So presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump is a billionaire (he owns a mansion und a yacht—several of each, actually).
He's played a mogul on TV, but when you start thinking about the way he talks about commerce, you get the idea he doesn't know what the hell is going on in today's economy.
Hence, he talks about punishing Amazon by unleashing antitrust regulators on the company that dominates its markets by, well, being unbelievably good to its customers. He doesn't seem to understand that manufacturing came back to America years ago; it's just we now need fewer people to make more and more stuff. "We don't win anymore," he says over and over again. Yeah, no.
As Virginia Postel writes at Bloomberg View, Trump is stuck in the past when it comes to America's economic successes. His comments, she says, "reveal a vision of the good economy as static, uninnovative and controlled from the White House. President Trump's America is, despite the rhetoric, an economy with no place for winners."
In Trump's America, there were no minimills reinventing American steel, and taking market share from the old stalwarts, by recycling scrap into lower-cost, increasingly valuable products. In Trump's America, there were no auto companies lightening their cars by reducing the amount of steel they contain—no Ford betting big on aluminum trucks, certainly nobody thinking about carbon fiber. And, of course, in Trump's America nobody minds that raising the price of steel hurts every U.S. company that uses it, be it a construction firm or a medical-instrument maker, and every consumer who buys from them.
The candidate's promise to slap a 35 percent tariff on Carrier air conditioners and parts made in Mexico reveals the same blind spot. Every U.S. company buying HVAC equipment for its office, factory or server farm (not to mention Americans cooling their homes, hospitals, churches and schools) would be hurt. In the hope of recreating a bygone ideal of what "winning" looks like—1950s industrial production protected from global competition—Trump would punish the actual winners in the U.S.
Who would have guessed that the guy who promises to "make America great again" is stuck in the past? But Donald Trump certainly is, and in a world that is increasingly globalized, and in which capital and people are increasingly mobile (and thus more free), his ideas are particularly toxic. And sadly, very much in line with those of the leading Democratic candidates too.