Skip to content
Businessweek
Economics

Recession Already Grips Corners of U.S., Menacing Trump’s 2020 Bid

The president’s trade wars are creating a scenario similar to 2016.

The shop floor at Kuhn North America in Brodhead, Wis.

The shop floor at Kuhn North America in Brodhead, Wis.

Photographer: Lyndon French for Bloomberg Businessweek

The moment usually comes during Greg Petras’s commute through the rolling hills and cornfields of southern Wisconsin. Somewhere between his home near Madison and the factory he runs on the edge of the small town of Brodhead, the news will turn to the trade wars and Donald Trump will again claim that China is bearing the cost of his tariffs. That’s when Petras loses it.

“It’s just an outright lie, and he knows it,” says Petras, president of Kuhn North America, which employs some 600 people at its farm-equipment factory in Wisconsin. For Kuhn, Trump’s trade war has produced a toxic mix of rising costs and falling revenues. “You’re slamming your fist on the steering wheel and saying ‘Why would you tell people this?’”