“You have to look pretty hard to find the “trade war” effect in the data”

That’s a quote from Bruce Hall, referring to the period 2011 onward. For his reference, I present key indicators of the manufacturing sector during the Trump trade war.

Figure 1: Manufacturing production & non-supervisory employment (blue), aggregate hours (tan), production (green), real exports (red), all in logs 2018M07=0 (when Section 301 tariffs on China went into effect). Real exports are manufactured exports deflated by the export price index for non-auto manufactured goods, seasonally adjusted by author using Census X-13. Source BLS, Federal Reserve, Census via FRED, and author’s calculations.

27 thoughts on ““You have to look pretty hard to find the “trade war” effect in the data”

  1. Pgl

    Bruce Hall aka Mr Magoo seems to think Trumps trade war started in early 2017. Yea Brucie ain’t very bright

  2. Ithaqua

    Hmmmm… the right hand side of that plot looks different than the left hand side… I just can’t pinpoint how… hmmmm… I know! Maybe Bruce can explain it to me!

  3. Steven Kopits

    I am with Bruce on this, If you look at the long term mfg employment graph, the trade war does not pop out at you.

    True, manufacturing employment began to fall on a twelve month basis in Oct. 2019 and fell monthly to the beginning of the pandemic, at which time it fell off a cliff. But the pre-pandemic decline was nothing particularly large historically, 0.1m in total, and nothing compared to the 4.8 m decline from 12.8 m in 1998 to 8.0 m in 2010. (And China had no effect on US manufacturing employment? Really?)

    Moreover, manufacturing employment overall has been falling in the US for the last fifteen months, since Jan. 2023, for ten of the last fifteen months, for a total decline of 72,000 (-0.7%). Mfg employment has been in secular decline Oct. 2023 on an annual basis, averaging 0.5%. Perhaps that’s President Biden’s trade trade war?


      1. pgl

        “And China had no effect on US manufacturing employment?” during the 1998 to 2010.

        I never said it had no effect. Paul Krugman never said that. Question to our host – when and where did you make this claim?

        Oh right – we didn’t. But Stevie is so desperate to defend Bruce Hall that he just makes stuff up. Go figure!

      2. Steven Kopits

        From the data provided at the time by PR, no. The revised the data, I revised my opinion. The Harvard study was garbage, and still is.

        1. pgl

          Seriously dude? You wrote so much trash on this issue and NOW you are pretending to be professional? You are both a joke and a serial liar.

      3. Bruce Hall

        Well, then 2016 must have been Obama’s trade war. You don’t recall the trade war was soybeans? That was pretty much an emphasis in your posts. We weren’t shipping steel or automobiles to China. I guess you could call it soybean manufacturing.

        1. pgl

          As usual – you write a lot of stupid trash. No one know WTF you are babbling about – especially you.

          Come on Brucie – you started this on MOTHER’S DAY. After all – your poor mother had to know for years she raised a complete moron. Do you habe to remind her of this on her special day?

    1. pgl

      ‘manufacturing employment began to fall on a twelve month basis in Oct. 2019’

      Just as the tariffs were taking effect. Bruce is Mr. Magoo. You on the other hand are blind.

    2. pgl

      Wait a 100 thousand decline (the Trump trade war period YOU selected) does not pop out at you but 72 thousand does? Dude – can you be more two faced?

      1. Steven Kopits

        100k compared to a loss of 4.8 million is nothing. The decline is visible in the data in 2019, as it is since October last year. But whether we’re speaking 100k (97k more precisely) or 72k, these are pretty small variances in the scheme of things, just as Bruce contends.

        The impact of China on US manufacturing — if we agree on that causality — is just devasting. I have spoken about the China Depression and the impact of having to absorb China’s vast labor supply into the global economy. Well, in the US, you can see it right there in the manufacturing employment data.

