Trade wars can in fact lead to shooting wars. From Eric Margolis at lewrockwell.com:
The United States and China look like two punch-drunk prizefighters squaring off for a major championship fight. They have no good reason to fight and every reason to cooperate now that both their stock markets have been in turmoil.
Six hundred point market swings down and then up look like symptoms of economic nervous breakdown.
Factions in both nations are beating the war drums, putting presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping under growing pressure to be more aggressive.
Trump shoulders much of the blame for having started this unnecessary confrontation by imposing heavy duties on Chinese goods. The US president has turned the old maxim on its head that nations that trade heavily don’t go to war. The US and China, both huge trading partners, appear headed to military clashes, or even full scale war, if their governments don’t come to their senses soon.
Posted in Financial markets, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Governments, History, Politics, Trade, War
Tagged China, President Trump, Trade War, Xi Jinping
The US may take the early victories in the trade war with China, but over the long haul the Chinese could win. From John Mauldin at mauldineconomics.com:
With all the trade war talk, we all ask the obvious question: Who will win? President Trump says the US will win. Chinese business leaders say no, we will win. Free-traders on both sides say no one will win. Few stop to ask, “What does a ‘win’ look like?”
This makes discussion difficult. People are chasing after a condition they can’t even define. Victory will remain elusive until they know what they want. Regardless, you can score me on the “no one wins” side. I believe, and I think a lot of evidence proves, that free trade between nations is the best way to maximize long-run prosperity for everyone.
Are the Chinese settling in for a long fight in the trade war with the US? From Pepe Escobar at atimes.com:
Trade tensions between the US and China could drag on for decades but China’s focus on its Belt and Road Initiative could provide relief
We might be at the start of a decades-long trade war between China and the US. Photo: iStock
Alibaba’s Jack Ma has warned that the ongoing US-China trade war could last at least 20 years. As we’ll see, it’s actually more like 30 – up to 2049, the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Steve Bannon always boasted that President Trump was bound to conduct a “sophisticated form of economic warfare” to confront China.
The logic underpinning the warfare is that if you squeeze the Chinese economy hard enough Beijing will submit and “play by the rules.”
The Trump administration plan – which is, in fact, trade deficit hawk Peter Navarro’s plan – has three basic targets:
- Displace China from the heart of global supply chains.
- Force companies to source elsewhere in the Global South all the components necessary for manufacturing their products.
- Force multinational corporations to stop doing business in China.
David Stockman says this bull market is bullsh*t. From Stockman via zerohedge.com:
Now that the raging robo-traders have tagged a double top at 2897 on the S&P 500 it isworth remembering that the booming stock market is the greatest Fake Bull in history. It is entirely a function of massive central bank liquidity injections into the financial system that have transformed Wall Street and other global trading venues into virtual gambling casinos.
Indeed, in today’s fraught environment it can be well and truly said that the chartmonkeys have become deaf, dumb and blind to everything happening on Planet Earth external to the gaming tables where they slosh around in their cups. After all, to use the latest evidence, what could be more indicative of a political system fixing to implode than this weekend’s utterly phony and disgustingly undeserved deification of the late Senator John McCain?
Posted in Business, Collapse, Debt, Economy, Financial markets, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Government, Investigations
Tagged central bank policies, President Trump, Profits, Trade War, US-Mexico trade deal
In classic government fashion, Trump’s “fixing” one mistake with a bigger mistake. From Walter E. Block at lewrockwell.com:
As an economist who shares President Trump’s belief that we should be cutting taxes and shrinking government, one might expect me to be enthralled by his policies. But that is not the sentiment I and many other libertarians feel when it comes to his decision to impose tariffs on steel, aluminum and a host of other products made overseas, particularly in China.
On Wednesday, Mr. Trump and the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said they had reached an agreement to step back from a trade war and discuss ways to lower tariffs and other trade barriers. But the outcome of those talks are far from certain, and trade tensions between the United States and China remain very high.
What is driving the president’s apparent eagerness to impose tariffs is a simple and wrongheaded idea that plays to a large part of his base: That a trade war will spur job growth in America. He is trying to use tariffs to give a leg up to American industries against countries that manufacture the same products that we do — whether steel, aluminum or cars — but more efficiently. And who could be against that if it creates more jobs?
