Wall Street Wonders What’s Next After Trump Jolts Markets

  • Written by Dani Burger, Brian Chappatta and Nabila Ahmed
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• Dow average sinks 370 points in worst day since September

• Gold rallies, volatility spikes as politics spills to markets

For the first time, a Wall Street that’s been giddy over Donald Trump is starting to ask some hard questions.

From Day 1, markets have rallied, defying what many of the same Wall Street types said would be a disastrous election outcome. Since then, U.S. stocks have hit record after record, driving up shares of Goldman Sachs to JPMorgan Chase to Apple, as investors quickly focused on what his pro-business, tax-cutting agenda would mean for corporate profits.

But the steady drumbeat of bad news may finally be taking its toll. On Wednesday, stocks tumbled, Treasuries soared and volatility came roaring back as a series of damaging revelations -- from Trump’s disclosure of classified information to Russian officials to reports that he pressed FBI Director James Comey to drop a probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn -- prompted many on Wall Street to wonder whether the turbulence that has shattered the market’s calm might be the start of something bigger. And that was before news broke that former FBI Director Robert Mueller was named special counsel to oversee the probe of Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 election.

It’s all also left many to ask whether the market was blinded by its own optimism over Trump’s business-friendly agenda.

“Crazy times, huh?” said Matt Maley, an equity strategist at Miller Tabak & Co. “I’ve talked to a few personal friends and a few customers who I know are supportive of Trump that are saying, boy, this isn’t good.”

Of course, financial markets are often punctuated by bouts of alarm that have unsettled traders during normal times. And up to now, it’s been easy to dismiss the president’s missteps as the price of electing an outsider. But now, the biggest question is whether Trump’s presidency is in trouble.

For some of the world’s largest banks, Trump’s firing of Comey last week was a signal moment. At least two global firms have started mapping out how financial markets might react to an impeachment -- a scenario they still saw as improbable, according to people with knowledge of the matter, who declined to speak publicly because such deliberations are politically sensitive. While their work is just beginning and it’s too early to draw conclusions, the people said, it’s a telling sign of just how serious things have become.

“The political risk has been upped here -- things sound more ominous and serious than a week ago,” said Gary Pollack, the head of fixed-income trading at Deutsche Bank AG’s Private Wealth Management unit.

Much of the problem is how pervasively investors had tuned out Trump in the months before the latest scandal broke. The CBOE Volatility Index’s average level since December has been 25 percent below that of 2016 -- not exactly a turbulent year to begin with. Everything from Treasuries to currencies and stocks had been limping along without a care -- before Wednesday.

“Markets are very blasé about political risk until the very last moment,” former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said at the SkyBridge Alternatives Conference, known as SALT, in Las Vegas. “They go along until something happens that pulls the rug out from under their assumptions.”

The S&P 500 Index, which set another all-time high just two days ago, was routed in the worst selloff in eight months, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s 372-point slide was its steepest since the election. The dollar fell a sixth day, while yields on 10-year Treasuries tumbled by the most since the day after the Brexit vote.

Trump is facing the deepest crisis of his presidency after contents of a memo written by Comey surfaced Tuesday, alleging that the president asked him to drop an investigation of Flynn. That came after Trump disclosed highly classified intelligence to Russian officials in a meeting last week.

“The market is running with politics,” said Bret Barker, who oversees U.S. fixed-income at TCW Group Inc., which manages $194 billion. “There’s just not much out there to change fundamentals right now.”

A vacuum of catalysts faced anyone hoping the traditional saviors of markets would step up to calm things down. Earnings season is over, the next report on U.S. employment is 16 days away, and the Fed doesn’t meet again for a month. That’s potentially bad news for a stock market whose 10 percent rally since Election Day has pushed valuations to the highest levels since just after the dot-com bubble.

