Trade-Offs

There is other news happening right now aside from the Kavanaugh matter and the upcoming elections. Like the last minute deal with Canada to restructure NAFTA. Looks pretty clear that Canada blinked. No less a grandee than Walter Russell Mead says that Trump’s trade brinksmanship has been vindicated in this case:

The midnight Sunday deal between U.S. and Canadian negotiators was a decisive victory for President Trump’s unconventional approach to trade. Even the administration’s fiercest critics are calling the revisions significant. For the first time, Mr. Trump and his allies can point to significant progress toward his core campaign promise of renegotiating trade deals to the benefit of the U.S. workers. . .

Contrary to the dire warnings in many quarters, Mr. Trump’s unorthodox methods haven’t set off ruinous trade wars or caused a global depression. And while the new agreements are hardly revolutionary, many Americans not familiar with the fiendish complexity of trade negotiations will take the USMCA as a sign that Mr. Trump’s aggressive methods work.

This is likely how the president himself will read it. All the experts told him that he was crazy to go on the attack against Nafta; he defied them and was proved right. He may be less deferential to aides and advisers as he gains even more confidence in the power of his intuition and bargaining ability.

But the big kahuna (can we still say that phrase?) on trade is still China. Oh, about that:

China’s Economy Losing Steam as Trade Conflict With U.S. Intensifies

BEIJING—An intensifying trade brawl with the U.S. is starting to take a heavier toll on China’s economy, as weakening foreign demand and sluggish domestic consumption cause Chinese manufacturers to significantly scale back production.

The manufacturing slowdown, detailed in reports released Sunday, raises the prospect that China’s leaders will step up economic stimulus measures to prop up growth. . .

The data, among the first major gauges of China’s economic performance for the third quarter, indicate that the U.S.-China trade fight is beginning to take a bigger bite out of the growth of the world’s second-largest economy. . .

Hmmm.  Looks like Irwin Stelzer’s thoughts about this a few months back may be proven right.

Meanwhile, if you have 30 minutes or so, here’s Henry Olsen explaining why Trump’s trade politics are so crucial to his overall standing, even if protectionist measures are unsound and tariff retaliations very risky:

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