Shaky Trade Talk

Political Calculations has posted “Heavy Toll of US-China Tariff War Continues“.  Two graphs carry the burden of proof of the title’s thesis, namely, that the current tariff “war” is responsible for a “heavy toll” on U.S exports and the total value of trade between the U.S. (rather, entities therein) and China. My take is that the graphs don’t support the conclusions that the writer draws from them.


A trend line through all the points represented by the 12-month moving average wouldn’t rise as sharply as the pre-trade war linear trend. I would be hard-pressed to say that the current decline below the 2008-2019 trend is significant, and so would the writer. Further, the current decline in the 12-month moving average is no greater than the one that began during Obama’s presidency.


The writer claims that the

year-over-year growth rate of each nation’s exports to each other continues to fall in negative territory, which in previous occurrences, has [sic] coincided with periods of sharply slowing economic growth or recessions.

What I see in the graph is a long-term decline in the year-over-year growth rate. The only significant (and more negative) departure from the trend occurred during the Great Recession.

(See “Rethinking Free Trade III“, which repeats the main points of the first two installments.)

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