Free Trade

Trump's Thinking on Trade War? 'He Wants Them to Suffer More.'

But who, exactly, will be suffering?


Ingram Publishing/Newscom

President Donald Trump is reportedly unwilling to ease off plans for higher tariffs on Chinese imports. "He wants them to suffer more," says an unnamed source describing Trump's thinking on trade to Axios' Jonathan Swan.

The second pronoun in that sentence, Swan assures us, is meant to refer to China. Though given that it's American businesses and consumers who pay the tariffs' added costs, that might be open to interpretation.

That basic misunderstanding continues to play a key role in Trump's trade policies—and it means the results Trump is looking for might never actually materialize. According to Swan, the White House views the trade war as "just getting started"; there is no indication that Trump is worried about whether his tariffs could backfire against the American economy.

But all the tough talk out of the White House in advance of a planned November meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping belies something that's already implicitly acknowledged in the Trump administration's latest round of tariffs. The announcement in mid-September that the United States would hit an estimated $200 billion of Chinese imports with a 10 percent tax included an automatic escalation that will hike those import taxes to 25 percent on January 1 of next year—in other words, just after the end of the crucial holiday shopping season and after the midterm elections.

That timing could have been included to save American shoppers from paying higher prices for the rest of 2018—this latest round of tariffs is expected to cause price increases for everything from computers, tablets, and video games to vacuum cleaners, furniture, and children's toys—or to save American retailers from taking a hit during the most important shopping season of the year. Either way, it's another acknowledgement that Americans are paying the price for Trump's trade policies—a fact that was already obvious when the White House started bailing out farmers hurt by an earlier round of the trade war. The president knows this; he's even tweeted about how his tariffs will make iPhones more expensive.

Trump's defenders are quick to point out that China is feeling the squeeze of tariffs too—and they're right. But thinking about a trade war as something that one side wins and the other side loses is really not the proper framing. Both sides lose. The competition is over who loses worse.

That's because trade makes both sides better off. Even if America "wins" the trade war, it's not hard to see how hurting China will end up hurting America in the long run. Weakening the world's two biggest economies isn't really a great strategy for continued global growth, especially considering how interwoven the two nations' economies are.

Given those domestic and global economic realities, it's difficult to understand Trump's desire for more tariff-caused suffering as anything other than sadistic.

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  1. “He wants them to suffer more,” says an unnamed source describing Trump’s thinking on trade to Axios‘ Jonathan Swan.

    Ugh. It’s not that I don’t believe necessarily this could be true, but reporting on unnamed third party speculation seems unseemly.

    1. Particularly anything from Axios. Axios is Buzzfeed level quality.

      1. Still better than Bratfart.

        1. “Bratfart”

          That doesn’t even make sense as an epithet.

          1. Buttplugger does not pay bets nor make sense.

    2. Unnamed source= made up out of thin air.

      1. SWIM

        Someone who isn’t me

    3. But he reported it to a very left leaning reporter, which means there is no bias and it is true.

    4. Unseemly, yet the basis for 90% of what our supposedly leading media outlets do these days. Have you read the Washington Post over the last 2 years, for example?

  2. An unnamed source told me that he wants them to pee on him.

  3. So, what is the objective of the Trump administration.

    And no, “just being sadistic” isn’t the goal. Nor is making China suffer more.

    If you are going to comment as if you have an understanding of tariffs, trade wars and Trump’s end game for “making China suffer more”, don’t you think you should have an idea of what Trump is trying to accomplish?

    Does he want less Chinese imports? Tariffs would certainly accomplish that.

    Does he want China to move on to a more equal footing with regard to environmental, labor and intellectual property laws? That would certainly change the balance of trade.

    Does he want China to open up to more direct American competition for the Chinese consumer market? That would certainly be a worthy goal, with China soon to be the world’s largest market and largest economy. Presently I believe you cannot do business in China directly, you have to have a majority Chinese owned subsidiary doing business in China… or did they change that law?

    Anyway, criticizing the negotiating tactic as “sadistic” when you don’t know what the objective is isn’t exactly kosher. If it costs $3 trillion to get $500 million in trade concessions, that would be bad tactics. But if it costs American consumers $3 billion to get $5 trillion in trade concessions, well, that’s brilliant tactics. But we aren’t analyzing that, are we?

    1. “But we aren’t analyzing that, are we?”

      Exactly! Instead of Reason actually attempting to analyze the ongoing trade negotiations, they are instead going with the “Trump is super Icky” level journalism.

      1. Beat me to it.

      2. And anyone who backs Trump’s policies is an ickyist!

      3. Orange Man Bad

    2. Well, see using logic and stuff isn’t exactly Reason’s strong suit lately.

      The very idea that the USA shouldn’t just bow down to the demands of any foreign power, especially an evil communist dictatorship that commits more human rights violations than any nation on earth… Well that’s just ridiculous! OF COURSE we have to kiss China’s ass! If we do what’s best for the American economy IN THE LONG HAUL, well by golly that’d be horrible! We can never be allowed to think beyond THIS EXACT moment when planning things!

      It is truly amazing how devoid of common sense these people are. The US economy will not be tanked over trade with China. It’s a small part of the economy, that even with tariffs will not be dramatically effected. Especially not moderate tariffs like Trump is doing.

      BUT it may be enough to get China to finally come to the table, and actually open up their markets.