The biggest beneficiaries of the Trump trade were bearing the brunt of the carnage on Wednesday. Exchange-traded funds tuned to stocks with the most sensitivity to market swings were having their worst day in two months. Bank shares in the S&P 500 plunged 3 percent, bringing the slide from a March 1 record to 8.6 percent.

“That’s one of the problems with rather a quiet market that even a small ripple could look pretty big,” said Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management. “Sometimes if it’s too quiet, people think things can only get worse.”

This article has been republished from www.bloomberg.com

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  • Serena Williams on Pregnancy, Power, and Coming Back to Center Court

    On a Sunday morning in July—specifically the middle Sunday of Wimbledon, when the players rest and the trampled lawns recover—Serena Williams awoke from one of those vivid dreams that are a common feature in the hormonal rush of pregnancy. In it she was competing, except that she wasn’t at Wimbledon or even on a tennis court. Instead this was the Williams Invitational, the mock-seriously titled (but very real) dance tournament that Serena and Venus Williams have mounted each spring for the better part of a decade and that, Serena explains, has gone from fun to serious to Broadway to Vegas in short order. In the dream, Serena was suspended from the ceiling, twirling inside a hoop attached to a long ribbon. (True story: Williams has an aerial-dancing coach in Florida and another in California.) Sequins and wigs may also have been involved, though the details are fuzzy.

    “What do you think it means?” Williams asks as her fiancé, Alexis Ohanian, 34, works on coffee and soft-scrambled eggs. (You got lucky, she says, when he hands me the mug with the giant S on it.) What it does not mean, as anyone who saw her cracking forehands on a recent Instagram video knows already, is that Williams’s mind has floated away from tennis. In fact, for the last week she has been watching Wimbledon with such intensity that her chef has started giving her concerned glances from over the breakfast bar.

    “I learn by watching,” she explains. “I’m like the Parasite”—here the first of many references to DC Comics superheroes. “He’s a leech. He takes all your energy with him. Or I watch old matches of myself on the Tennis Channel. I hit amazing shots, and these girls are running them down and hitting winners, and I’m beginning to see why. It’s because I have patterns.” She breaks into a laugh that I come to know well because it is so easily summoned. “I don’t want to say more than that. I don’t want these girls to read this article and get a leg up.”

    We’re sitting in the giant kitchen of her house in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, whose demure gray facade belies the fact that in other days it has been something of a party pad for the sisters Williams. Outside, sprinklers hiss, lizards scurry across a tiled patio, and behind the pool, a family of blue cranes pecks at the grass in search of their own breakfast. These Sundays are precious, since Alexis will soon be on a plane back to San Francisco, where Reddit, the social-news website he cofounded, is based.

    “The downside is not being able to be here 24-7,” he says.

    “Babe, that’s the upside,” she says. More laughter.

    Nearly eight months pregnant, Williams wears a stretchy dress with nautical stripes, her hair exquisitely cornrowed, with red and gold beads and cowries, her pearlized nails the color of pink champagne. Since 2011, when she was hospitalized with bilateral pulmonary embolisms following foot surgery (months earlier she had stepped on a piece of glass at a World Cup party in Munich), Williams has been terrified of getting pregnant. Carrying a child increases the risk of blood clots, and she now has to inject herself with anticoagulants, the most dreaded part of her daily routine. This pregnancy was unexpected and accidental. “But once I found out, something happened that surprised me,” she explains. “I became really calm. I thought, You have to win, but you’re allowed to lose, because you have something to look forward to.”

    Williams is in planning mode. A fifties-themed baby shower (she loves a theme party, or any excuse to get into costume, really) is in the works. There is the bachelorette party—maybe the islands, maybe Las Vegas, maybe both—and, one of these days, the wedding itself. But most of her energy is directed at preparing the nursery. Williams, a Francophile who keeps an apartment in Paris, is looking for a baby nurse who speaks French and just found a wall hanging of a medieval French poem by Charles d’Orléans for the room. “Alexis thinks we’re having a boy, but I have a strong suspicion that it’s a girl,” she says. “Two weeks after we found out, I played the Australian Open. I told Alexis it has to be a girl because there I was playing in 100-degree weather, and that baby never gave me any trouble. Ride or die. Women are tough that way.”

