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Trump's favorite distraction is bragging about the economy. Is there new thread linking him to Russia? Is Robert Muller dropping indictments and grabbing guilty pleas? Is his inner circle swearing allegiance to the #Resistance? No matter! Just remind super rich Republicans they're making shitloads of money. He might be tweeting us into the apocalypse, but the corporate donors are happy -- and that's all that really matters.


Pencil-pushing dorks and Wall Street dicks can argue about about what's keeping the US economy from collapsing (again), but there's a growing fear in the global business community that Trump's trade war is rapidly burning down century old bridges with the rest of the world. CEOs are warning shareholders to brace for a tsunami of red ink. Market analysts point to charts that show the Trump recession is coming. Corporate greed has led to historically stagnant wages, and forced the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates to fight off inflation. And the cherry on top this three scoop sundae: Republicans are gutting financial regulations, slashing taxes, and spending money like teenagers with a stolen credit card.

If what goes up always comes down, at this rate there won't be enough golden parachutes.

The biggest problem is Trump's trade war. Over the past several months Trump has steadily injected cyanide into the veins of global commerce by slapping tariffs on US adversaries and allies. He has already slapped $50 billion worth of taxes tariffs on Chinese imports, and he's finishing the finalizing another 25 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of goods. On Friday, in an apparent cocaine-and-hypoxia-induced rage aboard Air Force One, Trump threatened to add another $267 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods after his incompetent and self-serving trade advisers failed to negotiate a settlement (again). Since Trump's comments came at the end of a day where he not only threatened to slap Japan with tariffs, but also failed to renegotiate NAFTA, tech-heavy stocks fell off a cliff and dragged other markets with them. Wall Street was thrilled.

Trump seems pissed nothing is hurting the Chinese economy. Aside from fighting back with their own tariffs on US imports, the Chinese government has also been jiggering with their currency. As a result, the Chinese just announced a multi-billion dollar trade surplus. Analysts say that this is because China is front-loading exports whenever Trump screams about additionals tariffs, but they've also been building trade alliances in "shithole countries" the Trump administration is abandoning.

Trump's assault on global stability isn't limited to the the Pacific. Both Canada and Mexico are staring Trump down in his disastrous NAFTA renegotiations. Two weeks ago Trump rushed to announce a tentative bilateral deal with Mexico before its new populist president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, could be sworn in. We say tentative because Trump seemed unaware how the process actually works. How typical.

The Canadian government knows that Congressional Republicans are loathe to sign any agreement that leaves out Canada. While Trump has threatened the "ruination" of the Canadian economy, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is sorry he's not sorry for refusing to cave to Trump's demands.

The trade disputes Trump's goons complain about are vast. Some arguments are contentious disputes that US manufacturers have had for decades, but the arguments Trump makes are just fucking stupid. The issues now range from control of Canadian media assets, the price of timber, paper, metals, cars, food, even milk and maple syrup. Canada is the largest importer of US goods, and more than half of all states sell more goods to Canada than anywhere else, so we can't just stop trading with them. For years China has been stealing US business and military secrets, but they also build our cheap electronic gizmos. While free trade agreements like NAFTA are not without their problems, Trump ignores their benefits. Instead he pushes nationalistic trade philosophies that were popular with isolationists and Nazi sympathizers in the 1920s and 1930s. What a coincidence.

Some of Trump's advisors have at least tried to save us from Trump's worst instincts. This week we learned that former economic advisor Gary Cohn kept Trump from withdrawing from major international treaties for over a year by simply ignoring him, or snatching documents off his desk. But Cohn quit earlier this year after he realized he was a Goldman Sachs capitalist, not a DC babysitter. With people like Cohn no longer around to tell Trump's other trade advisors, Peter Navarro and Robert Lighthizer, to "shut the fuck up and listen" so that they "might learn something," we now wake up to Trump tweets warning about price hikes on expensive Apple products. #BeBest

Politicos, protesters, and academics can argue about the effects of neo-liberalism in the post-World War II political system, but global trade did convince countries to stop waging endless wars by encouraging them to chase profits. Our newfound addiction to money certainly hasn't alleviated poverty or ended human suffering, but a century of international trade has created a bureaucracy that lifted many out of extreme poverty, and made world leaders think twice before invading their neighbors. At least all that bickering was good for something.



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Dominic Gwinn

Dominic is a broke journalist in Chicago. You can find him in a dirty bar talking to weirdos, or in a gutter taking photos.

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