Posts Tagged ‘Trade War’

Trade Wars, Divisions, War War: It Happened Before, In The 1930s

March 10, 2018

Stupid Is Depressing:

Trump plans to institute tariffs which have made the European Union angry. Jean-Claude Juncker is the head of the European Commission, the part of the European executive which heads the European administration, 32,000 strong, of 500 million souls. Juncker retorted to Trump: ”This is stupid. We can do stupid too.” Juncker has been around: he is quadrilingual French, English, German, and Luxembourgeois. Also, as PM of Luxembourg for two decades, he masterminded the transformation from its bovine economy to onshore tax haven. In any case, Europe is drawing a list of symbolic US products to be struck with tariffs too, from motorcycles to liquor. Let’s backtrack a moment here. This sort of madness is how the crash of Wall Street in 1929 and the Great Depression were engineered.

***

Crash of Wall Street & Great Depression:

A massive, and deliberate overheating of the economy happened in 1920s. The Anglo-Saxon elite had decided to inflate out of the British World War One debt. US car production reached level in 1928 it won’t see again until 1948. When overheating became blatant, the US central bank decided to raise interest rates, the economy started to falter, and the US Congress decide to get real smart, the way idiots do it. Simply, Washington reasoned, why don’t we reduce imports? When investors with a modicum of real economics heard this, they understood an economic war was pointing its ugly snout, and they pulled out.  

After the markets crashed, they recovered, as the US Senate hesitated. However, the situation became catastrophic in 1930. Then the Smoot-Hawley tariffs were finally imposed, and Europe retaliated in kind. It would have been better to keep European production in Europe, buying the cars from government money , and selling them at a loss. That would have been socialist, and only the USA would have suffered. European tariffs made US exports collapse, companies went bankrupt, banks followed, and people lost all they had, as bank deposits were not insured either privately, collectively, or by the government itself. The economy greatly depressed.    

***

The questions are: what is China doing right, and what are we doing wrong? Of these sorts of graphs, world wars are made. Notice that, in a few years, China got the world top GDP. Our crafty leaders say China has built too much! It’s going to crash! I say: go look at the homeless in US streets, it’s sickening. I say: contemplate that Paris didn’t build one skyscraper in… forty-four (44) years. They say: it’s to keep Paris pretty! I say: they deliberately don’t build, and it’s like that all over the West, more or less… Why? Keep it expensive, elitist. That “austerity” extends to activities such as scientific research (where China spends enormously). Actually Trump just wants to eliminate the world’s main existing thermonuclear research facility, and even European scientists are screaming that’s an outrage. 

***

The Great Depression Brought The Mood Of War:

In Germany, the Great Depression brought Hitler to power. In the USA, Roosevelt. Both decided to reflate their economies at all costs, using similar methods (following Keynes all too much; Keynes had advocated make-belief work, if need be). The much richer USA for example decided to build 24 “Fleet Aircraft Carriers”. For comparison, and giving an idea how expensive fleet carriers were, Germany planned to have two such carriers by 1945. The US carriers, were helped by an enormous fleet of more than 200 “fleet submarines” (each nearly 100 meters long). The US subs sank 60% of the Japanese merchant navy, and eight “Jap” aircraft carriers.

Roosevelt put also millions to work, employed by the government. Hitler tried similar tricks, forgetting small details, like that Germany had no oil, and that much of its miracle economy was actually the province of US plutocracy. All the more self-contradictory as the Nazis officially hated so much those plutocrats they were the humble pigeons of.

Meanwhile the French Republic didn’t like the Hitler circus, seeing world war painted all over it, and went to Washington to protest the collusion of US plutocrats and Nazi demoncrats.That didn’t sit very well with old family plutocrat Roosevelt, who hated France anyway, as he saw in France both a juicy prey, and a threat to the plutocratic order, especially of the US sort. In any case, the relationship between France and the USA became execrable in 1934, and would stay that way for the duration, until 1945, and much beyond.