    For many of her fans—and here I should disclose that I’m among the die-hards—the news that Williams was pregnant stirred an uneasy mix of feelings. So this was how her tennis career would end? Well, why not? It would mean that the 2017 Australian Open final was her last competitive match; in it, she defeated her oldest and greatest rival, Venus Williams, for her twenty-third major title and in doing so broke Steffi Graf’s heavily armored Open-era rec­ord. Could the loop close any more perfectly? In fact, yes: There were other records still looming, none so large as Margaret Court’s 24 major titles. Then there was the fact that Williams, at 35, seemed, by some miraculous fusion of physical gifts and prudent time management, still to be playing at her apex.

    “It’s hard to figure out what the end of your tennis career should look like,” she says. “I used to think I’d want to retire when I have kids, but no. I’m definitely coming back. Walking out there and hearing the crowd, it may seem like nothing. But there’s no better feeling in the world.” Chip, her Yorkie (full name Christopher Chip Rafael Nadal), bounces skittishly from her chair to mine, though his allegiance is never in dispute. “Obviously, if I have a chance to go out there and catch up with Margaret, I am not going to pass that up. If anything, this pregnancy has given me a new power.”

    Power—it’s a word that has clung with a sometimes unsavory vigor to Williams over the years, perhaps as a dismissal of her prodigious technical skill or, worse, as a proxy for her race. And it’s a word she has only recently come to embrace. “I think I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the idea of power,” she says. “In the beginning I didn’t like it when they said that my sister and I were power players. I thought, I don’t hit as hard as a Monica Seles. In Australia last year, I read that Maria Sharapova’s backhand and forehand are as good or better than mine, and that the only reason I win is that my serve is bigger. I was like, wait a minute, please. I place my serve. And what about my volleys? My speed? I’m the player who’s hitting angles. I’m the player who moves you. I use my brain, and that’s really why I win. Not only me, but women in general sometimes feel that power is a bad word. As I’ve gotten older I’ve started to feel differently about it. Power is beauty. Strength is beauty. So now on the court I want people to think that I’m powerful. But I also want them to be shocked at how I play. I want people to expect something, then get something different.”

    Williams has been a target this year off the court. In March, the Romanian former world number one Ilie Nastase accused her of doping and suggested that American athletes’ behavior essentially goes unchecked. “It’s pretty clear in Serena’s case,” he told reporters. “Do you see what she looks like?” Only a month later, he was heard speculating about Williams’s baby. “Let’s see what color it is. Chocolate with milk?” This presented a bitter pill for those who wished to believe that tennis was above, or beyond, racism. Williams knew better, of course. “I’m like, dude, are you serious? Classless,” she says. “Don’t come for me, and don’t come for my baby. And then the drug rant! I’m tested all the time. I’m not putting poison in this body. If I can’t beat you, I’m not going to cheat to win. End of story.” (Ohanian says that his fiancée’s fastidiousness borders on the paranoid: “I’ll be eating a protein bar and she’s starving, and she’ll be like, Nope. Can’t risk it. Not sure that’s approved.”)

    In June, John McEnroe drew the ire of tennis fans when he stated in an NPR interview that Williams would be “like 700 in the world” if she played on the men’s tour. “Why the fixation on me playing dudes?” she asks. “It’s clear that men are stronger than women, and that’s just science. I’m very content to play on the women’s tour. John’s unapologetic, he says what he thinks, and people respect that about him. God forbid I do it, though.”

    Williams has said more than a few things over the course of her career that she likely regrets. “I think people do love when I get angry—that’s when the crowd cheers the hardest. But now I’m like, OK, I’m going to be a mom next time I play. I need to not make the baby faces anymore.” And lately she appears to be watching her words.

