Paul Krugman has coined a phrase which really encapsulates who -- or what -- Donald Trump is. Krugman writes that he's "a rebel without a clue." Nowhere is that more apparent than on the subject of trade:
Even as he declared himself Tariff Man, Trump revealed that he doesn’t understand how tariffs work. No, they aren’t taxes on foreigners, they’re taxes on our own consumers.
When trying to make deals, he seems to care only about whether he can claim a “win,” not about substance. He has been touting the “U.S. Mexico Canada Trade Agreement” as a repudiation of NAFTA, when it’s actually just a fairly minor modification. (Nancy Pelosi calls it “the trade agreement formerly known as Prince.”)
Most important, his inability to do international diplomacy, which we’ve seen on many fronts, carries over to trade talks. Remember, he claimed to have “solved” the North Korean nuclear crisis, but Kim Jong-un is still expanding his ballistic missile capacity. Well, last weekend he claimed to have reached a major trade understanding with China; but as J.P. Morgan soon reported in a note to its clients, his claims “seem if not completely fabricated then grossly exaggerated.”
The world trading system now hangs in the balance. Trump claims his experience as a businessman has enabled him to understand world trade and to make deals. But Trump is no businessman. The only thing he has ever sold is his name. And that name has been exposed as a fraud.
The question is, how long will the world tolerate this fraud?