Do you wear hats? Or own a lamp? Well, say goodbye (or perhaps more accurately: 再见) to them, as in late September there will be a 25% increase in prices thanks to President Trump’s peculiar fixation on tariffs. It’s a move that even the U.S Chamber of Commerce says will “dramatically expand harm to American consumers, workers, businesses, and the economy.”
When tariffs were implemented by other administrations, they focused on things that wouldn’t affect the regular American consumer: machine parts, Chinese tires, and more. Instead, Trump’s list seems to hurt Americans in literally every area of life, from birth to death: both baby carriages and coffins are on the tariff list.
The list itself, available in full here, is over 180 pages long.
- Clothing (’47 Brand says “Most consumers cannot or would not pay 25 percent more for a ball cap. And if this increase in tariff takes effect, our business will stagnate or decline altogether”)
- Seafood. This includes most major fish, from tuna to salmon. This could put thousands of restaurants out of business.
- Airbags in cars.
- All fruits (it is specified as “Fruit, not elsewhere specified or included, fresh.”)
- Anything made of plastic — there are 121 different types of plastics in the document.
- Bicycles and bicycle parts.
- Lighting of any kind.
- Raw metals.
- Over 180 different types of auto parts, and 50 types of tires (for all kinds of vehicles).
- More than 60 different kinds of fabrics.
This, combined with the tariffs that other countries have put on America, means that less there’s less money across the board for everyone. American alcohol companies alone are seeing a 10% decline in sales directly due to foreign order cancellations due to the tariffs—Jack Daniels, in particular, has 60% of its business tied up in overseas markets, mostly China and Europe. America’s farmers are taking a $12—15b loss thanks to China’s tariffs.
Trump might want to examine Obama’s 2009 tariffs. When he added a 35% tax onto Chinese-made tires, it saved 1,200 jobs in the American tire industry. But thanks to the $1.1b that tax added to the price of tires, that translated to over 3,700 retail jobs lost. Nobody wins in a trade war.
So while this might result in some jobs retained, there’s a reality that Trump could trigger another Great Depression. More than 1,100 economists, including Nobel Prize-winning economist Richard Thaler, co-signed a letter in May urging Trump to back off the tariff angle as it mirrors the conditions that triggered the first Great Depression.
Until that comes, enjoy your fruits, hats, and airbags! It’s about to get a lot more expensive for the American consumer.