      1. Well that’s just ridiculous! OF COURSE we have to kiss China’s ass!

        Good news: Pres. Trump will be unable to kiss China’s ass so long as his tongue is jammed up Saudi ass.

        1. Maybe if you were smarter and more educated you could close a tag properly.

        2. Slut shaming!

        3. 6 more years!

    3. Exactly. Trump wants to make access to the US market contingent on the country in question acting to some agreeable degree in our interests.

      The iron of this is that Reason is all about Russia sanctions and now after the murder of the activists sanctioning Saudi Arabia. So, they do seem to understand that there can be a purpose to denying trade or weapon sales to a country beyond “being sadistic”. Yet, they can’t seem to use that understanding when it comes to China.

      The US is suppsoed to cut off all arms sales to Saudi Arabia because of the death of one man. China has created the largest police state in history, is currently forcing an entire ehnic minority into concentration and re-education camps, is exapanionistic and warlike towards all of its neighbors, and props up the most oppressive and dangerous regime in the world in North Korea. And reason thinks that the only reason Trump would want to restrict trade with them is because he is “sadistic”.

      Reason has never been serious on the issues of trade, immigration or anything involving Donald Trump. When you get an issue that involves two of those things, Reason becomes a bigger clown show than usual.

      1. Further to your point, Reason is demanding that Americans spend more money with China.

      2. Why wouldn’t we want more chinese components in our hardware?

        1. Who needs missiles to shoot down American fighters. Just activate the doomsday switch to have them fall out of the sky.

      3. Globalists love China

        It’s their model society

    4. There is no objective besides making Trump feel like he is winning.

      1. I don’t know. The trade wars with Canada and Mexico worked out well. Still not perfect, but definitely improvement.

        1. Of anything, put these nations on notice that the USA will be standing up for its interests from now on.

  4. “He wants them to suffer more,” says an unnamed source describing Trump’s thinking on trade to Axios’ Jonathan Swan.

    More media speculation. Hahaha. You people dont want to understand anything about Trump nor ask him directly what his strategy is. Of course, he might not tell you since the media is known to undermine the USA via propaganda.

    1. “You people dont want to understand anything about Trump nor ask him directly what his strategy is.”

      That’s only because Trump doesn’t understand what his strategy is.

      He had the opportunity to leverage the entire damned world against China on its IP theft and turned it down because he wanted China to help with North Korea.

      Then he turned around and blew Kim Jung Un and started a trade war against China WITHOUT international backing.

  5. I’m going to be laughing sooooo hard if Trump gets major concessions from China and they open up their markets.

    We COULD do it. I don’t know that Trump has the power, or the will, to do what we’d need to do to really bring China to their knees… But we totally could do it if we wanted.

    It’s rather like a full grown man getting in a fight with a 12 year old. He COULD put them in the hospital, if he wanted to. He may not want to, but he could.

    We have them by the balls since they export to us, and nobody can replace us as an export market… Yet we have dozens of options for where WE can source our cheap foreign made goods.

    Either way, the “ZOMG! The sky is falling!!!” talk is retarded. Even with these current tariffs, being not especially high, they likely won’t sway things too much any direction. The entire trade war is probably literally less “bad” for the economy than a single middling regulation on a major industry, like the kind Obama was piling on like crazy… And Trump is doing away with. And that is only if he doesn’t get China to crack… If they do it will be an unmitigated win for the entire world, because China opening up could be amazing for businesses everywhere.

    1. I suspect the Chinese are more likely to endure economic hardship without cracking than are Americans — and especially the Americans who are relying on Pres. Trump to enable left-behind rural white males to prosper.

      1. Well, the thing about that, is none of the pain from this will be very acutely felt by anybody… It is 99.9% just the media freaking out about it… Coming from Reason it almost makes sense. REAL free trade is a libertarian goal of course. Why they can’t comprehend basic negotiation tactics is a little mystifying… But it’s even more hilarious to see the left wing media, and politicians, talking about free trade as being amazing, since they’re often the ones harping on it.

        1. Lefties are used to TOP MEN deciding everything for them, so negotiating is foreign to them.

          Add in TDS and you get the current state of outrage.

      2. You being a complete ignoramous who manages to know nothing about virtually any subject, probably do believe that.

      3. “I suspect”

        No one cares.

    2. Lefties have to undermine Trump because they cannot let his strategies for MAGA actually work.

      Many of Trump’s plans have worked, hence the step up of more TDS.

      1. Pretty much. If congress was on board, they could pass a tariff act of saaay 200% tariffs on all Chinese goods, unless a new trade deal is agreed to. Set an enactment date 1 year in the future. The Chinese would come running to the table to sign off on anything we demanded so damned fast it’d make your head spin. They’d HAVE TO. Otherwise they’d have a damn peasant revolt on their hands.

        This is what the Cosmotarians seem to not grasp… We have them by the short and curlies, and there is no reason we should not press that advantage.

        1. There is a reason that all the foreign/domestic propaganda outlets are screaming for Trump to stop negotiating new trade agreements.

          It IS in America’s interests to have better terms to managed trade than currently available. Foreign nations dont like that.

          1. Less global trade means less profits for global middle men and less power for international trade organizations.

          2. Yup. Globalists have openly talked about the need for Europe/America/Etc to lower their standard of living, so that other nations can come up for decades… Then people gasp in shock when you suggest that the policies put in place by these very people do the very thing they say they want to achieve, namely take the western world down a notch.

