Today I’m laughing my ass off. Not in a good way mind you, but in the way that can only be described as schadenfreude. The kind of laugh that can only come from watching a bunch of idiots fall victim to their own decisions in a way that is exactly opposite of what they intended, or in short, perfect irony.
What is it that has me laughing this morning? It is of course the announcement made this morning by the totally badass American motorcycle company Harley-Davidson, the choice of Hell’s Angels and white collar suburbanites in the throes of a mid-life crisis alike. Due to the substantially increased cost of exporting to their second biggest market, the E.U., they will be moving some production overseas to avoid the tariffs that have recently been imposed on them in response to Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs.
Presumably, and this is just me spitballing because who really understands the thinking coming out of the Trump administration, they started this tit-for-tat trade war in an attempt to help American companies. Trump even cited Harley-Davidson specifically shortly after pulling out of the TPP when he said “We want to make it easier for business to create more jobs and more factories to be made in the U.S., and you’re a great example of that”. As is the case now, ironically that decision cost Harley-Davidson access to additional markets.
Since then, Harley-Davidson has seen their stock price steadily fall about 30%. This fall has occurred against the backdrop of a record bull run for reference. They had also announced earlier this year their intent to close their plant in Kansas City, Missouri, cutting hundreds of U.S. jobs in the process. Now it would seem those jobs will be reappearing somewhere in the E.U., and rather than making it easier “to create more jobs and more factories”, the effect of this ill-advised trade war has had the complete opposite effect.
I’d like to say I told you so… and I am totally saying that for the record, dear non-existent reader. I told you so, I told you so… oh and did I mention that I told you so? So here is another “I told you so” moment. Trump can easily right the ship by reversing course. If he does away with the tariffs, and begs the member nations of the TPP to allow the U.S. to come back into the fold, we can keep this great economy going. We can keep building factories in the U.S. because it would remain a cost effective option, unlike the current climate of tit-for-tat tariffs. There is still a window of opportunity to avoid lasting damage, politically as well as economically. He won’t change of course because the political pressure to do so doesn’t exist, so when the economy tanks, more factories close, and unemployment begins to skyrocket I’ll be here regretfully informing anyone who wasn’t listening that “I told you so”.