As of this week, President Donald Trump's administration has effectively kicked off a "trade war" with China, revealing how deeply Trump misunderstands the risks of his brash choices and blundering public policy.
After the Trump administration announced tariffs on about $50 billion worth of imported goods from China on Monday, China fired back with its own $50 billion worth of tariffs on American imports.
For China's part, it took direct aim at America's farm belt with tariffs on products like soy and corn, stoking worries from the agriculture sector that farmers could be casualties in the trade war.
The stock market also plunged overnight, with the Dow opening 500 points down, although it showed signs of recovering by midday.
Bafflingly, Trump took to his favorite medium, Twitter, to insist that he had not started a trade war — because the war was already started by some other president.
Trump made a 7:22 a.m. tweet, shirking responsibility for the administration's poor policy choices.
We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the U.S. Now we have a Trade Deficit of $500 Billion a year, with Intellectual Property Theft of another $300 Billion. We cannot let this continue!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 4, 2018
When you’re already $500 Billion DOWN, you can’t lose!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 4, 2018
Trump can tweet all he wants, but when it comes to U.S.-China economic policy, the experts are not on Trump's side.
A convincing in-depth article from Vox argues that the Trump administration's entire theory of trade is wrong. Writer Matthew Yglesias points out that a policy paper put out by the Trump campaign during election season completely flubs some basic global economic theory, and it was blasted by a George Mason University economist who called it a "complete mess."
Additionally, in a New Yorker piece on Trump's China trade policy advisor Peter Navarro, the author couldn't find a single economist who agrees with the Trump administration's approach to U.S.-China trade policy.
Trump's rogue mission to start a trade war with China (even if he denies it exists) reveals his utter ignorance of real issues and policy. It underscores why America shouldn't have voted for a shady-landlord-turned-reality-TV-star to be president of the United States. It's like hiring a bus driver to fly an airplane: He has no idea what he's doing.