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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

It's President Trump's move now that he got the rate cut he's been asking for since March, but Fed chair Jerome Powell stopped just short of giving him and the market everything they wanted at the Fed's policy meeting Wednesday.

Why it matters: Powell's cut is the central bank's latest effort to address the U.S. economy's current bipolar state: While consumers are confident and continue to spend, the significant pullback in the manufacturing and transportation sectors shows that businesses are not.

On one side: Tuesday's rock-solid U.S. consumer confidence reading was the latest sign that Americans feel good.

  • Commerce Department data Friday showed consumer spending, which makes up the lion's share of the U.S. economy, increased 4.3% in the second quarter, while government spending rose 5%, the biggest boost in a decade.

On the other side: Those numbers fly in the face of data on business investment that show firms dramatically slowing down spending and delaying big projects because of the uncertainty caused by the trade war.

  • Nonresidential investment fell 0.6% in Q2, the first drop since 2015, and residential investment decreased for a sixth straight period.
  • Readings on the U.S. manufacturing sector have fallen for 6 straight months — nearing an outright contraction — and the freight industry also has been slowing for the better part of the year.

The big picture: "Something has got to change," Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, tells Axios. "Either consumers hold tough and cheer up businesses and they resume investing again, or businesses lose faith and cause consumers to pack it in, and we go into recession."

  • Which way the economy goes depends on Trump, Zandi says. While he continued to heckle the Fed on Twitter Wednesday after the rate-cut decision, it's Trump's tariffs and trade war with China that will determine whether the economy gets back on track or not.

Where it stands: As Powell mentioned during his press conference, the current cease-fire in the trade war has settled business owners somewhat, but further aggression will likely see more companies in the trade sector and other parts of the economy start to show negative effects.

  • "Confidence is all about the labor market right now and, somewhat paradoxically, because companies are not investing in capital goods, that might be creating more demand for labor," Tendayi Kapfidze, chief economist at LendingTree, told Axios. "Is it sustainable? I think the longer we go without a resolution to this trade issue, things start to get more vulnerable."

Go deeper

Woman who allegedly stole laptop from Pelosi's office to sell to Russia is arrested

Photo: FBI

A woman accused of breaching the Capitol and planning to sell to Russia a laptop or hard drive she allegedly stole from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office was arrested in Pennsylvania's Middle District Monday, the Department of Justice said.

Driving the news: Riley June Williams, 22, is charged with illegally entering the Capitol as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct. She has not been charged over the laptop allegation and the case remains under investigation, per the DOJ.

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID-related travel restrictions

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

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