In the year since Donald Trump won the U.S. presidency, earnings have crept upward,
Trump’s initial grade was a B when we launched the report card in May. Strong job growth —
With every update to the report card, we point out that Trump inherited an economy that had been steadily improving for years. The pace of job growth today is roughly the same as it was during the last two years of the Obama presidency. The stock market began to recover from post-recession lows all the way back in 2009, and has mostly gone upward since. It won’t truly be the Trump economy until he’s been in office for at least a year, maybe more.
Yet Trump is also pushing for policy changes that could have a powerful impact on the economy —both positive and negative. The Republican tax-cut plan he backs would boost corporate profits and stock values, if it passes. Trump has been rolling back regulations, another move that’s good for businesses. Some analysts think such moves have already goosed stock prices, partly because of real changes and party because of expected ones.
Trump is also pushing some changes that might spook markets and depress hiring – most notably, revisions to the North American Free Trade Agreements. Trump has threatened to withdraw completely from NAFTA if Canada and Mexico don’t offer major concessions. So far, his bark has been worse than his bite, but corporate executives familiar with ongoing negotiations say they’re worried.
By the middle of 2018, Trump policies should have a more direct impact on the economy. By then, we’ll know whether Republicans who control Congress are able to pass tax cuts. The fate of NAFTA will be clearer, as well. Then will come the 2018 midterm elections, which will be a referendum of sorts on how Americans feel about the Trump economy. For the time being, it is one thing Trump has going for him.
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Rick Newman is the author of four books, including