            You can find ENDLESS public writings from left wing globalists about how the western world needs to lower its standard of living. It’s not a conspiracy theory. The thing is a strong, independent nation state is the exact opposite of what they want. They want everybody totally interdependent, and weak. It all makes perfect sense if you’re trying to control every nation in the world, which they are.

            That’s why they hate “rogue nations” so much. Many of them are not great nations led by nice people, but the simply the fact that they don’t play ball infuriates globalists. That’s why they hate Russia, Syria, Iran, etc, and formerly Iraq, Libya and so on. EVERYBODY must be under their boot!

        2. Better yet, why not embargo our own ports? Sink any ship that tries to come in with Chinese goods? That’ll teach China!

          1. That would be war. If China chooses that route instead of lowering trade restrictions, Trump gets to shave Trillions off US national debt.


            1. If I owe you 10 dollars, it’s my problem.
              If I owe you 10 trillion dollars, it’s your problem.

          2. Ye gods, don’t give them ideas. (You should really know by now that they wouldn’t know a joke if if it bit ’em in the butt.)

          3. sarcasmic, don’t be silly.

            That’s not the same thing, and you know it. Although, if we in fact did do that, China would collapse overnight. They depend on us more than we depend on them. That’s the thing. If you want concessions from another nation, in a real war you inflict more harm on them than on yourself, and they usually give you what you want.

            Is it nice? Nope! But it does work. It’s how half of the problems in world history have been sorted out. Economic warfare is simply several notches down from a real shooting war, but can in fact accomplish some of the same things. Think embargos don’t work? Why did Japan bomb us at Pearl Harbor? Because we cut them off from raw materials we’d previously sold to them.

            Economic war is a form of war, and can have great ripple effects, including, SOMETIMES, getting what you want.

        3. And there certainly wouldn’t be any lingering resentment would there? Japan merely walked away from American threatening its oil supply and scrap iron imports in the 1930s. OBL showed no resentment about U.S. troops being stationed on “sacred Islamic” soil. Trade wars, like shooting wars, or disputes with your in-laws, have potential consequences and we shouldn’t flippantly dismiss them.

          1. But here’s the thing: We’re not threatening to get the entire western world to perform a 100% embargo on them. We’re not asking for their first born children. We’re just asking for a reasonable deal.

            Is your brilliant idea that we should simply lay down on every single thing that would ever be in the best interests of our nation from today until the end of time? Sure, when you’re negotiating a deal, the other party WOULD LOVE for you to just lay down and give them everything they want, and ask nothing in return… But reasonable parties understand that if all you’re asking for is a reasonable deal on your end, as well as theirs, that that is fair.

            Anybody who gets their panties in a twist over a fair deal can go fuck themselves. If the Chinese get pissed at us because we don’t want to have a shitty 1 sided deal… FUCK THEM. We don’t need China. India, and the rest of the 3rd world can provide more than enough cheap labor if the Chinese want to shoot themselves in the foot because we want a fair deal.

            Being a door mat is bad policy.

    3. “It’s rather like a full grown man getting in a fight with a 12 year old. He COULD put them in the hospital, if he wanted to. He may not want to, but he could.”

      This is basically the extent of all Trump supporters’ intellectual capacity. The old orange bigot paints it out as a picture of a grown man beating a child and the “poorly educated” that Trump is on record saying he “loves” (HINT: THAT IS YOU) think they finally understand economic theory.

  6. I had always thought that the purpose of a war was to make your enemies suffer until they gave you want you wanted.

    I realize that, recently, the U.S. has decided that wars were supposed to be fought to a draw, but like with Socialism, I prefer the classical definition.

    1. Lefties love to have American fight with one arm tied behind its back.

      The media calls this a trade war and then want Trump to fight with one arm tied behind his back.

  7. He didn’t say that, and if he did it’s good!

  8. Nobody has suffered the last 12 times reason ran this article.

    There is a thin line behind ideological purity and ideological naivete. The latter is what allows communists to claim communism has never been tried. Reason is drifting in the same type of dialogue.

    The reality is that we don’t have unregulated trade. In fact we never did. Regulated trade happens among all countries and there is even regulated trade amongst the states, thanks California! Reason would do better writing from the stance of current reality rather than all tarriffs are bad because of ideological purity. But that would require an understanding of something other than simple plattitudes.

    1. It sucks that politicians have let the state of our trade get to this point but I am glad that Trump is trying to get better managed trade for the USA. Our trading partners refused free trade offer, so better managed trade might be the best that we can do right now. Especially with the MSM and Lefties attacking any renegotiation of trade Trump does.

      People have been hurt financially by past managed trade and are currently being hurt financially by this ‘trade war’ (which has technically been going on since 1776). Freedom requires blood and sacrifice.

      Until all parties to trade are unobstructed by government via free trade, trade negotiations will be national affairs.

    2. Even you manage to give reason too much credit. All tarriffs are bad except when they are called ‘sanctions’ and apply to Russia or Saudi Arabia. Then they are morally required.

      Reason no longer has a rational position on trade.

      1. And when you mention that China has ALSO killed an “important” figure just recently, Reason still acts like Arabia should be sanctioned while China should not be.

        I believe NEITHER should be — if a country kills their citizens, it is not my business — but some consistency would be lovely.

    3. “The latter is what allows communists to claim communism has never been tried. Reason is drifting in the same type of dialogue.”

      They aren’t drifting there, they already arrived. Nick went full “No True Communism”.

      “Totalitarians professing communism killed millions of people, but this analogy is flawed. Hitler was the leader of Nazism, Stalin the leader of…Stalinism, not communism.”

