Economists are already warning that if President-elect Trump's policies are enacted, such as initiating trade wars, or the wrong tax cuts, or even cutting back on social security and Medicare benefits, we could see another recession, similar to the Great Recession that occurred during GW Bush's term.
Whether his policies can be enacted depends on several things, including his unpredictable behavior, and perhaps the outcome of his November 28 RICO trial in San Diego for running Trump University as a criminal enterprise. Judge Gonzalo Curiel has just ruled that Trump's inflammatory campaign statements can be admitted as evidence in his trial.
The Bush recession was caused by too lax regulations that caused the housing bubble (by allowing excessive bank leverage), tax cuts that increased the budget deficit while we were fighting two wars, and then Greenspan's Federal Reserve decision to raise interest rates 16 consecutive times to bust the housing bubble.
It's terrifying what President-elect Trump will be able to do when he controls all three branches of government (as soon as he appoints a ninth Supreme Court Justice) and carries out his campaign pledges.
Carrying out his pledge to deport all aliens when there is already an outflow of immigrants will devastate agriculture, construction, and any other industry that relies on low-cost labor, for instance.
His promise to 'fix' Obamacare (or abolish it outright) will endanger health benefits for the 20 million now covered by it. This makes healthcare much more expensive, since it puts the uncovered back in Emergency Room care for serious illnesses, which puts the cost of their care back on the hospitals.
And as the New York Times reports,
"This is going to be a president who will be the biggest regulatory reformer since Ronald Reagan," Stephen Moore, one of Mr. Trump's economic advisers said in an interview on Wednesday. "There are just so many regulations that could be eased."
It could be everything from repeal of Dodd-Frank, the successor to the Glass Steagall Act that protected federally insured depositors from risky investment banking, to repealing environmental regulations that combat global warming, and not only abolishing Obamacare, but the current Medicare system as House Speaker Paul Ryan is threatening to do.
And we are reaching full employment levels, which will surely mean the Fed will begin to raise short term rates in December. This is happening already in the bond markets, as evidenced by rising longer term interest rates in anticipation of a soaring budget deficit, if Trump's plan to increase both infrastructure and military spending while cutting taxes is implemented.
The central issue, though, may be Trump's misbehavior in dissing those values that made American great.
"Trump's bigotry, dishonesty and promise-breaking will have to be denounced," said David Brooks today. "We can't go morally numb. But he needs to be replaced with a program that addresses the problems that fueled his ascent.
"After all, the guy will probably resign or be impeached within a year. The future is closer than you think."
But President-elect Trump's destruction of almost all decency in his grab for overwhelming power has let that Genie of discontent out of the bottle. We know what happened in the 1930s and even earlier when such ruthless tactics were used.
Harlan Green © 2016
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