Now that the campaigning is over, the work begins for Joe Biden to start making good on the policy changes he promised. Here’s a breakdown of how a Biden presidency may affect some US industries and what might rise to the top of his agenda as he takes over from Donald Trump in January.
AIRLINES: Biden-era regulators may have a heavier hand than airlines felt under Trump. Elaine Chao’s Transportation Department gave airlines great leeway on consumer issues. Debates over seat space could be revived under Biden, as could the levels of aircraft carbon emissions. The DOT also has declined to mandate face coverings on planes. Potential Biden changes to the National Labor Relations Board may help union organizers at carriers such as Delta Air Lines.
AUTOMAKERS: Biden’s election cuts both ways for car companies. His plan to renew and fund more tax credits for consumers who buy electric vehicles could help manufacturers including General Motors, Ford Motor, Tesla and Volkswagen that are investing billions in electric models that still sell in small numbers. On the other hand, Biden is more likely to levy tougher emissions rules on the gas-burning vehicles that pay Detroit’s way.
MANUFACTURERS: Major watch items include perennial concerns such as taxes and regulation, as well as trade -- especially whether Biden will seek to improve global ties after four years of tensions stoked by Trump. The stakes are particularly high for aerospace companies in China, where a rebound in air travel offers a rare bright spot amid the coronavirus pandemic. That will put an even sharper focus on what is already a crucial market for Boeing, General Electric and Honeywell International.
RESTAURANTS: Biden’s goal to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour from $7.25 could reduce profit and lead to some job cuts, even as it otherwise improves workers’ living standards. Bloomberg analyst Michael Halen sees Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and Texas Roadhouse as among the most at risk because of their prevalence in low-wage states. Labor already accounted for 31 per cent of restaurant costs in 2019, surpassing food. Restaurateurs could be helped if Biden brings new funding, loans or paycheck protections. But any further Covid-19-related shutdowns or dining restrictions, which Biden has hinted at, could hurt. -- Carolina Gonzalez
RETAILERS: Retailers, particularly those deemed nonessential such as department stores, could be at higher risk of more Covid-19-related closings under Biden. They also may have to contend with higher expenses, especially if Biden gets the federal minimum wage lifted to $15. That said, Biden also will renew stimulus talks with urgency, increasing the likelihood that American wallets and small businesses get a boost.
HEALTH INSURERS: Biden’s win will mean new efforts to bolster the Affordable Care Act — and expand insurance coverage and subsidies to help more people afford it. He’ll roll back some of Trump’s administrative changes that weakened the ACA. He’s said he’ll create a public health-insurance option like Medicare that could compete with private insurers.
MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY: Biden plans to double down on testing to help control the coronavirus outbreak, bolstering drive-through sites, investing in next-generation technology and creating a board to shepherd the production and distribution of tens of millions of tests nationwide. He also pledged to return production of medical-technology goods to the U.S. and stockpile essential components to reduce dependence on other countries in a crisis.
PHARMACEUTICALS: Biden would seek to strengthen and cement the Affordable Care Act, expanding access to health insurance to even more Americans and helping them afford their medications. He has said he plans to address the high prices Americans pay for prescription drugs with proposals that include allowing the government’s Medicare program to negotiate costs, letting patients import drugs from abroad and linking price hikes to inflation.
AMAZON.COM: While a Biden administration woulikely mean a break from Trump’s Twitter attacks on Amazon and its founder, Jeff Bezos, Democratic control over the White House and Congress could mean ramped-up antitrust scrutiny of the retail giant. The Democrat-led House Antitrust Subcommittee’s investigation included recommendations that, if passed into law, could place restrictions on Amazon’s ability to operate the largest online marketplace and sell its own goods in the same digital storefront.
AGRICULTURE: Any Biden rollback of tariffs on Chinese goods could clear the way for more shipments of U.S. farm products to Asia. But there’s concern a transition away from oil under Biden could erode demand for corn- and soy-based biofuels, which are mixed in with petroleum-based motor fuels. Some more left-leaning Democrats also may try to take a harder line against big agriculture companies.
ENERGY: Biden’s victory could end up reshaping the US energy sector in years to come, although the president-elect may have limited room to maneuver if Republicans retain control of the Senate. Biden has pledged to spend trillions of dollars to speed up the transition from fossil fuels, slash emissions and curb climate change. Biden also has promised to ban new fracking on federal lands, which he may try to achieve via an executive order. Such a move would limit shale companies’ operations in several states, including New Mexico. Biden’s clampdown on emissions would reverse the Trump administration’s relaxation of environmental regulations.
GOLD: The prospect of additional U.S. stimulus after the election could dent the dollar and raise the specter of inflation, giving a lift to gold’s status as a store of value. Two circumstances that helped push bullion to its record -- negative real yields and unprecedented liquidity provided by central banks and governments -- will be the main drivers to propel prices regardless of who becomes the next president, said Michael Cuggino, portfolio manager at Permanent Portfolio Family of Funds. -- Yvonne Yue Li
STEEL & ALUMINUM: These industries were a top priority for Trump’s tariffs and trade policies, and tariffs probably won’t go away any time soon under Biden, who hasn’t placed trade at the top of his first-actions list. Producers and consumers have adjusted for the 25% duty on steel imports and the 10% duty on aluminum, and removing them may alienate Midwesterners who helped elect Biden. It also would compel producers including U.S. Steel Corp., Century Aluminum Co. and the United Steelworkers union to lobby for protections. It’s more likely Biden will keep the tariffs and embrace multilateral trade negotiations with key allies -- the E.U., Japan, Canada -- to oppose subsidized companies in China that produce more than half the world’s steel and aluminum. Trump openly shunned multilateral trade partnerships, so this would be a big change in policy. -- Joe Deaux
FINANCE: Biden’s win could be good for Wall Street if he and lawmakers quickly pass a massive stimulus bill that boosts financial markets. But there’s a big risk for banks, hedge funds and private-equity firms over time if Biden concedes to progressive Democrats’ demands that he appoint industry skeptics to key roles at the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve and Securities and Exchange Commission -- powerful entities that manage the economy and police trading. And Biden has pledged to rescind Trump’s tax cuts, which have been a boon for banks. -- Jesse Westbrook