While the world reeled

I was going to keep away from this for a while, but having watched the above last night and then found this in The Oz today, I’m afraid that it’s once more unto the breach dear friends:

“While the world reeled after ­Donald Trump signed off on his trade tariffs …”

Meanwhile, on the editorial page of the very same edition of the very same paper we have: Steel tariffs show Australia isn’t fair dinkum when it comes to fair trade, where we find:

In January an anti-dumping investigation concerning steel ­reinforcing bars imported from Greece, Spain, Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan concluded that anti-dumping duties ranging from 4 per cent to 42 per cent would be required. They came into effect last Wednesday.

I will leave it then with this. Is it at all conceivable that a country might do something so unfair that another country would then justifiably put on a tariff, or increase an existing tariff, as a means to limit some potential harm? No? OK. Yes? Then when might that be?

And just for added irony, in 1778, Adam Smith, yes that Adam Smith, was appointed as commissioner of customs in Scotland.

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21 Responses to While the world reeled

  1. Tel

    And just for added irony, in 1778, Adam Smith, yes that Adam Smith, was appointed as commissioner of customs in Scotland.

    There’s no irony, customs are designed to collect revenue, and you only get revenue when trade goes through. Therefore governments that depend on tariffs for their income will have a strong incentive to encourage more trade (and of course discourage alternatives such as smugglers, pirates, freebooters, etc).

    Suppose someone builds a toll road, and you all wring hands saying, “OMG there can never be trade with toll roads!”

    Of course the toll road operator wants you to use the road, so they can collect more tolls.

  2. stackja

    Free trade is not fair? I am shocked.

  3. RobK

    So many questions.
    Is all reo bar created equal?

  4. RobK

    Perth’s children’s hospital suffered from cladding containing asbestos and plumbing brass containing lead causing contamination to potable water supply. These products didn’t comply with Australian Standards but managed to get in under the radar. The cost of doing this kind of business is high. Hospital is years late and over budget. Goodness knows how well it will age.

  5. Cynic of Ayr

    Not even going to comment technically on the subject, but, could anyone, with a modicum of reality, a modicum of unbiased clear thinking, look at the above picture of Donald Trump, and think, “There’s a lunatic!” or “There’s a madman!” or (the best) “There’s a stupid man.”
    Yet, there are millions of such people all over the world, Hollywood parasites especially, who think that. (Actually, I suspect they don’t think that, but are obliged to say so, because of sheer dogmatic stubbornness, or the fear of not being part of their chosen group.
    Looking at the picture, you can easily see that this man is more intelligent, intense, challenging and aware than all the Streeps, Lawrences, Gores, the ABC, Fairfax, and other assorted blind, stupid people masquerading as media commentators or journalists put together.
    My humble opinion is that he’s smarter than anyone who writes or comments in this fine blog.

  6. Confused Old Misfit

    My humble opinion is that he’s smarter than anyone who writes or comments in this fine blog.

    He’s certainly richer and you’re probably right!

    The US dodged a bullet – Hillary is NOT president.
    The weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth over these tariffs is all for show.

  7. manalive

    … cladding containing asbestos and plumbing brass containing lead causing contamination …

    It’s irrelevant where they were made, tariffs or no tariffs.

  8. hzhousewife

    Perth’s children’s hospital suffered from cladding containing asbestos and plumbing brass containing lead causing contamination to potable water supply. These products didn’t comply with Australian Standards but managed to get in under the radar. The cost of doing this kind of business is high. Hospital is years late and over budget. Goodness knows how well it will age.

    I will be howled down over the following comment, because “favoring unions”.

    How do “self-respecting” unions want to be connected to building such structures? Not responsible, I suppose, not their job to ensure material safety, not their job to care about the hospital their children may have to be treated in?

  9. Dr Fred Lenin

    Rob k .I suppose the persons responsible for this were jailed and lost all their family assets ? Or were they “politically connected,”and avoided any consequences for their cupidity ,It was probably cheaper than using the proper stuff.

  10. Bruce

    “Is all reo bar created equal?”

    Well, NO!

