Trump Wins Trade War As Global Markets Plummet

It is early July, well before this article goes online, yet the landscape is pretty clear from where I stand. The U.S. and China both raised tariffs on $34 billion worth of goods Friday, July 6. This did not deter the S&P 500 from continuing its charge up to the January 26 all-time high. To boot, unemployment is historically low and the Fed is set to raise rates twice before the year ends – all this amidst a stealth discretionary spending recession.

So, how about that trade war? Let’s recap. Most folks would agree that the free trade of goods would be best for all concerned. Goods would be less expensive and those that could not compete on price would do so on quality, leading to a beneficial improvement of goods. All is well and good until protectionism and nationalism rear their ugly heads. Some nations have goods that find it difficult to compete on the basis of price and/or quality. Globally, world leaders of such nations are unapologetic in pursuing their nation’s interests at the expense of others. In trying to avoid the image of the ugly American, we have often placed ourselves at a disadvantage. Nowhere is this more evident than in trade were our trading partners often have a clear advantage.

U.S. Census Data shows that we have a trade deficit with every trading region except for South and Central America and Australia/Oceania. At only $33.14 and $14.38 billion, respectively, the last four years and a combined trade of $310.44 billion this pales in comparison with the deficit for the rest of the world, -$844.66 billion, whose combined trade is $3.578 trillion. Below are 2014-2017 averages for most of the world in billions:
Canada: -$20.01
European Union: -$149.61
Asia: -$547.49
Africa: -$2.60

China is a case in point. Aware of the huge financial benefit that comes with their 1.38 billion consumers, they extract huge concessions from their trading partners, including the U.S. When they have not barred certain U.S. business sectors, they restrict or regulate business, place tariffs on goods, or coerce intellectual property release. Note this goes one way; there is no intellectual property sharing.

These noncompetitive business practices are not fair, but until now, U.S. companies have accepted them without much push back as the cost of doing business there. That is until Trump. What Chinese leaders need to realize is that they are not in a good bargaining position and the longer they hold out the more harm will come to their economy.

Here is why. Leaders of the government-run economy are well aware of their history and realize the huge Chinese population is not going to put up with poor conditions forever. To keep discontent at bay, they have a policy of inflated economic growth. According to Trading Economics, they have averaged 11.7% GDP growth for the past 10 years but chinks in their armor are showing. From the 2010-2011 heyday, where GDP grew 19% and 24%, growth has dropped steadily and sometimes precipitously. It was 5.56% and 1.14% in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Little wonder that worried central government figures have made a big push since then for increasing their global exports, including those to the U.S., resulting in a resumption of GDP growth to 9.35% in 2017. The prospect of increased tariffs, which would make their goods less competitive, runs afoul of those plans. China’s economy is struggling and their stock market is testament to that. The smaller Shenzhen composite moved into bear market territory in February and the Shanghai composite closed in bear territory on Tuesday, June 27. The indexes went as low as -26.5% and -25.0 on July 5 but have recently recovered to -22.5 and -21.2%, respectively, as global markets have climbed in tandem with U.S. markets. That is still in bear market territory, which will curtail much need foreign investment. Meanwhile, U.S. GDP is growing steadily, the economy seems to be healthy, and the stock market is nearing new heights. Trump can ratchet up the tariff game longer knowing he has more economic wiggle room. Moreover, he can inflict more pain to the Chinese economy than they can to ours.

To see why, let’s look at the trade numbers. The trade deficit with China has averaged -$358.68 billion the last four years in a rising trend. While U.S. exports have vacillated between $110-129 billion since 2012, Chinese imports have steadily increased from $315 to 375 billion. Last year the deficit was -$375.58 billion, of which $129.89 billion were U.S. exports to China and $505.47 billion were U.S. Chinese imports. Not only is trade unbalanced, so are tariffs. Prior to this year, U.S. tariffs on Chinese agricultural and non-agricultural goods were 2.5% and 2.9%, respectively, while Chinese tariffs on U.S. goods were 9.7% and 5% for the same. True, these had been going down from a 14.1% average prior to 2001 when China joined the World Trade Organization but that was part of the price and tariffs are much higher for some industries.

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Bernie’s Last Stand

With Trump in the White House it seems that our society has in so many respects succumbed to a much lower common denominator. The divisions that exist have only exasperated the growing divide that has turned humanity away from what is good and virtuous. It is quite evident when for the past 30 years the violent atrocities in our schools, entertainment venues, churches, and other places where the public gathers has steadily increased in severity and frequency. Yet, our leaders seem powerless to find solutions that would negate all the horrific violence that is like a plague on our society.

The truth of the matter is that no one seems to acknowledge that there has been a generational decline in morals, ethics, financial stability along with an increase of governmental laws, mandates and Supreme Court rulings that have only intensified the growing insensitivity of too many. With this recent assault on women’s rights the long arm of an obtrusive government has again striped away an inherit right. The government has no right to interfere with a women’s right to choose. That decision is between herself, her family and her God not the government. As a nation we have failed our society because we have either ignored, deemed not credible, or otherwise dismissed our own history. It is a very sad commentary for this nation that our elected officials continue to forsake the American public by all the contentious behavior displayed in every election cycle and legislation chambers in every state house all the wall to Washington.

The rise of violence not only in the United States but through-out the world continues and with it continues the demoralization of America. The Trump Administration has ushered in a host of contingencies that have exasperated the rise of instability and violence we see on an almost weekly basis. For the past two and a half years when we should have ushered in policies that would improve the standard of living for all Americans and decrease the violent atrocities our elected officials did nothing. Had we done what New Zealand did following their most recent act of terror just maybe some of the violence we see would have been avoided.

Today, the Trump White House has again created a tempest of financial chaos with his trade policies that have already caused the cost of living to skyrocket. This at the same time when the majority of Americans can least afford it. Now, to redirect America’s attention away from the adverse economic reality caused by the most costly imposed tariffs this Administration has set in motion yet another military fiasco in the Mid-East. This is just another example of an Administration who cares not for the American public. Not since the days of Andrew Johnson has the United States been subject to an incompetent and blundering President. A President who might just put American forces again in harms way and who already has caused one of the worst financial and economic calamities of our times.

With the primary season heating up along with the summers rising temperatures the tempers of a growing frustrated public many will undoubtedly erupt against the many reforms that are needed to stabilize the instability and insecurity created by the disingenuous policies of not only this Administration but of past Administrations. It is quite obvious that the fellowship of the American public has withered and died on that vine of so many lost opportunities. And, with the political discord that is displayed by so many has only underscored why the United States is so divided.

When we look at the political landscape for 2020 it is quite obvious what the DNC is trying to do. In their haste to thwart a Sanders nomination they have underwritten practically every other Presidential candidate especially Joe Biden. In this way the necessary reforms that Senator Sanders hopes to implement will never materialize. A repeat of 2016 is an almost certainty. That is when the DNC went out of their way to sabotage Bernie Sanders bid of the Democratic nomination. It is high time that the public starts to realize that the status-quo hasn’t worked for decades for the majority of Americans and that radical change is necessary to restore the American Dream for all Americans. It won’t happen under Trump and it most certainly won’t work under Joe Biden or any other candidate. Change is necessary for growth and rebirth. That is part of the message that Senator Sanders brings to the American public.