After the last big trade war — NY dockworkers, 1934. Photo: Lewis Hines / National Archives

Europe is preparing 25% tariffs on U.S. goods from Levi's to Harley Davidson bikes in a sign of brewing retaliation for President Trump's imposition of a levy on foreign steel, and economists are warning of a sharp hit to the global economy and markets.

Why it matters: Economists tell Axios that, should Trump proceed with his 25% steel tariffs, and tit-for-tat retaliation cascade, there is serious risk of a blow to global GDP growth, which the International Monetary Fund had forecast at 3.9% for 2018 and 2019.

Already, U.S. metals prices have surged since Trump's announcement. Aluminum, for instance, soared to a three-year high this morning, up by 11.8% since the president spoke, report the FT's Henry Sanderson and Neil Hume.

John Ferguson, director of global forecasting for the Economist Intelligence Unit, tells Axios that, even short of a full-fledged trade war, a low-grade exchange of high tariffs could trigger prolonged stock market declines such as happened yesterday and today.

That could cascade this way:

  1. Companies pull back capital spending plans
  2. Consumers, with less money in their pocket than expected, curtail their spending
  3. Global GDP growth, reliant on capital and consumer spending, suffers.

In one example of this already happening, Sweden's Electrolux announced it will hold off on a $250 million expansion of its appliance manufacturing plant in Springfield, TN., because of the tariffs, reports Rick Rothacker of the Charlotte Observer.

"The impacts could add up to a meaningful slowdown in global GDP," Ferguson said.

Go deeper: Winners and losers in the trade crisis

This post has been updated with the postponement of Electrolux's investment.

Go deeper

7 mins ago - World

Mayor of Seoul found dead

Park at a conference in 2017. Photo: Aurelien Morissard/IP3/Getty Images

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon has been found dead hours after his daughter reported him missing, prompting a massive manhunt, Yonhap news agency reports.

What we know: Park's disappearance came shortly after allegations of sexual harassment against him were published in local media, according to the FT, which also reports that his daughter had found a "will-like message."

Scoop: Chinese biotech giant's U.S. subsidiary received PPP loan

Chinese biotech company BGI Genomics provided mobile labs for conducting COVID-19 tests at a sports center in Beijing. Photo credit: Xinhua/Chen Zhonghao via Getty Images.

A U.S. subsidiary of Chinese genomics company BGI Group received a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), according to data on the program released by the U.S. Treasury Department this week.

Why it matters: BGI's close ties to the Chinese government, which is constructing a massive genetics database of its population, have raised concerns among U.S. officials.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 a.m. ET: 12,081,232 — Total deaths: 550,440 — Total recoveries — 6,639,503Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 a.m. ET: 3,057,431 — Total deaths: 132,360 — Total recoveries: 953,420 — Total tested: 37,431,666Map.
  3. Public health: Cases rise in 33 states — Fauci says states with severe outbreaks "should seriously look at shutting down"
  4. Education: How Trump's push to reopen schools could backfire — College sports stare down a disaster in the fall.
  5. Jobs: 1.3 million Americans filed for unemployment last week.
  6. Travel: Over 1,000 TSA agents have tested positive.