  9. It’s generally not a good idea to assume that political leaders know what they’re doing, but I imagine I know what Trump *thinks* he’s doing – namely, bringing China to the negotiating table with a view toward a trade agreement which helps both sides.

    It’s in the details where I confess my ignorance – will this trade war simply be perpetuated until one side (and probably not China) gives up, or will China be like, “fine, let’s work something out”?

    And then who will gain and lose in the ensuing agreement?

    Or will the Chinese simply wait it out, figuring out that the #Resistance will take over and put things back to “normal”?

    1. Also, who’s the “them” who will suffer? Key voting demographics in Chine? Wait, they don’t have an elected government. So I guess it comes down to whether the “them” who suffers includes well-connected people who are into exports to the U. S.

      1. What you don’t realize, is that the Chinese people are very touchy… They actually DO have elections in China. The pres seems to be in for perhaps life now… But not the other guys. They still have to run against other guys, which are all in the party of course.

        But the people there get very angsty if new jobs don’t come into existence fast enough to keep things progressing. A tiny hiccup could really stir up the mob there. Go read even MSM articles about this fear if China has a recession. It’s real deal shit.

        1. Careful. The M word is racist now.

          1. Ahh, it’s fine. For all their flaws, the Chinese aren’t PC cucks like Americans! So I’m sure no Chinese people will be offended! And if it offends Americans… Fuck them 🙂

    2. Re: Eddy,

      will this trade war simply be perpetuated until one side (and probably not China) gives up, or will China be like, “fine, let’s work something out”?

      Given DJT’s views on trade throughout the years which have remained uncharacteristically consistent, one cannot see anything else that serves as a base to justify these tariffs except that Trump simply likes tariffs, and that nothing China does will have any bearing on that policy.

    3. Why should I care about an agreement that helps both sides? Just drop the idiot tariffs and help Americans. Let the Chinese worry about helping China.

      1. Because if China drops their barriers after getting pressured, that will be MORE BETTERER for Americans than the status quo.

        Including YOU, and everybody else. See, it doesn’t matter if you’re not involved in an industry that stands to gain by exporting to China if restrictions are listed… If some other American makes more money by doing that, they will spend it into the economy, and eventually that will filter TO YOU in whatever line of work you do.

        I don’t see how this is so complicated for some people to understand…

  10. But thinking about a trade war as something that one side wins and the other side loses is really not the proper framing. Both sides lose. The competition is over who loses worse.

    Get real. Tariffs are intended to hurt China, so there’s no possible way they could hurt Americans. It’s not the intention, so it just can’t happen. Tariffs are taxes on China. They’re not taxes on Americans. They’re taxes on Chinese producers. Besides, Trump’s strategy is to eliminate all tariffs anyway. After all, trade isn’t free unless both sides do it. If one side taxes imports, then the other side must also tax imports. Because it’s not fair if they have taxes and we don’t.

    So that about sums it up. Intentions and fairness. Fairness and intentions.

    1. Freedom aint free nor fair.

      1. Seems you value fairness over freedom. After all, if another country has tariffs you don’t believe we should be free to trade with them without tariffs of our own. It isn’t fair that they have taxes and we don’t. So in the name of fairness we should not be free to trade without paying taxes. Taxes not for the purpose of revenue, but for the purpose of fairness.

        1. How does one country get to free trade without negotiating?

          1. By allowing their people to trade without punitive tariffs.

            If your neighbor was beating his children and you wanted him to stop, would you start beating your own children until he did?

            Tariffs punish consumers of imports. If another country punishes its citizens who purchase imports, why would you punish your own citizens who buy imports until the other country stops?

            It’s asinine.

            1. How does a country get to free trade when that country has managed trade?

              free trade = unobstructed trade of all trading parties

              1. free trade = unobstructed trade of all trading parties

                “Reciprocal” Trade Demands Defy Basic Economics and Common Sense

                But what would CATO know? They’re not true libertarians because they don’t support Trump in all things.

                And then there’s that idiot Bastiat who had this to say about reciprocity. But what does he know?

                1. In addition to filing a lawsuit about the Cato shareholder agreement, the Koch brothers are trying to gain control of Cato’s board.

                  Why would crony Republicans want to try to control CATO? Make it more Libertarian, I take it?

                  free trade
                  /??fr? ?tr?d/
                  noun: free trade; modifier noun: free-trade
                  international trade left to its natural course without tariffs, quotas, or other restrictions.

            2. Now now, sarcasmic, you are talking economic sense. We can’t have that. Trump’s ‘trade war’ is only tangentially about trade. It is really about Trump creating a narrative about how he is so tough on China so he can sell that narrative to his base who is eager to find foreign scapegoats for their problems.

              1. The 2020 campaign ads just write themselves…

                “Look at me, I am so tough on China with trade! No one is tougher than me! If Elizabeth Warren/Kamala Harris/Cory Booker/etc. wins, then will be soft on trade! They will allow those sneaky Chinamen to steal all of your jerbz! And that would destroy America!”

                1. Yeah man… And you just wait till all the state governors see (or imagine) how fabulously rich the USA is getting from tariffs!!!

                  So Texas will tax all imports to Texas from other states, as will Montana, Idaho, Penna., and on and on…

                  “Interstate commerce clause” my ass!!! We can all get RICH through taxes (tariffs)! Who needs that silly Constitution anyways?

