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US & China Bracing For Trade War?



(Via Zerohedge)

As we reported last week, the US non-petroleum trade deficit with China and Mexico – two of its largest trading partners – climbed to its highest level for a 12-month period in December, an embarrassing development for the Trump administration, which has repeatedly promised to protect US industry by raising trade barriers.

However, the rising deficit, bolstered by a weakening US dollar, could ratchet up the political urgency of the Trump administration’s trade agenda. And as the Wall Street Journal points out, the White House is preparing a mix of tariffs and quotas to confront the growing economic threat from China. Though this confrontation could be potentially disruptive for the global system of free trade, even potentially leading to the collapse of the World Trade Organization, a group the Trump administration believes China should never have been allowed to join.

In his column, the WSJ’s Andrew Browne points out that the last time the US became embroiled in a trade war, Ronald Reagan was president. And its adversary was a close US ally: Japan.

At the time, Japan’s economy was much smaller than the US economy. Today, the Chinese economy has by some measures eclipsed the US. Such an unprecedented trade showdown between the US and China could have far reaching ramifications.

A trade war isn’t a certainty, but if it comes, it will look nothing like the battles that raged in the 1980s over Japanese semiconductors, cars and TV sets.

The forces are more evenly matched this time: America has never faced off in a trade skirmish with an opponent like China in terms of economic size, industrial capabilities and global ambitions.

Japan was a U.S. ally, China increasingly a rival. That raises the risk of tit-for-tat escalation, especially since support for Beijing is crumbling across the U.S. political spectrum as well as in the U.S. business community, traditionally a strong advocate for China trade.

Anti-trade rhetoric has been embraced by both sides, with President Donald Trump’s “America First” proclamations and President Xi Jinping’s “Chinese Dream” scenario.

In this brewing battle fueled by protectionists in both camps (Mr. Trump’s “America First“ finds its nationalist counterpoint in President Xi Jinping’s “China Dream”), each side has an exaggerated sense of its own advantages.

“A trade war is coming because of ideological zealotry and absolutely contradictory estimates of who has more leverage,” says Scott Kennedy, an expert on Chinese industrial policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.

Global markets are wildly unprepared for a full-blown China-US trade war, WSJ reports. Earlier this month, the Eurasia Group highlighted “protectionism” as one of the biggest geopolitical risks of 2018. One of the reasons, Eurasia Group argues, is because industrialized economies are embracing a wider tool chest of pro-trade measures, including indirect subsidies and bailouts.

Governments aren’t just trying to protect comparative advantages in traditional sectors such as agriculture, metals, chemicals, and machinery out of concern for lost jobs or domestic economic interests. They’re also intervening in the digital economy and innovation-intensive industries as protecting intellectual property becomes an increasingly important priority.

But instead of traditional measures such as import tariffs and quotas, today’s tools of choice include “behind-the-border” measures such as bailouts, subsidies, and “buy local” requirements designed to bolster domestic companies and industries. These measures don’t necessarily circumvent WTO commitments; they rely on a collective inability to update and strengthen existing global trade rules.

WSJ agrees: Once under way, the repercussions of a trade war would be felt well beyond the combatants themselves. US friends and allies along Asian supply chains would be early collateral damage. China is still to a large extent the final assembly point for imported high-tech components from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Navigating increasingly complex global supply chains in a constant state of disruption would be hugely problematic for businesses across industries.

Furthermore, if it escalated far enough, a trade war could take down the entire global trading architecture. That could be Trump’s goal. Many in his administration, including trade representative Robert Lightizer, believe the biggest mistake the US ever made was to usher China into the World Trade Organization in 2001. Aides say Trump regularly threatens to pull out of the rules-setting body.

Trump has in the past suggested that Chinese help on North Korea could head off US trade action. In a phone call with the US president on Tuesday, Xi suggested that trade issues should be resolved by “making the cake of cooperation bigger.”

Meanwhile, Trump expressed disappointment that the US trade deficit with China has continued to grow” and made clear that “the situation is not sustainable.”

