If you take a few blocks away from a Jenga tower it might stay up for a while, but if you keep pulling pieces away, it’s going to fall eventually. (Aren’t you glad I went with the Jenga thing instead of the Donald Trump strip poker analogy I was workshopping? My better angels saved you all from elective lobotomies. You can thank me later.)
Similarly, the economy can take only so many hits before it starts to wobble, and Donald J. Trump has been giving it body blows and upper cuts ever since the day he arrived at the White House. (He also gave it a shot of methamphetamine with his ill-conceived, ill-timed, and poorly targeted tax cut, but that’s wearing off, and we’ll all be worse off for it in the end.)
Arguably his worst calls have involved his quixotic trade war and the recent government shutdown, and key economic numbers are starting to reflect that.
Namely, consumer sentiment is plunging.
The numbers: The University of Michigan said its consumer sentiment index in January skidded to a reading of 90.7 in January from 98.3, which is the worst reading since October 2016. Economists polled by MarketWatch forecast a 97.5 reading.
What happened: The decline was particularly sharp for the expectations index, which fell to 78.3 from 87, while current economic conditions also fell, to 110 from 116.1.
What they’re saying: “The loss was due to a host of issues including the partial government shutdown, the impact of tariffs, instabilities in financial markets, the global slowdown and the lack of clarity about monetary policies,” said Richard Curtin, chief economist for the survey. “While the January falloff in optimism is certainly consistent with a slowdown in the pace of growth, it does not yet indicate the start of a sustained downturn in economic activity.”
Donny Dumbass sure does like his unforced errors. And two big ones have us on the verge of, if not a panic, a crisis in confidence that could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. And the “lack of clarity about monetary policies” cited above might have a little to do with Trump’s unprecedented agita-tweeting at the independent Fed chair.
Eventually, everything Trump touches turns to shit. Why should the U.S. economy be any different?
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