            3. Trump! Trump! Trump!

              Kavanaugh! Kavanaugh! Kavanugh!

              Gorsuch! Gorsuch! Gorsuch!

              1. 6 more years!
                6 more years!
                6 more years!

            4. If your neighbor was beating his children and you wanted him to stop, would you start beating your own children until he did?

              Would you pay him to stop? How much?

              1. “If your neighbor was beating his children and you wanted him to stop, would you start beating your own children until he did?”

                Actually, a more accurate analogy would be that your neighbor is beating YOUR children, and you threaten to beat his children harder than he’s beating yours until he stops. The Chinese barriers ARE hurting American businesses and hence American citizens.

                If you have the juice to get somebody to cave, which we do, why would you not want to? It’s one thing for Iceland to try to push China around, which obviously wouldn’t work… But the USA is a totally different story.

                Your argument boils down to Bruce Lee being told he should back down from a fight with a 16 year old white belt because “ZOMG, what if you lose???” The chances of losing are so close to nil, they’re almost not worth considering.

          2. Re: loveconst…. Ok, I’m not even going to try,

            Hey, Trumpista:


            Collectivist asshole.

            1. Norinco.

              Go away now.


              You can tell by all the privately owned ports around the world.

              Remember when Teddy Roosevelt dug the Panama Canal himself and then bequeathed it to all subsequent Presidents until Jimmy Carter turned it over to Omar Torrijos who, in turn, bequeathed it to his son, the new President of Panama?

              It seems weird to think that they were all just private transactions between individuals but, since only individuals trade, it must be the case.

              1. +1

          3. MAGA!

      2. Re: lovecons…. Oh, who are you kidding, Trumpista?

        Freedom aint free nor fair.

        That’s just a tad LESS convoluted and ridiculous as the statement that taxes is the price of civilization.

      3. MAGA!

    2. The fact is that tariffs are taxes… And like all taxes, they distort the market.

      Taxes on Chinese goods coming in will drive up costs for Americans… Which will make Americans buy fewer of these goods, or source them elsewhere.

      Either of those outcomes is exactly what is needed to hurt China, and bring them to the table. I think the long term gains of opening up the Chinese market to foreign competition will more than offset any short to mid term costs on our end.

      Even if we receive only middling concessions, we could easily make up the few billion bucks in tariff money paid between now and when such a new deal goes into place.

      People forget that the Chinese economy is in debt up to its eyeballs, and is FAR more fragile than our own. If their growth slows, the whole house of cards could come down. They know this. Which is why they’re likely to come to the table.

      1. Furthermore, China holds Trillions in US securities.

        If China chooses war with the USA, America simply cancels all debt with China. Trump just cut Trillions from the national debt in a stroke.

        If China wants to continue to trade with the USA to prop up its Commie government then it needs to lower its trade restrictions. China wants access to the best market in the World for a reason.

        1. Re: loveconst…. Jeez, I can’t. I just… can’t,

          If China chooses war with the USA, America simply cancels all debt with China. Trump just cut Trillions from the national debt in a stroke.

          If it were that easy, it would’ve been done a LONG time ago.

          As a matter of fact, it WAS supposed to be that easy, ONCE, when Nixon ended Bretton Woods and what did that lead to? A decade of Stagflation. Guess reality showed it isn’t that easy after all. You can’t simply renege from your obligations without serious consequences.

          Of course, it is not a serious exercise to expect sound economic insight from Trumpistas. AS LC1789 has shown, Trumpista level of economic knowledge is at a par with a flat-earther’s knowledge of the Solar System… or how gravity works.

          1. It isn’t that easy. Canceling the debt held by China would require a war or something similar. But if we ever did have a war with China, we could and would do so and China would be in a lot of trouble. It is much easier for us to cancel those debts than it is for China to ever call them in.

            And canceling our debt to China is not the same as ending Bretton Woords. Embargoing China is not the same as that. Maybe you missed it but Breton Woods was a system of international currency stability which didn’t involve China. It also had nothing to do with tarriffs or free trade. It was about the industrialized nations pledging not to devalue their currencies, something China has done for decades with impunity by the way.

            Mexican, you forever know just enough about these things to be dangerous. You latch onto a few simple ideas and buzz words and then engagte in a giant exercise in confirmation bias to affirm your various fanatical beliefs. For a while it was annoying, then it was comical. Now it is just tiresome and frankly a bit sad.

            1. You got facts all over his Narrative!

      2. Re: Vek,

        Even if we receive only middling concessions, we could easily make up the few billion bucks in tariff money paid between now and when such a new deal goes into place.

        “We” don’t make shit. Tariffs are taxes on the things each of us BUYS from overseas, including raw materials. Tariffs are thus also a burden on PRODUCTION. Tariffs may benefit the State, though, by filling up the coffers at the expense of each consumer.

        Unless, of course, you want to make the claim that what’s good for the State is good for the people. Are you willing to go that far?

        1. The fact that you think America doesn’t make shit bellies any modicum of intelligence you attempt to portray.

        2. Mexican, yes and no?

          We can have different tariffs on different things… Personally, I’m of the mind that we shouldn’t put tariffs on raw materials or intermediary goods. Just finished goods. Because then the effects on US production would in fact not be hurt much/at all.

          And as has been stated 10,000 times, tariffs DO have the potential to bring China to the table, and get them to reduce barriers to their market. This would be perhaps the biggest win for free trade in the history of the world. That you’re not even willing to risk some pretty minor draw backs in the short to mid term for such a potentially big win shows how short sighted you are.