But in reality simply creating jobs alone does not make for a strong economy. What we really want is to increase production. And to achieve that, we need to allocate labor as efficiently as possible. One way to do that is to make sure that if there are other countries that can create certain goods more efficiently than we can, it is to our advantage to trade with them for these items, rather than manufacture them ourselves. The result is cheaper goods.
But tariffs do nothing to improve this efficient allocation of labor. They also do not increase or decrease employment. They just shift jobs around, and almost always in a manner that hurts the economy.
To continue reading: Trump’s Fake Fix for a Bad Policy
Trump called attention to the fact that US trading partners’ tariffs are higher than those the US imposes. Isn’t that to blame for the trade war, and not Trump’s determination to do something about it. From Valentin Schmid at theepochtimes.com:
Everybody complains about Trump, but he wasn’t the one who started it
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to President Donald Trump in front of other world leaders in Charlevoix, Canada, at the G-7 summit on June 9, 2018. The mainstream media and world leaders are blaming Trump for starting a trade war, where in reality all politicians are fighting to protect their special interest groups. (Jesco Denzel /Bundesregierung via Getty Images)
War is aggression, often with the use of physical violence to conquer land, people, and power. Trade wars, though not quite as bad, also are aggressive in nature. Where two or more private parties want to transact freely, aggressive governments step in the way and prevent trade from happening with the threat of force.
In 2018, most of the mainstream media and the establishment powers blame President Donald Trump and his administration for starting a trade war, which—like real wars—can only produce losers on both sides. “How Much Damage Will Trump’s Trade War Do?” read a headline in The Atlantic, and countless other articles and official statements say similar things.
So the mainstream media and some politicians are pretending that trade was 100 percent free before Trump started to threaten the “free traders” of China, the European Union (EU), Mexico, and Canada with tariffs. The media paints Washington as the aggressor in this trade war. Trump shot first.
However, truth be told, this trade war did not start this year and certainly the United States isn’t the biggest aggressor. In real war terms, the Americans are now starting to shoot back after being under siege for decades and the whole world is complaining about this act of self-defense.
As Trump wrote in a tweet before meeting the EU’s Jean Claude Juncker on July 25, he doesn’t want a war, he just wants the other side to stop shelling the United States.
To continue reading: Whose Trade War Is It Anyway?
From the standpoint of economic analysis, trade wars never make sense. From Patrick Barron at mises.org:
In a recent post I explained that China’s manipulations of its own currency hurt only herself and not her trading partners and, therefore, retaliatory tariffs were not warranted and would be self-defeating anyway. China harms herself by causing her own money supply to expand, which destroys capital through malinvestment and causes prices to rise domestically. Retaliatory tariffs cause American goods to rise in price, resulting in a recession and generally lower standard of living. Few economists claim otherwise.
It seems that everyone is in favor of free trade, as long as it is the other guy who must compete with foreign products. When it comes to their own products, the most typical response from American manufacturers begins with the caveat that “although free trade is beneficial most of the time, it causes harm under certain circumstances.” There follows a convoluted chain of cause-and-effect purporting to prove that lower priced foreign goods would hollow out America’s key manufacturing industries and turn America into a second class nation.
The purpose of this brief response is to counter these claims and explain why understanding economic theory is vital to the argument in favor of free trade.
There are two books which address the fact that we cannot experiment with an economy the way that physical scientists do. We must use logic to form irrefutable conclusions of what MUST happen, even if we cannot see it! The first is Frederic Bastiat’s early nineteenth century classic That Which Is Seen, and That Which Is Not Seen . Henry Hazlitt’s updated the book a hundred years later in order to appeal to modern readers. His Economics in One Lesson employs a series of short stories to illustrate that one must always consider the economic effects of an intervention on all and not just a few actors, plus, that one must look to the long term effects of an intervention and not just the short term effects.
So, let’s use logic to consider the effects of China’s economic interventions on itself and its trading partners who do nothing to retaliate against China in any way.
1. China uses its capital in an inefficient way . Outright subsidies to any industry must be paid by someone. The very fact that China believes that it cannot compete in certain industries to its own satisfaction without subsidies is an admission that these industries are inefficient. Therefore, Chinese internal subsidies are transfers of capital from more efficient industries to less efficient industries. Put another way, if the targeted industries already were very efficient, more capital would flow to these industries and subsidies wouldn’t be necessary.
To continue reading: 6 Reasons Why a Trade War with the Chinese Is Pointless