They have finally put a number on the Trump trade war: $1500 a house.
Every house in America is paying $1500 to be at war with China.
The trouble with that, is once that figure floats about a bit and sinks into the psyche, it will work against the President, who up until now, has insisted all of this is good. China is paying for it all, and America is winning.
America isn’t winning, can’t win, won’t win.
The talks are back on, but then what exactly does that mean? They on for a deal or are they on to fall apart again?
Here’s the real issue for Trump: all of this is material at the polls. He’s already hurting on job performance, his approval ratings are back down in the 30s, the growth figures out last week are slowing, the deficit - the very thing he’s trying to sort - is rising.
And now Americans, every day consumers can see when they’re at Lowes, Walmart or Dicks Sporting Goods that the cost of a lot of stuff is going up. 70 per cent of all shoes sold in America are made in China. Every soy bean farmer, pork farmers or wheat grower knows what they’re not getting as a result of this trade war. And even if the President is writing them cheques, they know where that money comes from.
And, more importantly, yet another figure out these past couple of weeks show the money brought in from the tariffs doesn’t cover the money going out to the farmers.
In sheer trade war terms they’re running a deficit there as well. It’s the fight they had to have. That’s what Trump says: I don’t doubt he believes it,
It’s the fight they should have had years ago with other presidents. What makes it so complicated is he doesn’t appear to understand that America doesn’t actually make a lot of stuff for the rest of the world, certainly not as much as China does.
Never forget, in yet more figures out a week or so back, of all the countries that have taken detrimental actions against us in terms of trade over the past decade, America was top of the pile and by quite some margin. And they’re supposed to be on our side.
But those figures laid bare the simple truth that America is a bunch of protectionists masquerading as free traders. Britain might well be about to discover the same thing post Brexit.
Saying we want to do a deal and then outlining the terms of that deal appear, when you are dealing with America, to be two completely different things.
But what levels the field more than anything else is an election. Trump has one, the Chinese don’t, and they know it. Trump’s trump card next year was the economy and he had a booming one. He doesn’t any more. Still a lot of resilience, still a lot of good numbers to be seen, but its slowing, and its slowing with a bill of $1500 a house hold and presumably rising.
If that’s all he’s got come next year, eight years looks increasingly hard work.