Signs of slowing growth in what is still a generally robust U.S. economy have prompted the Federal Reserve to consider cutting interest rates, possibly as soon as its next rate- setting meeting, which begins Tuesday. We don’t generally give advice on interest rates, being content to leave such judgments to the independent experts. What is of concern to us, and should be of concern to all Americans, is anything that might diminish the Fed’s political independence, actual or perceived.
Which brings us to the effect of President Donald Trump’s policies on the recent economic outlook, particularly his repeated, unpredictable threats to impose tariffs on various trading partners, most recently Mexico. So far, trade wars do not seem to have affected broad indicators such as inflation or unemployment. They do, however, constitute a source of instability and uncertainty that may be chilling or distorting investment decisions, both here and abroad. If fully enacted, the tariffs Trump threatened on Mexico could cancel out, through higher costs for consumers, the modest tax cut for the middle class that Republicans enacted in 2017.