President Donald Trump is staring down a series of trigger points that will determine whether he enters the 2020 campaign backed by his most valuable asset — a healthy U.S. economy — or empty-handed and further on the defensive.
The White House faces a time crunch on several major policy fronts this fall. The president will need to appease farmers and factory workers about his ongoing trade standoff with China, in which he shows no sign of backing down. His administration is trying to cajole the Democratic-controlled House to approve a renegotiated trade deal covering the U.S., Mexico and Canada. And the Trump team must find a way to calm Wall Street to prevent investors from denting one of his proudest achievements — a surge in the stock market since his election.
Trump’s economic record took another turn into dangerous territory Tuesday with a widely tracked gauge of the U.S. manufacturing sector contracting for the first time in more than three years, walloping the stock market and reigniting fears of a recession. It added to mounting concerns about a global economic slowdown under the weight of Trump’s trade war.
More than at any point in his presidency, Trump’s biggest asset looks like it could become a liability.