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Trump's Economic Agenda Leads Directly To Severe Inflation, And Probably Staflation

The MAGA Agenda Basically Wipes Out The Savings Of The Elderly



We’ve been warning about the threat of bloodshed lately, but there’s more than just that to worry about from Trump’s desperation and MAGA world’s ire. Last week, economist Larry Summers told Ron Brownstein that “There has never been a presidential platform so self-evidently inflationary as the one put forward by President Trump. I have little doubt that with the Trump program, we will see a substantial acceleration in inflation, unless somehow we get a major recession first.” Brownstein was asserting that though voters believe Trump would handle the economy better than Biden, economists disagree, especially when it comes to inflation. And he’s not just talking about the seriously overrated Summers.


“Trump’s greatest asset in the 2024 campaign,” wrote Brownstein, “may be the widespread belief among voters that the cost of living was more affordable when [Trump] was president and would be so again if he’s reelected to a second term. But a growing number of economists and policy analysts are warning that Trump’s second-term agenda of sweeping tariffs, mass deportation of undocumented migrants, and enormous tax cuts would accelerate, rather than alleviate, inflation… Mark Zandi, the chief economist for Moody’s Analytics, forecasts that compared with current policies, Trump’s economic plans would increase the inflation rate and force the Federal Reserve Board to raise interest rates higher than they would be otherwise. ‘If he got what he wanted,’ Zandi told me, ‘you add it all up and it feels highly inflationary to me.’”


In a study released last month, the nonpartisan Peterson Institute for International Economics calculated that the tariffs Trump says he will impose on imports would dramatically raise costs for consumers. “Trump is promising a no-holds-barred, all-out protectionist spree that will affect every single thing that people buy that is either an import or in competition with imports,” Kimberly Clausing, a co-author of the study and a professor of tax policy at the UCLA Law School, told me.
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the center-right American Action Forum and a former director of the Congressional Budget Office, is sympathetic to many elements of Trump’s agenda and critical of Biden’s. But Holtz-Eakin agrees that Trump’s economic plan “doesn’t bode well” for “the cost of living,” as he told me.
…Summers identified multiple pillars of Trump’s economic agenda that could accelerate inflation. These included compromising the independence of the Federal Reserve Board, enlarging the federal budget deficit by extending his 2017 tax cuts, raising tariffs, rescinding Biden policies designed to promote competition and reduce “junk fees,” and squeezing the labor supply by restricting new immigration and deporting undocumented migrants already here. Others note that top Trump advisers have also hinted that in a second term, he would seek to devalue the dollar, which would boost exports but further raise the cost of imported goods.
For many economists, Trump’s plans to impose 10 percent tariffs on imported products from all countries and 60 percent tariffs on imports from China are the most concerning entries on that list.
These new levies go far beyond any of the tariffs Trump raised while in office, several of which Biden maintained, said Clausing, who served as the Treasury Department’s deputy assistant secretary for tax analysis for Biden’s first two years. Trump’s proposed tariffs also dwarf the levies Biden recently imposed on electric vehicles and assorted other products from China: Biden’s new measures affect about $18 billion in Chinese imports, she said, whereas Trump proposes to raise tariffs on $3.1 trillion in imported goods, more than 150 times as much. Trump “has been quite clear that he is envisioning something quite a bit larger than he did last time,” Clausing told me.
In the Peterson study, Clausing and her co-author, Mary Lovely, calculated that Trump’s tariffs would raise prices for consumers on the goods they purchase by at least $500 billion a year, or about $1,700 annually for a middle-income family. The cost for consumers, she told me, could be about twice as high if domestic manufacturers increase their own prices on the goods that compete with imports.
“When you make foreign wine more expensive, domestic manufacturers can sell their wine at a higher price,” Clausing told me. “The same with washing machines and solar panels and chairs. Anything that is in competition with an import will also get more expensive.”
While Trump’s proposed tariffs would increase the cost of goods, his pledge to undertake a mass deportation of undocumented migrants would put pressure on the cost of both goods and services. Undocumented migrants are central to the workforce in an array of service industries, such as hospitality, child care, and elder care. But they also fill many jobs in construction, agricultural harvesting, and food production. Removing millions of undocumented workers from the economy at once “would create massive labor shortages in lots of different industries,” Zandi told me. That would force employers to either raise wages to find replacements or, more likely, disrupt production and distribution; both options would raise the prices consumers pay. “If you are talking about kicking 50 percent of the farm labor force out, that is not going to do wonders for agricultural food prices,” David Bier, director of immigration-policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, told me.
Removing so many workers simultaneously would be disruptive under any circumstances, many economists agree. But it could be especially tumultuous for the U.S. now because the native-born population has grown so slowly in recent years. Bier pointed out that immigrants and their children already account for almost all the growth in the population of working-age adults ages 18 to 64. If Trump in fact extracts millions of undocumented migrants from the workforce, “there is no replacement [available] even at a theoretical level,” Bier said.
…Zandi estimates the cumulative impact of all these possible changes. He compares a scenario in which Trump can implement his entire agenda with one in which power remains divided between Biden in the White House and Republicans controlling at least one congressional chamber. Inflation, Zandi projects, would be nearly a full percentage point higher (0.8 percent, to be exact) under the scenario of Trump and Republicans in control than in the alternative of Biden presiding over a divided government. Inflation would be about that much higher under Trump even compared with the less likely scenario of Democrats winning the White House and both congressional chambers, Zandi projects.
Zandi said the only reason he does not anticipate prices rising even faster under Trump is that the Federal Reserve Board would inevitably raise interest rates to offset the inflationary impact of Trump’s proposals.
But those higher interest rates would come with their own cost: Zandi projects they would depress the growth in total economic output and personal income below current policy, and raise the unemployment rate over the next few years by as much as a full percentage point— even as inflation rises. Raising the specter of the slow-growth, high-inflation pattern that hobbled the American economy through much of the 1970s, Zandi told me, “It is really a stagflation scenario.”
… As with many issues, the potential impact of Trump’s second-term plans for inflation has drawn little attention in the presidential race. Instead, the former president so far is benefiting from voters’ awareness that prices increased much faster under Biden, as the American and global economies emerged from the pandemic’s disruptions, than they did while Trump was in office.
Apart from concerns about Biden’s age, that discontent over inflation appears to be the greatest threat to his reelection. In a recent survey across the seven most closely contested swing states published by the Cook Report, a majority of voters said they considered their cost of living the most important measure of the economy’s performance. But a daunting three-fifths of voters in the poll, conducted by a bipartisan team of Republican and Democratic pollsters, said inflation is unlikely to be brought under control if Biden is reelected. In contrast, nearly three-fifths of voters said they believed that the cost of living would improve under Trump.
Even though experts such as Summers and Zandi are warning that Trump’s economic agenda would have precisely the opposite effect, it won’t be easy for Biden to convince voters to weigh those prospective risks more heavily than their retrospective judgments about prices under each man’s tenure. But Biden may have no choice but to try. Raising awareness of the inflationary dangers in Trump’s agenda may be Biden’s best chance of winning a second look from the voters who are now moving toward the former president primarily because they remember gas, groceries, and other necessities costing less while he sat in the Oval Office.

