“We’re not sure who we’re supposed to listen to”

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

It remains to be seen how the market will look when it closes today, but as of this writing the market has taken another dump of over 500 points.

Not all recent market turmoil can be placed at the feet of Trump's trade war, but his tariffs and the incoherent messages coming out of his regime certainly aren't helping.

After another round of Trump's top economic adviser Larry Kudlow and his top trade adviser Peter Navarro saying completely different things in public, investors are bluntly saying they don't know what to believe.

"We've gotten a hodge-podge of mixed messages from people in the same administration," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR. "We're not sure who we're supposed to listen to." [...]

Kudlow told CNBC on Friday that the trade talks with China are "extremely promising."

Navarro, the trade hawk of the White House, struck a different tone on CNN. Asked whether the administration would walk away if issues with China are not resolved within 90 days, Navarro suggested Trump would "simply raise" existing tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

The core problem here -- the reason that the Trump regime has never had a consistent message -- is that Trump himself has no fucking idea how trade works. Trump can't dictate a consistent message to his advisers because he doesn't know what the message should be. He's economically illiterate. And, moreover, his advisers have their own agendas and views of what the message should be.

It's been nearly a year since Trump first imposed tariffs on foreign solar panels and he still does not comprehend, or will not publicly acknowledge, that tariffs are a tax on American businesses and consumers. As recently as this week, Trump asserted that foreign governments are paying us more money now which is obviously not something that is happening here in empirical reality.

Trump's effort to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was resolved by simply renaming the agreement while making almost no changes to it because Trump never had any idea what the agreement entailed or how it could or should be changed.

Trump's fundamental ignorance is why I believe the only way his trade war with China could plausibly be resolved is by declaring victory and moving on.

  • muselet

    “We’ve gotten a hodge-podge of mixed messages from people in the same administration,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR. “We’re not sure who we’re supposed to listen to.”

    None of them. Not a single one employed at a level much above janitor knows anything about trade, and the higher one goes in the administration, the less they know.

    This will not end well.


  • David Greenberg

    He is not solely economically illiterate, he is illiterate period. Why is it he won’t read? I’m betting it’s because he can’t, or not beyond a fourth grade level.

  • Draxiar

    Now that the Dow has taken a digger I want reporters to ask him about it. He made several claims at the beginning of his term when the Dow was rising that he alone was responsible. Now that it’s sliding like a penguins snow surfing I think he should be asked on it. He certainly won’t bring it up. So hold his pudgy feet to the fire. Of course he’ll say it’s the Dems and Obama and Caligula’s fault but then they counter with his previous claims.


    Fuck this guy.

    • Tony Lavely

      I choose box number two, thank you.