It’s an embrace of industrial policy not seen in Washington for decades. Gary Hufbauer, a nonresident senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics who has surveyed U.S. industrial policy, said the bill was the most significant investment in industrial policy that the United States had made in at least 50 years.
8 Signs That the Economy Is Losing Steam
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Worrying outlook. Amid persistently high inflation, rising consumer prices and declining spending, the American economy is showing clear signs of slowing down, fueling concerns about a potential recession. Here are other eight measures signaling trouble ahead:
Consumer confidence. In June, the University of Michigan’s survey of consumer sentiment hit its lowest level in its 70-year history, with nearly half of respondents saying inflation is eroding their standard of living.
The housing market. Demand for real estate has decreased, and construction of new homes is slowing. These trends could continue as interest rates rise, and real estate companies, including Compass and Redfin, have laid off employees in anticipation of a downturn in the housing market.
Copper. A commodity seen by analysts as a measure of sentiment about the global economy — because of its widespread use in buildings, cars and other products — copper is down more than 20 percent since January, hitting a 17-month low on July 1.
Oil. Crude prices are up this year, in part because of supply constraints resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but they have recently started to waver as investors worry about growth.
The bond market. Long-term interest rates in government bonds have fallen below short-term rates, an unusual occurrence that traders call a yield-curve inversion. It suggests that bond investors are expecting an economic slowdown.
American politicians of both parties have long hailed the economic power of free markets and free trade while emphasizing the dangers and inefficiencies of government interference. Republicans, and some Democrats, argued that the government was a poor arbiter of winners and losers in business, and that its interference in the private market was, at best, wasteful and often destructive.
But China’s increasing dominance of key global supply chains, like those for rare earth metals, solar panels and certain pharmaceuticals, has generated new support among both Republicans and Democrats for the government to nurture strategic industries. South Korea, Japan, the European Union and other governments have outlined aggressive plans to woo semiconductor factories. And the production of many advanced semiconductors in Taiwan, which is increasingly under risk of invasion, has become for many an untenable security threat.
Semiconductors are necessary to power other key technologies, including quantum computing, the internet of things, artificial intelligence and fighter jets, as well as mundane items like cars, computers and coffee makers.
“The question really needs to move from why do we pursue an industrial strategy to how do we pursue one,” Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council, said in an interview. “This will allow us to really shape the rules of where the most cutting-edge innovation happens.”
Disruptions in the supply chains for essential goods during the pandemic have added to the sense of urgency to stop American manufacturing from flowing overseas. That includes semiconductors, where the U.S. share of global manufacturing fell to 12 percent in 2020 from 37 percent in 1990, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association. China’s share of manufacturing rose to 15 percent from almost nothing in the same time period.