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Success comes from awareness of one’s limitations and opportunities, and the willingness to see how actions influence others. Now is the time for the greater Washington region to challenge itself to look in the mirror and spot its weaknesses and act accordingly.

Yes, the business community must get ready to pivot.

We know all too well the strong connection between our local economy and the federal government. The proximity has been our region’s biggest strength, and yet sometimes its largest burden. The magnitude and diversity of our business community is often obscured by the “business of government” when outsiders view our region. The ability to generate significant wealth by serving the government represents a large portion of our activity, and we have embraced that.

However, for those concerned with the future of our region and its ability to generate high-paying jobs, the complex relationship between our business community and the government has long been a concern. For years, we’ve been identifying and promoting opportunities to divert our economy away from the shadow of government.

Sequestration was a strong reminder that our reliance on the federal government could have adverse effects. As federal spending fell, our region’s high value job employment stagnated. For a time, new employment in greater Washington lagged behind other metropolitan areas, and that’s when a broad cross-section of business leaders and politicians finally stood up and took notice.

The message was clear: greater Washington needed to diversify its economy and lessen its reliance on and interdependence with the federal government.

Business groups took up this message, reports were commissioned, plans were made and everyone agreed that something had to be done to address this pressing issue.

Sadly, as the specter of sequestration passed from the public consciousness, the urgency to make changes also passed. Some argue that our region has diversified. Others believe the lesson to be learned is that even if federal spending shrinks for a time, things eventually return to normal.

 

Professor Stephen Fuller, one of the leading thinkers on our local economy, last week pointed out that economic diversification hasn’t accelerated. In fact, the data show that the reverse is true. In a sobering report, he describes how the seven industrial clusters most likely to create new high value-added jobs in our community are not growing the way they must. Our reliance on federal government spending continues, and we are falling behind in our need to create high-value employment.

Meanwhile, there are clear indications that the federal government’s spending in the region could be at risk. The Trump administration has signaled plans for a federal hiring freeze. Entire government agencies could be downsized or eliminated. True, indications are that national security spending will increase. However, it is impossible to predict whether the net effect of these trends will create more or less federal spending in our region.

I believe that questions of how to cut our dependency on the federal government will become more pressing. Fuller’s research reminds us that we as a region must be more nimble — ready to adapt and embrace employment not necessarily linked to the federal government.

Greater Washington is about to have its pivotal moment. Will it be ready?

This column was originally posted at WashingtonPost.com.

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With the current adulation for the business prowess that got Donald Trump elected to the highest office in the land, we perpetuate our tendency to celebrate the success of growing a new business and turning a huge profit. We lionize entrepreneurs and business leaders and, in so doing, miss a key determinant in what makes a person or business a success.

By focusing on the “victory lane” we are misled into believing that success was somehow inevitable for those who won. We lump together those who succeed by choosing a single path and never veer from it and those who are forced to pivot and adapt along the way. In doing so, we obscure a key distinction.

Undoubtedly, these are always fun stories to hear. Who doesn’t like to dream about their own triumph through the success stories of others? However, to learn from success, the lesson comes not by focusing on the outcome, but rather how successful people got there.

In the arc of a career or a business, inevitability of success does not exist. It requires hard work, some luck and the match between demand for what you have and your ability to provide it. Some fortunate people have a path that never wavers and the demand and supply match-up occurs and is sustained. However, for most of us, somewhere along the way we must modify our path and pivot to get there.

Pivoting increases the number of opportunities in the lifetime of a person or business to find the perfect profitable match-up. It’s a skill that increases the likelihood of success.

Interestingly, a person’s ability to pivot can be predicted long before the need to pivot occurs. In a society where we are looking for the next winners, recognition of this trait is essential. Look for two important personal attributes: self-awareness and empathy.

Self-awareness is the ability to look outside of oneself, and see yourself as others see you. You can’t act on new information effectively unless you are able to see its effect on you. Self-awareness is the core to adaptation — unless you understand why you act in a certain way, you cannot act differently.

Empathy is the ability to perceive how your actions affect those around you. It creates a feedback loop, where you measure your actions and subsequent reactions. For example, the concept of understanding your customer and making something your customer wants, relies heavily on this cycle.

The world shaping our careers and businesses is increasingly unpredictable and changeable. The likelihood that any of us will have an unwavering path to entrepreneurial and career success is less and less likely. Winners will be those who adapt and learn from their mistakes. For those who can pivot, chances of success increase dramatically.

