Trade War? Not So Fast!

Featured image Steve has published a post on President Trump’s order on trade with China, and Paul is working on one. I will add my thoughts briefly. Trump’s order, which expresses the intent to place tariffs on certain Chinese products in retaliation against China’s unfair trade practices, prompted a wave of hysteria yesterday, including a selloff in the stock markets. This assessment in the Minneapolis Star Tribune is typical: President Donald Trump »

Real Trade War or Art of the Deal?

Featured image A trade war with China? As it happens, I spent some time early in the week with Steve Moore of the Heritage Foundation, who has been close to Trump and who, along with Trump’s new senior economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, helped fashion the tax reform bill recently enacted. He has shared with me a couple of times in recent months his private conversations with Trump on economic issues. Steve said »

More Good Economic News, Plus Tariffs [Updated]

Featured image The news on the economic front continues to be excellent. The Labor Department’s February jobs number came in at 313,000, smashing all forecasts. In addition, jobs numbers for both December and January were upgraded. The number of those employed surged in February by 785,000. The sectors where jobs increased the most are significant, too: Construction jobs led the way, with 61,000 new positions, followed by retail and professional and business »


Featured image So Trump’s senior economic adviser, Gary Cohn, is resigning because of Trump’s announcement of steel and aluminum tariffs. The tariffs are likely a bad idea—unless you think Trump is merely making this move as part of his “art of the deal” strategy, and will end up with some trading partners altering their behavior and trading rules. Perhaps it will work out this way. It wouldn’t surprise me if it does. »

The problem with Trump’s tariff plan

Featured image Trade policy is like immigration policy in the sense that whichever policies are selected, there will be winners and losers among Americans. For example, to oversimplify, tolerating illegal immigration hurts Americans who lose work to illegal immigrants or have their wages driven down. But it helps businesses that rely on cheap labor, their customers, and those well-off Americans who want cheap gardeners and the like. Trade policy, such as tariffs, »

On Tariffs, Hold the Hysteria

Featured image President Trump said last week that he intends to use powers granted him by Congress to impose import duties on steel and aluminum. That was all it took for the press to become free traders. Gloom and doom are everywhere, as reporters gleefully tell us how our trading partners are planning to retaliate and how Trump’s tariffs will damage the economy. I don’t recall a similar reaction when it was »

The Travails of Trump

Featured image Joseph Epstein wrote a terrific article in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week with the perfect headline: “The Only Good Thing About Trump Is All His Policies.” Just so. The Trump Administration has governed spectacularly in most respects, better than I had thought possible (until perhaps this week—more on that presently). It reminds me of the reverse of what my old mentor M. Stanton Evans used to say about »

Free trade in the era of Trump

Featured image Kevin Williamson argues that the Trumpian position on trade, which he views as part of an anti-capitalist wave on the right that’s not limited to Trumpists, creates an opening for politicians on the center-left. He acknowledges that the American center-left shows few signs of seizing the opportunity to be champions of free trade, but maintains that on this issue, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were “more free-enterprise leader[s] than President »

Europeans Endorse GOP Tax Plan

Featured image Five European finance ministers have objected to the GOP tax plan on the ground that it is too favorable to the United States: Finance ministers from Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Spain say they have ‘significant concerns’ about some of the US President’s tax initiatives and fear they could harm the global economy. In a letter to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the ministers said the tax overhaul could risk »

Breaking: Trump to impose tariff on Canadian soft lumber

Featured image I just left the reception for conservative news media held in the Roosevelt Room of the White House late this afternoon. I will write up a fuller account later. For the moment I want to report President Trump’s announcement that he would be imposing a 20 percent tariff or tax on softwood lumber imported from Canada. President Trump was accompanied by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. He invited Ross to »

Trump nixes the TPP

Featured image President Trump was busy on his first “working day” in office. The Washington Post describes, albeit in loaded terms, the most important actions he took today. In my opinion, the single most important action was Trump’s executive order formally withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. This move will have both economic and strategic consequences, and the strategic consequences may have economic ramifications down the road. I »

The Question of Trump’s Consistency

Featured image Tim Alberta’s National Review article, “Conservatism in the Trump Era,” is a terrific piece of reporting, well worth taking in. Among other questions, it looks at the notion of whether the new “economic nationalism” that Trump, or at least his amanuensis Steve Bannon, is working out in real time will confound or corrupt conservatism­—or make for an enduring Republican majority that scrambles the voter alignments of the last two generations. »

Branstad as Ambassador to China: More Interesting Than It Looks

Featured image In the stream of excellent appointments coming from Trump Tower, Donald’s naming of Iowa governor Terry Branstad as Ambassador to China hasn’t gotten a lot of notice, apart from the obvious point that farmers are the biggest free traders. That is true, of course, but a very smart reader with deep knowledge of international trade suggests that there is more to the Branstad appointment: Trump could well be making a »

Thoughts about thoughts from the ammo line

Featured image I recommend this week’s column by Ammo Grrll and agree with the insights she pulls from her pantry. However, her concluding insight raised a question for me. Here’s her conclusion: [W]hat the grievance peddlers are left with is a wholesale attack on “whiteness” itself. This might work with a few intimidated college students and guilty liberals, but it is not going to be a winning strategy for the vast majority »