's economic anxiety comes to a boil

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President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Donald in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Like many presidents before him, Donald ’s prospects for being re-elected to a second term have largely rested on the strength of the economy. For two years, he was able to point to relatively strong jobs numbers and increasing GDP (even if less than promised) to try to make his case that he was making America great again.

But as economic warning signs began piling up last week, ’s legendary bravado began to falter. The bond market has twice flashed an inverted yield curve in the past week. That arcane milestone, which means that short-term treasury bond investments pay more than long-term ones, is seen as a precursor to recession, and triggered an 800-point free fall on the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

This lead the president to assure the country that all was going well with trade negotiations between the U.S. and China, and that, if anything, the only “problem” facing our economic juggernaut was the man he appointed to lead the Federal Reserve, Jay Powell.

An inverted yield curve was not the only worrisome economic news, however. Figures released Thursday showed U.S. manufacturing growth slowing to the lowest level in 10 years. This data point undercuts one of ’s favorite talking points, that he saved manufacturing jobs that his predecessors could not. As he did in an interview with the Wall Street Journal last week, often boasts that, thanks to him, the U.S. steel industry is now booming. Tell that to U.S. Steel, who, citing lower prices and soft demand amid ’s ongoing trade war with China, laid off hundreds of workers this week in Michigan.

Still, job growth has been a bright spot for the administration. The president routinely boasts that he has “created over 6 million new jobs since the election” (the economy has added 5,983,000 since was inaugurated). That’s still a lot of jobs; 193,000 per month, in fact, which is just shy of the 221,000 monthly jobs added during Barack Obama’s final 29 months in office. But ’s solid numbers faltered this week when the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the U.S. economy created 501,000 fewer jobs from the end of 2018 through early 2019 than was initially reported.

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As economists and financial journalists fretted over the incoming data, executives from four automakers dealt another blow, striking a deal with California to adhere to fuel efficiency standards negotiated with the Obama administration. had planned to roll out weaker targets this summer, but found himself ignored as the nation looks to begin addressing carbon emissions contributing to climate change, something the president believes to be a “hoax.”

For , “American first” has always meant that the economic ends are justified by the means, even when, as most scientists believe, those means could spell the end of life on Earth.

Like a Jedi mind trick, ’s boundless faith in himself is what appeals to many of his supporters. It’s what gives him the ability to utter sentences like “I am the chosen one,” when speaking Wednesday of taking on China’s trade practices. You see, it’s hard to find fault with a person who is simply carrying out God’s orders. Divine trade intervention only goes so far, however, toward explaining who is to blame for our current trade war with Beijing that has resulted in billions of losses to U.S. farmers, the American tourist industry and the economy as a whole.

“This isn’t my trade war,” told reporters at his “chosen one” gaggle. “This is a trade war that should have taken place a long time ago by a lot of other presidents.”

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Despite ’s claim that the trade war is making America rich again, the president’s frequent assurances this week that the “economy is doing really well” was laid bare by a double-barreled economic blast. First, Federal Reserve villain Powell declined to lower interest rates. Then, China announced retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion worth of American goods. This one-two punch led to erupt on Twitter.

So incensed at what he perceives as the obstacles to keeping America great, , in a

will be forever recorded in socialist history books,“ordered” U.S. companies to “start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce politely rebuffed ’s latest big idea.

“While we share the president’s frustration, we believe that continued, constructive engagement is the right way forward," Myron Brilliant, executive vice president and head of international Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement."Time is of the essence. We do not want to see a further deterioration of US-China relations."

While continues to blame any number of people and groups for a weakening economy — Democrats, Jay Powell, the “fake news media,” Western allies, China, former presidents, automakers, and immigrants — it remains to be seen whether his belief in himself will be enough to prevent a recession. If you ask him, however, the answer is already clear.


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