Japan gets almost seventy percent of its oil from the Persian Gulf, relies on ships led back home by our destroyers, battleships, helicopters, frog men. Then the Japanese sail home, where they give the oil to fuel their factories so that they can knock the hell out of General Motors, Chrysler and Ford. Their openly screwing us is a disgrace. Why aren’t they paying us? The Japanese cajole us, they bow to us, they tell us how great we are and then they pick our pockets. We’re losing hundreds of billions of dollars a year while they laugh at our stupidity. The Japanese have their great scientists making cars and VCRs and we have our great scientists making missiles so we can defend Japan. Why aren’t we being reimbursed for our costs? The Japanese double- screw the U.S., a real trick: First they take all our money with their consumer goods, then they put it back in buying all of Manhattan. So either way, we lose.
What is fascinating about this comment is that a real estate developer did not understand that Japan was at the peak of its real estate bubble in 1990. So as it turned out, Trump’s concerns about Japan fleecing the United States were, to say the least, somewhat exaggerated.
Trump is now focusing on a different economy posing an ostensible threat to the United States:
Politically, I totally get why Trump is so focused on China. Economically, he’s dead wrong. But let’s adopt Trump’s blinkered worldview about countries winning and losing in global markets for a second. Again, for a real estate guy, Trump seems to not understand or recognize when a country is facing a real estate bubble. Because it only takes a second to realize that Trump is decrying China just at the moment when China is not winning:
Consider the following:
- Despite Trump’s claim that China is undervaluing its currency, that appears to be based on the fact that capital is trying to get the hell out of China.
- No matter what Chinese topline official statistics say about its rate of economic growth, there is other data suggesting that China’s economy has ground to a halt.
- Economists seem pretty convinced that China’s current growth model is tapped out.
To be clear, a Chinese economy that grinds to a halt scares the heck out of me. But my point is simpler: The evidence over the past 25 years suggests that when Donald Trump says that a country is winning, it is a sure sign that it is about to lose, and lose big.
So yes, Donald Trump has a consistent foreign policy worldview, and it has been consistently wrong.