We're Getting Hard Numbers on Trade-War Pain

We're Getting Hard Numbers on Trade-War Pain

Tallying Up the Trade-War Victims

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- President Donald Trump has taken flak for saying “trade wars are good and easy to win,” but merely responding “trade wars are bad and easy to lose” isn’t much more convincing. What we really need are hard numbers. In the latest corporate earnings season, we’re starting to get them.

The overall impact of Trump’s trade aggressions and threats is not huge so far. But for many American manufacturers – which should benefit from protectionism, you’d think – tariffs have pushed costs higher, eating into profits, writes Brooke Sutherland. In her story and on Twitter, she’s been tracking results from General Electric Co., General Motors Co., Honeywell International Inc., United Technologies Corp. and other industrial companies. Some, such as GE and GM, see more pain from the tariffs than others. 

The wars have been limited so far, though, and costs will mount as companies have to adjust their businesses to a new, post-trade-war world, Brooke warns: “There’s a cost to overturning the status quo; it's just a question of who bears it.” If you’re wondering who might bear that cost, you might want to look in a mirror. 

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker went to the White House today to try to make some trade peace. The meet-and-greet got off to a cozy start:

We're Getting Hard Numbers on Trade-War Pain

And Trump and Juncker ultimately agreed to cool tensions between the U.S. and EU – though only time will tell how long this sticks. But Juncker may have followed the advice of Bloomberg’s editors, who said it would be smart to humor Trump by giving him something that makes him feel like he’s winning, rather than ratcheting up the confrontation. 

Breaking the Cohen of Silence

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen made trouble for the president last night, releasing a tape in which the two men seem to discuss squashing a story about an alleged Trump affair just ahead of the election. The audio has many details that look bad for the president. But Tim O’Brien writes the thing most worrisome for Trump is one name that pops up: Allen Weisselberg.

While Cohen’s a household name by now, Weisselberg is still obscure. But as the Trump Organization’s long-time CFO, he’s far more important to unlocking Trump’s past than Cohen, Tim writes:  “Weisselberg … has worked for the Trump family since the 1970s, and knows more about the Trump Organization’s history and finances than nearly anyone.” As such, he’d be a lot more valuable to, say, a certain special prosecutor. Click here to read the whole thing.

The Cohen tape eruption is the eleven-gazillionth scandal of the Trump presidency, by Jonathan Bernstein’s count. The main challenge of dealing with such an avalanche of dirty laundry is trying not be numb to it all, he warns.

But new research suggests humans can’t help but accept strange happenings as routine, if their senses are hammered with oddities often enough, writes Cass Sunstein. “Trump’s critics like to proclaim, ‘This is not normal,’” he writes. “But what if it is?”

HBO Could Use a Little Netflix-ification

Some people are worried AT&T Inc. will mess up its new corporate toy, HBO – especially after the guy now running the pay-TV network said he wanted to squeeze more out of it. Turning the birthplace of “The Sopranos” and “Game of Thrones” into Netflix Inc., with its impregnable thicket of un-find-able content, may sound like a bad idea. But Tara Lachapelle argues HBO could at least stand to be a little more like Netflix, if only to give subscribers reasons to stick around while they wait the half-an-eternity it takes to make a new GOT season. 

It just needs to avoid doing this:

We're Getting Hard Numbers on Trade-War Pain

How to Save Capitalism From Itself

As you may have heard, all the kids are into socialism these days, and this chart from Noah Smith may help explain why:

We're Getting Hard Numbers on Trade-War Pain

It’s kind of hard to convince workers and voters that capitalism is good for them when there’s no evidence of that showing up in their paychecks, Noah writes. Fortunately, there are some fairly simple things capitalists and the people who love them can do to make the system more fair –  without having to wait for a new president or Congress.

Chart Attack

There’s a new, and maybe not-so-reliable, way to trace Tesla Inc. anxiety, writes Brian Chappatta: credit default swaps.

We're Getting Hard Numbers on Trade-War Pain

Speed Reading

To protect the Fed’s independence, record and release all its communications with the White House. – Narayana Kocherlakota 

Doctors hold the key to lower drug prices. – Bob Kocher and Peter Orszag

Blame governments, not airlines, for caving to Beijing’s pressure to maintain the fiction that Taiwan is not an independent country. – David Fickling 

Trump is wrong: Montenegro is indeed worth fighting for. – Hal Brands

We’re probably never going to stop fighting over immigration. – Noah Smith vs. Tyler Cowen 

Sergio Marchionne’s death comes at an especially bad time for Fiat Chrysler NV investors. – Chris Bryant


Facebook missed estimates. Farmers would rather have no trade war than trade-war relief. Trump pushed off a second Putin meeting until next year. Putin’s soccer-ball gift to Trump had a transmitter chip.


David Bowie’s first demo tape was discovered in the loft of an old bandmate.

Global warming could change Arctic wolf spiders’ diet – which could help cool the Arctic.

You should really go to the beach.

The big business of being Gwyneth Paltrow. (h/t Joe Nocera)

Note: Please send goop, suggestions and kicker ideas to Mark Gongloff at mgongloff1@bloomberg.net.


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This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Mark Gongloff is an editor with Bloomberg Opinion. He previously was a managing editor of Fortune.com, ran the Huffington Post's business and technology coverage, and was a columnist, reporter and editor for the Wall Street Journal.

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