China

Chilean Criminals Have Turned to Avocado Theft, And Who Can Blame Them

Avocados, the lynchpin of millennial criticism, are proving that everyone wants a piece of the hottest food trend of the 21st century. Chile, one of the biggest exporters of avocados, is benefiting from increased demand. Specifically, the prices of avocados have grown 23% in the past year, and 9% in the past month. Sadly, these price increases haven’t come without repercussions While thefts have always existed, it has gone from people breaking into fields at night to organized armed groups assaulting producers in broad daylight, said Francisco Contardo, general manager of Chile’s avocado producers’ association. During the harvest season, from August to February this year, 10 bands were dismantled and 50 people were charged with theft. Now Chile has copied the avocado police of Mexico and C...

EconoFact: “What is the National Security Rationale for Steel, Aluminum and Automobile Protection?”

From EconoFact, an update: The Trump administration has implemented a number of trade related measures purportedly on the basis of national security. First, it invoked the seldom-used provision of the trade law to investigate whether imposing import restrictions for steel and aluminum is justified by national security reasons. The Commerce Department’s investigation concluded that imports of both metals pose a national security risk and subsequently the administration applied tariffs and quotas to both products. In a new investigation, the Commerce Department has started looking into whether imports of cars or automobile parts could impair U.S. national security. One just has to recall, you don’t typically take Ford Mustangs into war, and even if we took sedans into battle, we get most of ...

On China: Applying 19th-century remedies to 21st-century problems

My op-ed in today’s The Hill: Is it a trade dispute with China, or is it a trade war? If the latter, is it on hold, or not? The flip-flops in America’s trade relationship with China are coming in ever more frequently, as President Trump issues and rescinds threats. To recap, before the election, Trump promised to declare China a currency manipulator on day one of his administration. That declaration never came; but then over the course of his administration’s first year came the equivalent of a “phony war” where no overt moves were made in trade policy. Only some anti-dumping measures nearly a year into the new administration signaled a possible new direction. That all changed in March, as Trump announced a series of radical measures, rationalized on grounds of national security and intell...

Pete Navarro Goes On NPR To Diss Steve Mnuchin Because Pete Navarro Is So Crazy That He Thinks Steve Mnuchin Listens To NPR

The Trump Administration’s economic dream team is at it again! After their catty sorority flight home from China resulted in everyone admitting that they hate everyone else because, like, they are all wrong about China – and also Lighthizer is a real bitch when he’s hungry – Steve Mnuchin and Larry Kudlow managed to get Pete Navarro benched from further negotiations with the Chinese. Rumor had it at that time that Navarro got in trouble by acting like himself and throwing a tantrum on the plane home, yelling at Mnuchin that he was being too soft on China, a country that Navarro has come to believe is the sworn enemy of justice and truth in the universe. All in all, the whole episode was just another batshit moment of messy drama in the highest policy levels of the Trump White House, but it...

Opening Bell 5.29.18

Welcome to our Memorial Day Weekend Roundup! Providing you with the best news you missed while you were barbequing and arguing with your brother-in-law! Goldman Stays Oil Bull, Undaunted by Saudi-Russia Crude Plan [Bloomberg] Goldman has been an oil bull since early last year, saying growing demand and output reductions by OPEC and its allies will help revive crude from the worst crash in a generation. Now, as prices retreat after surging to levels last seen in 2014, the bank’s sticking to its optimistic stance and sees the current decline as temporary. Its latest report follows another earlier this month, when it admonished money managers who cut their bullish bets on oil. EU trade chief to meet U.S. peers Ross, Lighthizer in Paris on Wednesday [Reuters] Europe’s top trade official Cecili...

Market Calls Trump’s Auto Tariff Bluff

Donald Trump’s feigned unpredictability has become the most predictable aspect of his administration. The president’s latest gambit is a threat of major tariffs against foreign car manufacturers, after he directed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Wednesday to conduct a Section 232 investigation into whether foreign competition in the auto sector represents a threat to national security risk. The market has shrugged off the news, with Toyota stock falling less than 2% during trading Thursday, and other foreign car makers like BMW, Hyundai, and Daimler have all paired back losses since the announcement Wednesday afternoon. If investors were taking the president seriously, one would expect a much larger reaction, given that Toyota, for instance, sells more cars in North America than even its th...

