Trump made a big show of it when he signed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports by inviting a group of steelworkers for a photo op, but if I'm one of those steelworkers I have to be feeling like a tool right now.
Trump signed his tariffs on China this morning, the details of which still aren't clear as of this writing, but while doing so the administration also called off his tariffs on steel and aluminum.
Metal stocks fell off a cliff this morning because the tariffs won't be imposed on any country that we actually conduct a significant amount of trade with.
U.S. Steel slumped 8 percent at 11:34 a.m. in New York, while AK Steel Holding Corp. and top U.S. iron-ore producer Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. lost more than 6 percent. Chicago-based Century Aluminum Co. tumbled 14 percent.
The U.S. will “pause the imposition” of steel and aluminum tariffs that take effect Friday for Europe, Australia, South Korea, Argentina and Brazil, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday. Brazilian steelmakers Cia. Siderurgica Nacional SA and Usinas Siderurgicas de Minas Gerais SA rallied.
Trump previously canceled his tariffs on Mexico and Canada so, at this point, no significant share of imports will be taxed. China produces most of the world's steel, and it appears the tariffs will be imposed on China, but we only import roughly 2 percent of our steel from China.
To be clear, this is good news because the tariffs were going to cost far more jobs than they could have created, but the Trump regime must look like bumbling, bluffing fools to most of the world including our closest allies and trading partners.
Although the tariffs have merely been "paused," I don't expect we'll ever see them actually implemented because the truth is the "dumping" and other alleged schemes Trump has repeatedly accused our trading partners of are fiction. The truth is steel is cheap because we don't build anything anymore. We're sitting on a trillion dollar infrastructure deficit that Republicans never intended to fill.
The end result of this charade could ultimately be market turmoil, job losses in the industry Trump was supposedly going to protect, and little else.