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Claims keep getting made that President Trump’s tariffs-heavy trade policies have been hammering American manufacturing. (Here’s just one example from as recent as yesterday.) And government, economy-wide data keeps on coming out showing these claims to be complete bunkum.

Today it’s the Federal Reserve’s turn; its new industrial production report (covering December) make plain as day that metals-using manufacturing for the most part continues to out-perform the rest of manufacturing when it comes to inflation-adjusted output even though Trump metals are supposed to be crippling them with skyrocketing cost increases for key inputs. (As the latest producer price results made clear, almost none of that inflation per se can be detected, either.) And although the effects of the China tariffs are more difficult to unpack, what can be presented responsibly fails to reveal discernible damage since the first tranche was imposed.

Below are the numbers for manufacturing overall, and for industry’s main metals-using sectors. They show after-inflation output since April, since the steel and aluminum tariffs went into effect in late March. In addition to the April-through- December percentage changes, you can also see results through November as reported by the Fed last month, along with the revised through-November numbers, to provide a sense of the trends’ momentum. 

                                              old thru Nov       new thru Nov       thru Dec

overall manufacturing:        +0.80 percent       +0.94 percent  +2.02 percent

durables manufacturing:      +1.73 percent      +2.02 percent   +3.31 percent

fabricated metals products:  +1.61 percent      +1.94 percent   +2.05 percent

machinery:                           +5.11 percent      +5.55 percent    +4.93 percent

automotive:                          -1.46 percent       -1.32 percent    +3.36 percent

major appliances:                 -0.88 percent       -0.31 percent    +0.08 percent

aircraft and parts:                +3.27 percent      +5.29 percent     +6.80 percent

As you can see, the only category that’s experienced production growth problems has been the major appliance sector. February was the first full month during which these levies were in place, and since then, price-adjusted output has been off by 1.99 percent (versus a 3.93 percent improvement for manufacturing as a whole). But as the above table demonstrates, even they’ve been making a comeback lately. In cases like aerospace and automotive, the growth pace has quickened significantly, while in machinery, we see some growth fall-off.

Analyzing the impact of the China tariffs is tougher both because they started more recently (in early July), because they’ve been greatly expanded since then, and because Chinese inputs are used in and compete with such a huge number of domestically produced goods. Moreover, the government’s list of these levies uses a different industry classification system than the Fed uses for industrial production, and exact match-ups don’t abound.

So the below table, showing real output changes for some products tariff-ed since July, is a best guess, with the exception of farm machinery and equipment, and ball bearings. But more power to you if you see China tariff-related damage here.

overall manufacturing:                            +1.72 percent

aircraft engines and engine parts:           +5.42 percent

industrial heating equipment:                 +0.14 percent

oil and gas drilling platform parts:         +2.21 percent

farm machinery and equipment:             +3.29 percent

ball bearings:                                           -0.17 percent

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow. You’re always a day away!” is a well-known Broadway lyric. As the new Fed industrial production figures demonstrate, “tomorrow” is also the best hope for the tariff alarmists to show that the trade curbs are in anyway undermining the American economy on net.