    “I wish people could see her silly side,” says Kim Kardashian West, who has been a close friend of Williams’s for fifteen years. “She is obsessed with karaoke, which personally is my biggest fear in life. I remember a dinner in San Francisco before a DNC fund-raiser. Serena sang, Obama sang, Kanye sang. It was legendary. She gives herself those moments—it’s how she recharges. Serena’s the girl you can call and say anything to. She’ll never judge you, and she’s never too busy for you. Oh, and she can keep any secret.” The actress Meghan Markle, another friend, says, “She will be an amazing mom. The very best, because she is so attuned to balancing strength and sensitivity. Plus, given that she is pretty epic at karaoke, I think she’ll put her signature Serena spin on singing lullabies for the baby. I can’t wait for that!”

    And yet Williams is concerned that her game face has been misinterpreted, that the posture she assumes to let everyone know she means business looks threatening instead. “I feel like people think I’m mean,” she says. “Really tough and really mean and really street. I believe that the other girls in the locker room will say, ‘Serena’s really nice.’ But Maria Sharapova, who might not talk to anybody, might be perceived by the public as nicer. Why is that? Because I’m black and so I look mean? That’s the society we live in. That’s life. They say African-Americans have to be twice as good, especially women. I’m perfectly OK with having to be twice as good.”

    Her friend the singer Ciara wonders whether Williams’s intensity on the court makes it difficult for people to imagine another version of her. “In tennis mode, she’s a beast, a lioness,” Ciara says. “But when she’s not in work mode—well, let’s just say you want to be at her table. You’ll die laughing. She’s that girl, and I think it will serve her so well as a mom. That and the fact that she has a partner who complements her. Alexis is calm and cool.”

    Watch Serena Williams Dance and Dish on One Thing She Hasn't Mastered:

    The couple met by chance in Rome in the spring of 2015. She was competing in one of the clay-court tournaments that precede the French Open (and prodding Italian friends to persuade restaurants to make her gluten-free cacio e pepe), and he was speaking at a tech convention that happened to take place at her hotel. By December, they were engaged. “Alexis is basically the guy I’ve always told my friends to look for, since I love to give advice,” says Williams, whose old flames include the musicians Common and Drake, the basketball player Amar’e Stoudemire, and the director Brett Ratner. “He’s extremely smart but not a know-it-all. He’s curious about what he doesn’t know. Being a Jehovah’s Witness is important to me, but I’ve never really practiced it and have been wanting to get into it. Alexis didn’t grow up going to any church, but he’s really receptive and even takes the lead. He puts my needs first.” Though Ohanian has been doing weekends in Florida, Williams is not exactly ignoring the needs of her husband-to-be, either. She plans to move to San Francisco after the wedding—no cohabitation before then, at her insistence—even though she’s in the process of building a sprawling home in Florida. For years she lived in Venus’s Palm Beach Gardens house and has only just relocated across the street. “I was like, ‘I’m 35, Venus. We have got to live apart.’ ” Venus comes over frequently because she never has food in her refrigerator.

    Williams mentions another crucial point in Ohanian’s favor: He has passed muster with Patrick Mouratoglou, her coach of the past five years and, though neither has ever discussed it publicly, her romantic partner for a portion of that time. “Once we got over that little hump of weirdness, it was fine,” she explains. “Fortunately I’m really good friends with most everyone I’ve ever dated. I don’t like bad blood.”

    Ohanian plans to recast his late mother’s wedding ring for Williams. Family, he says, is crucial to them both: “One of the first things we really connected on at a deeper level was that she lost her sister during a formative time in her life”—Williams’s half-sister Yetunde Price was the victim of a drive-by shooting in 2003—“and my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer when I was 22, just as we were starting Reddit. For both of us, we learned at a young age the pain of loss, and I think for both of us, this helped make us who we are.” The couple, spectacularly busy in such different ways, give each other freedom; there have been no fights over putting in extra hours at the office (or on the court) or taking a last-minute trip. “One of the best parts of this relationship for me is that it really shattered the tech-bubble illusion that we’re the hardest-working people,” Ohanian adds. “It’s amazing how much harder I push myself now because I’m with someone who has even more discipline, even more focus.”

