, , , , , , , ,

One big and neglected result from the Trump administration’s metals tariffs comes ssthrough loud and clear from going deep into the weeds of yesterday’s report on September industrial production from the Federal Reserve: American steel production is growing robustly – refuting charges (see., e.g., here and here) that the steel makers would simply sit on their hands and enjoy bigger profits – as is the output of primary aluminum.

Here are the numbers for inflation-adjusted production of steel – including its major sub-sectors – starting in April (because the tariffs began to be imposed in late March) through September, and year-on-year for September:

                                                         April thru Sept            Sept year-on-year

overall iron & steel mill products:   +3.84 percent               +7.54 percent

raw steel:                                          +1.60 percent               +8.30 percent

construction steel:                           +10.73 percent             +14.50 percent

consumer durable steel:                     -3.59 percent                -6.44 percent

can and closure steel:                      +42.48 percent             +15.86 percent

equipment steel:                              +16.87 percent              +14.44 percent

miscellaneous steel:                           -1.47 percent                +5.44 percent

The results are particularly impressive when compared with inflation-adjusted production in the rest of manufacturing during this period:

                                                         April thru Sept             Sept year-on-year

overall manufacturing:                     +0.77 percent                +3.85 percent

The aluminum industry results are decidedly more mixed, because of domestic aluminum companies’ significant reliance on imported primary aluminum and alumina both for their smelting and for other further processing operations. But the primary production jump is impressive. And on a year-on-year basis, the rest of the industry is still performing respectably.

                                                         April thru Sept            Sept year-on-year

overall aluminum:                            +1.86 percent                  +4.89 percent

primary aluminum production:      +13.84 percent                 +47.92 percent

secondary smelting & alloying:      -0.34 percent                     +2.75 percent

misc aluminum materials:               -2.31 percent                     +0.52 percent

aluminum extruded product:           -2.01 percent                      +4.03 percent

Combine these statistics with the strong output recorded for metals-using industries – which are widely reported to be hammered by higher input prices – and a clear picture emerges of a metals tariff policy definitely deserving the description of “winning.” Maybe one day their news media will let Americans in on the story.