Editor's Note

On a recent visit to Berkeley, where I attended the University of California in the late 1970s, I was struck by how little the city had changed. The neighborhoods are still lined with century-old houses. 

A young, diligent man I know came to the Seattle area from Mexico as a toddler. Permitted recently to work legally under former President Obama’s DREAM Act, the young man found a job at a used-car dealership. With bilingual skills and personal charm, he sold several cars in his first weeks on the job. Sadly, his employer took advantage of anti-immigrant sentiment stirred up by President Donald Trump to fire the young man, depriving him of commissions he was owed.

With multinationals like nike capable of moving production from one cheap source to another — shifting production from Japan to China and now to Vietnam — and with uber-efficient importers like Costco, Walmart and Amazon bringing goods straight from factory to consumer, the United States has become the bargain basement of the world.

The end of January marks the Chinese New Year as well as the elevation of a volatile, capricious new leader to the highest office on the planet. Had we been more attuned to the finer points of Chinese astrology, we would have predicted the election-year peculiarities that produced this result.

It’s easy to be pessimistic about the outlook for 2017. After 90 months of growth, the economic expansion is aging and may not have much life left.