On Reflection: Now What?

Will Donald Trump burst the Puget Sound’s economic bubble?
| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 
 
One of the most robust growth spurts in Seattle’s economic history occurred during the presidency of Barack Obama, a liberal Democrat.
Coincidence?
 
Perhaps. It’s easy to find research that suggests a president’s impact on local economies is tangential at best. Besides, in Seattle’s blue-bubble hothouse, the economy seems to grow like a noxious weed regardless of what’s happening outside the imaginary enclosure. 
 
Of course, if the Obama administration had supported a more vigorous post-recession economic stimulus, the people who feel “left out” by the nation’s modest economic recovery might think differently about Donald Trump, who becomes our 45th president on January 20.
 
That navel gazing is immaterial now. Trump is soon to be the person in charge. Will he actually start a trade war with China? Renegotiate NAFTA? Resuscitate the coal industry?
Will he trim corporate taxes? Withdraw tens of millions in federal funding from places like Seattle that are “sanctuary cities” for undocumented immigrants? Undermine the independence of the Federal Reserve?
 
Given the past few years of outlandishly vigorous growth here, Cascadians like to think we’re inured to any salvos flung at our bubble. But as distant as we are from Washington, D.C. — literally and figuratively — it’s not as if we inhabit another planet. 
 
Whether it’s Trump’s avowed protectionism or his repudiation of climate change, Seattle is bound to feel the president’s reach. Furthermore, it’s likely a recession will occur during the next four years. We’re certainly due for one. President-elect Trump’s policies may hasten its arrival or exacerbate its effect, so Seattle would do well to heed the advice of economist Dick Conway and be wary (page 30).
 
As well, Governor Jay Inslee said upon his reelection that Washington “will always be a beacon for progressive values.” Since one of these values is ethical business practices, it’s quite likely that a new president not known for ethical comportment will eventually test the mettle — and the patience — of local business leaders. 
 

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