President Trump is a businessman. Well, he’s at least a salesman. Well, perhaps the better phrase is con man. Regardless, all due caveats aside about that “small loan” of millions from his father, Trump has some economic competence. As he takes pains to remind us regularly, he did get a degree in business. Despite the bankruptcies and affection for dirty tricks, he has made a lot of money. At least in the real estate industry, Trump knows what he’s doing. There is a reason, like Ross Perot before him, he was able to make his career a major selling point of his campaign.
That’s what makes his unutterably stupid trade policies so bizarre. Trump’s trade war, if measured by the sheer number of people who will be negatively affected, is one of his worst accomplishments to date. It doesn’t have the gut punch of the migrant family separations or the malice of the not-quite Muslim travel ban, but the escalating scheme of retaliatory tariffs his administration has imposed on broad swaths of imported goods will have grave economic consequences both here and abroad.