From the French point of view, the easy money, frantic spending on the military of the Anglo-Saxons and the Nazis was wrong in all ways. So the French economy relatively shrank, as France grimly prepared for world war. Sure enough, by 1937, the German economy was in deep trouble, and Hitler had no choice but rob Jews and others to create an appearance of wealth to his millions of increasingly rabid supporters.

Thus we see that the Great Depression did more than depress economies and psychologies: it put the French Republic on a collision course with the USA and the UK. The UK realized its mistake by 1936, and threw out its young Nazi king. By 1939, the UK, having seen Spain fall to Hitler, aligned itself with France, but the USA kept aligning itself, de facto, through its plutocrats and a diplomatic service helping them, with Hitler. (By 1944, though, the top US generals, whom Roosevelt couldn’t control, allied themselves with the French military, because they saw the valor, and had the need. Besides they were in palatial arrangements at the Versailles castle…The relationship stayed tumultuous, though…)

So question: does Trump want to renew with the mistakes of the past? Germany is now solidly allied to France and is a republic too. The only “oiseau de mauvaise augure”, actually a well-defined vulture, is Putin… However recently US forces in Syria eliminated 50% of a force of Russian “volunteers”…

***.

Divided We Can’t Stand:

The trade wars of the 1930s brought division to Europe. Nazism and the “Axis” would never have happened as they did, complete with holocausts and world wars, had the three big representative democracies of the West stayed united. (But of course, Roosevelt, like Hitler, wanted to grab the world; he was just much more crafty about it! Thus much more successful.)

For example Belgium would have built the segment of the Maginot line it was supposed to build, and that would have blocked, or slowed down the Panzers long enough for the superior French forces to regroup where needed (US influence pushed Belgium to suddenly become “neutral”, thus betray France, following that way the pernicious queen of the Netherlands, who digged the grave of her own country, with her love for Kaiser and Germany…)

More prosaically, German generals wanted a pretext to kill the Nazis. Instead Hitler showed them an isolated France… The US attitude was to play all sides, until the American Century got firmly established.

Nowadays, France and the USA are solidly allied. They are fighting side by side in Africa, something which started long ago, in 1978, when the French paras dropped on Kolwezi (the US provided some airlift, and the go-ahead). The war against the Islamists in Africa is long, intense, unforgiving. The Trump administration rightly denounced China’s maneuvers in Africa (suck all the juice, and ever more encroach…)

***

And the Truth Is That The US and EU Elites Are Lying:

The US deficit is fundamentally caused by the exportations to China, Mexico, etc, of US production. So the slaves overseas are doing the work, while the higher class in the USA does not have to deal with pesky, expensive US unionized workers. Increase profit, decrease labor, grow plutocracy. What isn’t there for plutocrats, our lords and masters, to like?

Otherwise Trump is bluffing. Trump is trying to cut a deal about NAFTA/ALENA. To threaten tariffs is Trump’s dangerous and silly negotiation mode. Europe should ignore his craziness, but Europe, like Trump, is trying to make the peons believe it is doing something, when actually it’s doing even less.

So both the EU and the US elites are having a disingenuous argument. They play for the gallery of the naive out there, while the play is getting a life of its own. The right way out is to implement, throughout the West, a version of what Roosevelt did in the 1930s which was right: not the fight with France, that was wrong, not the support of overseas US plutocrats machinations, that was even worse. What was right was the rearmament program (developing and deploying more advanced weapons), and putting people to work, while cleaning up finance. And going to school, more than ever (as French president Macron just promoted in India). But schools all over, and everybody going to them is not enough: we need to put intelligence to work. And work, in the incoming age of robots, especially talking robots, of the sleek type I had on the phone today, means research. Nowadays scientific research should be promoted to the max. If not for us, and our children, for the planet… Can we please, believe in something, for a change?

Patrice Aymé