President Donald Trump directly vocalized his complaints with Amazon in a tweet Thursday morning, a day after a report said he was "obsessed" with limiting the company’s growth that led its stock value to plummet as much as 4.6 percent.
I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 29, 2018
"I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!" the president wrote on Twitter. The Axios report stated he wants to “go after” Amazon for allegedly violating antitrust laws.
CNBC reported that, following Wednesday’s declines, Amazon stock had risen up to 1.6 percent prior to the president’s tweet. A 2.6 percent decline followed his social media post.
Trump’s complaints, however, are largely inaccurate. Amazon collects sales tax in 45 states and the nation’s capital district. Additionally, although Amazon pays a lower rate to ship packages than individual consumers, the company is charged the same rate as other bulk customers. Its third-party retailers do not pay sales tax, so changing third-party taxation rules could actually benefit Amazon by driving up prices charged by independent sellers, according to a firm interviewed by CNBC.
The president’s disdain for Amazon is part of his larger criticism of companies owned or managed by Jeff Bezos. Trump has frequently launched attacks against The Washington Post, discrediting its reporting as fake news and implying that it is a propaganda device for Bezos and his business interests.
When asked about the Axios report, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “The president has said many times before he’s always looking to create a level playing field for all businesses, and this is no different. He’s always going to look at different ways, but there aren’t any specific policies on the table at this time.”
Amazon is doing great damage to tax paying retailers. Towns, cities and states throughout the U.S. are being hurt - many jobs being lost!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2017
The president has previously targeted transportation companies, media organizations, and finance magnates with criticism. His comments on high drug prices during the State of the Union address sent pharmaceutical company stocks plummeting. As of last year, though, his impact on companies has been relatively protracted and only temporarily influenced stocks, according to Fortune.
While the long-term impact of his tweets on individual companies tends to be fairly limited, his Twitter commentary does appear to significantly affect the market for a time, particularly when military topics are mentioned. After seeming to indicate he supported strengthening the U.S. military's nuclear program, stocks for uranium companies skyrocketed. Similarly, when Trump tweeted that the cost of Lockheed Martin's F-35 plane was too high, the company's stock prices dropped significantly.
The president is clearly aware of the enormous influence he wields and his ability to at least temporarily alter stock prices. Rather than sending tweets, it would be more effective and befitting of his office to address his concerns by pursuing legislative change. Further, especially because the economic markets often seem to bounce back to their starting point after Trump's tweets, it hardly appears permanently useful to continue exerting influence via Twitter. He is, after all, the president.