A second Trump term: expect the economy to boom, and other predictions

Given the ongoing decline of the credibility of the Biden administration and post-debate implosion of his campaign, a second Trump term must be seriously entertained. Here is what I predict will happen:

Similar to 2016-2020, Trump will not do much legislatively, save for tax cuts, which are an easy legislative win if the Republicans can keep the House. Maybe some executive orders, which will not accomplish much or be struck down by the courts, similar to his first term. Deficit spending will surge to pay for another round of stimulus spending and more tax cuts, like during Covid but minus Covid.

Trump’s value is in judicial appointments and pardons, not policy per se. Trump’s multiple SCOTUS nominations will continue pay dividends long after a second term.

Those expecting sweeping social change or the defeat of DEI, expectations should be lowered accordingly. Like in 2017, the left has shown a remarkable ability to adapt. After defeat in 2016, the left doubled-down on the wokeness/social justice agenda–from pronoun ‘mainstreaming’ in 2017, to in 2018-2019 politically-motivated investigations into alleged Russia interference, which ran-down the clock on Trump’s term, to lockdowns and riots in 2020, and finally the mass-imprisonment of political dissidents in 2021. And of course, lots of tech censorship, which Trump was powerless do to anything about.

Stocks will constantly make new highs. Same for GDP, which will also boom. Inflation will remain elevated. The strength of the stock market and GDP will occupy much of Trump’s attention, similar to his first term, with immigration and other culture war issues pushed to the periphery. There is not much he can do about illegal crossings, assuming he even cares that much beyond tough talk. Despite tough rhetoric on immigration and border control, similar to his first term, nothing will change much.

‘Big tech’ companies will also thrive. Tax cuts, stimulus, and deregulation are a bigger tailwind than the headwind of tariffs. Trump knows that Silicon Valley is a major source of money and influence and is the future economically (not those coal towns or factory jobs politicians love to romanticize about), so pleasing tech people is very important even if there is ideological friction. Tech companies are bigger contributor to the stock market, too, compared to a decade ago. Nvidia is something like 7% of the S&P 500 now, which is a record for any individual stocks, surpassing even Apple.

In his first term Trump was constantly trying to make overtures to tech billionaires such as Zuckerberg, Thiel, Musk, and Tim Cook, often unsuccessfully, but the respect was there even if unrequited. Trump is attracted to power and wealth more so than ideological purity. This included many private dinners and meetings. This makes me less optimistic that much will change regarding woke companies under a second Trump term.

Regarding immigration, what ever happened to the border wall? No mention of that anymore despite it dominating his 2016 campaign. I think Trump realized that promising something that he had no possibility or hope of delivering on, even incompletely, only disillusioned some of his more influential supporters (e.g. Ann Coulter) and gave fodder to his enemies. I think also Trump realizes that being too tough on immigration possibly hurts support among his growing multicultural base, in which multiculturalism, for better or worse, is future of the GOP.

The Trump phenomenon is notable for its cultural heterogeneity compared to past Republicans. This is also why Trump seems to care a lot about making a distinction between illegal and legal immigration, as the latter being good. He does not want to disillusion the good legal immigrants who may be future Republican voters even if they result in long-term demographic change, which the GOP is fine with.

The post-2022 rise of Richard Hanania and other center-right moderates and pragmatists, who eschew taking a hard line on culture issues like border control or abortion, has made being too tough on immigration low-status unless one makes a clear distinction between illegal and legal immigration, which then is not much different from how the GOP has always approached this issue. The emphasis is always on ‘safe, legal immigration’ and naturalization.

Same for tariffs. All the doom and gloom predictions of recession or runaway inflation due to tariffs or ‘trade war’ with China will be wrong for 2024-2028, just as those same pundits were wrong during his first term. The tariffs and and the imagined trade war with China were widely predicted by pundits to doom the economy and crash the stock market, but it was Covid, which no one saw coming, that was an actual threat and deflationary instead of inflationary. As we see over and over, the crisis that everyone is expecting never happens.

I’m also optimistic about foreign policy. A second Trump term will make America safer despite doomer predictions to the contrary, like failed predictions during his first term of World War or nuclear war. Did any of those people apologize for stoking fear and being so wrong? Of course not. Trump conveys more strength, resolve, and power compared to Biden, who is merely a puppet, as was evident during the debate when his handlers could not help him. Yes, Trump is manipulatable too, but still conveys more strength than Biden. Trump may seem soft on dictators or autocrats, but he’s also the type of person who if sufficiently provoked or if the time calls, unlike Biden, will not defer to ‘international law’.