Trump’s First IMTS

By Lloyd Graff

Today, a blog about America—the politics and economics—as we head toward IMTS and Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year), which start on the same day in September.

Business in the machining world is thriving, though automotive is having just a little heartburn—not worthy of a Nexium, just a couple of Tums. The tariffs are barely biting yet, but the smell of them is screwing up the metals market that was smokin’ before President Trump shocked everybody by choosing to pick on aluminum and steel in order to wake up China and push a NAFTA deal through. Couldn’t he instead have chosen to penalize something like pickles and wrapping paper to make the point that America has been too nice for 25 years, and “we’re not going to take it anymore”?

Tariffs will cause a bit of a stink at IMTS 2018, but nobody, including Trump, knows if they will be a factor a year from now. The Chinese want to finesse it until Xi meets The Donald in November, and a new leader in Mexico may want to get off to an upbeat start in his tenure by negotiating a NAFTA compromise. With midterm elections in November and a bitter Supreme Court fight coming Trump could use a victory lap on his tariff gambit.

A word about the Brett Kavanaugh pick for the High Court. I don’t think the President truly cares if Kavanaugh is confirmed by the midterms. Trump paid his dues this time to the anti-abortion team by picking a strong Catholic with a Jesuit school education. His Gorsuch pick was the crucial one for him so he chose a pleasant, get-along, political guy who could smile his way through the Senate confirmation. Kavanaugh is another shrewd charmer, but the Democrats are totally dug in against him, and I doubt Republican Senators Collins of Maine and Murkowski of Alaska will vote for him even if he has soap in his mouth when questioned on his published opinions reflecting his views on Roe vs. Wade. If they vote against confirmation and Senator McCain abstains or votes against Trump’s pick, Kavanaugh is toast. This would allow Trump to pick somebody like Gorsuch who cannot be as easily categorized as Kavanaugh. I am making the assumption that the Republicans will hold the Senate in November. It is quite possible the Dems take back the House, however, from what I read.

The Democrats have a ton of money pouring into the House races, and a lot of old Republicans have walked away. The Dems have an enthusiasm edge and probably can overcome the gerrymandered districts they face.  It’s what we call democracy.


Getting back to business, the country and Trump have been lucky and smart in his first two years. The economy had some momentum eight years after the deep recession had devastated the country. President Obama fortunately was such an ineffective leader during his second term that he could only slow the economy down, not derail it.

Trump has been so quixotic and disinterested in Congress that he was unable throw out Obama Care. By losing the fight and being shrewdly disinterested in health care politics he was able to focus on getting a giant tax cut passed, with big positives for business. To the Democrats’ dismay the economy has roared since its passage. The economy has stunned the growth doubters by showing 3.9% unemployment and 4% growth last quarter. These are numbers many folks on the Left and Right thought we would never see again. Reducing government regulation and pooh-poohing the climate change fanatics without much push-back from the real people in both parties has shown mainstream politicians that environmental causes have little national traction, while economic well-being does.

Low unemployment makes strange bedfellows. The Dems portray Trump as a racist, yet Black unemployment, even in the worst areas, is shrinking. People getting out of jail can actually find jobs. The real minimum wage is rising rapidly even without legislation because companies will pay up if they need workers. Home sales growth is slowing in some areas because fewer folks are moving to find work, though the prices of existing homes are still being pushed up because family formation is finally rising again. Money is pouring into the United States with the repatriation of corporate profits that have been stuck overseas by repressive American taxation. The Fed is trying to push up interest rates, but the 10-year bond which dictates home mortgages continues to resist 3% because the world wants to buy the U.S. 10-year.

Most people think Trump is a scoundrel, personally. I think the Mueller investigation is a witch hunt even though it is demonstrating quite vividly that politics is a very dirty business with a lot of scummy folks. Is that news? If Mueller could nail Trump we probably would already know it.

Personally, I think Trump’s immigration policy is deplorable and bad politics. It appears that Attorney General Sessions is a nut on the topic of keeping America as much like his image of his idyllic Alabama as possible. I wonder if the Administration’s goofy anti-foreigner stance is an effort by Trump to keep Sessions on the reservation. A President always wants to keep the Attorney General on his team.