        1. Menzie Chinn Post author

          Steven Kopits: Just to remind everybody, you cited as hard data administrative data that was known to be preliminary, and you stated it with authority. Should I hunt up your exact words, so we can debate that? Or I can just repost the entire exchange.

        2. pgl

          “100k compared to a loss of 4.8 million is nothing.”

          Pardon my French but now you are just being a total A-hole. I already challenged your snide suggestion that either our host or me or Paul Krugman denied what David Autor dubbed the China Shock ala that 1998 to 2010 loss of manufacturing jobs. You did not reply because you cannot reply. But you continue with this?

          You are not only dumber than a retarded rock. You also “debate” in very bad faith. Dude – find some other blog to pollute with your trash.

    3. pgl

      “for a total decline of 72,000 (-0.7%).”

      Stevie boy is SO CUTE to do the recent numbers is percentage terms but that period following the Trump trade was in absolute terms (0.1 million). Let’s see, the latter is 1.11%. Now in Stevie’s cute little world 0.7% is larger than 1.11%. MAGA!

  4. Ivan

    In this context it should be noted that Trump and the MAGA cult were touting these tariffs as a way to get manufacturing jobs back to the US. So anything that would have simply continued previous trends would still be a failure. The fact that there is a drop instead, points to the idiocy of driving US end product prices up with a tax tariff on raw materials such as steel and aluminum.

    1. pgl

      ‘Trump and the MAGA cult were touting these tariffs as a way to get manufacturing jobs back to the US.’

      They did make this claim. Sort of reminds me of how Apple claimed Steve JOBS created jobs. Yea – jobs in China!

    2. Bruce Hall

      It appears that Biden is taking a page out of Trump’s book when it comes to manufacturing and tariffs. But that’s okay because… he’s not Trump.

      1. pgl

        There are smart ways to do trade protection and then there is Trump’s stupid trade war. But go figure that MAGA MORON Bruce Hall cannot tell the difference.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Bruce Hall: There is a distinction in terms of invoking Section 232 for tariffs (national security) and antidumping duties. Trump’s tariffs (excluding antidumping/countervailing) covered about $420 bn over broad swathes of imports. For context, these latest duties apply to about $18bn worth of imports.

        1. pgl

          Wow Brucie just figured out that China has a comparative advantage in manufacturing – something the rest of us knew 25 years. Then again China imports a lot from Australia while the US sells a lot to Australia. Trilateral trade is way too complex for the midget brain that occupies Bruce Halls head.

        2. pgl

          “U.S. Exports to China in Agricultural Products Show an Upward Trend”

          I guess you did not read your link AGAIN. Yea – US exports of agricultural products to China were pretty low in 2018. Now remind us all – what year did Trump start that stupid trade war?

    2. pgl

      “The Biden administration is expected to issue new tariffs on Chinese-made medical devices like syringes and personal protective equipment when it unveils its new trade strategy next week”

      Hey Brucie – I guess you missed how we were able to increase domestic production of such things during the COVID crisis since you were taking bleach the whole time. And maybe since you have never left your basement, you likely did not notice that the US will start producing EV batteries. So yea – US ,manufacturing employment will increase. But if would be hard for you to notice since you never leave your basement.

  5. Bruce Hall

    Data in this post: https://econbrowser.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/mfgpix1.png

    Data in the post where my comment was made: https://econbrowser.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/mfgwage_hours.png

    There seems to be a disconnect. Oh, yes, I see it now. The data in the this post ends in 2109. So my comment in the last post, which had data that began in 2021, was strictly with regard to employment relative to pgl’s link:

    But it is interesting to note that employment stayed relatively flat the last 2 years (Biden) while hours went down. Did all that overtime disappear? Or did manufacturers hire too many people for the amount of work they had? Anticipation of growth that didn’t happen?

    1. pgl

      “There seems to be a disconnect.”

      The only disconnect is between your retarded brain and those fingers you use to write your scattered brained comments like this nonsensical trash.

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