What Tariffs Mean For Markets
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
President Trump is heading to Minnesota today. The White House says he's going to hold a roundtable on protecting American workers. But some economists say Trump right now is actually putting American jobs at risk with the trade conflicts he has provoked. This week, the president threatened tariffs on another $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. He has already slapped steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada, the EU and Mexico. And all of this is happening at a time when the U.S. economy has been booming. So could these tariffs hurt job growth? Well, even Trump's top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, says maybe. This is him with Chris Wallace on Fox News.
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LARRY KUDLOW: Oh, it might. I don't deny that. You have to keep an eye on it. It's a very precious...
CHRIS WALLACE: It could jeopardize that.
KUDLOW: It's possible, absolutely. I don't think it has right now.
GREENE: All right. Stephen Moore has also advised the Trump administration on economic matters. He has also expressed worry about tariffs hurting U.S. jobs, and he joins us this morning. Mr. Moore, welcome back.
STEPHEN MOORE: Hi, David.
GREENE: So explain to me the concern about jobs here. How - is this a matter of tariffs could hurt American consumers who would have to pay higher prices and that's how U.S. jobs could be harmed?
MOORE: Well, David, let's just step back a minute. As you mentioned, I worked with Donald Trump during the campaign when he was running for president. And one of the things that he said over and over during that campaign was that he was going to get very tough with China in trade deals.
MOORE: This day has come. And so I don't know if you're a poker player, but it's almost like Donald Trump said yesterday I'm all in.
GREENE: I'm more blackjack and craps, but if I played poker, you're saying I could have - this is him basically making that move.
MOORE: Well, there you go. And so now you're talking about tariffs that will affect - you know, if this takes place, by the way, and I do think - again, to use the poker metaphor, I think he's thrown a chip in. But I don't know if he's - you know, there's a good chance that they're going to negotiate a settlement before all of this goes into effect. But this is a big deal.
GREENE: OK, so this could be just threats.
MOORE: But this is a big deal. And you're talking about $200 billion of products that would face tariffs that would affect, you know, potentially, again, if this goes into effect, the price of everything from TVs to cellphones to toys and almost anything you buy in Walmart might rise in cost. Now, the question is, is this worth it? And, you know, my own opinion is, you know, there's a big risk here - no question about it. Obviously, the stock market doesn't like this at all. The market's fallen by about 600 points since he's announced these tariffs. On the other hand, there is something to what Trump is saying, that for a long, long time we've - as a nation and our leaders have turned a blind eye to bad behavior by China. It is true that they steal a lot of our technology, and they steal a lot of our intellectual property, everything from our computer software to our movies and music and...
GREENE: So the question is, is it worth taking the risk if it means forcing China to change its behavior? Well, Stephen Moore, could we just go through a couple scenarios of how this could play out? I mean, if these tariffs are put on things like televisions, as you say, I as a consumer might not buy a television. Fewer televisions are selling, and that could mean that producers are shaving jobs, and that could be one scenario.
MOORE: Well, look; Donald Trump believes, actually, that by putting this tariff on that people will buy more American-made products and that - if you were interviewing him right now, he would say this is going to create more American jobs. And look; the truth is there are some areas of the country where workers have been hurt by trade with China where factories have left. And I went to a lot of those areas in the country in the Midwest where voters rightly or wrongly believe that that is true, that they - that the factories have left because of China. I think there's some truth to that - not an entire truth to it. But, you know, so there's a plus and a minus here, I would say, that the outcome that we would all like to see from this is that China does make some capitulations.
And I think everyone should understand that China does also impose a lot of extreme trade barriers for the United States producers to penetrate the China market whereas we've opened up our doors to them with very few tariffs. And I think Trump does have a case to be made that it's not a - he uses the term reciprocal - that it's not a reciprocal negotiation and arrangement we have with them because they impose a lot higher tariffs on us than we do with them.
GREENE: Well, let me just keep you on the gambling metaphor. I know there's no way to know for sure, but do you think that American jobs would be hurt if these tariffs go forward and (unintelligible)?
MOORE: I am an optimist here. I'm going to be an optimist and I'm going to say I think China is going to sit down at the negotiating table with Donald Trump sometime in the next few months. And this is going to get resolved in a way that will actually lead to less - ultimately, we want freer trade out of this, not more protectionism by China playing by the rules and stop stealing. And I think there's a high likelihood, actually, that that will happen, but it's going to take - it could take months.
GREENE: All right, Stephen Moore of The Heritage Foundation, thanks as always.
MOORE: Thank you, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.