HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The term of President Donald Trump has been marked by a strong economy, with booming job growth and a surging stock market.
But the trade battle with China, and pledges of tariffs on billions in goods, has rattled markets and has started to give rise to concerns about a recession.
Trump will seek a second term in 2020. The last two incumbents who lost their bid for a second term -- Democrat Jimmy Carter and Republican George H.W. Bush -- were both dogged by weak economies during their reelection bids.
President Trump complained Wednesday about the Federal Reserve chairman and the inverted yield curve.
The last time the U.S. saw an inverted yield curve was 2007 and the problem it signals -- that investors are wary about the short-term direction of the economy -- is seen as a possible early signal that a recession could be coming.
WHNT News 19 political analyst Jess Brown says President Trump has gained some political favor with tough trade talk on China, but that may now be a problem.
"Economic think tanks that work for the major banks in this country have said 'You keep going and you’re planting the seed corn for a recession in an election year,'" Brown said.
President Trump is very popular with Republican voters, but he also needs voters who identify as independent.
"The only factor associated with his administration that attracts critical independent voters, is the economic health of the nation," Brown said. "He cannot afford for that to go south."
If the economy stumbles, Brown says, "Every Democrat on the ballot will be a beneficiary."
Trump pushed back Thursday on suggestions the economy could be weakening.
But he also delayed a round of tariffs against China.
"He knows if he delays now, the Chinese-related inventory for Christmas shopping is in the pipeline," Brown said.
And Christmas matters, a lot. Brown says two-thirds of the U.S. economic output is roughly retail.
"If he breaks the back of retail as a result of Chinese goods not being here or costing a lot, that’s going to be a big hit in the economy going into 2020," Brown said.