The business community is mostly bullish about the Trump administration and Trump’s plans to cut taxes and roll back regulations, according to Mark Vitner, managing director and senior economic advisor for Wells Fargo.
The Pasco Economic Development Council featured Vitner as guest speaker at its annual Economic Forecast Luncheon at the Florida Hospital Center Ice on Feb. 3.
President Donald Trump is shaking up the old way of doing business, Vitner said. “It’s a 180 degrees from policies we’ve been following and not what most people expected to be following.”
But, Vitner said the business community generally likes Trump’s rapid-fire issuance of executive orders that are delivering on his campaign promises.
Bill Cronin, president of the Pasco EDC, agreed.
There has been an uncertain climate in past years with road blocks in getting loans to invest, particularly to build on speculation, he said.
“The president said a lot of things during the campaign, and now he’s starting to do those things,” Cronin said. “Now it gives predictability and certainty in the market place. Whether you agree with him or not, you want certainty before you invest.”
Vitner said tax cuts, fewer regulations and better trade agreements are “very, very good for growth.”
He expects the Gross Domestic Product to rise 2.3 percent in 2017. The GDP is based on the total value of goods produced and services provided nationwide in one year.
Some cities, such as San Francisco and Houston, are outpacing the nation’s growth, increasing their local GDP faster than the rest of the country.
Florida also has a growing economy “from Pensacola to Key West,” Vitner said.
He anticipates about 4 percent job growth in Pasco County, up from about 3.6 percent in 2016.
But, Vitner also cautioned against expecting too much, too soon.
“It takes time to formulate policies,” he said. “It takes time to impact the economy.”
One of Trump’s campaign promises was to spend $1 trillion over the next decade on infrastructure. But, Vitner said, “I don’t think dirt will move for two to three years.”
He anticipates court challenges that could delay those types of projects.
The economy likely will see more immediate results from deregulation, he added.
“The thing I’m most positive of is rolling back regulations,” Vitner said. “And, regulations are strangling small businesses.”
Unemployment ticked up slightly from 4.7 percent to 4.8 percent. That’s technically full employment, but Vitner said employment remains a problem.
“There are a whole lot of people not fully employed,” he said.
Some people may only work a few hours at an online job, or drive for Uber part-time, but still are counted in employment data, he said.
But, some people have dropped out of the labor market or maybe don’t feel secure in the jobs they have, he added.
The recent holiday season also was telling.
Vitner said brick-and-mortar retailers hired fewer seasonal workers “because they knew they were getting strangled by online.”
Technology and energy will be economic drivers for the country, Vitner said.
He also expects reforms to the Dodd-Frank law, which enacted financial reform following the economic meltdown in 2008. Vitner said changes likely will make it easier for people to qualify for loans.
“Regulations are well-intentioned,” he said. “But, there are unintended consequences.”
February 8, 2017