Economists are known for disagreeing, except when it comes to tariffs.
There are not too many dissenting views among economists on the plans of president Trump to slap import duties on aluminum and steel.
“I’m trying to think of a single economist that I know that would have a different opinion on the topic,” UW-La Crosse economist Adam Hoffer said. “Economist broadly speaking think tariffs are simply bad economic policy and they’re just not a good idea.”
One study stated the last steel tariffs imposed by President George W. Bush in 2002, cost the nation 200,000 jobs and, for every steel job saved, $400,000 was lost in economic activity.
“The overwhelming consensus and conclusion of that research is tariffs are not a good idea. They can save some jobs but it’s really, really costly to do so,” Hoffer said.
“One of the basic fundamental principles of economics is that trade, by definition, creates winners,” he continued. “If you don’t want to trade, you don’t have to trade. If you choose to trade that means everyone involved is being made better off.”
Hoff says overwhelming research on tariffs, like those proposed by Trump, restrict trade and are ineffective and costly in the industries they’re meant to protect.
“What tariffs do is they try to restrict trade,” Hoffer said. “So, we’re missing out on some really good opportunities.”