’s a little too much volatility for my taste.”

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