          Don’t worry, most people are short sighted like you. I, however, have owned businesses my whole life, and was raised by a father who also owns businesses. See, sometimes you have to defer gratification into the future to make an even bigger gain. Focusing exclusively on RIGHT THIS SECOND is rarely ever a good idea in life.

      3. Taxes on Chinese goods coming in will drive up costs for Americans… Which will make Americans buy fewer of these goods, or source them elsewhere.

        Social engineering for the win!

        1. Ideological naivete for the win!

        2. UGH.

          That would be true IF the main goal wasn’t to get China to drop trade barriers, but rather to have permanent protective tariffs! But that ISN’T the goal. The goal IS to get them to lower barriers.

          We will never get them to open their market simply by asking nicely. We have to apply pressure. You’re too week kneed to risk it, I get it. But I’m not. I think our odds of winning are 99% if we press the issue, and the downside in the event of losing are so minimal as to not matter anyway. So if there’s the potential for a huge payoff, and the loss if you lose is negligible… Doesn’t that sound like a reasonable risk?

          It’s like if you were playing poker, and you had 3 jacks and 2 kings… Sure somebody else COULD have 3 queens and 2 kings, but odds are you have the best hand at the table. It might be worth playing that hand!

      4. Taxes on Chinese goods coming in will drive up costs for Americans… Which will make Americans buy fewer of these goods, or source them elsewhere.

        Either of those outcomes is exactly what is needed to hurt China, and bring them to the table.

        Perhaps you should stop trying to fuck with my economic choices in order to make some bullshit political point.

        1. Perhaps you should stop trying to fuck with my economic choices in order to make some bullshit political point.

          Okay, now do Russia and Saudi Arabia.

          Maybe you should stop talking out of your ass and pretending you have principles that you clearly don’t.

          1. Sounds fine with me. I have never been a fan of sanctions anyway.

            If you wish to boycott goods made in a certain country, then by all means exercise your moral choice to do so. But the state shouldn’t make that choice for me.

            1. So if the US trading with China gives China the wealth to build a giant police state that does all kinds of horrible things, make war on its neighbors and continue to prop up North Korea, you think that is great? Do you have no other values beyond your ability to buy things from whomever you want? Do the Weigers who are currently being sent to re-education camps, or the various nations who are currently threatened by China’s military, which is financed by people like you trading with them have absolutely no moral claim at all?

              According to you, the US selling the Nazis Zyclon B gas would not only be desirable, it would be morally required in the name of free trade. That postion, while internally rational, seems more than a bit absurd.

              1. 1. Why should I care what China does with regards to its neighbors?
                2. I think you mean “Uighurs”. If you are so upset with how the Chinese government treats its minority populations, then you should feel free to exercise your moral choice to refuse to buy products from companies in China. But do not impose your moral choice upon everyone, by force, via the state.
                3. Well, that went Godwin pretty fast. If the *government* was selling poison gas to the Nazis, then I would want the government to stop doing so. But if a private company was selling poison gas to the Nazis, then that is their right to do so, and I would strenuously urge everyone to boycott this company, and to petition the government to cancel all contracts with this company. This is called exercising my moral choices in the marketplace. I should have the right to do this if a company decides to sell poison gas to Nazis, or if a company decides to fire conservatives who dissent from SJW orthodoxy, or if a company does not adhere to SJW orthodoxy as much as I would like it to. Agreed?

                1. 1. Why should I care what China does with regards to its neighbors?

                  Because those neighbors trade with you too. And even if you don’t care, perhaps you should not want to help China enable their enslavement for your own benefit.

                  So you are happy not to impose your moral choice on China and all the bad stuff it does but you are all about boycotting anyone who sold gas to the evil nazis. And you cannot see any inconsistency in that position.

                  You really have no position other than your desire to emote. Come back when you can stake a rational postion or at least make an honest argument.

                  1. You really have no position other than your desire to emote

                    And this is illustrated by your complete lack of rebuttal to my points 2 and 3, right?

                    The whole point here is that neither you nor I should be imposing our moral choices on the entire country. If you don’t want to trade with China, or Russia, or Saudi Arabia, or whomever, then don’t. It’s your choice.

                    YOU are the one emoting by just spewing through your outrage boner.

              2. Historical aside.

                Zyklon B is hydrogen cynanide gas. It was marketed as a pesticide by the Bayer company. The aspirin people. The company merged into the giant chemical and pharmaceutical conglomerate IG Farben in a series of acquisitions before and after WW 1.

                Synthetic chemistry was at a peak and there were nobel prize winners on the payroll.

                IG Farben included many Jews in its staff before the Nazis came to power. After that it purged Jews and fully joined into the ranks of the Nazi state. Bayer made the gas used in Auschwitz and other extermination camps.

                The history of IG Farben is an important example of what happens when the state and industry merge.

              3. “As long as I get my widgets and geegaws cheaper”

        2. As I’ve said a quadrillion times, this IS in the long term best economic interests of everybody.

          What you’re really objecting to is a short term negotiating tactic. If Trump were proposing permanent tariffs against just China, especially if it was just because he didn’t like the Chinese, your point would stand.

          But that isn’t what is going on.

          If China drops trade barriers, it would LITERALLY be the biggest win for free trade in the entire history of the world. You do understand that right?

          So you’re basically saying that a pathetically small tradeoff in the short to mid term, is not worth it for the biggest liberalization of trade in the history of the world… GOT IT!