    Quick story:

    Some years ago I was working on an engineering project in Viet Nam. This involved the use of various steels and so there was a LOT of discussion with the locals over beers after work.

    Our rice-propelled cousins in China are perfectly capable of producing extremely high-grade materials, most of which, by the way, goes into making goodies for the PLA.

    I had some interesting conversations in numerous little bars on the topic and was told bluntly, that anyone who used the “cheap” Chinese re-bar / structural stuff was an idiot. It was “cheap” for a reason; they just wanted the money and no warranty expressed or implied. The Australian site foremen on several large jobs were extremely scathing.

    The simple fact is this: The Chinese will make what you want at the price you want.

    If you want a price reduction, you get a commensurate quality and “care-factor” reduction. Good luck getting a refund if it goes wrong.

    Interestingly, the Taiwanese are not on the same page; their stuff, including machine tools, is very good.

  11. Dr Fred Lenin

    Trump is playing with the entitled professional experts of all counties ,who are always wrong ,like a cruel cat torturing a mouse ,the screams and panic are so obvious . They don’t know how to handle him ,he didn’t come out of the aparat mould like they did . His panicking stupid enemies in the US ,Xi fat boy ,the EU commisars ,all blindsided by his brilliant moves . I bet the Iranian fascists are trembling, knowing they are next on his hit list ,watch the maggots all try to make “friends “ with him like the incompetent turnbull,they won’t fool him , he’s much smarter than any ten of them . We live in interesting times watching Donald humiliate the self absorbed “elites “ ,best comedy show in town ,how low have the self proclaimed mighty fallen . Great stuff.

  12. Ubique

    For all the huffing and puffing about President Trump’s steel and aluminium tariffs and his intention to renegotiate US trade agreements, there is scarcely a word about the US $800 billion annual trade deficit, nearly half of which is with Red China.
    I’m yet to read a line from any of President Trump’s hordes of critics about how they believe the US massive trade deficits and debt burden should be tackled. President Trump is smarter than the whole bunch of them put together.

  13. Tom

    My humble opinion is that he’s smarter than anyone who writes or comments in this fine blog.

    Correct.

    The end game in two years’ time is going to be hilarious — especially among those sanctimonious pants-wetters who will be eating crow, mainly because they loathe Trump’s personal demeanor.

    So many of our idiotic wannabe betters are emotionally unable to judge Trump on his results.

  14. Tel

    I’m yet to read a line from any of President Trump’s hordes of critics about how they believe the US massive trade deficits and debt burden should be tackled. President Trump is smarter than the whole bunch of them put together.

    Ahhh, I don’t want to be a member of any horde, but there are a few little items that I seem to recall from someone’s Presidential campaign, not so long ago:
    * Either shutting down NATO (now that the Cold War is over) or getting the Europeans to pay.
    * Ending the endless wars in the Middle East.
    * Cutting spending related to Global Warming.
    * Cancel all federal funding to sanctuary cities.
    * Force Mexico to pay for the wall.
    * Create a lot of jobs (which in turn provides a lot of tax revenue and reduces unemployment/food stamps payouts).
    * Reduce the extraordinary vacation spending.
    * Increase tax on Wall Street by blocking “carried interest” as a tax deduction.
    * Eliminating “eliminating waste, fraud and abuse” (hey, it’s boilerplate but he promised).
    * Save money by “negotiating better prices”.
    * Immediately cut spending on any program that was once authorized by Congress but lapsed without re-authorization.
    * Remove the infrastructure “boondoggles”.
    * Save money on “Common Core” by shitcanning it (not exactly the word Trump used, but does the job).
    * Shrink the Department of Education overall.
    * Scale back government support for student loans.
    * Get people off government welfare.
    * Reduce crime and therefore reduce the costs of crime.
    * Stop government funding for Planned Parenthood.
    * Get Americans off heroin, reducing the costs of opiate addiction.

  15. Sentinel Man

    Tel. Impossibles he delivers instantly. Miracles take just a little longer. Of course, it. Would be a lot less longer if some members of his own party grew a pair and backed him.

