The Trump Steel Tariffs Are Economically Small and Symbolically Huge
Even in the simplest possible way of thinking of the potential cost of the new tariffs — just applying the 25 percent tax on steel
and 10 percent tax on aluminum the president plans — we’re talking about only $9 billion.
To understand why the worry about President Trump’s planned steel
and aluminum tariffs goes so deep on Wall Street and in corporate America, don’t think of Thursday’s news as being about a new tariff on steel and aluminum.
As Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross argued in a CNBC interview on Friday, for most consumer items we’re discussing trivial amounts of “tax” — an extra fraction of a penny for the can
that contains Campbell’s Soup, a few tenths of a percent on the price of a new car.
When the administration has acted on trade — with tariffs on solar panels
and washing machines, most notably — the moves have been relatively narrow, fitting comfortably with precedent and unlikely to spark global blowback
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