The first of three presidential debates between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was held on Monday night (26/9) at Hofstra University on New York's Long Island. The race is now becoming intense as there are only 43 days until Election Day (November 8th).

The American standup comedian, Chelsea Peretti twitted that the studio for the debate looked “like the set of a reality show starring Kid Rock and Dog the Bounty Hunter.” This is because the studio had a good overdose of kitsch:  stars, the bald eagle, blue and red adorned every corner of the room. It also resonated with Trump’s antics; his call for restoring “law and order” was actually a retro moment, taking us back to Richard Nixon’s 1968 presidential campaign and his own emphasis on “law and order.”

In the debate, Trump appeared in a ‘Democratic’ blue tie and Clinton in a ‘Republican’ red suit, “color trolling each other,” as Steven Thrasher put it. 

But, the match between the two politicians was the same old, same old. Trump persisted in his lies without disputing his misogynist attitudes or birther conspiracy (that Barack Obama was not a natural-born citizen of the US; he was not born in Hawaii but Kenya and thus not eligible to be president). And Clinton, despite her strong and sensible arguments, remained unable to offer a clear and concrete image of what changes she was going to make. Nonetheless, various polls show that she is leading the race. The CNN/ORC poll of the debate watchers showed 62% of them believed Clinton won the debate and 27% that Trump did. 

As CNN reported, “She delivered the best zinger of the night in response to criticism from Trump for staying off the campaign trail recently. ‘I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate,’ she said, ‘And yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be President. And that is a good thing.’”

The Guardian’s Jill Abramson said that “if her intention was to let Trump asphyxiate himself, mission accomplished.”

Debate Highlights

False facts: The debate was dominated by Trump’s questionable “facts.” His statements on policing, support for the Iraq War and that Clinton was the one who began the birther conspiracy were all untrue. 

Clinton pointed out that Trump “has a long record of engaging in racist behavior” and that he “is a man who has called women pigs, slobs and dogs.”

Taxes: Trump has refused to release his tax returns because, as Clinton suggested, he may not be “as rich as he says he is,” “not as charitable as he claims to be” or “Maybe he doesn’t want the American people to know that he has paid nothing in Federal taxes.”

Stop-question-and-frisk program: Also known as stop-and-frisk, is a practice of the New York City Police Department where police stop and question a pedestrian, then frisk them for weapons. In other parts of the US is known as the Terry stop. A Terry stop is a brief detention by the police of a person suspected to be involved in criminal activity. The police have also the right to do a limited search of the suspect’s clothing for weapons, if s/he is considered armed and dangerous. 

In the debate, Trump demanded police using more ‘stop and frisk’ tactics, while Clinton said that it was “found to be unconstitutional.” It was proven that black and Hispanic people were predominately targeted by law officers.  Also, statistics show that Clinton is right because after the stop and frisk stopped, crime rates in New York City kept going down.

Cybersecurity: For Clinton, cyber warfare comes in the form of hacking groups and state actors, chiefly Russia. But Donald Trump, falsely said that “I don't think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. She's saying Russia, Russia, Russia. Maybe it was. It could be Russia but it could be China, it could be lots of people. It could be somebody that sits on their bed that weighs 400 pounds. You don't know who broke into DNC." The security of “the cyber”, as Trump called cybersecurity, or the internet, or whatever else he was thinking of, was “very tough” and “hardly doable.” But if for many viewers this kind of talk elicited a “ummm, what?”, Clinton remained calm and responded acutely to Trump’s fallacious arguments.

She was well prepared, and Trump’s attacks, no matter how insulting they were, didn’t wound his opponent.

How the markets responded

Traders believe that Clinton was at her best last night after her battle.  FXTM Chief Market Strategist Hussein Sayed, said: “financial markets obviously declared Clinton as the winner.” He also added that “the best financial asset proxy to the U.S. presidential race is the Mexican Peso which rose by more than 1.5% against the U.S. dollar after declining to a new record low yesterday. The higher the Mexican currency goes suggests higher probability for Clinton reaching the White House as Trump repeatedly raged against globalisation and free trade agreements. The Aussie, Kiwi and Yen also supported the opinion that Hillary Clinton won the first presidential debate.”

Early traders helped to raise the FTSE 100 index by 26 points. European markets were also showing bigger gains, with the Paris market up by 0.7%.

But, it was the Mexican Peso that declared Clinton the winner. It gained 1.5% against the US dollar. The dollar was worth 19.9 peso (MXN) before the debate and 19.575 peso after. It is now at 19.431 MXN (28/9). With Trump’s attacks on free trade and his promise to build a wall at the US-Mexico border, the peso has returned the blows by growing stronger.