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Trump’s feud with Amazon could have wider effects on the US economy

Measures to curb the e-tailer’s success, reportedly fueled by the president’s distaste for the Washington Post, could steepen the decline of an already-troubled tech economy.

Backstory: Last week, sources told Axios that Donald Trump was “obsessed with Amazon” and wanted to “go after” it. Amazon’s share prices slumped 8 percent on the news.

Now: Vanity Fair has reported that the president is “contemplating a multi-front campaign against Jeff Bezos” to undermine Amazon. That may include a push to cancel the Pentagon’s cloud contracts with Amazon, as well as having the US Postal Service jack up the prices it charges the company. Amazon’s stock fell 5 percent following the news.

Why it’s happening: According to Axios, Trump’s main concern is that Amazon is hurting American business. But sources tell Vanity Fair that really, he wants to hurt Amazon in order to punish Bezos for owning the Washington Post—a newspaper Trump strongly dislikes, and one that he claims Bezos is using as a “political weapon.” Future actions to punish Amazon could, then, be seen as an abuse of power.

Bigger picture: The wider tech industry is already smarting over bad news about autonomous-car fatalities, Facebook’s data scandal, and an impending trade war with China. The Wall Street Journal notes that losses by big companies like Amazon have been spilling over into other firms and even other sectors. A genuine attack against Jeff Bezos could damage the US tech economy at a time when it’s already struggling.

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