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Saturday, March 3, 2018

YOU GOTTA LOVE THE EUROPEAN UNION

So Trump, unglued because the world is closing in on him, lashes out by threatening to impost tariffs on steel and aluminum, and the EU responds by floating the idea of tariffs on Bourbon and Harley Davidson motorcycles?  Why on earth those products?  Because Bourbon comes from the home state of Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Harley Davidson's corporate headquarters are in Speaker Ryan's home state.

I think our Dear Leader is outclassed.

5 comments:

Matt said...

"targeted" tariffs like this are not at all unusual. The US uses them when it can, too. (I was a law clerk for two years on the US's Court of International Trade, and it's actually a bit unusual for retaliatory tariffs to be addressed narrowly or in similar sectors. The two main forms are either specific "targeted" tariffs like these, or rolling tariffs that apply to many different areas, so as to "spread the pain" widely, in hopes of making the offending tariff seem bad to as many people as possible.) In anything other than the short run, a rolling tariff that applied, at different times, to many areas might be more effective, both for the EU and for people who oppose Trump, as it would "help" more people to see that this was a bad idea on Trump's part. In the very short run, however, this sort of narrow targeting might be best.

F Lengyel said...

Seems like a shrewd political calculation to me, at least where his supporters are concerned. The authors of the free trade agreements decided thirty years ago that workers in the United States were earning too much. The free trade agreements transfer income from low income earners in high income countries to high income earners in low income countries. It may be that these tarrifs will set a floor on the wages of workers in the aluminum and steel sectors. The business press doesn't like the idea of reversing trade deficits because it means limiting the labor arbitrage that enables current levels of profit. They like systematically winning asymmetric zero-sum games against the working class. The term the business presd uses for this is "comparative advantage," but in the presence of labor arbitrage the correct term should be absolute advantage.

Anonymous said...

I once heard a brilliant keynote talk by Prof Saskia Sassen who made a remark that trade agreements never benefit labor (on both sides, high or low wage) but are ultimately designed to ease: the movement of capital, the movement of CEOs to manage the capital, and the movement of hookers and nannies.

Jerry Fresia said...

speaking of which...I voted yesterday here in Italy....much different experience than in the US; access to the ballot is far easier;

1. voting takes place two full days, Sun and Mon 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM
2. one votes for the party, not the individual heading it although it comes out the same; there were about 15 party choices.
3. the ballot is a very large piece of paper (for each separate electoral choice - region, national, etc); one marks the party choice
with a pencil
4. in my case, as with many others it turned out, I failed to get my "voting card" from the Comune during the past year; no problem. The Comune is open (Sun and Mon) to write out temporary permission slips for slackers like myself so we are still able to vote...just show your ID.

Seems to me that if all the elites in the US, instilled as they are with fervent patriotism, spent 1/10 of their time now dedicated to foreign "attacks on our democracy" and used that time to focus on the integrity of "our" electoral process, then the Dems might actually be able to get the stay-at-home-types to the polls - but this assumes, of course, they don't fear such a development.

Exit polls show dramatic gains for the right; as with the US, major media here filter out critiques of neoliberalism, hence populism is far right leaning and blames immigrants for all their ills.

I voted for the Freedom and Equality party. It won't get 2% of the vote and will probably disintegrate (as did my first choice, the Power to the People party).

LFC said...

@Jerry F. -- looks like the Freedom and Equality party did a little bit better than that, though not by a huge margin.

---

The tariff decision represents among other things the outcome of an internal policy struggle w/in the admin, apparently won in this case by Peter Navarro, who was one of Trump's ec advisers during the campaign, is now in the WH, and has somewhat heterodox views on trade (for an academic economist, I mean).

Btw, one decision Trump has made fairly recently -- to cut off U.S. security assistance to Pakistan (I forget for how long) -- actually makes a certain amt of sense, imo. But it's an exception.