With the recent ominous inversion of the 2-10 year yield curve and its near infallible predictive recessionary power, the consequences for the economy are plain to see, however, what has not been spoken of by pundits will be the effect of a recession on US foreign policy. If a recession comes about prior to November 2020, or if economic indicators such as GDP plummet even further, the chances of a Trump re-election is extremely problematic even if the Democrats nominate a socialist nut case such as Bernie Sanders or Pocahontas.
Elizabeth Warren has been the most vocal about coming economic troubles:
Warning lights are flashing. Whether it is
this year or next year, odds of another
economic downturn are high – and growing. . . .
When I look at the economy today, I see
a lot to worry about again. I see a
manufacturing sector in recession. I see
a precarious economy built on debt – both
household debt and corporate debt and that
is vulnerable to shocks. And I see a number
of serious shocks on the horizon that could
cause our economy’s shaky foundation to crumble.*
A “doom and gloomer” Demo?
If the economy cannot be reversed, despite the likelihood of rate cuts in September and a possible resumption of “QE” by the end of the year, President Trump will probably look for some “victory” or success to divert public attention away from deteriorating economic conditions. The most likely targets will be renewal of hostilities toward Iran and/or an escalation of pressure on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to resign.
Of course, the US has been conducting economic warfare on Iran ever since Trump stupidly pulled out of the nuclear agreement and began applying even more crippling sanctions on Iran. In June, armed hostilities were about to take place over the Iranians downing of a US drone over its air space. Reportedly, at the last minute, Trump called off retaliation, enraging, no doubt, the bloodthirsty neocons itching for an excuse to unleash more death and destruction.
Another factor, which has been little spoken of, but may contribute to foreign intervention is that Trump has alienated a number of his political base especially the spokesmen among the Alt Right. While he still commands high poll numbers among Republicans and still attracts impressive rallies of “deplorables,” a number of his prominent backers, who were so crucial for his success in 2016, are, to say the least, disappointed over his inability to stem the tide of illegal immigration. Moreover, these voices feel rightly betrayed since he has done nothing to halt the Internet tech giants from de-platforming many of their social media activity.
Another group which may be quickly added to disillusioned Trump supporters are gun owners and free-speech advocates if the President goes along with the proposed draconian “red flag” legislation. If these totalitarian measures are enacted, 2nd Amendment defenders will probably not vote for Trump’s opponent in 2020, but instead, may stay home in protest.
In electoral politics, voter enthusiasm can sometimes offset money and media control which was certainly the case for Trump both in the Republican primaries and the general election. To win again, he will need to mobilize similar sentiment.
The politically savvy neocons, which the President has insanely surrounded himself with, are certainly aware of this dynamic which will give them considerable leverage to push forward their agenda. A desperate Trump will surely be more malleable if a second term is in jeopardy. Just look at the recent capitulation when there is, as of yet, no recession, yet, he called off the additional Chinese tariffs after the Dow plunged 800 points.
Even if a recession does not rear its ugly head, an armed conflict with Iran is a distinct possibility. The more hard line neocons understand that they would be out of power under a Democratic president who may revert to compromise and negotiations to re-engineer a nuclear deal with Iran. The push for war will intensify if Trump’s poll numbers drop as the election gets nearer due to a moribund economy.
Of course, the US is infamous for provocations and with the huge military build up in the Persian Gulf, any of the many trip wires may spring, leading to a local war which might turn into a general conflagration.
While it is not a certainty that a recession will lead to regime change in Washington, Trump has mistakenly tied his political fortunes to the well being of the economy especially the stock market. He had the chance and the public support at the beginning of his term to level with the country and explain the monumental financial and economic problems which exist and that he had pointed out during the campaign. Unfortunately, for both his and the nation’s future, he chose business as usual putting his own political goals (re-election) over the good of the country.
The cost of that choice is now coming to bear which may end in another war that will certainly seal the President’s fate and likely that of America.
*Sanjana Karanth, “Elizabeth Warren Predicts Another Economic Downturn.” Politics. 22 July 2019.