Controversial US billionaire (and Kiwi) Peter Thiel famously summed up Donald Trump's relationship with American journalists. "The media is always taking Trump literally," Thiel said. "It never takes him seriously, but it always takes him literally."

One year into Trump's first term as President, early business fanboys like Thiel have fallen by the wayside, with their political utility long spent.

But liberal US media - like the New York Times and Washington Post, which have enjoyed a resurgence in subscriptions and profitability since the 2016 presidential election - are finding the Great Trump Political Disruption is not just fruitful journalistic fodder, but good business.

The Wall Street Journal - which does take Trump very seriously indeed - strips out a lot of the noise and provides a more nuanced chronicle of his presidency, the policy shifts and implications for business.


I read all three but increasingly prefer the WSJ as an antidote to Trump outrage, with its more sober assessments of the 45th presidency.

The truth is, Trump has (so far) been good for US business.

American business has simply stared past the tweets, the inquiries, the political corpses and the scandals and looked to its own self-interest. It's got its mojo back.

Major companies like Apple, which will now pay US$38 billion in taxes in the US relating to the repatriation of its overseas cash pile, are not doing so out of the goodness of their hearts. But out of self-interest and as a result of the public jawboning by a President who wants the US to be a winner when it comes to the international arm-wrestle under way for tax streams. Same too with the move to bring operations home by other major US corporations.

The noise has dominated: Svengali Steve Bannon, fired from both the White House and as chair of Breitbart News, has now taken a self-denying ordinance to say no more in the wake of Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury revelations. Trump's list of "fake news" targets is out. His doctor has cleared him. The Russian inquiry has yet to hit home with a smoking gun. He is in no danger of impeachment.

Put to one side also Bannon's claims that once in office Trump would play to his base.

The Trump Administration is studded with former Wall St players like Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn, and top businessmen such as former Exxon boss Rex Tillerson and former GM executive Chris Liddell.

Their influence is being felt.

Take the tax cuts, which were finessed late last year by the President in some skilful bartering. They are straight from the Republican playbook.

Their economic benefits are front-loaded. Polls show that Americans are warming to a package which gives massive, permanent breaks to corporations in 2019, and cuts for other "units" this year.

Businesses are lapping up the prospective breaks, with more than 70 major corporates now pledging that as a result they will give pay hikes or bonuses for employees.

As even former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew (an Obama appointee) admitted in Hong Kong this week (before warning of an inherent danger that they will ultimately blow out the US deficit to an unsustainable level), the cuts will give a short-term economic bounce.

The stock market continues to surge to new highs, unemployment remains low and new jobs are being created.

Let's be real here. Trump is not responsible for this. The trend was well under way during the Obama Administration as it set about restoring confidence after the GFC.

Trump's election has not stopped this.

Businesspeople are pragmatic. They don't have to like Trump. But they are not going to shoot themselves in the foot by going into a funk (like New Zealand businesses has following the change of Government last October).

Next week Trump will travel to the World Economic Forum in Davos.

This is where the stakes will be raised.

Trump wants to tear up trade agreements and renegotiate them to give more benefits to the US.

There are fears his Administration will push too hard against China when it comes to the vexed steel issue.

The President questions whether the UN has got sufficient upside from globalisation. He has questioned the World Trade Organisation's mandate and threatened new barriers.

At last year's Davos, Xi Jinping made a strong anti-protectionism speech.

In Hong Kong this week, the IMF's David Lipton suggested China also has work to do before it can claim to be a free-trader.

Trump will continue to lay into nations which he feels have taken advantage of America.

New Zealand is not on that list. But our politicians should play clever rather than "poke the bear" over his transitory outrages.

See through the noise and concentrate on the main game.

Trump will be here until at least 2021 and has a good chance of another term.