America Doesn’t Have The Stomach For Trump’s Trade War

President Trump’s capitulation to the Chinese only surprising in that it was so complete. In exchange for lifting the threat of new tariffs on $150 billion worth of goods, the president received nothing besides vague assurances of increased purchases of American agriculture, something that rapidly rising demand would have necessitated anyway. One must give credit to Chinese negotiators, who wisely realize they have nothing to gain from taking Trump’s tariff threats seriously until the American electorate signals its support for the trade war over the course of at least another election cycle. And let’s also credit Donald Trump’s predecessors. It turns out that they’re probably not as stupid as the president thinks, and that lopsided terms of trade between China and the U.S. hasn’t resulted...

“(Trade) Peace For Our Time”

Not the phrase used by the White House, but I think the essence of the statement. From ActionForex: THE WHITE HOUSE – Office of the Press SecretaryFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 19, 2018 Joint Statement of the United States and China Regarding Trade Consultations At the direction of President Donald J. Trump and President Xi Jinping, on May 17 and 18, 2018, the United States and China engaged in constructive consultations regarding trade in Washington, D.C. The United States delegation included Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur L. Ross, and United States Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer. The Chinese delegation was led by State Council Vice Premier Liu He, Special Envoy of President Xi. There was a consensus on taking effective measures to subst...

How to Reduce the US-China Trade Deficit by $200 Billion: A Modest Proposal

Jim Tankersley/NYT discusses how hard it will be to reduce the $337 billion US-China gross trade deficit by $200 billion by increasing exports (as I point out in this post, our trade deficit in value added is probably about half the $337 billion). The enormity of the task of cajoling the Chinese into buying $200 billion more is shown in Figure 1 (see the light blue arrow). Figure 1: US exports to China (blue) and US imports from China (red), in billions of USD, SAAR. NBER defined recession dates shaded gray. Increasing exports to China by $200 billion over two years (light blue arrow); decrease imports from China by $200 billion over two years (pink arrow). Source: BEA/Census, NBER, author’s calculations. A much simpler way to reduce the deficit; instead of browbeating the Chinese into buy...

Wilbur Ross Wakes Up From His Friday Nap Just Long Enough To Prove That He Doesn’t Know What The Commerce Secretary Does

We don’t want to shock or alarm you guys, but it really seems hard to ignore that Wilbur Ross either does not know or does not care what the job of the Commerce Secretary is…which is troubling since he’s supposed to be the Commerce Secretary. The animate remains that now constitute Mr. Ross spend an inordinate amount of time napping, worrying about foot comfort and thinking about how to monetize and dominate the actual moon. Unfortunately for American businesses, Wilbur does not seem to allot much of his precious little awake time to the “Promoting American businesses” part of the gig. Whatever you might think of Wilbur’s old career, or the man himself, it’s become impossible to argue that he is anything other than a wrinkly, monotoned square peg in a round hole job. Even his boss has admi...

Peter Navarro Sidelined From China Trade Talks Because He’s Peter F@#%ing Navarro

Hey, look, there’s breaking news in the world of basic human logic… White House trade adviser Peter Navarro has been excluded from talks Thursday with China’s top economic envoy aimed at defusing a brewing trade war with the U.S., two administration officials said. Well, no fucking duh. Letting Pete Navarro take part in trade talks with China would be like letting a toddler clean and organize your wedding crystal. Letting Pete Navarro converse with Chinese officials is like naming Kanye West the new ambassador to Wakanda. Letting Peter Navarro negotiate trade with the Chinese is like hiring Harvey Weinstein to run your company’s sexual conduct seminar. It’s almost breathtaking that the Trump Administration has the awareness to do something so logical based on the fact that they HIRED HIM A...

Mr. Trump’s Faux National Security-based Trade Policy (aka ZTE – WTF?)

or, Mr. Trump is a wimp President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 13, 2018 Mr. Trump was the first in decades to actually implement Section 232 trade sanctions based on alleged national security concerns. These sanctions hit our allies much harder than the Chinese that Mr. Trump asserts has damaged our interests. And yet, when sanctions based on real national security concerns actually threaten to substantively punish a Chinese firm, he flinches. Why do we need a process (CFIUS, Section 232) if Mr. Trump is just going to rip up the decisions? Thus far, the trade policies Mr. ...

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