The prospect of Donald Trump winning the US presidency represents a global threat on a par with jihadist militancy destabilising the world economy, according to British research group Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
In the latest version of its Global Risk assessment, the EIU ranked victory for the Republican front-runner at 12 on an index where the current top threat is a Chinese economic “hard landing” rated 20.
Justifying the threat level, the EIU highlighted the tycoon’s alienation towards China as well as his comments on Islamist extremism, saying a proposal to stop Muslims from entering the United States would be a “potent recruitment tool for jihadi groups”.
It also raised the spectre of a trade war under a Trump presidency and pointed out that his policies “tend to be prone to constant revision”.
“He has been exceptionally hostile towards free trade, including notably NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), and has repeatedly labelled China as a ‘currency manipulator’.” it said.
“He has also taken an exceptionally right-wing stance on the Middle East and jiadhi terrorism, including, among other things, advocating the killing of families of terrorists and launching a land incursion into Syria to wipe out IS (and acquire its oil).”
By comparison it gave a possible armed clash in the South China Sea an eight - the same as the threat posed by Britain leaving the European Union - and ranked an emerging market debt crisis at 16.
A Trump victory, it said, would at least scupper the Trans-Pacific Partnership between the US and 11 other American and Asian states signed in February, while “his hostile attitude to free trade, and alienation of Mexico and China in particular, could escalate rapidly into a trade war.”
“There are risks to this forecast, especially in the event of a terrorist attack on US soil or a sudden economic downturn,” it added.
Meanwhile, first lady Michelle Obama said Wednesday she had no desire to follow Hillary Clinton and run for president herself, saying she could have more impact outside of Washington’s polarised politics.
Obama made the remarks as she addressed the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, where she introduced a song for charity to support a UN-backed campaign to improve education access for the 62 million unschooled girls around the world.
“I will not run for president. Nope, nope, not going to do it,” she said in response to a question.