Trump Economics: President-Elect Vows Big Infrastructure Investment In his acceptance speech, Trump pledges investments for U.S. infrastructure, adding a little specificity to his vague campaign promises. Skittish business leaders will watch who he puts on his team.

In Economy As In Business, Trumponomics May Mean Building Big Things

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Building a better economic future for Americans who feel they've been left behind was a big part of Donald Trump's message. It resonated strongly with white, working-class voters, manufacturing workers hit by globalization, coal miners hurt by a movement to cleaner energy. But what exactly will Trump's broader economic policy agenda actually look like? He has no political track record. NPR's Chris Arnold reports.

CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: Donald Trump has said stuff about the economy that's just been all over the map. He spooked the financial world when he seemed to suggest that the U.S. should default on Treasury bonds. He's talked about slapping trade tariffs on China, which could start a trade war.

So how do you separate the campaign bluster and odd pronouncements from what Donald Trump is likely to actually try to do for the economy as president? Well, maybe one thing we can say most confidently about Donald Trump is that he likes to build things, often very big things. And in his acceptance speech last night, that was pretty front and center.


DONALD TRUMP: We are going to fix our inner-cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals. We're going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none. And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.

ARNOLD: OK, so of course this is something that President Obama has wanted to do for years - big infrastructure spending to create jobs. But he was blocked by the Republican Congress. So one of the outcomes in this crazy campaign and election may be that President Trump does what President Obama wanted to do but couldn't. David Kotok is chief economist at Cumberland Advisors.

DAVID KOTOK: I believe an infrastructure bill of 500 billion is now possible, and the introduction of it comes in early 2017 after the new regime takes office.

ARNOLD: Trump talked about spending half a trillion dollars on infrastructure in his speech on the economy this past summer. Stephen Calk is a senior economic adviser to Trump. He says another big priority will be trying to create more jobs in the energy sector.

STEPHEN CALK: He wants to create those jobs he promised by generating clean coal, developing and expanding safe fracking as well as safe offshore energy production.

ARNOLD: Lower taxes also seem likely. Still, campaign promises are one thing, but many businesses may decide to be cautious about hiring and spending until they know what Trump's real policies will be. So economists say that might cause at least a brief slowdown in the economy.

Many business leaders are hoping that Trump quickly assembles a really good, level-headed economic team. That would provide clarity. And they hope that that would move Trump off of the trade-bashing rhetoric of the campaign.


CARLOS GUTIERREZ: We've got to get off this thing. You know, what got him elected is not going to make him a good performer.

ARNOLD: Carlos Gutierrez is a former Republican commerce secretary under George W. Bush and the former CEO of Kellogg. Speaking on CNBC this afternoon, he said the things that got Trump elected...


GUTIERREZ: Demagoguery, populism - we're going to bring jobs back. What does that mean? We're going to bring textile jobs back? We should be talking about bringing new jobs here - innovation, new businesses, start-ups. I mean it's either very cynical, or it betrays any knowledge of how the world works.

ARNOLD: So all this creates a tricky path for President-elect Trump. He campaigned hard on dismantling NAFTA, threatening trade barriers with Asia. And just about all economists - Republicans and Democrats alike - say retreating from global trade in this way would hurt the overall economy, not help it. Chris Arnold, NPR News.

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