Trade wars, like shooting wars, are waged to inflict casualties. And like shooting wars, they tend to escalate.
But neither Trump nor some of his key advisors are being realistic about the consequences of a trade war. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, a former financier whose iron-clad faith in tariffs has proved an impregnable barrier to the lessons of history, argued on CNBC Friday that tariffs on steel and aluminum would cause a scarcely noticeable increase in the price of U. S. products, while any damage to U. S. exports would be negligible because our goods are well-nigh irreplaceable in the global market. In other words, there’s no reason not to start a trade war because, heh heh, we can’t lose!