Paul Krugman, one of the smartest people on the planet when in comes to international trade, just posted his thoughts about Trump and trade wars, The art of the Flail. It is worth a read. Below are some exerts just to get your attention:
So is a trade war coming? Nobody knows — even, or perhaps especially, Trump himself. For while trade is one of Trump’s two signature issues — animus toward dark-skinned people being the other — when it comes to making actual demands on other countries, the tweeter in chief and his aides either don’t know what they want or they want things that our trading partners can’t deliver. Not won’t — can’t.
…Let’s talk in particular about the will-he-or-won’t-he confrontation with China.
In some ways, China really is a bad actor in the global economy. In particular, it has pretty much thumbed its nose at international rules on intellectual property rights, grabbing foreign technology without proper payment. And to be fair, Trump officials do sometimes raise the intellectual property issue as a justification for getting tough.
But if getting China to pay what it owes for technology were the goal, you’d expect the U.S. both to make specific demands on that front and to adopt a strategy aimed at inducing China to meet those demands.
In fact, the U.S. has given little indication of what China should do about intellectual property. Meanwhile, if getting better protection of patent rights and so on were the goal, America should be trying to build a coalition with other advanced countries to pressure the Chinese; instead, we’ve been alienating everyone in sight.