Steeling Ourselves for the Future

Many a new genre of journalism has sprung up thanks to President Trump.  The latest is the “victims of tariffs” industry profile.  As the Trump administration slaps tariffs on foreign steel, aluminum, and manufactured goods of various kinds, trading partners—i.e., rivals—such as China and Mexico are imposing retaliatory tariffs of their own.  The problem for China and Mexico, however, is that the U.S. buys much more of almost everything from them than they buy from us.  China can hardly retaliate against American steel when China buys no American steel in the first place.  But countries like China and Mexico do buy food from the United States, so American orange juice, wheat, and soy are all vulnerable to retaliation.

As is meat: On July 22, the Wall Street Journal reported on a mounting 2.5 billion pounds of beef, poultry, turkey, and pork piling up in industrial cold storage—chiefly for reasons having nothing to do with trade battles, but Chinese and Mexican tit-for-tat is only making matters worse.  Warehouse capacity is strained.  “Growing meat stockpiles may bring down prices for meat-hungry U.S. consumers, along with restaurants and retailers,” the WSJ story noted, “But slowing overseas sales and rising domestic stockpiles threaten profit for meat processors and prices for livestock and poultry producers.”


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