    As focused as she remains on her future as a player, Williams is looking beyond tennis, as she always has. Nearly two decades ago, in one of the valleys between her career’s scattered peaks, she somehow made time to study fashion design at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. “My dad always told us to have a plan B,” she says. If not for her pregnancy, Williams’s namesake ready-to-wear line would have had its fourth New York Fashion Week show this month.

    “I feel I can put myself into Serena’s mind,” says Donatella Versace, who designed the emerald-green chiffon dress Williams wore at this year’s Met gala. “She’s fierce, but there is a side that people don’t consider until they get to know her, that maybe people don’t expect. She has an enormous warmth and a vulnerability. With her style she loves to push it, to go to extremes—high platforms, tight bodysuits. But I saw one of her collections, which showed another side. Very classic.”

    “My feet are really in this,” Williams says of her line, which is sold on HSN. “For me there was only one thing I connected to the way I’ve connected to tennis, and that’s been fashion. If you give me a garment, I can tell you what the fabric is, how it’s made, why something can or can’t be done because of the draping, et cetera. Who knows? Maybe I would have won more grand slams if I had been 100 percent tennis.” Here she slips momentarily into a whisper: “I should have 30 already.”

    Last month, Williams appeared in nude plenitude à la Demi Moore on the cover of Vanity Fair, photographed by Annie Leibovitz. “I was really nervous about that shoot,” she admits. “I’ve not been that exposed, and I was unsure up until a couple of days before. But I’m happy with how raw and real it is.” Williams has appeared on the cover of Vogue twice before, first in June 2012 for the London Olympics and again in April 2015, both times also shot by Leibovitz. “Being black and being on the cover was really important to me,” she explains. “The success of one woman should be the inspiration to another, and I’m always trying to inspire and motivate the black girls out there. I’m not a model. I’m not the girl next door. But I’m not hiding. Actually, I look like a lot of women out there. The American woman is many women, and I think it’s important to speak to American women at a time when they need encouragement. I’m not political, but I think everyone is worried, to a degree.”

    Williams has already begun to prepare for next January, when she hopes to defend her Australian Open title. “It’s the most outrageous plan,” she says. “I just want to put that out there. That’s, like, three months after I give birth. I’m not walking anything back, but I’m just saying it’s pretty intense.” At her age and stage, there is always the risk of falling short of her previous heights. “In this game you can go dark fast. If I lose, and I lose again, it’s like, she’s done. Especially since I’m not 20 years old. I’ll tell you this much: I won’t win less. Either I win, or I don’t play.”

    Venus, who went on to reach the Wimbledon final despite battling Sjögren’s syndrome, remains her sister’s inspiration to keep playing. (Venus’s deep run was all the more impressive because it came in the wake of her involvement in a Florida car accident that claimed the life of a 78-year-old man.) Meanwhile, Serena maintains the famous Williams balance: sweating through an hour of cardio every day (she has never really lifted weights, her muscles the gift of nature), taking French lessons, scrolling through makeup and nails on Instagram, perfecting her taco recipes, and listening to the Moana sound track. (“No judgments, please,” she asks.) Her mother, Oracene Price, and her friend Sheryl Sandberg, the Facebook executive, have impressed upon her the importance of staying positive. Her father, Richard Williams, lives twelve minutes away, and they see each other at church every weekend.

    “I’m nervous about childbirth,” Williams acknowledges. “I’m not a spring chicken. The one thing I really want is an epidural, which I know a lot of people are against, but I’ve had surgeries galore, and I don’t need to experience any more pain if I can avoid it. But the biggest thing is that I don’t really think I’m a baby person. Not yet. That’s something I have to work on. I’m so used to me-me-me, taking care of my health, my body, my career. I always ask, Am I going to be good enough?” She looks toward Ohanian, who is blending smoothies in the Vitamix. “I know he’ll be great.”

