Business economists express concern that current trade policies could lead to 2020 recession

Members of the National Association of Business Economists (NABE) are worried about the economic consequences of current trade policies, according to an Associated Press report.

A group of top business economists believes the major tax cuts President Donald Trump pushed through Congress will give a significant boost to economic growth this year and next year. But they worry that by 2020, the country could be entering a new recession.

The National Association for Business Economics says in its latest quarterly outlook that its panel of 45 economists expects the economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, to expand 2.8 percent this year. That is down slightly from the panel’s March forecast, which put GDP growth this year at 2.9 percent.

But, as the U.S. Chamber warned last week, tariffs represent a longer-term threat.

The Trump administration’s trade policies will hamstring the U.S.’s robust economic growth and threaten as many as 2.6 million jobs, according to a memo from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s top official on Thursday.

The memo—from Tom Donohue, the chamber’s chief executive, to his board of directors—followed news Thursday morning that President Donald Trump’s administration would make good on threats to apply tariffs to steel and aluminum imports from neighbors and allies, including Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

NABE economists agree.

Three-fourths of the NABE panel believes that current trade policies will have a negative impact on the economy. Trump last week imposed penalty tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from major U.S. trading partners — the European Union, Canada and Mexico — and he has threatened tariffs on up to $200 billion in Chinese imports, moves that could trigger a global trade war as the targeted nations pledge to retaliate.

Keeping in mind that economists have a shaky track record when it comes to predicting recessions, the concern is worth noting.

Asked when the next recession might begin, two-thirds of the NABE economists saw one starting by the end of 2020, with 18 percent even more pessimistic, expecting the next downturn to begin by the end of 2019.

The current recovery, which began in mid-2009, is currently the second longest expansion in U.S. history and will become the longest if it lasts past June 2019.

The end of 2020 is a long time from now. Much can happen between now and then. Still, worth watching.