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Wed May 15, 2019, 05:00 PM

Trade war madness: bad for America but good for him in 2020

Steven Strauss
Published 3:15 a.m. ET May 15, 2019
Updated 8:49 a.m. ET May 15, 2019

resident Donald Trumpís seemingly chaotic trade policies, such as putting tariffs on Chinese imports and threatening tariffs on imports from our key European allies, cost Americans money through higher prices at home and lost export opportunities abroad. But if Trumpís goal is to make America a crony capitalist kleptocracy, where profits donít depend on free markets but on cozying up to Trump, his trade policy makes perfect sense. Tariffs are one of the few areas where Trump can act unilaterally.

In theory, Trump will revoke his tariffs on Chinese imports in exchange for a mutually acceptable trade deal with China. But in his proposed trade agreement, Trump wants China to commit to specific purchases of certain categories of American goods ó potentially allowing Trump to influence what U.S. goods China buys, and from whom.

Or in whatís increasingly the more likely scenario of no agreement with China, the net damage from Trumpís tariffs will be small enough and spread out enough that (with some big lies and the cooperation of Fox News) many Americans wonít attribute the damage to Trump. The benefits will be sufficiently concentrated, however, that those protected by his tariffs will enthusiastically support Trump. After all, their jobs, and profits, will depend on it ...


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