In private, however, senior Chinese officials believe Beijing has many tactical advantages: Some are cultural – the Chinese people, one says, are more prepared to endure economic hardship.

Perceptions of US bullying would rally the population around the Communist Party, whereas US opinion would fracture among constituencies for and against trade hostilities.

US manufacturing giants like Boeing in General Motors would probably throw a fit and withdraw their support for Trump and his agenda. Both companies see China’s economy, which is fairly open relative to Japan’s in the 1980s, as a crucial growth market. If US initiates a trade war – something that Trump has already threatened with his investigation into Chinese IP practices – China has a detailed game plan to respond, and the total flexibility to carry it out. For example, the Chinese government would abandon Boeing in favor of European Airbus. Diversifying soybean supplies – possibly relying more on Brazil – would be another option.

Browne says the US should count on Chinese retaliatory actions being highly targeted – state by state, congressional district by congressional district – to inflict the maximum US job losses, and single out those politicians most gung-ho about trade action.

Many US trade experts don’t mince words: They believe China would prevail in a trade war with the US, and that the US economy would suffer lasting damage.

Nicholas Lardy, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, thinks China would win. Among his reasons: China’s ability to concentrate pain, and the outcry from affected businesses in America’s more open political system. He argues that “the political costs to the Trump administration of maintaining new protectionist measures will be much higher than the costs of retaliation to the Xi regime.”

Derek Scissors, a trade expert at the American Enterprise Institute argues that the major US advantage is that China is far more dependent on trade for its financial health.

“A shorter, smaller-scale trade conflict favors China due to its comparative agility,” he says. “The more serious it gets, the worse China would fare because it’s badly outmatched monetarily.”

In the 1980s, Japan had to back down, agreeing to voluntary export restraints and moving large parts of its auto manufacturing base to the US to create jobs and defuse tensions. China won’t be pushed around in the same way.

Still, China has other leverage: Rumblings about China ditching Treasurys – reports that have been denied by Chinese authorities but still managed to rattle markets – show the PBOC might be willing to use its balance sheet as leverage against the US.

And as central banks across Europe flock to the yuan, the US could be increasingly vulnerable to rising interest rates as its share of global reserves dwindles.

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MAGA: From Shopping Mall to Manufacturing Hub 2.0



Title: America’s Transition: From Shopping Mall to Manufacturing Hub 2.0

In the past few decades, America has often been described metaphorically as a giant shopping mall or auction house, where consumption and commercialism have dominated the landscape. However, with the rise of the Trump administration and the ambition to “Make America Great Again,” a new vision is emerging—one that aims to transform the nation into the world’s greatest manufacturing hub ever seen, leveraging AI, blue-collar labor, and a combination of innovative technologies.

The shift from a consumer-driven economy to a production powerhouse signifies a strategic move towards self-sufficiency, economic resilience, and global competitiveness. This transformation is not merely about revitalizing industries of the past but embracing cutting-edge technologies and sustainable practices to redefine the future of manufacturing.

At the heart of this evolution lies the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into manufacturing processes. AI-driven automation streamlines production, enhances efficiency, and reduces costs, enabling American manufacturers to compete on a global scale. By harnessing the power of machine learning and predictive analytics, businesses can optimize supply chains, minimize waste, and customize products to meet diverse consumer demands.

However, the vision for America’s manufacturing renaissance extends beyond technological innovation. It embraces a diverse workforce, blending the traditional blue-collar skillset with the expertise of engineers, data scientists, and software developers. This fusion of talent creates a dynamic ecosystem where creativity, problem-solving, and collaboration drive continuous improvement and sustainable growth.

Moreover, the resurgence of American manufacturing is not confined to a single sector but encompasses a broad spectrum of industries, from automotive and aerospace to electronics and renewable energy. By leveraging cross-disciplinary expertise and fostering strategic partnerships, the United States can position itself as a global leader in advanced manufacturing, setting new standards for quality, innovation, and sustainability.