          In other news, Trumps tax cuts in other areas have already MORE than offset any tariff costs that might be incurred… So rest easy knowing the economy will keep humming along fine even if China doesn’t buckle. The national debt thing everybody also bitches about because of the cuts, well the tariffs will help offset that there! It’s just a slight rearranging of the deck chairs, but in a way that might make big gains for global free trade. Nothing to freak out about.

  11. “He wants them us to suffer more,”

    Fixed for economic accuracy

    1. Luckily, people who support Trump know better.

      1. Re: loveconst… Ok, that’s a lie.

        Luckily, people who support Trump know better.

        Just like flat-earthers know “better”, Trumpista.

      2. MAGA!

    2. Actually, we’ll both be suffering! That’s kind of how wars work… But if your enemy suffers worse, and your resolve is greater, they eventually surrender and give you the concessions you want.

      1. Pure undiluted collectivism.

        1. Sometimes life is like that. It is collectivism when some nation comes over and carbet bombs where you live. And it is collectivism when you and those around you band together to fight back and in some cases do the same or similar things to them. Life and the world is hard like that.

          1. Gee, maybe there should be a bunch of people, or a movement, that strives to view the world in terms of individualistic choices, instead of by forced collectivistic choices. Wouldn’t that be swell?

            1. “Wouldn’t it be great if I could have everything I want for the price of wishing for it?”

            2. Sure would jeff! Unfortunately we don’t live in La-La Land. We live in the real world. The world where only governments can strong arm each other into doing things that are good for their citizens interests. And unfortunately much of the time that requires that those things effect all citizens, whether they want them to or not.

              Like when we irrationally didn’t demand China drop trade barriers when we gave them market access in the US. That unleashed a world of hurt on US businesses and workers, who were all told to just suck it up. Now we’re doing something that is in those peoples interests, and telling some consumers to just suck it up.

              Living in the real world as it exists is a pain in the ass… But it is what it is. In the real world, wishing does NOT make it so.

  12. The Dotard has two idiots “negotiating” trade – Peter Navarro and Wilbur Ross.

    The sane economic advisor, Gary Cohn, got overruled on trade and quit this idiot brigade.

    1. he is going to give us more 4% growth and historically low unemployment and the first significant wage growth for the middle class since the 1980s. The bastard. If only he were a genius like Obama and could screw up everyone’s health care and preside over the worst recovery since the great depression.

      1. he is going to give us more 4% growth

        Hasn’t happened and now Wall Street is selling off anticipating the end of the 2009-2017 bull cycle and lower earnings.

        MU has gotten crushed and is down 33% from its spring high – they are a primary indicator as the #1 memory chip supplier to all the gadgets made in the world.

        1. It is happening now. Moreover, look at the historic chart


          Obama’s last two years in office were just barely ahead of stagnation. Couldn’t get any quarter above 2%. And Wall Street adjusting its price doesn’t change the underlying health of the economy. Suck it loser.

          1. In any case, a 4.1% annualized growth rate isn’t only not “amazing,” it’s not even particularly remarkable. The Obama administration reached it in four quarters, including one with an annualized rate of 5.1%. Despite that record, the economy never grew at an annual rate of 3% during those eight years. Trump’s second-quarter GDP growth would rank only fifth among Obama’s quarters.


            GDP peak is trending down you idiot.

            1. Holy shit. You just admitted you have no fucking idea what trends are.

              1. Shut up, you Trump redneck.

              2. Buttplugger has zero clue what many things are.

            2. Yeah, and exceptionally high growth RIGHT OUT OF a massive recession is normal.

              The thing is, he strangled sustained growth to death. The fact that Trump’s policies have been wringing 4%+ growth out of an economy this far into a growth phase IS unusual. I was expecting a recession to hit us shortly after Trump took office, just because it’s long overdue. But his pro growth policies have thus far avoided it. We should still have one before long anyway, but his policies are sound any which way you slice it.

      2. If only Buttplugger had paid 4% of the bet.

        1. LovesTrumpsTinyMushroomDick1789 is our resident Trump idiot.

        2. Buttplugger really tasked his intern payroll on that one.

  13. Dear god this is asinine.

    The path to free trade is to end tariffs.

    The political problem is that people associate “no tariffs” with manufacturing jobs moving to China and Mexico. And this is bad because those have been historically high paying meat robot jobs that anyone with a functioning alarm clock can show up and perform.

    And at some level, there isn’t really any difference between a Mexican doing your highly paid meat robot job in Detroit or Guadalajara.

    So, to offset this political disruption, politicians need China to lower their tariffs *now* not later. Hence a trade war that we can all hope will result in a paired reduction of both US and Chinese tariffs.

    Historically you wanted high tariffs on things you made locally, and low/no tariffs on the raw materials. But that’s awkward when you try to be all protectionist on US Steel. Do we admit that steel is a raw material that we want to outsource to the lowest bidder while saving all the choice meat robot jobs for ourselves?

    Long term, all tariffs are bad, but short term we have elections to worry about!

    1. Or trade restrictions… but how dare I wreck your narrative.

    2. It is true, the long term reduction in tariffs both ways is the goal.

      That said, the way you talk down about manufacturing jobs is quite silly. You are aware that there are more people working in manufacturing todayglobally than at any point in history right?

