TRADE WARS 2: The Revenge of the Tariffs

Trade Wars: USA v China

After President Trump and President Xi Jinping met at the G20 summit earlier this month and agreed to restart trade talks, it felt like tensions with China were easing up a little.

But less than a week into the resumed negotiations, the president is back to business as usual, dispensing tariffs like a scantily clad woman launching t-shirts at a monster-truck rally.

In a press release… Nah, I’m kidding… In a series of tweets last night, President Trump went on the offensive, accusing China of backing out of an agreement to purchase U.S. agricultural products and announcing a swath of new tariffs on Chinese goods.

 “Our representatives have just returned from China where they had constructive talks having to do with a future Trade Deal,” the president tweeted. “We thought we had a deal with China three months ago, but sadly, China decided to re-negotiate the deal prior to signing.”

These new tariffs will levy a 10% tax on $300 billion of Chinese goods and will be completely separate from the first round of tariffs already in place.

Those old tariffs mostly affected industrial goods (like metal tubes and other examples of industrial goods that I can’t think of right now). But this round of levies is consumer focused, targeting smartphones, toys, t-shirts and socks. (Gasp. I wear socks!)

According to the Consumer Technology Association, these fresh tariffs would affect about $45 billion in cellphones, $39 billion in laptops and tablets, and $5.4 billion in videogame consoles.

 

Taking a Bite Out of the Apple

The folks at Apple are probably shaking in their ergonomically designed egg chairs right now.

While the company has made an effort to move some of its production out of China in recent years, the vast majority of its products, including most iPhones, are still made in the terrifying Orwellian fascist dystopia. (You just can’t beat those Orwellian fascist dystopia prices, though.)

Analysts predict that this would add an extra $40 to the cost of one of every Apple’s flagship iPhone, the XS (so-named because its price is X-S-ive). Apple will be forced to eat these costs or pass it on to the customer and risk a decline in sales.

Shares of Apple fell 2.1% yesterday after the news broke and continued to tumble this morning when the markets opened, dropping as much as 2.75% at the time of writing.

Of course, Apple is far from the only one feeling the hurt right now.

Wall Street shriveled like a grown man who took a sharp kick to the groin, as anxieties over a prolonged trade war and the slowing global economy bubbled to the surface.

The DJIA closed down 281 points, wiping out a rally of more than 300 points. The S&P 500 dropped 0.9%, while the Nasdaq Composite shrank 0.8%. Oil prices did a backflip into a dried-out pool, dropping almost 8%, the sharpest drop since February 2015.

Trouble in Paradise

Rumours have been making their way around the Hill that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has started to butt heads with President Trump on Chinese trade policy.

Neither party has said so publicly (Lighthizer likes to reserve any public speaking opportunity solely for trash talking Beijing).

But according to a Wall Street Journal source, the tariff hike was opposed by Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Director of the U.S. National Economic Council Lawrence Kudlow, and National Security Advisor John Bolton.

(Which makes sense, because Lighthizer infamously hates China. The longer these negotiations go on, the more he has to keep going back and eating in that one American-themed restaurant.)

A spokesman for Mr. Lighthizer, said he “supports the president’s action” and is 100% loving this, no objections.

In his tweets, President Trump hinted at the possibility of canceling the planned tariffs before the September 1 deadline if certain conditions were met.

“The 10% is for a short-term period and then I could always do much more or less, depending on what happens with respect to a deal,” President Trump tweeted.

However, at a press conference at the White House later that day he took a more resolute approach and told reporters that “if they don’t want to trade with us anymore, that would be fine with me.” (And then he took his ball and went back inside the White House.)

July Jobs Report Stays on Target

The economy may be slowing down, but it’s still pumping out jobs like a champ.

July’s jobs report is out, and (for once) it’s remarkably close to analysts’ expectations. According to the Labor Department, U.S. employers added 164,000 jobs last month.

The unemployment rate held steady at 3.7%, holding at a nearly 50-year low. And when unemployment is this low, it creates opportunities for low-skilled workers who might otherwise struggle to find a job (like certain nephews who need to get off my couch, Jeremy.)

The unemployment rate for high-school dropouts fell to 5.1%, nearing its post-recession low point (Jeremy!)

At the same time, unemployment is down across the board for all races and gender groups. (Racism is dead! We did it, folks!)

Hispanic women saw the biggest drop in unemployment, falling from 4.2% in June to 3.8% in July.

Wages are still growing, though slowly. Average hourly wages went up eight cents an hour to $27.98, a 3.2% increase from last year. (I’m still waiting on my eight-cents raise from my publisher, though.)

Manufacturing growth has taken a hit from tariffs and trade uncertainty, with factories adding just 16,000 jobs in July. Don’t expect that number to get any better until the trade war is tied up with a bow or kicks off a full blown shooting war.

In Other News

The Medical Internet of Things and Beyond

You’ve probably heard of the Internet of Things (IoT) before.

If not, just know it’s an annoying and somewhat vague buzzword with a lot real-world potential. It refers to a technological shift that’s happening as we speak — one that you’re already a part of. (Dun dun dunnnnn.)

The Internet of Things is exactly what it sounds like: Just sticking the old internet into things. In the IoT, almost every physical object you interact with will be connected to the internet, enabling them transmit and receive data.

And I’m not just talking about phones here. TVs. Fridges. Ovens. Cars. Exercise bikes. Your bed. Even the dog.

Anything that can be connected to the internet will be. And these “things” will constantly be gathering and transmitting data — far more data than we use today.

Why would we do this? Why would people want to connect my socks to the internet and count my steps and measure my sweat? (This is an honest to god real idea in the Internet of Things.)

All this lovely information gives companies making products and the systems they’re a part of more efficient than ever before, accelerating innovation and technological progress to a clip that would be impossible now.

I’m not sure if I really need a pair of socks that knows the time in Hawaii. But this tech has huge potential that could revolutionise multiple industries.

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