I’ve compiled an annual trend report for many years but none has been more difficult to write than this one. And that’s primarily because everything today is colored by politics. It’s the only thing people want to talk about. And, of course, in NYC and other liberal hubs, people are really losing it over the Trump presidency.
So with that as background, run-of-the-mill trends just aren’t cutting it this year.
One thing we can all agree on: we are entering unchartered waters with a President who is not afraid to wield the power and influence of the office in new and unforeseen ways. Trump sees himself as a change agent who is not afraid to shake things up. He has certainly surprised many before and I am hopeful/wishful that he will somehow pull this off and keep us safe, fire up the economy and constrain himself from driving disparate groups of Americans further apart (sounds ridiculous even as I write it).
But despite all the political insecurities, I do have 5 predictions for 2017. Read on below.
President Donald Trump Surprises Us By Getting Sh*t Done!
A key insight I had into Donald Trump’s “get it done” attitude was in the 80’s in NYC when he stepped in to fix problem-plagued Wollman Skating Rink. It had been shut down for a planned 2-year, $9 million repair job. After the city had been on the job for 6 years and had spent $13 million with no end in sight, Trump persuaded Mayor Koch to let him take on the project promising to get it done by the beginning of the skating season. The rink was completed in 4 months, it was beautiful and it cost $2 million which was paid for by Trump for the right to manage the rink. This experience stuck with me and explains why I am optimistic about his infrastructure projects.
Business Gets Back To Business
The shift in mood among business leaders is tangible. They are no longer in the doghouse. Growth is back on the agenda – but at the same time, they recognize that Trump will not hesitate to call them out for shipping jobs overseas or overcharging (for healthcare or for presidential jets).
I anticipate we will see more startups and more small businesses flourish under this administration. Stocks are also heading in the right direction. The Trump bump was unforeseen and who knows if it will continue as we head into 2017 but I must say, watching CNBC every morning, there is clearly a new mood and for the first time in many years, companies appear to be in expansion and hiring mode.
Ironically, the big issue for the “bring jobs back” president is the shortage of skilled workers. This is a HUGE problem that needs to be resolved ASAP and involves education and immigration.
New Global Alliances
It seems that we’ve had on-again/off-again relationships with various dictators and radical leaders over the years based on how it suited our agenda at the time. Even Bin-Laden, throughout the 80’s, was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Every president appears to want to build, renew or cool off various diplomatic relationships based on their chemistry with those particular leaders. So we will have to wait and see what shakes out especially with Russia and China.
Tech Industry In a Funk
Tech is maturing, or at least in a middle ground, with new developments like AI, drones, self-driving cars etc. not yet ready for mass adoption. In the meantime, Apple is running out of steam and Snap, while cool, can’t guarantee it won’t end up like twitter eventually.
The dark side of tech is also becoming more prominent with hacking attacks on the rise. Cyber security becomes issue #1 when it comes to tech both for the country and for businesses large and small.
Commercial Real-Estate At a Crossroads
Paradoxically, with a real estate developer as president, the problem of overbuilding, over-retailing and rents being “too damn high” comes into focus. Cities around the country are awash in empty storefronts with retailers, banks and now increasingly, restaurants shuttering locations. We’re also seeing a glut of office space as the nature of work changes. Some of this excess commercial space will undoubtedly be converted to residential. Retail will continue to be more transitory with an increasing shift to strategic pop ups versus long-term leases (e.g. Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global in Soho). What happens to millions of square feet of commercial space is anybody’s business.