Trump often boasts that he has benefited the economy as much as his campaign promised he would. While the economic state of America is arguably Trump’s greatest accomplishment of his presidency, the country is beginning to slow into a recession. It is natural and unavoidable for recession to come in cycles; there are some factors outside the president’s control—such as global economic slowdown and the relative strength of the United States dollar—that lead to a slowing economy, but the following are 15 of Trump’s economic failures that could have been lessened or avoided.

 

15. Trump is failing the swing states that helped him win the election.

Sluggishness in manufacturing and agriculture is hitting particularly hard in several important battleground states. The annual growth rate in manufacturing employment is slowing in three states the president narrowly won in 2016—Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Manufacturing employment growth in Wisconsin and Michigan has fallen below the 2015 rate, and Pennsylvania is dangerously close.

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14. Stiff tariffs on Chinese goods slowed China’s economy, hurting American exports.

The trade deficit is the difference between how much a country sells to its trading partners and how much it buys. It generally includes both goods and services, though Trump has focused almost exclusively on the deficit in goods. He has long boasted that his trade policies would reduce that gap, which he views as a measure of whether partners like China and the European Union are taking advantage of the United States—a diagnosis few economists share. 

Instead, in a year in which Mr. Trump imposed tariffs on steel, aluminum, washing machines, solar panels and a variety of Chinese goods, the overall trade deficit grew 12.5 from nearly $70 billion in 2017, to $621 billion. Although the United States recorded a trade surplus in services, the trade deficit in goods with the European Union and Mexico grew more than 10 percent as imports rose faster than exports.

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13. Corporate profits have soared, and their wealth has not been shared. 

In 2018, U.S. unemployment was as low as it’s been in nearly two decades (3.9% as of July 2018) and the nation’s private-sector employers have been adding jobs for over 100 straight months. But despite the strong labor market, wage growth has lagged economists’ expectations. And what wage gains there have been have mostly flowed to corporations and the highest-paid tier of workers.

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12. Corporate tax cuts were not used in a way that benefited the average worker.

The Trump administration said that corporations would invest their savings from tax cuts. Instead, corporations spent more money buying back shares of their own stock in 2018 rather than invest in new equipment or facilities. These stock buybacks provide no real benefit for the economy, but boost executive bonuses and payouts for wealthy investors. In addition, these companies have used the growing U.S. debt to threaten cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

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11. The stock market is not thriving as much as the average American thinks it is.

Last year, the stock market had its worst year since the 2008 financial crisis. The stock market is one of the economic aspects Trump touts the most, but he causes it to be incredibly erratic and volatile. It has taken countless plummets since Trump has been elected.

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10. It is too late for Trump to turn things around in time for the end of his term.

Even if the president announced an official end to the trade war tomorrow, it would be months before farmers and businesses could be confident that he was serious. After that, there would be yet more delays before prices and equipment orders rebounded, and still more before a rise in manufacturing employment. Trump would reach the end of his term long before the effects of the trade war wear off.

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