Fed cuts rates, Trump rails against Fed: it’s a familiar dance, but it could be crucial to determining who wins the next US election

The US economy is slowing, and how that narrative is spun will be crucial for 2020

Donald Trump's attacks on the Fed are part of a long-term strategy
Donald Trump's attacks on the Fed aren't just off the cuff

Another rate cut from the Fed, another endorsement from markets.

In the face of slowing growth both in the US and around the world most traders took the view that another quarter point off rates was the right thing to do. Markets strengthened, the gold price dipped and, true to form, Donald Trump ripped into his own appointee as Fed Chairman, Jerome Powell.

Trump’s criticisms of the Fed are nothing new of course, but with increasing evidence of a slowing of growth in the US, as well as across the wider global economy, they assume a new piquancy.

After all, Trump is the man who is supposed to have delivered “the best economy ever” – his own words, all caps, on Twitter. And underlying the generality of that boast is supposed to lie a deeper narrative that jobs will be coming back to the country in spades.

But note that this was also the week in which the US’s largest privately-owned coal miner and the country’s fourth largest producer, Murray Energy, filed for bankruptcy. Murray joins a long list of busted mining companies in the US, a list which includes the likes of Cloud Peak Energy, Cambrian Coal, Blackhawk Mining and Blackjewel Energy.

It’s all in stark contrast to the promises presented by Mr Trump in his election campaign, which, incidentally was vociferously supported by Robert Murray, the founder of Murray Energy.

Last year, at a rally in Virginia, President Trump declared that “coal is back”, and modelled a hard hat to a crowd drawn to a significant degree from the state’s mining communities.

Of course, it’s not simply because of unfulfilled promises that the coal industry in the US is ailing. In fact, demand is at a forty year low as electricity generators increasingly turn to natural gas and renewables to help them generate supply.

But nevertheless, it does still represent something of a political risk Mr Trump. He promised, and failed to deliver.

In the context of the wider and robust economic growth which his administration enjoyed in the first 18 months of his tenure, that might not have mattered so much. But in a time of slowing growth, he needs to retain the support of his base in places like Virginia and Kentucky, where Murray Energy had significant operations.

The danger for his efforts at re-election is that blue-collar Americans who had thought that after forty years of being neglected by politicians they had at last found a champion once again lapse into disillusion.

Is it possible to bring manufacturing back into the US in a serious way? Mr Trump says it is, and he has put his chips firmly on the table by fronting up to China in the trade war. But if blue collar jobs are still being lost at home and overall growth is slowing, that may become a harder narrative to maintain.

Of course, it’s unlikely that disillusioned erstwhile Trump voters will transfer their allegiance to the Democrats, especially in the context of party’s ever-leftward leaning attempts to emulate the politics of some kind of woke students’ union.

But given that Trump actually win the popular vote last time round, and in fact only one due to the peculiarities of a US electoral system which accords significant weight to the results in individual states, low turnout among the Republican base could be almost as big a risk to him as an actual swing to the Democrats.

Mr Trump is not unaware of this, which is why he’s keen to shift the blame for the slowing economy away from himself and onto the Federal Open Markets Committee, a classic embodiment of the idea of the “deep state” if ever there was one.

But how much of an effect running this kind of defence will actually have is open to question. There are plenty who support Trump purely on his anti-PC politics. But those people need to know that their jobs and the jobs of those around them are secure if their loyalty is to continue in any real strength.

Trump’s ability to convince this constituency last time round was key to his victory over Hilary Clinton. This time round, with three years of his administration already gone and a track record that can be called to account, it may not be so easy.

Add related topics to MyProactive

Create your account: sign up and get ahead on news and events


The Company is a publisher. You understand and agree that no content published on the Site constitutes a recommendation that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction, or investment strategy is...


Cabral Gold adds 2nd drill rig as company identifies new high-grade veins

Cabral Gold (CVE: CBR-OTC: CBGZF) CEO Alan Carter joined Steve Darling from Proactive Vancouver with news the company has identified at least six new NE trending high-grade veins in the Machichie SW area located immediately north of the MG deposit. Carter telling Proactive what had led them...

1 day, 12 hours ago

4 min read