Wednesday, March 7, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He took a victory lap for asking China to do almost nothing.

Trump took to Twitter this morning to breathlessly report on a new development in trade with China:

The United States' trade deficit with China in 2017 was $375 billion. This means that Trump is requesting that China voluntarily restrict its own exports to the United States by a little less than 0.3%, or just under one day's worth of trading per year. Distributed across the entire US economy--or even concentrated in a single sector--this would be a completely negligible change.

Since Trump appears to be the only source for this story, it's not clear what China's response is, why it would voluntarily give the United States any advantage, or what Trump is prepared to give up in exchange.

So what?

  • It's extremely bad if a president--especially one who claims to be a billionaire--has no idea what a billion dollars is worth in the grand scheme of things.
  • It's not China's job to come up with "ideas" for how to help the United States gain an advantage over it, and a president who tries to let them is completely incompetent as a negotiator.
  • Asking someone to do something is not the same thing as accomplishing it.