“Trump is awful but…”

“He’s right.”

Handelsbilanz

Uh-oh. All bets are off now. I may have found a German economist who is willing to take an unpopular stand and defend certain aspects of the Trump administration’s policy. Unpopular? Sacrilegious is more like it, right?

“On one side there’s the EU with a trade surplus that is mostly supplied by the huge German surplus. On the other side is the USA that has been living with deficits for 30 years. Germany is the world’s largest surplus country and the USA is the world’s largest deficit country. The trade practiced between these two national economies may be free but it is not efficient. This criticism of the German undervaluation strategy – that is, the relatively weak salary increases combined with a weak euro – has been around since presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Politicians in Congress have warned about making trade deals with notorious surplus countries. Trump is just the first one to do anything about it.”

“Every country can do whatever it wants – but not when it is part of a currency union in which there are no exchange rates that could be adjusted. Germany procures an advantage in global trade not just due to the quality of its products vis-a-vis its EU partners, the USA and other countries. In the past 15 years salaries in Germany have remained far behind productivity. We gain advantages over other national economies through wage dumping.”

“Will the punitive tariffs have a real effect on the German economy? Not so quickly. They have just been little needle pricks up until now. But if the EU now pursues the loud-mouth announcements made by Commission President Jean-Claud Juncker and reacts with its own punitive tariffs it is possible that the USA’s reaction will be more massive. Yet Trump is merely following a very simple rule here that no one in Germany wants to believe: The losers in such a trade conflict will be the trade surplus countries and the winners will be the deficit countries.”

Aber wenn die EU jetzt den großmäuligen Ankündigungen des EU-Kommissionspräsidenten Jean-Claude Juncker folgt und mit eigenen Strafzöllen reagiert, kann es sein, dass die USA noch massiver reagieren. Trump folgt doch einer einfachen Regel, die in Deutschland niemand wahr haben will: Verlieren werden in einem solchen Handelskonflikt die Handelsüberschussländer und gewinnen werden die Defizitländer.

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