Trade-Ignoramus-in-Chief

by Don Boudreaux on March 22, 2018

in Balance of Payments, Trade

Here’s part of a March 5th tweet from America’s tweeter-in-chief:

We have large trade deficits with Mexico and Canada. NAFTA, which is under renegotiation right now, has been a bad deal for U.S.A. Massive relocation of companies & jobs.

Forget the live question of whether or not we Americans have a trade deficit with Canada.  Forget even the deep ignorance revealed by anyone who draws any conclusions whatsoever from the existence or not of a bilateral trade deficit.  Instead, notice Trump’s utter cluelessness in – in a single tweet – his complaint of the flow of capital from both Mexico and Canada to the U.S. (that is, the U.S. trade deficits with Mexico and Canada) and his complaint of the flow of capital to Mexico and Canada from the U.S. (the alleged “massive relocation of companies”).

Anyone who says such a thing as Trump here said should be disqualified for life from having any influence whatsoever over trade policy.  Such a person’s knowledge of trade is as laughably deficient as is, say, a flat-earther’s knowledge of geography or a faith-healer’s knowledge of cardiology.  And yet Trump is about to put his total ignorance into action by imposing punitive taxes on millions of Americans who buy imported steel, aluminum, and other products.

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