Canadian, American and Mexican flags stand on stage ahead of a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiation in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Nafta’s Dying. What Comes Next?

Today’s Agenda

Nafta’s Dying. What Comes Next?

Trump-Trudeau Trade Truce Truly?

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- After months of worries, tariffs and angry words – including President Donald Trump calling Canadian Prime Minister Justin “meek and mild, dishonest and weak” Trudeau a liar – we may be approaching a turning point in the Great Trade Kerfuffle of 2018.

U.S. and Canadian representatives are trying to meet a maybe-not-necessary Friday deadline to agree on the broad outlines of a post-Nafta trade deal, following a similar accord with Mexico earlier this week. Meanwhile, Trump is itching to slap $200 billion of tariffs on China soonest, Bloomberg News reports today. There’s a lot of moving parts! Fortunately Mohamed El-Erian is here to put them all together into some comprehensible scenarios and risks.

Basically, Mohamed figures the Mexico deal could lead to similar pacts with Canada and Europe. These agreements would gently tweak the global trading system that existed when Trump took office but not overhaul it. China’s a whole different kettle of poutine. But a united North America and Europe could more effectively force China to the negotiating table. The result of all this could be a glorious new trading paradigm – or a destructive trade war. Read the whole thing

Noah Smith is a little less upbeat about it all. A China deal is the true prize here, he agrees, but Trump has unnecessarily burned a lot of time and goodwill with allies getting to this place. He seemed to do it mainly to satisfy a decades-old American itch to bash Nafta –a hatred which Noah argues has always been misguided

One Nation, Indivisible, Against Tech

In these divided times, at least both sides can agree on one thing: Tech companies are the worst. Trump and conservatives claim Big Tech is biased against the right. The left has its own complaints, lately including Bernie Sanders bemoaning Amazon.com Inc.’s labor practices. Interestingly, while Amazon has kept mum about Trump’s many, many grievances against it, the company jumped to respond to Sanders, Shira Ovide notes. It’s hard to say why, but it highlights how worried Amazon and its ilk are about the growing risk of profit-pinching regulation, she writes.

One possible solution is to give Facebook Inc. users reputation scores, writes Cathy O’Neil. This would help the social network weed out the illegitimate and the icky. And of course it would give users on both the right and left something else to complain about together. Team-building!

McCain Deserves a Better Memorial

For a little while there, it looked like a pretty sure thing that Congress would rename the Russell Senate Office Building after the late John McCain. But the momentum for that change has fizzled. The renaming needs to happen, write Bloomberg’s editors – and in fact, the names of all congressional buildings and public works should have a 50-year sunset clause so they can be updated to honor more modern icons. Read the whole thing.

Bonus McCain reading: Al Hunt recounts McCain’s favorite story about baseball god and pilot Ted Williams.

Don’t Privatize Afghanistan

Erik Prince, founder of the private military contractor formerly known as Blackwater, thinks turning the 17-year-old Afghanistan war over to private military contractors is a good idea. In other news, fish enjoy water and the Cookie Monster is a fan of cookies. Author, veteran and former private military contractor Brad Taylor, on the other hand, warns Prince’s idea is dangerous and terrible. Prince’s thesis is all wrong, for one thing: This is the kind of war best fought by a regular army, Brad argues. And how eager do you think some not-Blackwater is going to be to want a profitable war to end? Read the whole thing

Europe Just Can’t Quit the U.S. … Yet

With America’s current president regularly dissing allies and shooting goo-goo eyes at Vladimir Putin, European leaders are understandably fantasizing about breaking free from their decades-long alliance with the U.S. Good luck with that, writes Hal Brands. Europe can’t possibly defend itself against Russia, and there's no better trading partner than the U.S., no matter how annoying the relationship is right now. Of course, if Trump is re-elected, then the calculus changes, and Europe might have to start gearing up for a post-American future. Read the whole thing.

Bonus diplomacy reading: To make Iran sanctions bite, crack down on “condensates.” Obama left this loophole open, and it took away some of the pain of sanctions. – Ellen Wald and Behnam Ben Taleblu 

Chart Attack

Hedge funds are betting a bunch on health care. They may regret it, warn Stephen Gandel and Max Nisen.

Nafta’s Dying. What Comes Next?

When thinking about the electric car’s future, focus on growth, not size, writes Liam Denning

Nafta’s Dying. What Comes Next?

Campbell Soup Co. has some good plans for the future, but none yet seem to address this distasteful chart, writes Sarah Halzack:

Nafta’s Dying. What Comes Next?

Quick Hits

The election-influencing social-media trolls are everywhere – including, now, Sweden. – Leonid Bershidsky 

History suggests Democrats can win in 2018 by tarring Republicans as the party of corruption. – Stephen Mihm  

Democrats could gain a lot of House ground in North Carolina, depending on some close races and the outcome of a gerrymandering lawsuit. – Al Hunt 

Hurricane Maria was a disaster for Puerto Rico. Congress’s refusal to investigate what went wrong will lead to even more disasters. – Jonathan Bernstein 

Prediction markets seem more reliable judges of bogus science than peer reviews. – Faye Flam 

GDP? GDI? There’s no perfect number for measuring the economy. – Justin Fox 

No, the correlated performance of different investing styles is not a sign of the apocalypse. – Nir Kaissar  

EU membership has its privileges in the bond market, Balkan states are finding. – Marcus Ashworth 

These are troubling times for civil liberties in India. – Mihir Sharma

ICYMI

New York City was briefly labeled “Jewtropolis” on Snapchat and other apps. A diabetes drug can cause, gulp, flesh-eating genital bacterial infection. Get ready for 20-hour flights. Michael Cohen just made a lot of money on real estate.

Kickers

Watch less news, read more books.

What is the deal with hyperpolyglots?

Look at this life-size, drivable Bugatti made of Legos

The Elbe River has gotten so low that centuries-old “hunger stones” carved with dire warnings are resurfacing.

Puffins are disappearing, but not the ones on this relaxing live cam. (h/t animal-live-cam sherpa Shira Ovide)

The 10 best goals and all-around greatest moments of retiring soccer legend Clint Dempsey. 

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

***

New subscribers can sign up here

Like Bloomberg Opinion Today? Subscribe to Bloomberg All Access and get much, much more. You'll receive our unmatched global news coverage and two in-depth daily newsletters, The Bloomberg Open and The Bloomberg Close.

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.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.