    “It’s funny that you say that,” he answers, “because that’s exactly how I feel about you.”

    This article has been republished from www.vogue.com

  • One U.S. Factory Goes Global, While Trump Shrinks the World

    Never mind the refrain that the American factory is supposedly a dinosaur in the age of globalization.

    Here in the heart of horse country, some 700 American workers are designing and building premium ceiling fans. They tap local engineering prowess and export their wares around the world using a whimsical brand: Big Ass Fans. (Yes, that is really its name.)

    But if the company stands as refutation to the premature obituaries for American manufacturing, the people running the operation worry about a looming risk. Talk of trade hostilities from Washington could shrink the globe, potentially yielding policy that could limit American exports while impeding access to crucial components of manufacturing.

    The latest concern unfolds this week, as the Trump administration begins to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, redrawing the terms of commerce with Mexico and Canada.

    The president has long criticized Nafta as a lethal threat to American livelihoods, asserting that it has spurred an exodus of jobs to Mexico while opening the borders to unfairly cheap, tariff-free imports. He has vowed to bring factory jobs back to the United States.

    In outlining its goals for the Nafta renegotiation, the Trump administration listed as a priority shrinking American trade deficits with Mexico and Canada. Trade experts construed that as an intention to limit imports from those countries.

    But many of the imports encouraged by Nafta are parts and raw materials used by American workers in fashioning finished wares. If Mr. Trump limits such imports, that could increase the cost of making goods at many American factories. It could provoke Canada and Mexico to similarly restrict trade, diminishing their purchases of American products.

    In short, Mr. Trump’s efforts to bring work back to the United States could eliminate some jobs that are already here.

    “Altering Nafta could fundamentally change the production of the economy — for the U.S., as well as for Mexico — and that will be very disruptive,” said Swati Dhingra, an economist at the London School of Economics. “Many of the policies being proposed could end up hurting the people who are being left behind.”

    Big Ass Fans could wind up paying more for motors it imports from Mexico. It could lose sales to Canada and Mexico, now its two largest export destinations, and the destinations for more than a third of American exports over all.

    “If we get into a trade war, that could significantly impact our U.S. production,” said Paul Lauritzen, the company’s vice president for manufacturing. “It just seems like the Trump guys are so focused on meeting campaign promises that they have failed to understand the reality of manufacturing and the global supply chain.”

    In the world economy as depicted by President Trump, a product made in Mexico and sold on American shelves represents a theft. Such wares should have been forged in the United States, using American hands.

    In this spirit, Mr. Trump first threatened to kill Nafta, and later agreed to the renegotiation getting underway. He has vowed to slap tariffs on a range of Chinese goods including steel. He has accused his predecessors of destroying American factory jobs by assenting to a series of abominable trade deals.

    A growing body of research has concluded that a surge of imported goods produced in low-wage countries — especially China — has indeed eliminated millions of American jobs in recent decades. Some research has found that trade with Mexico modestly depressed wage growth during the 1990s in the most-affected blue-collar industries, among them the textile trade.

    “We strongly support President Trump’s intention to reopen Nafta, and agree that it can be updated and improved to significantly enhance U.S. textile production, exports and employment,” Auggie Tantillo, president of the National Council of Textile Organizations, an industry trade group, said in written remarks submitted to a congressional panel in June.

    Still, Mr. Tantillo argued against reinstating tariffs, while cautioning that the renegotiation must not disrupt “the high level of supply chain integration that exists today.”

    Unions from the Steelworkers to the A.F.L.-C.I.O. have assailed Nafta as a job killer while also accusing the Trump administration of failing to define effective goals to boost workers’ interests.