One of the key strengths of this manufacturing transformation is its adaptability and resilience. In contrast to the volatility of global markets and supply chains, a robust domestic manufacturing base provides stability and security, mitigating risks associated with geopolitical tensions, trade disputes, and natural disasters. By decentralizing production and embracing local sourcing, America can reduce its dependence on foreign imports and safeguard its economic sovereignty.

Furthermore, the transition towards a manufacturing-centric economy aligns with broader societal goals, such as job creation, workforce development, and regional revitalization. By investing in vocational training programs, apprenticeships, and re-skilling initiatives, the United States can empower individuals from diverse backgrounds to thrive in the digital age and secure meaningful employment opportunities in the manufacturing sector.

As America embarks on this journey towards manufacturing excellence, it must also prioritize sustainability and environmental stewardship. By embracing eco-friendly practices, renewable energy sources, and circular economy principles, manufacturers can minimize their carbon footprint, reduce waste generation, and preserve natural resources for future generations.

In essence, the vision of America as the world’s greatest manufacturing hub represents a paradigm shift—one that transcends partisan politics and embraces a collective aspiration for progress, prosperity, and shared prosperity. By harnessing the transformative power of AI, blue-collar ingenuity, and interdisciplinary collaboration, the United States can reclaim its status as an industrial powerhouse and pioneer a new era of manufacturing innovation on the global stage.

As the nation embarks on this ambitious journey, it must remain steadfast in its commitment to inclusivity, sustainability, and technological leadership, ensuring that the benefits of the manufacturing renaissance are felt by all Americans and resonate across borders, shaping a brighter and more prosperous future for generations to come.

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Outrage As Robinhood CEO Confesses To Elon Musk: DTCC Shut Down Stocks In Gamestop; AMC Surge



Did Congressional authority allow DTCC to help defraud middle-class investors buying Gamestop and AMC?

The CEO of Robinhood admitted to Elon Musk that the DTCC – The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation – halted trading during a call Monday morning on the Clubhouse app.


This is not the first time this has happened…

2008 case:

Sound familiar?

This appears to be Pet Quarters having the same issue Robinhood has today.  When Pet Quarters took it to court, the courts said something along the lines of: f*** you, don’t ever come back here (citing technicalities).

Why did they win? Well, DTCC is given the authority by Congress to regulate despite technically being a private organization

There’s more – “To date, except for one case where DTCC’s dismissal motion is pending, all of the cases either have been dismissed by the courts or withdrawn by the plaintiffs.”


Every AG in the country should be made aware of these facts and open investigations into the matter.

Why does Congress get to deputise a private organization as eco-hitmen for the market?

UPDATE (2/3/20 5:09 AM):

(Reuters) – Robinhood Chief Executive Vlad Tenev is expected to testify before a U.S. House committee on Feb. 18, Politico reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The hearing before the House Financial Services Committee has not been formally announced, the report added

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#AdiosAmerica: Republicans (with Democrats) Are Selling Out America to Corporations to Decrease Living Standards



Since the turn of the 20th century, living standards became an important, almost central part to the progressive and labor movements of those times. Now it has become a mainstream of both parties to sell out your labor to lowest bidders in low and high paying jobs. Low paying jobs are being taken by low-wage immigrants protected by Democrats and the high-end jobs are brought in by bi-partisan means, and greatly boasted by Republicans.

This effort has crippled the middle-class for close to 30 years now and with the job market being already tightened by the looming threat of A.I., importing more workers, whether legal or illegal is decreasing the value of labor in America for each and American Citizen. Corporations and Businesses, who rely on keeping employee costs as low as possible generally don’t complain about these practices across the board, why would they?

Americans have an increasingly difficult task ahead of them with the mass illegal migration at the Southern Border but also the legal importation of immigrants through H1-b1 Visas. These challenges will increasingly change the look, heritage of this country. There is no incentive for either Government or Business to care about reigning in immigration to the benefit of the American worker, the bottom dollar line will look better anyways.

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