This column originally appeared at WashingtonPost.com.

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I am struck by two conversations our nation is having about the future of the American worker: protecting American manufacturing jobs and the application of artificial intelligence in business. I believe the two are related.

President Trump has shown his ability to use the bully pulpit to make U.S.-based manufacturing jobs a high priority. Overturning years of orthodoxy, plans are being made to slap tariffs on imported items. Congress is considering giving preferential tax treatment to U.S. businesses that manufacture products domestically, and penalizing companies that import items.

Trump’s strong public push for bringing American jobs back home is having a visible effect. A rush of announcements from businesses such as Softbank, Carrier and Fiat promise to put Americans to work through investments. Others such as General Motors are playing catch-up in this rapidly changing political climate, fearing criticism if their company’s investment decisions benefit foreign workers.

Meanwhile, technologists are warning us that artificial intelligence will steal tens of millions of jobs from humans, accentuating the reality started by the introduction of computer hardware, software and robots decades ago.

The pace of job substitution that has occurred over the last 30 years will be dramatically accelerated, as will the diversity of the types of jobs eliminated. This shift is a big deal. For example, a recent White House study on the potential effect of artificial intelligence on employment suggests that up to half of jobs currently being done by humans will eventually be carried out by machines.

The Trump administration may face an interesting dilemma: how to promote new jobs — particularly in the manufacturing industry — when technologies continue to emerge to make current jobs obsolete.

Early indications are that President Trump will indeed be able to influence businesses to use American labor. And, it is certainly true that he can further influence behavior through more drastic actions involving tariffs or tax policies. But businesses won’t stop pursuing economic efficiency. And American consumers might not embrace paying higher prices just to protect local employment.

What is lost in the current conversation is the reason jobs have gone overseas in the first place, or disappeared through application of technology. Both alternatives were cheaper than employing American workers. Businesses acting in their own narrow economic interests have done what businesses always do — they seek efficiency.

Actions have consequences, and societies can make choices. There is nothing determinative about how technology is to be applied. As recently as last week, the CEOs of IBM and Microsoft both emphatically argued that artificial intelligence can be used to enhance human employment, rather than substitute it.

Similarly, merely maintaining a job in the United States does not in itself mean it will provide a living wage, or ancillary benefits. The manufacturing jobs of old carried wages and benefits significantly higher on an inflation-adjusted basis than many of the jobs being created in business today.

As our new president uses his influence, my wish is he and his advisors appreciate that creating the jobs our citizens want and ensuring that good jobs continue to exist, is about more than simply looking at trade and manufactured goods. It’s about making choices.

We must have an honest conversation about how to balance economic efficiency with job creation. It’s the determining factor for whether our nation creates opportunities for its workers to enjoy rewarding jobs.

Tariffs will not address this core conversation, and the sooner we acknowledge the intricacies of our employment reality, the better off we will be.

Column originally posted to WashingtonPost.com.

 

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The flow of capital supporting our start-up ecosystem is clogging. At risk is the core activity of venture capital — the conversion of accumulated wealth into innovation. Based on recently released 2016 data, I am concerned.

The strong relationship between businesses that grow rapidly and the availability of venture capital cannot be understated. Over the last 20 years, almost $190 billion have been invested in Internet businesses, while $150 billion were invested in healthcare businesses. Most technology products we take for granted today were fostered in some way by that flow of funding, as were many of the highest-paying jobs in our nation. But that flow must travel in two directions: first to the businesses in need of funds, and then back to the investors as profits. Therein lies the problem.

Last year, investors committed $41 billion to new venture capital funds. This was a 10-year high, and the third-highest annual commitment in history.

Meanwhile, previously raised venture funds deployed $101 billion in new capital to growing businesses in 2016. This was down from a peak of more than $130 billion in 2015. Both years were exceptionally high against historical trends.

Presently, 184 tech start-ups valued at more than $1 billion (so-called “unicorns”) have not been able to return cash to their investors. And, it is not just for unicorns. For all venture capital funded start-ups, the necessary recycling of cash is slowing.

There is a growing disconnect between capital coming into technology businesses, and the ability of the financial markets to provide exits. An exit gives a business owner a way to reduce or eliminate his or her stake in the business — it’s the moment owners and investors can cash in. A recent article in Bloomberg suggested that at current exit activity levels, it could take 14 years for every one of today’s unicorns to provide an exit for their investors. Perhaps they are indicative of a larger, longer-term problem.

