"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Monday, March 05, 2018

Gazing into the Crystal Ball

Where history repeats itself, first as farce:

[George W.] Bush announced tariffs on steel imports just over one year after taking office, on March 5, 2002. They ranged from 8 percent to 30 percent for 10 categories of imported products such as flat rolled steel, machine wire and welded pipe.

Those safeguards were to remain in effect for three years and a day to support the US steel industry, which was struggling to restructure in the face of global competition.

But along came the WTO; well, "came" in the sense a court comes along and blocks, say, a ban on Muslim immigrants when somebody asks it to:

The European Union and several other countries immediately filed a dispute complaint with the WTO and published in May 2002 a list of US products that would be hit with retaliatory tariffs of up to 100 percent, including on fruit juice, T-shirts and underpants.

That launched tit-for-tat retaliations between Washington and its partners, each attempting to use the weapons authorized by the international trade rules. The US administration also tried to appease some partners by expanding the list of exemptions.

In the end, the tariffs Bush imposed, far less restrictive than those Trump has "announced" (Bush exempted some countries, and added exemptions; Trump says all are to be punished.  Why must everyone laugh at our mighty sword?), did the U.S. economy no good at all, and in fairly short measure were done for:

But the protectionist policy caused a sharp decline in the US dollar, which was exacerbated by the widening budget deficit caused by the tax cuts enacted around the same time, another parallel with the current situation under Trump.

Bush was forced to backtrack less than two years later after losing the case in the WTO brought by the 15 EU countries and seven others (Japan, China, Brazil, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland).


According to some studies, the economic consequences of the dispute cost about 200,000 jobs to the US economy.
Everything old is new again.


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