Mike Cote's Business Editor's Notebook: Fox Business' Trish Regan aims to cut through the noiseBy MIKE COTE
August 19. 2017 9:32PM
We picked a great week to catch up with Fox Business News anchor Trish Regan.
Within hours of our talk Wednesday, President Trump pulled the plug on two business advisory councils, attempting to contain the fallout after the CEOs of major corporations began distancing themselves from him.
The President's response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., which claimed the life of a 32-year-old woman, was already the biggest news story of the week. Now it was also the biggest business story.
"I think a lot of these CEOs are saying to themselves they did not like his response to Charlottesville," Regan said. "They didn't like his delayed response, and they certainly didn't like what they saw in the press conference just yesterday afternoon. And so they need to think not just about themselves and their future but also their shareholders and their customer base."
Regan, who joined Fox Business two years ago after four years with Bloomberg, is used to tackling the top issues of the day. During our talk, the Hampton native shared her expertise on the stock market, the economy and the labor shortage.
These days, the Phillips Exeter Academy and Columbia University graduate lives with her University of New Hampshire-grad husband and their twin 7-year-old girls and 4-year-old son in New York City. But the former Miss New Hampshire continues to champion the Granite State. Here are highlights from our conversation.
The stock market has been hitting record highs and hasn't been rattled much by the ups and downs of the Trump administration. Why is this market so resilient?
The expectation is that we're going to get corporate tax reform, and the market is extremely excited by that. The other reality is we are seeing some improvement in overall economic fundamentals. For so long we had a very challenging picture where we were entirely reliant on the Federal Reserve to keep printing money or to keep interest rates at record lows.
Now there's a sense that we're getting some policy moves out of Washington to basically work with what the Fed has already put in place. And so there's a lot of hope there. I think you're seeing that reflected in the stock market day in and day out now.
Unemployment remains low, but wages remain stalled. Why is this recovery different than the ones we've experienced in the past?
It's very perplexing, and this is a problem. We need to see wage growth. It's not moving the way you would normally think. Of course, if you have a smaller labor pool because people are employed, then theoretically wages would go up. But there's hasn't been a lot of inflation overall in the economy. Even with prices of goods - you think of all of the scale we have now as an economy, and things are increasingly cheaper as a result of that - we haven't seen much in the way of inflation, period.
I think we're going through some structural changes that are going to stick with us as an economy for some time. And we need to be putting in the kinds of policies to really generate growth, whether that be tax reform, whether that be repeal and replace of Obamacare, whether that be education policies that can help to retrain a new generation for the future.
In New Hampshire, like much of the country, employers are having trouble finding workers with the right skill sets. How much is this weighing on the economy?
It weighs on the economy a lot. You have all these open jobs in many cases, and you don't have the right kinds of workers to fill these jobs. So we need to start actually investing in the right education and the right policies to get us to the places we need to be right now.
There are things that you can do. For example, why not incentivize college students to be in engineering and sciences. You can offer scholarships for specific programs of study in areas that we need.
Nothing wrong with being a philosophy major, but maybe if we're going to provide government funding for education, we want to encourage people to be in the sciences, to be in engineering, or to be in vocational areas that we need as an economy.
We have retailers closing hundreds of stores and Amazon changing the way many people purchase goods and services. We saw what happened to many small towns over the decades that Walmart set up shop. How would you compare that to the effect of Amazon in the years ahead?
I think Amazon is having a very devastating effect on retail jobs. People think Amazon may increasingly become a monopoly. It feels as though Amazon is in every business these days. I know that if my daughter wants a turquoise blue winter parka, I can pretty much specifically search for that on Amazon and get it - and get it at a really good price. And that's important: I mentioned "get it at a very good price." Because their prices are so competitive. This is why it's going to make it very hard for anybody to say, "Well, it's a monopoly. It's taking over the universe." Because the question is, is the consumer being hurt in all this?
I do think jobs will be devastated. We're looking at a retail sector that is clearly challenged, and it's a very difficult space to be as an investor right now because Amazon is getting so big and has so much presence and has so much pricing power. The other interesting thing about Amazon is it actually does assist in the small business community in that you have a lot of sort of mom-and-pop shops that are selling on Amazon. But they don't have a lot of options. Amazon really is the only game in town for many.
You recently marked your second anniversary with Fox Business. What's been the most challenging part of the job?
When I came in I was starting a show from scratch, so I was building a team, and I was making sure my viewers were able to cut through so much of the noise that is out there right now. I really feel like this news cycle now is filled with tons of noise. The biggest challenge has been making sure we're delivering the message that viewers need to know every day because the market's moving.
Had you been watching us through this election cycle, you would have had a much better understanding of how to position your portfolio. And I think you continue to get that by watching us everyday. We are very much on the news first in the way the competition simply isn't.
I hear you still like to spend a lot of time in New Hampshire. How often do you make it back here with your family?
My parents (attorney John McEachern and his wife, Eileen) are actually visiting right now from Hampton. We spend our weekends and summers in Connecticut ... We go back (to New Hampshire) a lot. The kids absolutely positively love it. And they appreciate it. It's interesting because growing up there, that was just normal for me to have a big backyard and trees and grass and friendly people around you all the time. There's really something to be said for that sort of small town, small state environment.
My children live in New York City. Their favorite place to go in the entire world is New Hampshire. And they have the best memories of New Hampshire, of the people, of the places that they go to, whether it's the beach or the ice cream stand or the local restaurant in town.
It's important for them to have a connection to that place that I hold very dearly in my heart.
Contact Business Editor Mike Cote at 206-7724 or firstname.lastname@example.org.