You probably disagree with some of these opinions. I’d love to read your comments and hope to see you in Chicago for IMTS. It’s going to be a lively one!

Question: Has Trump hurt you or helped you economically?

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32 thoughts on “Trump’s First IMTS

  1. AvatarJeff

    Its the best manufacturing economy in my 30 years of business. Everyone is finding it hard to hire enough qualified people. I do not respect many of the things Trump does personally, but he is killing it on policy. We elected a president to make changes, not a clergyman to be perfect in all aspects of politics.

  2. AvatarDan Griffith

    I truly believe the election of President Trump was the best thing that could have ever happened to the United States. I wasn’t that crazy about him when he first announce he was running, but he has done his best to keep his promises and put the American workers first. It’s a bit bumpy but he is spot on for saving this nation. We have seen a tremendous amount of business and our biggest problem so far is finding qualified employees. People are working again. He has my vote and everyone does their part to support the president.
    Get out and vote!

  3. Avatarallen

    So what is it about Trump’s immigration policy that’s deplorable and bad politics?

    As for Sessions, he’s both mentally ill and a white supremacist? Feel free to do more than just make the charge because, other than poor judgment in not pursuing criminal indictments against Bill and Hillary Clinton for their phony charity the evidence of his mental instability isn’t obvious to me. Nor does there seem to be any evidence of white supremacy sympathies.

    Similarly, what’s the evidence of this “goofy anti-foreigner stance”?

    There’s a definite non-goofy stance against illegal aliens which seems entirely proper for the commander in chief.

    What other stance would be proper? Favoring illegal border-crossing?

    1. Avatarallen

      P.S. the subject line of the e-mail mentions Universal Robots but there’s no mention of Universal Robots in the column.

  4. AvatarGreg

    The dems and the MSM have always falsely portrayed all conservatives as racists while they’ve practiced the the racism of low expectations for decades! I’m so proud to finally have a president that fights back. MAGA!

  5. AvatarMiles

    As someone famously said once before. “It’s the economy, stupid.”
    Everything else is just noise.
    And the economy is roaring back.

  6. AvatarTed

    The author starts out fairly objective, criticizing Trump for obvious decision errors that could be attributed to any political newbie, but then dives quickly back into standard issue conservative rhetoric. I really don’t see how anyone could accuse Obama of derailing the economic recovery when he was at the helm for the entire thing. The mass of the United States economy is not something you can bring to full speed right out of the gate. If anything Trump is riding the coat tails of the economic policies of the Obama administration. Consider his consternation with Fed Chairman Powell over wanting to raise interest rates. Our economy is running full bore and every time Trump opens his mouth my 401-k takes a dip. Time will tell if the tariffs result in any sort of negotiated economic advantage or completely train wreck the economy. From there, let’s just hope he doesn’t start a war.

    1. AvatarDoug S.

      If this had anything to do with Obamas policies then why did Obama mock him for saying he was going to do this… (“what’s he gonna do, wave a magic wand??”) and scold him for promising 3% growth saying it was giving people harmfully unrealistic expectations? He said over and over again that these manufacturing jobs were not coming back and we needed to prepare ourselves to adapt to the “new economic realities”. He never expected or wanted this type of economy to happen here again. To give him credit for it just laughable.

      1. AvatarBill

        Yes Obama deserves enormous credit for the economic recovery. None of the good economic news would have happened without the auto industry, and he saved it, no doubt. Trump does inspire confidence in business leaders who don’t care much for the environmental problems we have, because it hurts the bottom line. Sportsmen or not, they would rather have the profits. 4% GDP in one quarter is great but it isn’t unprecedented and it’s only 1 quarter, so lets not give out any Nobel prizes just yet. My customers are starting to hold back on capital investments due to their customers nervousness over trade. And how long can automotive run at full speed? The GOP is benefitting from an up cycle in the economy, when it down cycles they will suffer.

