Friday, August 23, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He hereby ordered.

Overnight, China once again retaliated against Trump's latest rounds of tariffs, spooking American stock markets. But they were trending positive again just before 11:00 a.m. EDT. Investors were reassured by a much-anticipated speech by Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell in which he gave no indication that the Fed would be imposing the sharp interest rate cut that Trump has been increasingly agitated about.

Almost immediately, Trump took to ranting on Twitter. He declared still more tariffs—that is to say, taxes on American consumers—and then he said this:

For the record, Trump can't actually "hereby order" businesses in the United States to do any such thing. (Ironically, China's president Xi Jinping would have better luck with such an order—because China's hybrid-communist economy is still largely state-controlled.)

The internet wasn't kind, and Trump had to endure mockery for the rest of the trading day while investors came to terms with the bleak news that his trade war was only getting worse. His own attempt to turn it into a joke wasn't well received.

Just before leaving on an overnight trip to France (who he also threatened with tariffs today), Trump once again insisted that China's retaliation somehow actually meant that they were desperate to come to the bargaining table. 

Why does this matter?

  • Presidents who are visibly losing their ability to control their impulses are bad for the economy.