The president’s rejection of multilateralism is risky but our 70-year-old rule-based system is far from perfect
Donald Trump is playing with fire. That thought permeated last week’s spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington.
The US president’s go-it-alone approach – especially in the field of trade – has certainly shaken things up. It is not just the threat of tariffs, nor that the US has brought the dispute settlement system at the World Trade Organisation to a standstill.
Amazon, Facebook and Google are as dominant as Standard Oil and AT&T were. But breaking them up is not going to be easy
In the first decade of the 20th century, Standard Oil was as mighty as the tech giants of Silicon Valley are today. The company had grown from a single refinery in Cleveland in 1863 to produce 87% of all US refined oil output. In 1911, the supreme court decided that Standard Oil was in breach of anti-trust legislation passed by Congress and ordered that the company be broken up.
Even before the data mining revelations that have engulfed Facebook, there was pressure in the US for similar action to be taken against the social media networking site and two other globally dominant companies – Google and Amazon – that have come from nowhere in the past two decades.
Britain will work with the European Union to consider possible exemptions from US tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, Theresa May’s spokesman said
The mood has picked up in European markets, where earlier losses have been erased:
Investors have been digesting the mixed US jobs report, which showed a sharper than expected rise in employment but weaker wage growth.
After initially rising, the dollar index – which measures the US currency against a basket of others – fell and is now up by 0.15%.
All the day’s economic and financial news, as Trump presses on with tariffs despite criticism and fears of a trade war
And finally, the Guardian points out that Donald Trump shouldn’t be solely blamed for the problems in global trade.
In an ideal world, trade would be governed by the doctrines of Adam Smith and David Ricardo. International specialisation and comparative advantage would lead to more efficient production, stronger growth and higher living standards. Countries would unilaterally tear down the barriers to trade.
But this is not the way the world actually works. Trade is managed rather than free. Politicians – Mr Trump excepted – talk the language of Smith and Ricardo but act like Alexander Hamilton, whose life has found fame in the hit musical today but is also the original 18th-century architect of US protectionism. Not everybody gains from trade, and some gain a lot more than others. So if there is a trade war Mr Trump will be not the only one to blame. Those who trumpeted the benefits of globalisation said the benefits would be fairly shared. They have not been. They said there would be help for those who lost well-paying jobs. It never arrived.
Related: The Guardian view on Trump’s tariffs: more smoke than fire | Editorial
Liam Fox, Britain’s secretary of state for trade, has also criticised Donald Trump’s steel tariffs.
Speaking on the BBC’s Question Time current affairs programme, Fox says the US is approaching the problems in the steel industry in the wrong way, by claiming it is a national security issue.
It is doubly absurd that we should be caught in an investigation in national security.
“The way that the United States is going about this is wrong”@LiamFox says it makes no sense for President Trump to impose heavy tariffs on steel and aluminium #bbcqt pic.twitter.com/22wu9OtiFR
Previously leaked document finds poor economic growth in all models for future UK-EU relationship
Anti-Brexit campaigners have seized on a bleak Whitehall assessment of the economic impact of leaving the European Union, published following a battle over government secrecy.
MPs voted in January for the document to be released in full, but its publication was resisted by the Brexit secretary, David Davis.
Donald Trump defended his controversial tariff plan, despite the departure of his top economic adviser Gary Cohn
Donald Trump stuck to his guns over his controversial trade policy on Wednesday, despite the departure of his economic adviser Gary Cohn the night before.
“From Bush 1 to present, our Country has lost more than 55,000 factories, 6,000,000 manufacturing jobs and accumulated Trade Deficits of more than 12 Trillion Dollars,” the president tweeted. “Last year we had a Trade Deficit of almost 800 Billion Dollars. Bad Policies & Leadership. Must WIN again! #MAGA”.
The EC has drawn up a list of American products to target if Donald Trump doesn’t back down over steel tariffs
Newsflash: US Steel has announced that it is reopening some operations at its site in Granite City, in Illinois – and giving Donald Trump the credit.
Our Granite City Works facility and employees, as well as the surrounding community, have suffered too long from the unending waves of unfairly traded steel products that have flooded U.S. markets
The Section 232 action announced by President Trump last week recognizes the significant threat steel imports pose to our national and economic security. The President’s strong leadership is needed to begin to level the playing field so companies like ours can compete, win and create jobs that support our employees and the communities in which we operate as well as strengthen our national and economic security.
US Steel CEO: Calling back 500 workers idled in Illinois. “This feels like the beginning of a renaissance for us.” @SquawkCNBC
David Burritt, ceo of US Steel tells CNBC he is calling back 500 workers to plant in Granite City, Illinois. “This feels like the beginning of a renaissance for us…” #tariffs #Trump #Cohn #SteelTariff
The US stock market is still on track to fall when trading begins at 9.30am New York time (2.30pm in the UK).
The Dow is being called down 250 points, or around 1%.
- Adviser becomes latest departure from Trump administration
- Cohn reportedly strongly opposed decision to impose tariffs
Gary Cohn, Donald Trump’s top economic adviser, is set to quit, the latest in a series of high-profile departures from the Trump administration.
Cohn, who heads the National Economic Council, had reportedly threatened to leave after Trump’s incendiary comments following the fatal race riot in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Democratic senator says Congress has forgotten the ‘devastating impact of the financial crisis’ and vows to stop bill passing the Senate
Congress has forgotten the “devastating impact of the financial crisis”, Senator Elizabeth Warren said on Tuesday as Republicans moved closer to relaxing banking regulations implemented after the financial crash of 2008.
Related: Three ways to remake the American economy for all | Elizabeth Warren
The latest article in our new economics series looks at what happened when a German utilities contract expired, and one man thought his neighbours could take over
• Listen to Aditya Chakrabortty talking about game-changing economic models on The Alternatives podcast
Martin Rühl never imagined this fight would define the rest of his life. Not for a moment did he reckon it would become so epic in length, in scale, in consequences. He just thought his speck of a town should run its own electricity supply.
A modest proposal, but in the Germany of 2003 it was highly unusual. Gerhard Schröder was still chancellor and, although a social democrat, was pushing through more privatisations of public assets than any other leader in German history. This was in a Europe that had learned from Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan to stop worrying and start loving the private sector. Now here, swimming against history’s current, was one orderly, slightly anxious engineer.