Politics

President Trump’s War – Chinese Steel And Aluminum Tariffs

It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning. – Senator Bob Corker, Republican, TN, October 9, 2017

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Chinese Steel And Aluminum Tariffs
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Gary Cohn, the former head of Goldman Sachs, provided a large share of the adult supervision during the first year of President Donald Trump’s administration. A former head of Goldman Sachs, he spent much of his tenure helping to guide the great tax reform bill through Congress.

But now his work is done. After very strenuously disagreeing with President Donald Trump about imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, Cohn, who had served as the president’s chief economic advisor, was unceremoniously shown the door.

With economic dissent no longer manifest, the president quickly doubled down on trade protectionism by imposing tariffs of some $50 billion a year on China.

In fairness, let the record show that Chinese exports to the United States did very likely cause millions of Americans to lose their jobs. Still, those jobs are not coming back. One might add, parenthetically, that the forces of globalization would have moved almost all those jobs offshore even if China had not existed.

Economists have pointed out that the steel and aluminum tariffs will put at risk scores of jobs in industries that consume these metals for each job they might save.  That’s because so many more Americans work at jobs dependent on steel and aluminum imports than those who work in steel and aluminum production.

The 724-point decline in Thursday Dow was certainly not surprising to anyone, with the possible exception of the president, who happens to consider the stock market an excellent indicator of our economic health. Perhaps he’ll have the decency to credit President Herbert Hoover with coining the slogan, “Prosperity is just around the corner.”

When Donald Trump ran for president, many Americans feared that his impulsiveness would get us into a war, perhaps even with a country like North Korea.  Well, they were right. President Trump did get his war. It will be a world-wide trade war that everybody loses.

About the Author

Steve Slavin has a PhD in economics from NYU, and taught for over thirty years at Brooklyn College, New York Institute of Technology, and New Jersey’s Union County College. He has written sixteen math and economics books including a widely used introductory economics textbook now in its eleventh edition (McGraw-Hill) and The Great American Economy (Prometheus Books) which was published in August.