Is it a “trade war” or isn’t it a “trade war”?
Much like a lot of people both at home and abroad, I’m a little fuzzy on that.
See the thing is, in the predawn hours of March 2, the U.S. was in a trade war with China and not only that, the trade war was “good” and “easy to win” because when a motherfucker gets “cute”, America “don’t trade anymore.”
Here’s noted economist Donald Trump, to explain:
When a country (USA) 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 2, 2018
Fast forward to April 4 and that same Donald Trump (tweeting at a slightly more normal 22 minutes after 7), informed everyone that America is in fact “not in a trade war with China” because “foolish or incompetent” people lost the war years ago:
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
Now I guess the Trump supporters out there would say that was just another example of the President playing 3D chess, but you’d be forgiven for suggesting that in fact, the schizophrenic messaging was merely a product of the pernicious reality distortion loop created when an unhinged old man overdoses on Fox & Friends early in the morning and opens his Twitter app.
Anyway, the trade spat of course worsened materially just a day after that second tweet when Trump, furious at China for retaliating after the USTR published a list of Chinese products subject to tariffs in conjunction with the 301 probe, and stinging from the rebuke he got from angry soybean farmers, freaked out and instructed Lighthizer to look into additional tariffs on Beijing.
Fast forward a month and things have de-escalated materially. Following a largely fruitless trip to Beijing, Mnuchin came to an agreement with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Washington this week that calls for China to increase buying of U.S. goods. That was communicated in a joint statement released Saturday. You can read the full story on that here.
On Sunday, Mnuchin showed up on state television (Fox) and said this:
We’re putting the trade war on hold.
So I guess we were in a trade war, just like March 2 Trump said and contrary to what April 4 Trump said.
So right now, we have agreed to put the tariffs on hold while we try to execute the framework.
And if there’s anything Mnuchin is good at (besides buying Louise Linton Louboutins, signing dollar bills and cleaning up horse manure that someone dumped on his driveway), it’s “executing the framework.”
Now if only we knew what “executing the framework” actually meant.
Oh, and by the way, this is the same Steve Mnuchin who said we weren’t in a trade war a day after the second Trump tweet shown above.
So you know, who the fuck knows?
Meanwhile, Larry Kudlow thinks things are going pretty well, although he wasn’t prepared to say a trade war was completely “off the table” when speaking to CBS on Sunday.
There’s still no word from Peter Navarro, who we imagine might be on the fast track out of Washington and back to California real soon…