Something has got to give. Either exits will need to pick up dramatically, or venture capital investors will be disappointed.

My sense is that we are at the end of long-term growth cycles surrounding the disruption of media and communication, and a corresponding explosion in drug discovery through biotechnology. As emerging businesses disrupted what was there before, much money was made and new market champions emerged.

These new winners have in many instances surpassed their forbearers in market power and economic concentration. Industries such as healthcare, media and software have become highly concentrated and are dominated by a relatively small number of companies.

But now, the disruptors themselves might need to become the disrupted for our economy to grow.

Where will this disruption come from? In software and media, from the acceleration of commercialization of artificial intelligence. Progress in this industry is ever more visible in the cars we won’t drive and home appliances we will turn on through voice commands. In healthcare, it will come from a greater understanding of the human genome and personalized medicine. Soon, useful lifespans will expand for those fortunate enough to afford revolutionary healthcare.

Meanwhile, it’s becoming clearer that for many investments, exits will simply not occur. The venture capital industry must rapidly change its industrial focus to truly invest in what is new and disruptive. Its ability to pivot will be a determinant for how quickly disruption and new growth can occur in our core technology industries.

Failure to make this pivot will result in a continued hindrance in the flow of venture capital, and if it slows to a trickle, our economy will suffer.

Column originally published in Washington Post.

 

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While helping to frame the United States Constitution, James Madison wrote “if men were all angels, no government would be necessary.” In his opinion, good government depended upon the concept that individual self-interest shouldn’t undermine the public good.

The incoming Trump Administration will place an unprecedented number of billionaires and successful business people in leadership roles — many of whom will have an ongoing personal financial interest in the country’s economic and foreign policies. Where to draw the line between the personal interests of those serving in government and the common good is on the mind of many.

Insights gained by growing a business help create concrete understanding of the many impediments and opportunities that shape success. For instance, a company navigates many federal, state and local regulations all while management motivates and develops employees, sells to customers and shares a clear and inspiring vision.

For complex industries, business leaders have a deep understanding of their inner workings. For a thorough explanation of how a complex financial derivative works, or how machine learning can replace a customer support employee, ask the leader of the related business. The insights gained from business success and mastering the complexity of key industries certainly makes a successful person an attractive candidate for managing a federal agency or creating new policies for the economy.

Moreover, wealthy Americans are seen by many as less likely to use a government position to seek personal advantage. They are seen as incorruptible because they can serve the public interest free from the need to gather resources to provide for their family.

So insight, experience and perceived incorruptibility could justifiably lead us to conclude that having more business leaders in government is a good thing. Indeed, many who voted for Donald Trump were drawn specifically to his business success.

The big issue, however, is not qualification, it is the degree to which business people in key leadership roles will be willing to disavow the potential financial self-interest in their government decisions.

If James Madison were alive today, he would likely still ask whether our business leaders are “angelic” enough to serve the public interest.

For close to 250 years, our nation has been governed with Madison’s words in mind. Americans agree that without rules of conduct and disclosure, there’s a risk a political appointee’s or politician’s self-interest takes precedence public interest. Here in the nation’s capital, we are familiar with Federal Acquisition Rules disclosing and avoiding personal gain in contractual transactions, but there are many other examples. Both our economy and government are based on the premise that self-interest must be disclosed and avoided when individuals are asked to exercise their judgement for the good of others.

Unfortunately, Congress and the incoming administration are clearly signaling that principles of disclosure, or the avoidance of personal profit, are of less concern than previously agreed. We are going to have to trust our leaders to find their better nature. However, in an environment where most Americans do not trust our political institutions, having faith might be the toughest challenge we face.

I believe that there is a large opportunity for thoughtful government and new approaches represented by the inclusion of business insight. But, we should expect that those from the business community who choose to serve also understand the enormous responsibility that each will carry — the responsibility to put the public interest ahead of their own.

Will an administration led by business people be the solution for our nation? Only if they are all angels.

Column originally posted in WashingtonPost.com.

Video: SiriusXM’s Forward Thinking Radio, January 9, 2017

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My prediction of the United States financial markets in 2017 is a mix of good news and bad news: When markets are chaotic, there are often large opportunities — and they are usually found in unexpected places.

