Friday, May 10, 2019

A Letter to 'The Washington Post': Trump Is a Trade Ignoramus

Here’s a Don Boudreaux letter to the Washington Post:
After further raising the punitive taxes that he inflicts on Americans who buy imports, Pres. Trump tweeted this: “Build your products in the United States and there are NO TARIFFS!” (“Trump doubles tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports, escalating U.S.-China trade war,” May 10.)
I urge you to make clear to your readers that Trump’s trade policies are a tangle of inconsistencies and unfathomable economic ignorance.
He and his trade triumvirate are forever lamenting U.S. trade deficits. Yet by calling upon upon foreign firms to shift more production to the U.S. he is calling on foreign firms to increase their investments in the U.S. This increased foreign investment will put upward pressure on U.S. trade deficits.
Trump’s obvious cluelessness regarding the connection between foreign investments and trade deficits is alone sufficient reason to utterly dismiss his many apologists who insist that his tariffs are part of a brilliant bargaining scheme to ultimately make trade freer. It’s clear that on matters of trade Trump is simply, to use George Will’s apt descriptor, a bloviating ignoramus.
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

The above originally appeared at Cafe Hayek.


  1. Trump is no worse than the libertardians who told us all these cheap goods are wonderful except when you don't have a job to buy any or much of it.

    1. yeah, cause that happened......

    2. Cheap goods are wonderful. Who complains when food, gas, and the prices of other things we need are lower? Cheap goods increase our standard of living.

      There are a lot of reasons why people don't have jobs, but it seems to me to have much more to do with human capital development and less to do with cheap goods.