Since the primary constraint on government spending in the U.S. is inflation, not deficits, the job of government should be to use its spending power to achieve full employment and address societal needs (Climate Change, Medicare for All, modernization of infrastructure…), adjusting fiscal policy to control inflation. Imposing the kinds of tariffs Trump is proposing— especially the absurd 60% on all Chinese imports ($536.3 billion worth of goods in 2022)—  would drastically increase the cost of imported and most other goods, igniting a devastating inflationary firestorm. These tariffs he says he’s imposing would require counterbalancing fiscal measures to mitigate inflation.


I’m not sure what painful fiscal measures Trump would be willing to take to counter-balance that mess. I can’t imagine he would go for increasing taxes or promulgating consumption taxes on luxury goods and services, which might be a rational way to address excess demand in the economy. It’s unimaginable that Trump would consider the most rational way to handle this kind of inflation— increasing taxes on higher-income earners in order to reduce their disposable income and dampening demand without affecting lower-income individuals who spend a larger proportion of their income on necessities. Another tool that would be off the table would be any kind of price controls. It’s probably more likely that Trump would look to cut back on government spending that he interprets as not contributing to economic productivity. 


Now remember, tax cuts for the wealthy, as Trump proposes, are less effective in stimulating demand compared to spending on infrastructure or direct transfers to lower-income individuals. If tax cuts significantly increase the deficit without corresponding increases in productive capacity, they would contribute to inflation and as Summers and Zandi seem to be predicting, high inflation and low growth— the dreaded stagflation. 



3 Comments


Guest
Jun 04

I suppose it may be that the reason so many dumber than shits presume trump's economic "plan" MUST be better is because biden's economic plan isn't much. Granted, so few americans have any potential at all and they've been inculcated with binary thinking since birth. So it's no surprise that they just can't realize that BOTH partys' economics don't fucking work for anyone who is not already stinking rich. But that is the simple truth.


That binary (ONLY) "thinking" is why we're stuck between a nazi party and a hapless worthless feckless lying corrupt neoliberal fascist pussy democrap party.


life in the shithole is a choice between a shit taco and a shit burrito combo plate. No other possibilities. A…


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Guest
Jun 04
Replying to

hater, as I've told you every time you hate, I DO more than anyone who votes for useless democraps. But it takes more than me. And I have zero help.

So just continue hating, bitching and moaning. But fer fuckssakes... don't do anything. See where you are in a year.

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