In a recent article, Peter Schiff called the ongoing trade war Pres. Trump’s last stand, saying, “it looks to me that Donald Trump … is charging into an economic version of the Little Bighorn.” Proponents of the trade war argue that we need to give Trump’s strategy time to work. They say the tariffs will force the Chinese to bend, and in the end, America will find itself in a much better economic position than it was before.
We can debate whether Trump’s tariffs are a brilliant negotiating tool or an economic disaster, but we shouldn’t ignore the fact that they are causing significant pain. And not just for the Chinese. Ultimately, American consumers are paying the price.
The trade war between the US and China escalated again this week. The US slapped an additional $200 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods. The tax starts at 10% and will increase to 25% by the end of the year. China retaliated by announcing another $60 billion in tariffs on US goods.
As Peter Schiff noted in his most recent podcast, people still think the US will win this trade war.
It looks like Donald Trump is launching a full-blown trade war. Not to worry though. According to the president, a trade war is “easy to win.”
When a country is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!”
Peter Schiff has a little different take. He said in his podcast last week winning a trade war isn’t so easy. In fact, America can’t do it.
Earlier this month, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin threatened China, saying the US would “put additional sanctions on them and prevent them from accessing the US and international dollar system” if they don’t go along with the most recent round of sanctions slapped on North Korea. We argued that the threat may be meaningful, but it also might be empty.
In a recent article published on the Mises Wire, Ryan McMaken added another layer of analysis, arguing that if the US were to follow through on the threat, it would imperil the US dollar. McMaken’s reasoning dovetails with a point we’ve made more generally about Trump’s penchant for tariffs – that they will undermine the dollar. Of course, that’s good for gold.