Going to War Without Allies

“Trade wars are good and easy to win,” said Donald Trump following his announcement that the US will impose tariffs on steel (25%) and aluminum (10%).


He has heard the concerns of Speaker Paul Ryan, Defense Secretary James Mattis, heads of US companies that need affordable steel and aluminum, and many others, but Trump’s decision will stand, at least for now. The resignation of Gary Cohn as head of the administration’s National Economic Council, effective in a few weeks, will remove an important White House voice for moderation on future trade actions.

These tariffs are not about China. Canada, the EU, South Korea, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, and even Taiwan (!) send more steel to the US than China does, and Trump knows that. For now, Canada and Mexico will be exempt pending completion of the renegotiation of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement.

President Trump says the tariffs will protect US national security. “We have serious doubt about that justification,” responded the EU trade commissioner. “We cannot see how the European Union, friends, and allies in NATO, can be a threat to national security in the US.” POLITICO Europe says it has “obtained a four-page list of American imports that the EU has targeted for duties of 25 percent to retaliate against Trump’s tariffs.”

Canada has already brought a WTO case against the US on other issues. South Korea has taken the US before the WTO in response to US trade laws in place before Trump was elected, but it will use his “America First” rhetoric to bolster its case. The EU, China, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan have all demanded compensation in response to the recent US decision to impose “safeguard” duties on solar panels and washing machines.

Trade wars are good and easy to win? Here’s a better rule of thumb: Don’t go to war, any war, against everyone at once.

P.S. Yesterday, 11 countries — including Japan, Canada and Australia — signed a revised version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an enormous trade deal that the Trump Administration has rejected.

In the southern Italian region of Basilicata, home to the Val d'Agri Oil Centre known as COVA, hydrocarbon processing has undergone a radical digital transformation. COVA boasts one of the world's first fully digitized hydrocarbon plants, but why? Two primary reasons: infrastructure and information. Val d'Agri has the largest onshore hydrocarbon deposit in mainland Europe. The site is expansive and highly advanced, and the plant features a sophisticated sensor system built to capture massive amounts of data. Maintenance checks, equipment monitoring, inspections and measurements are tracked in a fully integrated digital system designed to prevent corrosion and ensure cleaner, more sustainable natural gas processing.

Learn more at Eniday: Energy Is A Good Story

For a president gearing up for a fierce re-election fight next year, President Trump has a lot to worry about. Democrats are now taking more of the US political spotlight. The latest opinion polls don't look good for him. There are signs that the strong US economy, Trump's top selling point, may begin to wobble.

More Show less

Chinese Pigs – Beyond a trade war with the US and unrest in Hong Kong, now Chinese officials are wrestling with an even more basic political problem. Pork is the favorite meat for many of China's 1.4 billion people, and some analysts treat pork consumption as an important indicator of the financial well-being of China's middle class. A serious outbreak of African Swine Flu is expected to push pork prices 70 percent higher over the second half of this year, which will hit ordinary Chinese pockets hard. By some estimates, half of China pigs have been culled, but there are also reports that some farmers have avoided the expense of slaughtering infected pigs, raising fears that the disease will continue to spread. The central government takes this problem seriously enough to call on local officials to boost large-scale hog farming. So far, China's "Year of the Pig" is just not going well.

More Show less

Buy or sell: The iPhone

I'll make both arguments. First, buy. The new iPhone 11 didn't blow people's mind. But it's a pretty good phone. But what is most impressive is they lowered the prices on many of their phones and they offer a really good trade ins. So you can take your old iPhone, trade it in, get a discount on a new one. It's a pretty good deal. On the other hand, if the question is more: Is the iPhone still the unadulterated leader in innovation? Maybe not. The event was not quite as transformative as some of these events have been.

More Show less

1.2 million: Surging jihadist terrorism in Burkina Faso has pushed the country to the brink of humanitarian crisis, as attacks displace people from their homes and destroy critical infrastructure and hospitals. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, 1.2 million Burkinabe are threatened with famine and malnutrition, and access to healthcare has dwindled. Experts say the violence is a spillover from the scourge of jihadism in neighboring Mali.

More Show less