      2. AvatarDoug S

        Obama did not save the automobile industry. What he did was bail out the enormous unfunded liabilities of the union pension funds. GM and Chrysler were forced to take the bailouts by Obama himself threatening to crucify them in the media. He forced out the top executives and handed the keys over to his union buddies. There are plenty of industries that have filed for bankruptcy, reorganized and come out the other side doing just fine. That is what should have happened. There are far too many aspects of our economy for overall growth to be attributed to just one sector, which is why command and control economies don’t work. Trump is releasing businesses of burdensome regulations, and allowing them to reinvest more of their profits to grow and improve their operations. That is what spurs economic growth, not taxpayer funded union bailouts. Market fluctuations are natural and necessary, and the adverse political effects mainly come from the party whose constituents least understand this. Democrats already hate Trump, them hating him more doesn’t mean much.

  7. AvatarDoogy

    IS Trump coming to IMTS?
    Did anybody invite him formally?
    Be nice if he showed up, took a tour, showed the MFG community he’s truly interested.

  8. AvatarDRB

    just think how great and what would happen if all of the chicken sh*t congress and fake new media was behind him.

  9. Lloyd GraffLloyd Graff

    I am an idealist perhaps on immigration, but “ the Emma Lazarus poem stamped on the Statue of Liberty, “bring me tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” is part of my DNA. Everybody here is an immigrant or descended from immigrants except our abused native Americans.
    Trump’s fence is offensive to me. We desperately need workers to fuel our growth, whether it’s the busboy at Wendy’s or the computer scientist at Google. Our population is barely growing. We have an opportunity to jumpstart the country now. He is blowing it with his anti-foreigner campaign bluster.
    Even Trump realized that seperating families at the border was both stupid politically and inhumane although he probably needed Ivanka and Melania to remind him.

    1. AvatarGreg

      Yes all of us are a product of immigration. LEGAL immigration! When our families came to this country they were required to have sponsorship. They had to come in through the front door. Failure to do so is still Illegal! Being against illegal immigration isn’t “anti-foreigner” It’s pro-law. Not building the offensive wall is giving the finger to all those who stand in line to enter this greatest of all nations legally.

      Not building the wall also welcomes and encourages drug trafficking, human trafficking, terrorists, introduction of diseases long ago extinct in this country and a huge drain on our overly generous welfare system. Oh yes, and lots of new democrat voters.

      Thanks for the chance to spout Lloyd

    2. AvatarTony

      Mr. Graff, do you not remember who’s policy it was to separate illegals while awaiting trial? It certainly was not Trump. He did, however, put an end to it. The issue is not “anti-immigrant”, the problem is one side still believes in legal immigration based on merit. The other side just thinks everyone on the planet has a right to come here by hook or by crook. As far as the poem on the Statue of Liberty, there is also a spot nearby that goes hand-in-hand with that poem, Ellis Island. That is where immigrants went to be legally processed, before actually assimilating. Get your history and facts straight before pouring out your feelings on a matter of law. A Representative Republic that picks and chooses which laws to enforce or not based on emotion or mob rule, is not a republic at all. It is called a Banana Republic, and I guarantee you do NOT want to live in one.

      1. AvatarRobert Ducanis

        I agree whole heartedly with Tony’s comments. Congress should not enact laws if they have no intention of having them followed. Trump is being castigated for doing what none of his predecessors had the cajones to do. Also, I cannot stand the term ‘undocumented’ immigrants. It makes it sound as if you are caught driving without your license. The term is and should always be termed ‘illegal’. I believe that the majority of American citizens have no problem whatsoever with legal immigrants that have to go thru the formal process to be admitted into the country and onto the path of citizenship.

    3. AvatarRobert Ducanis

      A direct question to you regarding your sentence above…”We desperately need workers to fuel our growth, whether it’s the busboy at Wendy’s or the computer scientist at Google.”

      How do you reconcile your above statement with the fact that the unemployment rate for African-Americans in your state of Illinois is 12.7% (2017) and is double the state average? I know that in your columns you are a champion for minority causes. Please explain.

    4. AvatarSteve

      Sorry you are offended with a wall. It is the primary job of the commander and chief of this country to protect the citizens. So far, past leaders have either ignored the responsibility or found ways to justify illegal immigration. I suspect your solution is like most liberals. It is come across the border without any inspection or identification, help yourself to the resources that you are NOT entitled to and face no punishment for your illegal entry. In fact, we will reward you with a path to citizenship. What lesson does this teach our children? When will people be held accountable for their actions? I do not have any problem with legal immigration like most of our ancestors did, but sneaking into the country is illegal and must be dealt with.

