“Trade wars are good, and easy to win.” – That’s what Donald Trump tweeted earlier this year when he decided, for whatever combination of unfortunate reasons, to start a trade war with key United States allies. Since that time his top White House economic adviser has resigned in protest, the stock market has plunged, and U.S. allies have fired back with harsh tariffs that will force Americans to pay more for a number of everyday goods. Trump isn’t taking the news particularly well.
It’s still far from clear whether Trump started his trade war because he was ignorant enough to believe it could actually be won, or if he started it merely as a distraction from his worsening criminal scandals, and he wasn’t expecting to lose the trade war this soon. Either way, Trump spent last week tweeting that there is no trade war after all, and bizarrely, “When you’re already $500 Billion DOWN, you can’t lose!” Since that time the trade war has gotten even worse for Trump, and today he exploded accordingly.
Here’s what Trump tweeted this morning: “When a car is sent to the United States from China, there is a Tariff to be paid of 2 1/2%. When a car is sent to China from the United States, there is a Tariff to be paid of 25%. Does that sound like free or fair trade. No, it sounds like STUPID TRADE – going on for years!” The tweet sent economists scrambling to find any cars that the U.S. actually imports from China. Bloomberg said that “sales of Chinese-made cars in the U.S. have been minimal.” In other words, Trump is whining about theoretical tariffs that basically don’t exist in practice.
With each passing day, Donald Trump further reveals just how little understanding he has of trade and the economy. It helps explain why he’s had six corporate bankruptcies and counting. In that sense, maybe Trump really was dumb enough to think he could win his trade war.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report