The Fed Created an Uber Problem – Ep. 466

May 13 – 15, 2019

Recorded May 10, 2018

Why Escalate Trade War If Negotiations Are Going so Great?

The U.S. stock markets finished off the worst week of the year with a gain despite the fact that, as expected, the trade talks between the United States and China broke down today, and no deal.  The new tariffs went into effect at 12:01am this morning.  Despite the fact that Trump is now retaliating by escalating the trade war, he still claims that the discussions are going well, that they are making a lot of progress.  None of that makes any sense. If things are going well, and you’re making progress, you don’t escalate the war. That makes no sense. All that is going to do is piss off the Chinese. So, if everything is going so well, you would not want to do that.

Maybe Trump Would Rather Have the Tariffs

This shows that things are breaking down, that there is some desperation and Trump feels he has to turn up the pressure in order to try to force the Chinese into a deal.  Although, I am not even sure Trump believes a deal is actually better than the tariffs.  First of all, I don’t believe that Trump is going to be able to deliver the type of substantive, game-changing great deal that he has been promising. So, from that perspective, if Trump actually believes that tariffs are good for the U.S. economy because it means we’re going to get some kind of windfall, that the Chinese are going to be sending us all this money, well then maybe he prefers the tariffs to a deal that does not live up to the hype.

Tariffs Are Simply Another Tax on the American People

But, of course, Trump is wrong if that’s what he believes. The tariffs simply represent taxes on the American consumer.  They are just one type of tax.  You can have a sales tax, you can have an income tax, you can have a tariff.  All the taxes are paid by American people.  It doesn’t matter what you call them or how you want to levy them, that’s where the money is coming from. So, if you think lower taxes are good, then you can’t think tariffs are good. Unless you’re going to offset the tariffs by cutting taxes someplace else and say, “We’re going to fund government through tariffs as opposed to funding government through another source. But the tariffs in and of themselves do not deliver a benefit to Americans.  They simply make products that are subject to the tariffs more expensive to buy.  So Americans have a choice: pay the higher price or don’t buy the product.