The biggest change in the coming year is that investing in the United States will not be an obvious choice. Over the last few years, international concerns such as China’s growing debt bubble and the possibility of the demise of the Euro have made investing in America appear attractive in comparison. While these threats have abated somewhat, our political risks have dramatically increased.

Meanwhile, expressed policy priorities of the incoming Trump Administration are creating inflationary expectations, causing U.S. market interest rates to trend higher. Expect these pressures to increase due to an erosion of federal fiscal restraint and if, as suggested, there are trade restrictions put in place between China and the United States (or elsewhere). These factors will create an unwillingness on the part of international investors to purchase U.S. government debt, which will drive our interest rates higher.

Thinking about refinancing your home or taking on long-term debt to finance your business? Do it now. Debt will be significantly more expensive by year end.

The U.S. equity market is harder to predict. Certain businesses are likely to benefit from a lessening of regulation, particularly anti-trust regulation. Look for continued consolidation of market power in media, carbon-based energy, transportation and telecommunications. Businesses that depend on complex value chains are less likely to be happy with trade restrictions. All these factors suggest a stock market that will move sideways at best. However, the nature of these businesses will not be the only relevant factor.

Expected tax cuts for both individuals and corporations will undoubtedly create new liquidity for financial investment. As we saw with the Bush tax cuts, cutting taxes for people and businesses that are already satisfying their consumption with existing cash generally results in these tax cuts becoming financial assets and not spending on consumption of things or services. This means that the effect of tax cuts on the economy will be muted at best, but the impact on financial markets will be large.

Investment patterns over the last 20 years show that as financial assets of the well-off increase, the portion of these assets being managed by financial managers also increases. A result of this flux of new money in the hands of financial managers will be an increase in market volatility. Simply put, the more money being managed to generate short-term returns, the more markets are affected.

Turning to technology innovation, there will be significant business interest in technologies that increase worker efficiency. The incoming administration is shining a bright light on companies opting to shifting jobs overseas, so businesses seeking margin improvement will need to consider technology to lower overall effective labor costs. This will be a very strong driver for start-up innovation in the coming year.

Overall, investing and starting a business in 2017 will be complicated. There will be ample capital available for anyone demonstrating a high-growth opportunity, but capital for run-of-the-mill business expenses will be significantly more expensive. Investing in the stock market will require a strong stomach, and a willingness to take a long-term view.

America asked for a president to shake things up. The financial markets certainly won’t disappoint.

Column originally posted on WashingtonPost.com.

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The interplay between politics and the macro economy has shaped our business environment since 2008, often in adverse ways, and will continue to do so.

The last eight years have been marked by a toxic partisan divide between Congress and the president. This adversity often resulted in politicians engaging in last-minute brinksmanship — threatening to default on debt or shut down the government — to extract concessions in an ongoing ideological battle.

Heading into the new legislative session, many have already suggested that it is now the Senate Democrats’ turn to use the tactic most recently employed by Republicans to inhibit presidential action: the filibuster. The parties have flipped, but the gridlock that has prevailed will remain.

Americans are frustrated with the brinkmanship, and this electoral cycle reflects that, according to polls. Some figure the solution is now simple: take away the filibuster through a change in Senate rules, and allow a simple Senate majority to govern all decisions. When coupled with a Republican president and congressional majority, this would break the ongoing deadlock.

The financial markets are clearly expecting this to be the case, anticipating significant tax cuts, healthcare changes, lax regulation and higher inflation. They are counting on Republicans’ expressed policy intentions. And markets don’t care about ideology, they care about predictability.

The question now is: Will calls to eliminate the filibuster be successful? I have sincere doubts. There are a number of long-term Republican senators who respect the customary practices of government, and recall the filibuster’s usefulness when they were in the majority. It’s unlikely they will vote to change a tool that has been a long-standing protection against simple majority rule.

So the threat of gridlock remains — not necessarily along Democrat/Republican ideological differences, but along those developed within the Republican party between Tea Party conservatives and establishment Republicans.

It will become apparent in 2017 that Tea Party conservatives’ expectations will not be met. For example, establishment Republicans will be less willing to take health care benefits away from working Americans, cut social security or turn Medicare into a voucher program. Look closely for conversations that have already begun in the Republican Party for how to deal with the Affordable Care Act or the funding of Planned Parenthood, for early indications of this coming ideological divide.