    Canada and Mexico are the largest and third-largest source of imports used by American companies in producing exports. In 2011, the most recent year for which government data is available, imports from those two countries yielded more than $1.6 billion worth of American exports.

    As Mr. Lauritzen walks through his plant on a recent afternoon, he lifts an electrical device that regulates the power supply for a new line of highly energy-efficient industrial lights. It was imported from China.

    “If you wanted to source this domestically, your options would be minimal to zero,” he says.

    Big Ass Fans began life in 1999 with a more staid name, the HVLS Fan Company. It specialized in enormous industrial-grade fans hung in vast spaces like factories and airplane hangars as a way to reduce use of heating and air-conditioning. The largest fans reach 24 feet in diameter and sell for upward of $8,000.

    As customers began using blunt language to describe the products, the company took their declarations as its name. Its complex on the outskirts of Lexington features no end of brand-related mischief. Signs reserve a favored parking spot for the “Smart Ass of the Month.” The company mascot is a donkey named Fanny.

    Beneath the joviality is a serious engineering operation. In 2008, when the global financial system was ensnared in disaster and the company’s revenue was about $30 million a year, it invested nearly one-third of that sum in a new research and development facility.

    Company innovators used the facility to develop a popular feature that simulates the variable wind speeds of an ocean breeze, which provides relief from the constant blowing of a typical fan. The company started a new residential line under the Haiku brand, using a molded hunk of stainless steel, bamboo and other luxurious materials.

    By 2012, revenue had tripled to $90 million, according to the company. Last year, it reached $240 million.

    Big Ass Fans pays well above the state average, investing in the notion that happier workers are more productive. One-third of its assembly line workers earn more than $40,000 a year, plus health insurance, according to the company.

    Ray Hawkins, 38, landed at the factory four years ago, after being laid off from his previous job as a welder at a nearby Toyota plant. He had endured four years of joblessness with a young son at home. Since starting at the company, he has worked his way up to a supervisory position and now earns nearly one-and-a-half times his previous pay.

    “When I was at Toyota, I felt like I was just a number,” he said. “Now, everybody knows my name.”

    But company overseers are feeling pressure.

    Jamie Hillegonds, director of global operations, is looking for savings in the supply chain. The Trump administration presents itself as a champion of business, eager to strip away job-killing regulations. Yet she finds herself having to anticipate how the president might complicate her plans.

    Her company buys motors from a Midwestern supplier known for quality and good prices. But the supplier recently shifted its production to Mexico. If the Nafta renegotiation makes that product more expensive, she will have to adjust.

    “It’s very difficult to develop a global sourcing strategy based on Trump’s day-to-day whims about what he wants to do,” Ms. Hillegonds said.

    Jonathan Bostock, the chief operating officer, wonders what happens if the Trump administration follows through on plans to impose tariffs on steel as a way to limit China’s exports. Big Ass Fans buys little steel directly, but the companies that supply its parts purchase the material.

    “It goes downstream, and someone ends up paying,” he said.

    Mr. Lauritzen, the vice president for manufacturing, was disheartened by Mr. Trump’s decision to revoke American participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sprawling agreement encompassing a dozen Pacific Rim countries that amount to nearly 40 percent of the global economy.

    He watched in dismay as Japan, a central participant in the Pacific pact, secured some consolation in signing a trade deal with the European Union. The United States lacks such a deal with Europe. So American companies are now vulnerable to higher tariffs on sales to Europe than those faced by its Japanese competitors.

    With the United States out of the pact, Big Ass Fans is more likely to serve Asian customers from its factory in Malaysia rather than expanding in Kentucky, he said, adding, “Every time we miss out on one of those, when other countries are negotiating free trade agreements, that disadvantages us.”

    Correction: August 16, 2017
    An earlier version of this article misstated the wording on a sign in the Big Ass Fans parking lot. As shown in the photograph accompanying the article, the sign says a nearby parking spot is reserved for the company “smart ass,” not “wise ass.”

    This article has been republished from www.nytimes.com

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