    5. Avatarallen

      Maybe you’re an idealist but on this subject you’re most definitely not.

      If you’re going to invoke the Emma Lazarus poem you should also keep in mind what the first stop was for people seeing the Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island, i.e. legal immigration.

      Conflating border-jumpers with legal immigrants isn’t evidence of idealism but of having signed on with people who don’t care about the law or the legal process for making law. They just want what they want and they don’t want disagreement.

      As a legal immigrant Trump’s border fence isn’t offensive to me. Quite the contrary since the illegal immigration the lack of a fence encourages means my parents were a pair of shmucks for cooling their heels while the legal process went slowly forward.

      Oh, and there’s no “anti-foreigner campaign”.

      Opposing illegal border-crossing doesn’t seem to have impacted legal immigration. From the DHS web page –

      “A total of 163 thousand aliens were naturalized in FY18 Q1, compared to 106 thousand in the same quarter in FY17 (see Table 3). The FY18 Q1 numbers were 55 percent higher than the same period of time in FY17.”

      You’d expect the volume of legal immigration to decline were there any anti-foreigner campaign.

      Not a very big number for a nation of 330 million but than we’ve got a process for changing the laws governing those numbers. Ignoring the law isn’t part of the process and confers no moral authority.

  10. AvatarStuart H Hodgson

    Trump has both helped and hurt us. We are a producer of heavy machine tools in the USA. Steel tariffs have been used by the steel mills as justification to ratchet up steel prices, creating big increases in our cost of goods. At the same time there was nothing done to minimize or discourage other countries from making similar machines as ours, therefore, putting them at a big advantage. So, rather than ship raw steel into the US, let’s build a product with steel and ship it instead. Not good policy! This stated, Trump had to do something about the China problem, thus playing hardball on the trade side was/is necessary. On the brighter side, tax reform along with reduction in stupid and costly red tape are beneficial to the American economy, big time!

  11. AvatarGrimstod

    I could not be happier with this president. He is probably the best president we will ever have in the next 100 years. My business has been benefited by everything he has done. Even the tariffs have helped immensely. There are many products I make that would never be a reality if it were not for them.

  12. Lloyd GraffLloyd Graff

    Bob, the latest statistics I could find show Black unemployment in Chicago around 8% vs. total unemplyment around 6%. This is half the rate during the recession. It has come down faster than total unemployment. Not great numbers but trending in a good direction.
    Does Trump care about Black unemployment, probably only Omarosa knows for sure, but the by-product of a robust economy is that it lifts all boats.

  13. Lloyd GraffLloyd Graff

    Greg, I do like your comment “the racism of low expectations”. Very astute if it is yours or wherever you got it. Thank you.
    In five words it says so much about phony “liberal” racism that has undermined the Black community for centuries. It has also stunted the lives of so many talented people. I am certainly in the guilty category, myself.

  14. AvatarKelly

    Simply put HELPED!
    Just imagine where we would be with Hillary and Bill running things.
    By the comments Lloyd you have a great blog going.
    We have spent more in new machinery in the last 12 months than we have in 10 years.
    Also hired 4 additional people (and they all speak English) on top of the work force we laid off during the great recession.
    Now if we can just do something about Illinois becoming a red state (we are considering relocating to Indiana).
    Keep up the good work.

  15. AvatarJohn Craychee

    This is a great column Lloyd, although I don’t agree with many of your positions. Time is short so I’ll just comment on one thing– your “Trump’s immigration policy is deplorable ” statement. Since Trump’s immigration policy is simply to enforce existing laws I have to conclude that you are against the rule of law. Am I correct? If not, why not?
    OK two comments–Trump has HELPED! Business has jumped since the tax cuts went into effect—this is the best year we’ve ever had.
    OK, three comments–the tariffs are hurting since we use a lot of steel. We’ll handle the extra cost and in any case, the game isn’t over yet. When all the trade negotiations are done–which could take a while—I believe we’ll be ahead as a country.


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