It’s like they can’t help themselves. Even when Mainstream Media organizations and reporters conduct detailed research showing that President Trump’s tariffs-heavy China trade policies aren’t hurting U.S. consumers in the slightest, they feel compelled to issue dire warnings about the possibility. If you doubt me, check out this Reuters piece from the day before Thanksgiving on how the levies are affecting America’s major retailers.
Reuters, to its credit, actually took the trouble to look at prices to gauge the impact of the Trump levies by examining actual prices – as opposed to economists and to analysts from think tanks and other groups bought and paid for by the corporate offshoring lobby, who toss out apocalyptic numbers based on bogus-at-best methodologies.
The findings, “based on a pricing study conducted for Reuters by retail analytics firm Profitero, which examined online prices from seven large retailers for 21,000 products”?
From the October and November, 2018 to the same months this year, for goods “in key holiday categories including appliances, electronics, toys and video games,” leading big box and other retailers overall have held prices “lower than the average rate of inflation during the same period….”
More specifically, at “Walmart, Walmart-owned Jet.com, Amazon, Target Corp, Best Buy, GameStop, and Staples,” electronics prices rose somewhat more than prices in the U.S. economy across the board, but prices for the other products rose at much lower rates, and toys and video games actually became less expensive in absolute terms.
Nor did Reuters try to hide these results, as the headline reads “Top U.S. retailers absorb tariff pressure ahead of holiday shopping season,” and the same point was made in the lead paragraph.
Nonetheless, the report felt compelled to warn that “America’s trade war with China threatens to push up product prices, which could hurt consumer spending this holiday season, a period which makes up nearly 40% of annual revenue for many retailers.”
Sure that’s true in a technical sense. But this sentence is also about as responsible and accurate as one stating that “disciplining a child threatens to alienate him or her” when there’s no sign of that outcome developing, and when in fact all the evidence shows the discipline working. And as for hurting consumer sales, that currently seems far-fetched as well, based on what’s known about the current holiday shopping season. How do I know this? I read it in another Reuters article.
Moreover, it’s legitimate to ask why Reuters didn’t draw the opposite conclusion from its research: The Trump administration and tariff supporters so far have been right in insisting that consumers could be shielded from tariff-induced inflation, and in fact would be, because retailers know full well that they lack the leverage needed to force prices up, and would need to offset them themselves – by eating the extra costs, offsetting them by becoming more efficient, or some combination of the two.
Yes, this would have entailed writing something positive about the President and his trade policies. But noxious as that might seem to the Mainstream Media, it would have gad the added virtue of being true.