June 29, 2018 Patrick Oliver-Kelley

The Fed raised interest rates to a range of 1.75 to 2.00 percent and implied there would be two more raises this year. The task now is to balance US growth and falling unemployment without encouraging inflation. By 2020, the economy will be overheating. With lunatics running the asylum, who knows what is next.

If any country can bully the world, the US can, it’s power is unmatched and is there, to be exploited which is why every president, including Mr. Obama, has used it to get his way abroad. But it is hard to think of a president who bullies as gleefully as Trump. He routinely treats America’s partners shoddily and obviously avoids the idea of alliances. No president failed to clothe the application of coercive power claiming to be acting for the global good. Trump may also succeed in the short term, yet in the long run his approach will not work. He starts on false premises.

He is wrong to think that every winner creates a loser or that trade deficits signifies a ‘bad deal’. He is wrong to think America loses by taking on the costs of global leadership and submitting itself to rules. Rules help deter aggressors, shape countries behavior, safeguard American interests. Rules help create mechanisms to solve problems from trade to climate change. Order is vital for American security.

Trump’s antics spreads anarchy and hostility. His assaults are relentless. The trading system will not be able to enforce old rules or forge new ones. America’s allies will be less inclined to follow our lead. A tit-for-tat trade war will unleash destructive mercantilisms. Asian countries may begin to hedge against America’s unreliability by cozying up to China. Countries will be able to act with impunity. Freer trade will unravel.

Worst of all Trump’s impulses mean that China’s rise is more likely to end in confrontation. His dark, zero-sum outlook is destined to lead to antagonism and rivalry. He values neither world trading systems nor allies, so he will wreck it for smaller bilateral deficits. This could lead to retaliation. His deal with North Korea leaves Asian allies vulnerable to the North’s nukes. Trump falls back on the old saw that ‘Might makes right’. His impulses will not serve America or the world for long. Kissinger said ‘order must be accepted as just’. It is better to try to deter Trump now, while the dispute is small. Countries should act in unison and within the spirit of a rules-based system. They should complain to the WTO. The idea that Trump’s tariffs have anything to do with national security is laughable. Retaliation should be carefully calibrated to target symbolically important goods. Tax imports from swing states, aim to weaken protectionism.

Barriers to trade distort economies and harm consumers. A show of strength in the face of Trumps aggression offers the best hope for keeping markets open. Trump is Actively undermining the rules-based international order. It is now time for America’s enemies and allies to fear it. Trump is up to his ears in foreign policy controversy and is showing no sign of being constrained. Our allies look on aghast!

Trump’s disruptive trade disputes are only going to get worse, a full-fledged trade war will drag our GDP by 0.3 to 0.4% relative to base line in the first year then an additional 0.5 to 0.6% in the second year. But an overview of the economy is that populism, xenophobia and protectionism seem weirdly good for business.

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