top hat thinking

  • The University of Michigan’s Consumer Confidence survey found that wealthy Americans’ economic sentiment dropped sharply in March.
  • According to the survey, wealthier people “cited significantly greater concerns with government economic policies.”
  • Their top concern: President Donald Trump’s new trade policies, like tariffs on China.

President Donald Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on some metal imports and Chinese goods set off alarm bells among America’s wealthy, according to the University of Michigan’s Consumer Confidence survey.

The survey, released Thursday, showed confidence among wealthier Americans taking a nosedive in March in large part due to Trump’s trade rhetoric.

Richard Curtin, the chief economist for the survey, said all of the gains in confidence came from people in the lowest third of incomes, while those in the highest third saw a negative-5.6-point drag.

Households with incomes in the top third cited significantly greater concerns with government economic policies than last month, especially trade policies, with net references falling from +31 to just +1, offsetting their positive reactions to tax policies,” Curtin said.

The decline followed a month that was kicked off by Trump announcing tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. It has ended with the administration considering limits on Chinese investments into US tech companies.

Trump’s trade posturing has sparked concerns among economists about inflationary pressures, as higher taxes on goods coming into the US could translate into higher prices for consumers — and eventually a slowdown in the current economic growth trend.

These fears appeared to be echoed by the wealthiest people in the survey, outweighing the recent take-home pay boost following the passage of the Republican tax law in December.

The negative reaction to Trump’s policies may also stem from the fact that wealthier Americans own more stock than other income brackets. The market has seen a steep dive after the tariff announcements.

SEE ALSO: Trump keeps backing down from his worst impulses — and it could be great news for the economy

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: BILL BROWDER: How sanctions on Russia hurt Putin’s closest allies