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The Self-Inflicted Recession

The Next Downturn Will Be Political—and Tough to Escape

The New York Stock Exchange building in New York, May 2010 Lucas Jackson / Reuters

The United States is in its 11th year of uninterrupted economic expansion, unemployment has hit a historic low, and growth, while decelerating, still hums along. Yet anxiety about the next recession seems to mount with each new tariff or tweet that President Donald Trump lobs at China as part of his trade war—and for good reason. The president’s policies are clearly hurting tradeable sectors of the U.S. economy, especially manufacturing, which must contend with the double whammy of U.S. tariffs on imported inputs and Chinese tariffs on exports of finished goods. U.S. producers of vehicles, electronics, and agricultural goods, among other things, are all scrambling to disentangle their supply chains from China. But doing so is costly and complicated, and many of them are suffering as a result.   

The trade war may not be enough to tip an otherwise healthy U.S. economy into recession.

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