Meanwhile, Democrats will have little interest in crossing the aisle to work with establishment Republicans, choosing instead to watch further fractures within the GOP.

My prediction is that the resulting dysfunction may at first appear to be along party lines, but that by the middle of next year, the more profound split will be within the Republican party itself. How that split is addressed will be the largest factor shaping our country’s prospects for 2017. Anyone hoping for a quiet year will be disappointed.

The discord will make investing in the stock market next year riskier and the federal government’s borrowing costs jump.

Next week, I’ll offer my reasons for these conclusions and other likely trends in the financial markets for the coming year. Some of them will be due to government dysfunction — but not all of them.

Column originally posted in WashingtonPost.com.

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Russian hacking. Did it affect our election? Did it happen at all?

The use of force by a nation is an extension of political policies. For millennia, nations have engaged in war as a tool to achieve national ends, or sometimes as an end in itself — waging war to create a national political consensus or to deflect attention from ineffective domestic policies.

Until World War I, wars were fought between military forces. Populations were largely not active participants. However, starting in World War I, direct attacks on citizens became part of warfare with the bombing of London by Germans.

This addition of civilians as a direct target underpinned war strategies in World War II and beyond. Now, the balance of terror — the possibility of a direct and enormous attack on a nation’s citizens — is the basis of war and its deterrence.

There have always been rules for how nations engage in war through international treaties and customary practice. As the calculus changed and force projected onto civilians became an accepted practice, a global consensus emerged for how and when this would occur.

There was an expectation of proportionality: conventional force was to be met with conventional force and nuclear weapons with nuclear weapons. National security — the process of protecting American citizens — functioned within these clearly described expectations. War was to be waged by nations through their militaries.

However, over the last 15 years, we have seen this international consensus erode significantly. For example, we struggled with the correct military response to the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center carried out not by a nation, but by a terrorist group. More recently, Americans were unsure how to react when the North Korean government cyber attacked the servers of Sony, a private company.

Enter cyber warfare. Each day we are more reliant on software and the Internet as the backbone of our economy, and that leaves us vulnerable. Consider the chaos that would be caused by a widespread outage of power that lasted weeks. Or, the incalculable cost of a widespread disruption of our financial markets or records. Imagine the cost to our national discourse if the information we rely on is tainted by intentional misinformation fostered by a national adversary. Each of these harms could occur through nothing more than the use of software and computing power.

We have grown up with the expectation that America’s most existential threats would come from other countries using physical force against us. We are armed and have adopted policies for how our military would retaliate if attacked. We have a plan for how to react if another country dropped a nuclear bomb on Washington, or if it sent paratroopers to capture an oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia. This is the basis of our national security — because our adversaries know in advance how we would react, they are deterred from attacking us through use of force.

But, what’s our plan if the use of force isn’t physical force at all, but the use of software and hacking skills? Do we have a plan when the attackers themselves might be acting on their own and not part of a country’s military plan against America? What is our plan if the attack is on our businesses and citizens directly?

Deterrence — the promise that force will be met with force — is the backbone of our national security. Clarity on what constitutes warfare in the 21st century must be determined, and expectations of our likely response to a cyber attack must be clearly described to both friend and foe. Failure to do this will only embolden those who wish to do us harm.

 

 

Full column can be found at WashingtonPost.com.

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It was recently argued that as a nation we have lost our ability to create new industries out of big ideas, meaning fewer high-paying jobs and weak economic growth. As someone who converts ideas in actions for a living, who is working to make sure the region does not lose its innovative edge, I find it is not our failure to have big ideas that threatens us, it’s that we don’t capitalize on our big ideas.

We tend to think that our national economy is best left to the free market. Many of us equate regulation and government intervention as inhibiting the free movement of ideas, capital and labor. Stock market values of companies in regulated industries have increased dramatically over the last month as it becomes clearer that President-elect Donald Trump is committed to lessening government involvement. Some predict accelerating economic growth and job creation.
However, a blanket reticence to regulate may impede our ability to convert new ideas into industry. When it comes to creating conditions for new industries, the government has a huge role to play.

Our economy does not grow at a consistent rate. Its growth rate expands most dramatically during an industrial wave — meaning a period where a new technology is broadly adopted, changing the fundamental underpinnings of employment, entrepreneurship and capital. Consider intercontinental railroads, automobiles, electrification, radio, television, semiconductors, software, the Internet, wireless communication and mapping the human genome and the effect each had on the creation of commercial opportunities. Each of these technologies fostered industrial waves.