  16. Rob MW

    And just for added irony, in 1778, Adam Smith, yes that Adam Smith, was appointed as commissioner of customs in Scotland. – Being in charge of the duty free shop eh ? All good 🙂

  17. Sydney Boy

    I can’t agree with trade restrictions, subsidies, tariffs, or any other sort of protectionism. Of course, that applies to EVERYONE, including those EU cheats. Who really believes that glass-bottled water can be imported from Norway and sold in Australian supermarkets for $2.50 without some sort of protectionism?

  18. max

    Adam Smith sold out his economic principles for the sake of high income.
    Murray Rothbard has exposed what we can legitimately call the myth of Adam Smith. Smith was not the greatest defender of free markets, nor was he anywhere near the greatest defender of economic theory. But he was unquestionably the most famous and most influential early defender of free trade and free markets.

    Free trade is a crucial economic policy in the program to restrict the growth of socialism. Mises never wavered from this view. He recognized the threat of all arguments for protectionism: they help to expand the power of the state. They move in the direction of central economic planning.
    I have known for at least 50 years that the central dividing issue economically in the Right-wing movement is the issue of protectionism. People who believe that they are defenders of the principle of free enterprise at some point face a moment of truth. They have to decide whether they are in favor of tariffs or free trade. They have to face the reality of the arguments in favor of free enterprise. Do they believe in free enterprise, or do they believe in the mixed economy of the modern welfare state?
    The difference between the statist and the libertarian has to do with methodology. The statist begins his discussion of the economy from the perspective of the collective enterprise known as civil government. He equates the state (the monopoly power of coercion) and society (voluntary institutions). He also identifies the state with the nation. He sees the state as the agency that alone legally represents the nation. In some cases, he actually believes that the state is the same as the nation.

    There is no doubt that there is a legal entity called the United States government. It is a judicial construct. It is marked by its proponents’ assertion that it has final jurisdiction over the use of badges and guns inside its borders. It has a monopoly of violence that cannot legally be challenged by any other entity. It has the final say over who gets to point a gun at whose belly.

    The case for free trade is based on an assumption: that an individual has the legal and moral authority to make an offer to somebody else to buy what he owns. It is the legal right to make a bid. There are many ways to defend the free market economy, including its efficiency, but the starting place, according to libertarian theory, is the moral and legal right possessed by an individual to own property, which implies the right of an individual to disown property. It is ownership and disownership that serve as the foundation of libertarian social theory, and also serves as the foundation of free-market economic theory.
    The collectivist begins with the concept of the state as the final authority. Libertarian theory begins with the concept of the individual as the final authority.

    To the extent that people say they believe in Adam Smith’s concept of the free market, they ought to oppose mercantilism. The problem is this: the mercantilist mentality is best represented in the defense of tariffs. Tariffs are sales taxes imposed on imports of foreign-made goods. Yet most people who insist that they are defenders of the free market, meaning defenders of Adam Smith’s economics, are overwhelmingly in favor of tariffs. They think they are free marketers, but they are mercantilists. They think they are defenders of private property, when they are in fact defenders of the welfare state.

    https://www.garynorth.com/public/9691.cfm

  19. max

    Tariffs are a way of complaining about getting goods and services to cheaply. Please charge us more!

    Protectionism is, as Albert Jay Nock accurately stated, “the robbery of the domestic consumer by the domestic manufacturer.”  The protectionist wants to use state violence to prevent people from making deals with manufacturers and retailers from outside the United States who sell products that are cheaper and/or better than those produced domestically.

  20. Boris

    Ahhh, I don’t want to be a member of any horde, but there are a few little items that I seem to recall from someone’s Presidential campaign, not so long ago:

    These measures may help reduce budget deficit, not trade deficit. Americans have trade deficit because they spend too much and save too little.

  21. Boris

    Protectionism is, as Albert Jay Nock accurately stated, “the robbery of the domestic consumer by the domestic manufacturer.”

    Exactly. But steel is not a consumer product so this is robbery by the steel manufacturer of the whole chain of dmoststic consumers and manufacturers, from car makers to builders to defense industry.

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