At the White House yesterday. Photo: Andrew Harrer-Pool / Getty

An exceedingly eager President Trump wants to launch his steel-and-aluminum salvo tomorrow, and Europe is threatening to clamp down on U.S. steel imports that get steered across the Atlantic. Not to mention on the sale of peanut butter, cranberries, orange juice, bed sheets, chewing tobacco and more.

Why it matters: Europe is starting out its threatened retaliation gingerly, affecting only a few billion dollars worth of American goods. But all manner of wars begin gingerly, only to migrate quickly out of control due to factors no one anticipated. At the low end, the cost could be hundreds of jobs, but the industries under discussion employ millions.

"Things unravel, especially when politics are involved," says Moody's' Mark Zandi, whose base case is for U.S. trading partners to match Trump's trade actions proportionately and attempt not to escalate.

By the numbers: Trump's metrics for his long-nursed indignation over trade imbalances are factories closed and jobs lost. But Jed Kolko, chief economist at Indeed, points out again that:

  • Metal-consuming sectors such as manufacturers employ 4.6 million people, versus just 415,000 people in metal-producing sectors.
  • Since 2001, both have bled jobs: employment in the metal-producing sectors dropped by 35%, and metal-consuming sectors by 20%, even as joblessness across the economy rose by 11%.

The bottom line: The industries at risk in this brewing trade conflict employ a lot more people than those Trump is trying to protect.

Go deeper

Commission releases topics for first presidential debate

Moderator Chris Wallace. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace has selected what topics he'll cover while moderating the first presidential debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden next week.

What to watch: Topics for the Sept. 29 debate will include Trump and Biden's records, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, economic policy, racism and the integrity of the election, the Commission for Presidential Debates announced on Tuesday. Each topic will receive 15 minutes of conversation and will be presented in no particular order.

Fed chair warns economy will feel the weight of expired stimulus

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Fed Chair Jay Powell bump elbows before House hearing on Tuesday. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday that the expiration of Congress' coronavirus stimulus will weigh on the U.S. economy.

Why it matters: Powell warned that the effects of dried-up benefits are a looming risk to the economy, even if the consequences aren't yet visible.

44 mins ago - World

Beijing draws Chinese companies even closer

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Chinese Communist Party Secretary Xi Jinping announced last week that the party must strengthen its leadership over private companies, and that entrepreneurs must meet the party's needs. 

Why it matters: Xi's new announcement will increase fears that Chinese businesses may serve as a Trojan horse for the CCP.

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