FILE - In this May 10, 2019, file photo China Shipping Company containers are stacked at the Virginia International's terminal in Portsmouth, Va. Over the past month, President Donald Trump has rolled the dice on the economy. He has more than doubled tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports. He’s preparing to target another $300 billion, extending his import taxes to everything China ships to the United States. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

WASHINGTON - Ten billion here, ten billion there: President Donald Trump's escalating tariffs on imports to the United States have begun to amount to serious money - and potentially to imperil one of the most resilient economies in American history.

Until now, the economy has largely shrugged off damage from Trump's trade wars. Even as the self-proclaimed Tariff Man piled import taxes on everything from Turkish steel to Canadian aluminum to Chinese burglar alarms, the job market has remained sturdy. At 3.6%, the unemployment rate is at its lowest point in a half-century. In July, the expansion that followed the Great Recession will become the longest on records dating to 1854.

But over the past month, Trump has made a higher-stakes gamble on the economy's durability. He's more than doubled tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports. He's preparing to tax an additional $300 billion in goods from China, extending his import taxes to everything Beijing sells to the United States.

Trump also said he would impose a 5% tax on Mexican imports starting Monday - a tax that would reach 25% by Oct. 1 if the Mexican government fails to stop a flow of Central American migrants into the United States.

Combined, the actions mark a broad escalation of Trump's trade wars. The new tariffs on Chinese and Mexican imports amount to potentially $190 billion a year in new taxes - paid by U.S. importers and typically passed on to consumers.

Researchers at UBS calculate that a 25% tariff on all Chinese imports would shave a full percentage point from U.S. growth over the next year. The economy grew 2.9% in 2018 and will likely be weaker for 2019. Add a 25% tax on Mexican goods, they say, and the United States could tumble into recession for the first time since 2009.


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