Don’t be lulled into believing otherwise by low unemployment and exclamation-point-laced tweets. President Trump’s trade wars are failing massively.
The Commerce Department reported this week that orders for business equipment placed with U.S. factories were weak for the third straight month, which economists took as a sign that high tariffs on imported goods are biting, and slowing economic momentum.
Also this week came reports that soybeans have been left to rot across the Midwest as farmers struggle to find buyers. China used to purchase about 60% of the crop from American farmers; a retaliatory tariff by Beijing has sent buyers there looking, en masse, to Brazil.
Meantime, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer admits China has yet to alter the behavior that triggered the U.S. imposing a quarter-trillion-dollars in levies on its goods — which is to say, this is not yet the end of the beginning.
There’s more: Business groups are warning that tariffs on steel and aluminum from Mexico and Canada, another Trump special, is likely to complicate congressional passage of the renegotiated U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
Those are a few of the reasons a stock selloff erased the year’s gains; the tweeting thumbs of a President who had cheered every rally are suddenly subdued.
Without a hint of self-awareness, Trump Friday praised Saudi Arabia for keeping oil prices low, calling it a tax cut for American consumers.