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If Trump keeps his trade-war promise, nothing else will matter

Posted by John Reed on

I like much of what Trump has done since the election, but none of it will matter if he starts a trade war that results in Great Depression 2.0.

The Unelected President novelHere is the pertinent part of the Wikipedia article:

“In May 1930, a petition was signed by 1,028 economists in the U.S. asking President Hoover to veto the legislation, organized by Paul Douglas, Irving Fisher, James TFG Wood, Frank Graham, Ernest Patterson, Henry Seager, Frank Taussig, and Clair Wilcox.

“Automobile executive Henry Ford spent an evening at the White House trying to convince Hoover to veto the bill, calling it "an economic stupidity." J. P. Morgan's chief executive Thomas W. Lamont said he "almost went down on [his] knees to beg Herbert Hoover to veto the asinine Hawley-Smoot tariff."

“Hoover opposed the bill and called it "vicious, extortionate, and obnoxious" because he felt it would undermine the commitment he had pledged to international cooperation. However, in spite of his opposition, Hoover yielded to influence from his own party and business leaders and signed the bill. Hoover's fears were well founded. Canada and other countries raised their own tariffs in retaliation after the bill had become law.

“Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke against the act while campaigning for president during 1932.

“Threats of retaliation by other countries began long before the bill was enacted into law in June 1930. As it passed the House of Representatives in May 1929, boycotts broke out and foreign governments moved to increase rates against American products, even though rates could be increased or decreased by the Senate or by the conference committee. By September 1929, Hoover's administration had received protest notes from 23 trading partners, but threats of retaliatory actions were ignored.

“In May 1930, Canada, the country's most loyal trading partner, retaliated by imposing new tariffs on 16 products that accounted altogether for around 30% of U.S. exports to Canada. Canada later also forged closer economic links with the British Empire via the British Empire Economic Conference of 1932. France and Britain protested and developed new trade partners. Germany developed a system of autarky.

“In 1932, with the depression only having worsened for workers and farmers despite Smoot and Hawley's promises of prosperity from a high tariff, the two lost their seats in the elections that year.”

America’s current top 1,028 economists should again make this plea and the parallel with the 1930 open letter should be pointed out. America and the world are far more dependent on international trade today than they were in 1930.

Again, if Trump starts a trade war, nothing else will matter. It took Republicans 22 years to get back into the Oval Office—and that took the Supreme Allied commander of the European Theater of World War II as the candidate. Many historians think the Great Depression was one of the key causes of World War II.

My fictional President “Mike Medlock” believes in a free country like the U.S., all the citizens have the right to buy from whomever they want. He opposes all tariffs, quotas, or other protectionist measures regardless of what other countries do with their trade policies.

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