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Within moments of Donald Trump’s upset victory in the 2016 election, investors began stampeding into the shares of America’s steelmakers. After all, this was a business he had explicitly pledged to rescue. “Your steel industry—we’re bringing it back, bringing it back, folks!” he had promised a wildly cheering crowd in Pittsburgh the previous April. So when trading opened the morning after election day, the buy orders were stacked high and prices began to rocket. By week’s end the S&P 500 was up 2%, but Steel Dynamics was up 13%, Nucor up 14%, Pittsburgh’s own U.S. Steel up 23%. For a Rust Belt industry in distress, deliverance had apparently come.
Fast-forward a few months, to when Trump imposed tariffs on imported steel and steelmaker stock prices surged even higher, at least for a while. Today the shares of all of America’s major steelmakers are trading not just below their 2018 highs but also below where they were before Trump’s election. U.S. Steel, which worked hard behind the scenes to help fashion the tariffs, is worth nearly one-third less than its value on Election Day. Bringing back the industry turned out to be harder than Trump, steel company executives, or investors ever imagined.
American - Steel - Microcosm - US - Business
American steel is a particularly dramatic microcosm of U.S. business in nearly three years of the Trump presidency—an era that began full of promise and was initially a welcome boon for major sectors but that has become increasingly detrimental for many. Trump has been virulently criticized for a wide range of things, but, as the nation focuses on impeachment, Fortune has chosen to focus solely on his economic and business record. On that dimension, the one constant of his tenure so far has been lurching inconsistency, creating an environment of unprecedented uncertainty that has become a significant business problem in itself....
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