Economy Trump Regime

‘An Unfortunate Sound Bite’

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

There's no love lost between Trump's top trade adviser Peter Navarro and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

The New York Times previously reported that Navarro and Mnuchin got into a profanity-laced shouting match during a trip to China early this month in full view of Chinese trade officials, but Navarro is now calling out Mnuchin publicly.

The White House made a surprise announcement yesterday when it declared that Trump's trade war with China is back on, but Navarro says Mnuchin's announcement that the trade war was canceled was never correct.

From Bloomberg:

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro criticized Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for declaring the U.S.-China trade war was on hold, calling the remarks an “unfortunate sound bite” and acknowledging there’s a dispute that needs to be resolved.

“What we’re having with China is a trade dispute, plain and simple,” Navarro said in an interview broadcast Wednesday with National Public Radio. “We lost the trade war long ago” with deals such as Nafta and China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, he said.

I'd rather not pick a side between Steve Mnuchin and Peter Navarro, but look: Navarro is completely batshit

I believe the most likely explanation for this stunning incoherence is Trump himself. I believe Steve Mnuchin said what he knew to be accurate at the time. The White House's own actions and statements following Mnuchin's announcement corroborate it. Trump tweeted that he made a deal with China to buy more American-made goods and the White House made no effort to correct Mnuchin.

So, what changed? Well, everyone realized China didn't actually agree to anything specific and headlines in the news quickly reflected that. Reports began to accurately indicate that Trump got virtually nothing out of talks with China other than a suspicious effort to bail out the Chinese telecommunications company ZTE.

I believe Trump canceled the trade war on a whim and reinstated it on a whim and, if that's true, Steve Mnuchin wasn't lying.

For his part, Peter Navarro believes the trade war is already over. He is ideologically cemented somewhere in the 1980s and he lives like a retired spy still vicariously fighting the Cold War by feeding birds outside the embassy in Washington.

Obviously, none of this bodes well for Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross's upcoming trip to China where he'll make one last effort to prevent a hot war. Even if Wilbur Ross were able to secure a deal of some description, it would have to be co-signed by this pack of feral kittens.

The last time Ross made a deal, Trump told him he was "past his prime."

  • ninjaf

    …He is ideologically cemented somewhere in the 1980s and he lives like a retired spy still vicariously fighting the Cold War by feeding birds outside the embassy in Washington.

    This pretty much sums up this whole administration.

  • muselet

    Asked about potential Chinese retaliation, especially on American farm goods, Navarro said “we’re ready for anything.”


    China could hurt the US far worse than the US could hurt China. There are other countries—countries not led by a narcissistic reality-television personality and his squabbling claque of incompetents—who will happily supply China with agricultural goods in exchange for more electronic devices. Sure, everyone would have to tread carefully for a while to keep from crashing the world economy, but it could be done. Does Peter Navarro think “we” are ready for that?

    [Secretary of Commerce Wilbur] Ross on Wednesday defended Trump’s unilateral tariff measures as necessary to fix a broken global trade system.

    “Every country’s primary obligation is to protect its own citizens and their livelihood,” he said. “Maybe that’s a populist saying, but it’s one we feel very strongly about.”

    After World War II, there was consensus: global trade was good, because it meant national economies were intertwined and intertwined economies made it hard to hurt one country without hurting a whole lot of others. Countries gave up a little economic sovereignty in exchange for economic stability. That consensus held for round about 70 years and proved its worth many times. Only imbeciles would want to go back to a world of trade restrictions and punitive tariffs (take a bow, Trump administration!).

    Luckily, Chinese trade negotiators—Chinese leadership as a whole—aren’t mad. There is some little hope that they will manage to reach a deal that placates the loonies and doesn’t precipitate a second Great Depression.

    I hate having to rely on other countries to behave rationally.


    • Aynwrong

      The Trump “administration” won’t last forever. I wonder if the Chinese government is trying to maintain a sense of normalcy until a rational adult is back in charge.

      • muselet

        Sure. Nobody wants to deal with unpredictable people.

        Also, China is making great strides in renewable and low–carbon-footprint technology: retiring coal-fired electrical plants, setting a deadline for all new vehicles sold in the country to be battery electric (India has done the same), improving photovoltaic panels, the things we were starting to do during the Obama administration. The Chinese government wants to sell that green tech to the world, so it’s not interested in a trade war.

        The Trump “administration” won’t last forever.

        Finally, some good news.