Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

President Trump's broad attack on trading partners appears to be spooking investors overseas, whose net direct investment in the U.S. has fallen substantially since his election in 2016, says a leading economist.

Why it matters: Adam Posen, president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, calls this evidence of the start of the "post-American world economy," in which the U.S. becomes excluded by a large amount of foreign trade. He wrote on the thesis Monday in Foreign Affairs.

What's going on: Posen tells Axios that, despite last year's big Republican tax cut, net foreign direct investment fell to $51.3 billion in the first quarter.

  • That's down 37% from the same quarter in 2017, and 65% from 2016, as measured by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
  • It's done so every quarter since the fourth quarter of 2016, when Trump won election.
  • "Basically, net FDI has been falling off a cliff," Posen said.

As an example, Chinese commercial real estate investors have retreated from the U.S. market, selling $1.29 billion in properties in the second quarter while buying only $126 million, the first quarter they have been net sellers since 2008, the WSJ's Esther Fung reported today.

  • Sentiment surveys suggest that U.S. businesses are bullish about the domestic market, reports the NYT's Patricia Cohen. But Posen said that reflects short-term confidence. FDI numbers, conversely, reflect long-term investment decisions made once a decade, he said.
  • FDI leads to high-skilled jobs, R&D at home, and then more investment.
  • "Maybe it will come back, but I think this is a leading indicator. It's a bad warning of what's going on," he said.

Go deeper

Updated 15 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Pence chief of staff Marc Short tests positive for coronavirus — COVID-19 looms over White House Halloween celebrations
  2. Health: Fauci says maybe we should mandate masks if people don't wear them — America was sick well before it ever got COVID-19
  3. World: Polish President Andrzej Duda tests positive for COVID-19.

Pence chief of staff Marc Short tests positive for coronavirus

Marc Short with Katie Miller, Vice President Pence's communications director, in March. Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times via Reuters

Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, tested positive for the coronavirus Saturday and is quarantining, according to a White House statement.

Why it matters: Short is Pence's closest aide, and was one of the most powerful forces on the White House coronavirus task force.

6 hours ago - World

Opposition leader Leopoldo López flees Venezuela

Venezuelan opposition politician Leopoldo López outside the Spanish embassy in Caracas, in 2019. Photo: Juan Barreto/AFP via Getty Images

Leopoldo López, a former political prisoner and prominent Venezuelan opposition leader, has left the country, his Popular Will party confirmed in a statement Saturday.

Why it matters: He's been an influential force in the push to oust President Nicolás Maduro's regime and a mentor to opposition leader Juan Guaidó. He'd been in the Spanish ambassador's Caracas residence since escaping house arrest in April 2019 following a failed military uprising.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!