Wall Street Journal on Trump tariffs

Today’s Wall Street Journal contains an article on how the US has fared as result of Trump’s tariffs on imported steel. Btw, great photographs in it.

The story, in brief, is:

–tariffs made older, non-competitive blast furnace steel operations temporarily viable, saving for a time 6,000 domestic jobs–which have since been lost

–the price for this grace period–the elimination of 75,000 jobs in domestic industrial firms faced with higher steel input costs

–the firms “saved” by tariffs are still facing the same competitive pressures as before, but are in a worse position for not having begun to deal with them four years ago.

Nothing surprising about all this, except maybe to Trump. Just look at today’s American auto makers, who have been protected from foreign competition by Washington for most of the past forty years. Mediocre products, massive loss of market share and periodic visits to Chapter 11.

What the article doesn’t mention is the additional loss to America from foreign firms putting off manufacturing expansion plans here because of tariffs–and the erratic and thoughtless way they appear to be conjured up and applied.

If, as I think is the case, China is the chief economic (and political and cultural) rival of the US, driving in reverse for the past four years hasn’t exactly helped our cause. Nor has the increasingly parlous state of government finances, due to: a tax cut for the ultra-wealthy, who tend to save, not spend; GDP growth suppression through tariffs; and the trillions of dollars that will be needed to overcome the negative effects of Trump’s continuing efforts to spread the coronavirus.

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