November 18, 2019


While you weren't looking the trade war with China went completely off the rails (Linette Lopez, 11/17/19, Business Insider)

The Trump administration reportedly started tossing around removing the tariffs in exchange for some agricultural purchases, and suddenly we were all supposed to get excited about a deal that only promised to get soybean purchases back to where they were before this mess even started -- as if they were the point of starting a trade war in the first place.

And the more desperate the Trump administration becomes to eke out some kind of win in the midst of a darkening political situation, the more it will try to make small victories seem like big ones. Or what is shaping up to be a total non-victory seem like the thing we came here to do in the first place. China, for its part, is digging its heels in too.

Bloomberg Businessweek -- in a well-reported piece describing what it was like inside the White House as this trade war descended into the farcical -- obtained a quote so good it made this reporter jealous.

Douglas Irwin, an economic historian at Dartmouth compared what the Trump administration is doing with trade war now to what the US did after it lost the War of 1812 to the British. When the war started, Americans claimed they would take territory from Canada, by the time the war ended in defeat Americans were reduced to touting the fact that they hadn't lost any territory.

Trump is taking from the same playbook, says Irwin, he "launched the trade war against China and said, 'We are going to remake the economy and get the state out of industrial policy and mercantilism'...We are ending it by saying, 'They are buying just as much stuff as they did before.'‚ÄČ"

Posted by at November 18, 2019 12:00 AM