Dissing the dollar. Trump blames the Fed for causing the dollar’s appreciation — a headwind for exporters. The reality is that expectations for his tax cuts and deregulation juiced the economy (and the dollar) in late-2016 into 2017 before the sugar high wore off. The buck came down a bit as the trade wars heated up in mid-2018 but has stayed elevated. Meanwhile, his trade policies have contributed to weaker economies (and currencies) from Australia to South Korea to Germany.
Investment sours. The great promise of Trumponomics was that the tax cuts and protectionism would unleash business investment. But that hasn’t happened in a sustainable way. If anything, uncertainty is causing a pause, which helped drag down second-quarter growth. Goldman Sachs economists blame it for boosting recession concerns. Even some around Trump recognize this. Kevin Hassett, the former head of Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers, once called uncertainty the bitter lemon the U.S. had to bite into to fight the “scurvy” of imbalanced trade.
Factories downshift. By some measures, American manufacturing is in a technical recession with industrial production contracting in the first two quarters of the year. Trump blames the Fed and harps on the dollar’s strength. But that ignores a chief culprit. U.S. manufacturers are getting hit on both the cost and revenue side. Tariffs have driven up the cost of inputs ranging from steel to electronic components from China. Meanwhile, exports are being hit not just by the dollar but by retaliation from China, the EU and other trading partners.