      The narrative that manufacturing is some “worthless” industry only fit for “backwards and poor” economies is nonsense. Both Germany and Japan, 2nd and 3rd largest 1st world nations on earth, have almost DOUBLE the percentage of their workforce working in manufacturing as the USA. Even borderline 2nd world nations like Italy and Spain have stronger manufacturing sectors than the US. Only the UK has AS WEAK of a manufacturing sector as us.

      Manufacturing is still a more valuable industry than ALL tech industry in the US combined. More than banking. More than media. Need I go on? Manufacturing is mundane stuff, but it is still essential for a large economy, because large economies HAVE TO be diversified to have enough employment. We can’t employ 150 Mil Americans in banking and chocolate like Switzerland! Dig?

  14. “Free trade” tariffs were not a contradiction in terms before the Civil War. They meant roughly a 10% surcharge sufficient to fund a non-meddlesome government with a capable navy. This revenue-only tariff, added to the roughly 10% it cost to haul stuff hither in wooden boats, was all the protectionism any honest industry could hope for. Sumptuary sins, like floating on a cloud of British Indian opium, were charged at a higher rate, adding revenue and slightly reducing medical problems. Opium wars, coincidentally, withdrew capital and led politicians to lust after “protective” tax-and-spend tariffs. But the guns were pointed at wealthy merchants and a capitation tax such as in communist manifesto plank 2, was illegal. We were better off then than now, and would do well to focus on shedding the capitation tax before getting too worked up over relatively harmless tariff exactions that once covered less than a dozen or so pages.

    1. Honestly, replacing, or greatly reducing, the income tax and replacing it with a flat across the board 5-10% tariff would not be horrible. Any product that loses its entire price advantage at a tariff that low we might as well make here anyway.

      Lower income taxes and nominal tariffs would likely boost the economy. We’d be losing the de facto export tax on producing things here by lowering the income tax, and giving a very small advantage to domestic producers which would likely create more jobs here. But it’d all be small and on the edges, so nothing too crazy would change. Just a small nudge in a generally decent direction.

      I would prefer 0% across the board globally, but the above would probably be better than the status quo.

  15. One time when I was little I pitched a fit because my brother got a bigger piece of cake than me so my mom took my cake away and gave it to my brother. Taught me a lesson about appreciating what I got instead of worrying that somebody else got more. Trump missed out on that lesson about “fairness”, whining and crying like a little baby that China’s fucking its citizenry and he can’t fuck us as much as he’d like.

    1. You missed many lessons in life.

  16. All of these Reason articles on trade are incorrect. A basic misunderstanding, if you will.

    Adam Smith on Tariffs: an Interview

    1. When you posted it the other day, I found it very interesting that Adam Smith himself had the common sense to recognize all the same mitigating circumstances and exceptions to the rule that make sense to most people with common sense… Yet escape many people here at Reason. There are times and places to ignore all rules, and Smith recognized all the same ones as sane people do today.

  17. “That’s because trade makes both sides better off. ”

    It’s telling that a “libertarian” magazine starts it’s value analysis with methodological collectivism.

    Some Americans were better off with the former globalist status quo, and other Americans are better off under Trump’s policy.

    Here’s a hint on who those people might be. The article contains no mention of jobs or employment.

  18. So let’s the get this straight: our genius president, who once instructed his Cabinet to “print money” to pay down the deficit and who admitted that he holds views on free trade that are antithetical to every economist NOT named Peter Navarro because he’s “thought this way for 30 years” is going to win a pissing match with the Chinese figurehead who is no longer elected and has no reason to care about poor Chinese people?

    And this same genius’ goal is to accomplish free trade, including abolishing all subsidies, thereby handing every rural district to the Democrats for the next 100 years?

    And we should celebrate the president who got into a pissing match with Canada over $70M of additional Canadian dairy markets that probably won’t result in any benefit to US farmers because Canada can subsidize domestic production and anti-US sentiment will push Canadian consumers to buy domestic anyway? And this “totally competent” president didn’t realize that the TPP would have offered substantially the same deal only with benefits extending throughout the entire Pacific?

    But at least he totally scrapped NAFTA and replaced it with NAFTA. At least there’s that.

    Trump is about as libertarian as Obama except Obama didn’t have advanced stage dementia.

    1. The only way Trump can achieve his goal of “free trade” is to implement a Soviet style central command style industrial policy.

      In order to free trade, we first have to destroy it.

  19. Probably those who would be “winning”, lacking any action by PDJT.

  20. China is unfair to us. Therefore we will tax US citizens who buy imported products.

  21. The WTO isn’t hard enough on China. Therefore we will start trade wars with Mexico, Canada and the EU, hold up appointees to the WTO appellate body and create case backlogs for WTO judges that will take over 2 years to come up for review.

    Winning means starting trade wars with your biggest trading partners, hamstringing the WTO’s review process, replacing NAFTA with almost identical son-of-NAFTA and strutting around the chessboard claiming victory. Meanwhile, establishing a $12 billion fund US export commodity farmers Trump’s trade policies are putting out of business.

    If this doesn’t convince people of the dangers of centralized industrial policy then the Modern Soviet Man has arrived.

  22. The only ones suffering are the people who buy stuff and pay more for it (aka USA citizens) just to stroke Trump’s ego hard-on .

  23. Desired effect:

    If the Masters of the Universe of American Industry move their supply chains out of China, Trump will have achieved his goal. There will be disruptions along the way, but Pompeo and Bolton are playing a long game.

  24. Trump may win, but the history will tell who will be the final winer! (

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