The federal government’s role in creating the conditions for industrial waves is demonstrable.

For example, the adoption of the intercontinental railroads was driven by a desire for a mechanism to transport federal troops around the nation. The government ensured that standardization of trackbeds occurred, created time zones to keep trains on schedule and adjusted freight rates so they wouldn’t choke farmers and businesses relying on railroads to transport their goods.

We can thank the federal government’s breaking up AT&T’s longstanding monopoly in telephony for our rapid adoption of new telecommunications technologies, the growth in consumer alternatives for long distance, and wireless. In fact, the underpinnings of the Internet and mobile that have driven these new alternatives were funded and fostered by research and development from our Department of Defense.

Ideas becoming industries are at the heart of disrupting the status quo. Just like an old tree must fall for the sapling to find the sun, incumbent companies must step back so others can rise. However, large companies will not simply cede so others can succeed, and those profiting from the status quo will not merely stand aside to allow the future to emerge. Interestingly, the federal government is often the woodcutter clearing that forest, or the gardener protecting the saplings.

Look at current technological ideas that that could emerge as new industrial waves: artificial intelligence, alternative energy and conservation, artificial life or proteomic medicine and see also large established businesses happy with the status quo which are often standing in the way.

Sure, we want a market free of government intervention, but we might be creating conditions that inhibit our growth. Sometimes government intervention is both necessary and desirable, and it is our duty to remind the incoming administration of that distinction.

Column originally posted at WashingtonPost.com.

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Since the financial crisis of 2008, a recurring theme in our national debate over the role of government spending has been the imminence of currency devaluation and inflation due to chronic budget deficits.

Suddenly, as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to work with Congress to cut taxes and dramatically increase the federal budget deficit these same voices are muted.

Shouldn’t we be hearing those same shrill voices now?

They warned us that inflation was unavoidable if government spent money to reinforce an economy that was on the ropes after a financial calamity. They predicted that inflation was inevitable if we invested in infrastructure. They portrayed the Obama Administration as profligate.

The cudgel used to support their message was that financial markets would punish the United States through higher interest rates and a lessening of investment activity. That message clearly carried weight. The federal budget deficit fell consistently during the Obama Administration. Federal employment grew at rates below any Republican administration in modern times.

Through it all, inflation stayed muted and interest rates rested at historically low levels. Statistics proving these assertions are there for all to see; the inflationary crisis simply didn’t occur.

Those who had loudly lobbied for fiscal restraint claimed credit.

But there is a counter argument. The global economy is in a deflationary state — not inflationary. Subdued economic conditions around the world provided a ready buffer against any inflationary pressure that might have been created by a larger federal budget deficit. These conditions exist to this day.

Even skeptics agree that free markets don’t lie. Financial markets — buyers and sellers of the lifeblood of commerce — provide a real-time dispassionate view of expectations for inflation and future growth. In this, the deficit scolds are correct.

The punishment of the financial markets that has been threatened for the last eight years may now be closer than ever. Interest rates on mortgages for homeowners, bank loans for small businesses and personal revolving debt are increasing. Nothing suggests this is a short-term phenomenon.

Meanwhile, the stock market has gotten a boost of adrenaline, as regulated industries such as financial services appear likely to benefit from a period of lower government oversight. However, interestingly, technology companies — the source of substantially all our net economic gains over the last eight years — have lagged.

Financial markets are telling us to expect more inflation and less economic growth.

Where are those voices that so loudly reminded us to limit our federal spending? Some remain, but many have changed their tune.

Now these voices state that a growing federal budget deficit will not be a problem. They make a distinction between deficits due to higher government spending and deficits resulting from tax cuts. They argue that tax cuts will pay for themselves in growth and subsequent deficit reduction. This is not an assertion supported by historical economic data; neither the Reagan nor Bush tax cuts paid for themselves. More importantly, the financial markets don’t appear to agree.

As someone who works with small businesses, I can attest that rising interest rates and inflation would be a big problem for business owners. They are also the enemy of those on a fixed income or with minimum wage jobs.

The markets just might be telling us that the incoming administration is creating conditions for an economy that will harm ordinary Americans. Markets don’t lie. Shame on us if we don’t pay attention.

This column was originally posted at WashingtonPost.com.

 

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