For the past week, almost exactly half of the country has been celebrating and the other half has been despondent. While I’m not going to get political in this space (work topics are like polite dinner conversation: you don’t talk politics or religion) there is a legitimate discussion to be had about what a Trump presidency, and the potential economic policies, mean for our industry.
First of all, our companies live and die by the overall economic environment. There isn’t much more of a discretionary spend than a dedicated home theater, media distribution system, or home automation system. Yes, even if the economy is poor, some new homes will be built and some will be renovated, so there will be a modicum of work, but like in 2008-2010, work will be slim pickings when things are bad.
Fortunately, it looks as though Wall Street is expecting Trump to be beneficial for the economy. According to those I know who work on the Street, a Trump presidency was not accounted for in the markets before last Tuesday, so when the market futures briefly nose-dived by more than 800 points Tuesday night—what would have been the single greatest down opening since 9/11—I was really nervous. But then came Wednesday and the rest of the week. The markets reached new record highs. The market closed on Monday, November 7 at 18,259 and closed Monday, November 14 at 18,868. That 600-plus-point gain shows the strength in the economy that Wall Street predicts.
So the overall economic situation might look pretty good. However, there could be some downsides to certain policies. If international trade is seriously curtailed, that could have an impact on all of the products we sell. Very little of the technology that we sell is made in the good ol’ USA these days. Most is made in China and other Asian countries, and many trade deals are at risk.
I’m not sure what that will mean for importation of the electronics that we sell day in and day out. Hopefully it won’t mean much, as there is not much industry or workforce expertise here domestically to take up the slack. Immigration policies could go either way in their effect; it may mean a reduced workforce for integration companies if legal immigration is curtailed, but it also may mean less new competition. For our manufacturing partners, it may be harder to attract and hire top-tier technical talent from around the world.
So, if the economy does improve as Wall Street seems to believe, and we aren’t affected significantly by reduced international trade, then a Trump presidency could be good for our industry. I was initially concerned about an inertia setting in, where consumers would be afraid to spend since a Trump presidency is such an unknown—especially in the Democratic stronghold of Manhattan, which voted 90 percent Clinton. Fortunately, I haven’t seen anything like that, and proposals have been closing at a strong rate over the past week, and new calls continue to come in.
As is most of the country, I’m hopeful for a smooth transition and a successful four years for our country, our economy, and our industry.