November 15, 2019

Trump’s Boasts of an Economic ‘Boom’ Are Misplaced and Misguided

By ​Neil Bhatiya

President Donald Trump this week laid out his most direct case yet for staying the course in the run-up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election. In a speech to the Economic Club of New York on Tuesday, he boasted that his “America First” policies had delivered stronger-than-expected economic growth and new jobs for millions of Americans, despite the disruption caused not only by his trade war with China, but also by the tariffs he has imposed on close U.S. allies in Europe.

While most coverage of the speech focused on Trump claiming credit for leading an economic “boom,” it was more revealing in capturing how the president thinks about economic statecraft overall—and how he misconstrues it. Trump misunderstands American economic strength, the leverage it gives him over U.S. partners as well as adversaries, and what the best approach is when the United States feels the rules of the road are not in its favor.

Take energy policy, which Trump promoted in his speech as “pro-growth, pro-worker, and 100 percent pro-American.” But Trump mistakes the relative leverage the U.S. derives from its abundant domestic oil and natural gas production with absolute leverage against all other players in the global market. This is a dangerous assumption, particularly as it comes when the International Energy Agency projects that the U.S. will account for 85 percent of the global increase in oil production between now and 2030, thanks in large part to shale oil and gas resources. That level of market share makes it tempting to overreach when talking about energy independence.

Read the full article in World Politics Review.

  • Commentary
    • The Atlantic Council
    • September 14, 2022
    Sand in the silicon: Designing an outbound investment controls mechanism

    Recent congressional efforts to establish new authorities to regulate outbound investment have revived a long-simmering debate in Washington about the economic and security ri...

    By Emily Kilcrease & Sarah Bauerle Danzman

  • Podcast
    • August 2, 2022
    The Cost of Economic War

    Sanctions, not bombs, have been the weapon chosen to take on the Putin regime. BBC speaks with macroeconomist Rachel Ziemba about the effectiveness of modern economic statecra...

    By Rachel Ziemba

  • Reports
    • December 7, 2021
    Containing Crisis

    As the United States and China seek to manage an increasingly tense relationship, both sides have turned to coercive economic statecraft as a core part of their broader foreig...

    By Emily Kilcrease, Emily Jin & Rachel Ziemba

  • Commentary
    • National Interest
    • June 9, 2021
    Why Biden Should Extend Vaccine Diplomacy to Sanctioned States Like Venezuela, Iran, and North Korea

    Extending vaccine diplomacy to heavily sanctioned countries will allow Washington to both hedge against growing Chinese-Russian influence abroad and help alleviate global huma...

    By Jason Bartlett

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia