Trump "Overrules" Cabinet, Prepares To Unleash Global Trade War

Tyler Durden's picture

While one of Trump's recurring campaign promises was that he would "punish" China and other key US trade counterparties if elected, for taking advantage of free-trade by imposing steep tariffs and duties on foreign imports to "level the playing field", the President's stance changed drastically after the election, U-turning following his amicable meeting with China's president Xi Jinping in March, but mostly as a result of pressure by his ex-Goldman advisors to keep existing trade arrangements in place and not "rock the boat."

Now, all that may be about to fall apart.

According to Axios, behind the constant media scandals, "one of the most consequential and contentious internal debates of his presidency unfolded during a tense meeting Monday in the Roosevelt Room of the White House" where with "more than 20 top officials present, including Trump and Vice President Pence, the president and a small band of America First advisers made it clear they're hell-bent on imposing tariffs — potentially in the 20% range — on steel, and likely other imports."

In other words, Trump - true to his campaign promises - is set to launch a global trade wars after all, one where then main country impacted would be China, however the collateral damage would extend to Canada, Mexico, Japan, Germany and the UK.

And what may be even more striking is that Trump overruled his cabinet, as "the sentiment in the room was 22 against and 3 in favor — but since one of the three is named Donald Trump, it was case closed." Axios adds that while "no decision has been made, the President is leaning towards imposing tariffs, despite opposition from nearly all his Cabinet."

Needless to say, if Trump follows through, the outcome would have a profound effect on U.S. economic and foreign policy; Trump will formalize his decision in the coming days.

What is also notable, is that this is the first time  - so far off the record - in which Trump has openly defied his Wall Street establishment advisors, while siding with the Bannon "populist" front:

In a plan pushed by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and backed by chief strategist Steve Bannon (not present at the meeting), trade policy director Peter Navarro and senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, the United States would impose tariffs on China and other big exporters of steel. Neither Mike Pence nor Jared Kushner weighed in either way.


Everyone else in the room, more than 75% of those present, were adamantly opposed, arguing it was bad economics and bad global politics. At one point, Trump was told his almost entire cabinet thought this was a bad idea. But everyone left the room believing the country is headed toward a major trade confrontation.

As Axios adds, the reason why Trump defied the guidance of his Wall Street-derived advisors is Trump's base "which drives more and more decisions, as his popularity sinks — likes the idea, and will love the fight."

This, more than anything, should send shivers down Wall Street's spine, because for all his bluster and outrageous media outbursts, Trump had largely been in Wall Street's pocket so far.

Not anymore, and with Trump's base hell bent on punishing the 1% (which includes Wall Street), if Trump indeed launches global trade war, his future decisions will become increasingly market unfriendly.

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DRTexas's picture

No, they were in a trade war.  We never showed up to the fight.  We have rolled over and pee'd on ourselves since Clinton was in office.

Kayman's picture

Clinton's got wealthy from the dirty Chinese money imported to the Clinton Foundation in transit thru Canada.

BuckWild's picture

Surely you mean since Nixon, because Clinton only deals in drugs, children and body parts, not durable goods and commodities.

DRTexas's picture

I'm confused.  Is that Frozenass Clown, or Frozen Assclown? 

11b40's picture

Not mutually exclusive. Either is accurate.

JRobby's picture

People elected him to go with his gut.

He should go with his gut. The "Cabinet" is compromised.

eatthebanksters's picture

Wall Street is afraid of a trade war...Main Street welcomes one.  Fuck Wall Street.

panhead20's picture

Obammy is out of office, get over it. I'm sure after T crashes the economy and gets the US in a war, you'll be happy.

BuckWild's picture

Please remember Frozen is a "Special Snowflake" If you are not careful he will get triggered and have to move back in Mom's basement!

curbjob's picture

If the world no longer has access to the tarrif free American consumer,

they no longer need America's discount coupons.

Goodbye reserve currency status.

Kayman's picture

It's time to use the reserve currency to build the American economy instead of letting political traitors sell out this nation.

swmnguy's picture

Note who's in favor of tariffs and trade wars.  Bannon, Navarro, Miller, and Ross.  The guys whose stated interest and intention is the takedown of the US Empire, and control over selling off the parts for scrap.  At enormous profit of course, because taxpayers paid for it all.  Pretty much what Yeltsin oversaw in Russia in the '90s, egged on by the Chicago School of Economics CIA boys, to the enormous enrichment of the Russian Mob.

We're getting the same treatment here.  Bannon laid it all out at CPAC, and everywhere else there's been a microphone.

I think we all knew the US Empire had passed its peak and was on the way down.  I think most of us expected the Elites to try to engineer a descent, but instead the standing order is "Pull It," and for the same reasons.  There's more money to be skimmed in a collapse than in a decline, so that's what we're going to get.  Disaster Capitalism, the "Shock Doctrine."  And then the crackdown.  These people have been fantasizing and planning this for decades and now they're getting very close.  They just needed a leadership vacuum, and now they've got that.

Doom and Dust's picture

Yes this.

Same story in the UK. Total coup. It's happening.

Billy the Poet's picture

Are there any historical examples of empires collapsing because the elites deliberately chose to destroy their own power base?

swmnguy's picture

Good question, and right off the top of my head I can't answer it because I haven't read any histories that posed the question in quite that way.

I think if the question is softened up a little, the answer is definitely "yes."  Meaning, Empires get to the point past their peak when they face a lot of decisions.  Once the expansion phase has passed, either the Elites have to share and distribute power and wealth to preserve and prolong as much prosperity as possible for as long as possible, or they have to double down and tighten their grip as on a handful of sand.  Typically they choose the latter option, to preserve, extend and protect their accumulated advantages.  This enriches them personally in terms of power and wealth for a time, but overall hastens the decline and sets the stage for collapse.

Of course, the advent of Global Finance makes things a little different.  There wasn't an obvious way to bankrupt out and sell off the Roman Empire, for instance; at least not in terms we'd understand today.  And today's technology and interconnectedness allows, even forces, events to run much faster.

I don't think the Elites see it as destroying their own power base.  I think they see the Empire as doomed anyway, so if they can steer the process so as to enrich themselves even more, that's what they will choose to do if left to their own devices.

Billy the Poet's picture

The elites are small in number. How can they steer a situation when the rice bowls of hundreds of millions of regular folks are smashed? Those rice bowls are the only thing keeping folks in line with the status quo.

I once read a article (which I can no longer find) which said that a study of remains from individuals who had lived and died just before and just after the fall of Rome showed that people lived longer and healthier lives after the collapse. Also consider the advancement of serfs following the Black Death. I think that history shows that there are great opportunities for the little guy in a big crisis if he can survive the initial blows.

Killdo's picture

TV/religion etc can help make millions slavish and obedient. This is the outcome:

Kenneth Stampp, a professor of history at the UC Berkeley, described several methods of psychological manipulation necessary to guarantee the compliance of a slave:
1. The slave must be placed upon a footing of “unconditional submission... The slave must know that his master is to govern absolutely and he is to obey implicitly.”
2. The slave must feel a sense of personal inferiority.
3. Make the slaves “stand in fear” of the master’s power and in his propensity for violence.
4. Get the slave to “take an interest in the master’s enterprise and to accept his standards of good conduct.” In general, the slave should equate the goals of his master with his own.
5. Create in the slave “a habit of perfect dependence upon their masters.”

Dabooda's picture

TV and religion are bit players.  The star of the show is the government school system. 

swmnguy's picture

Yes, I've read that sort of thing myself.  And that's kind of what I'm counting on too.  The biggest key, to me, is to not ask what my country can do for me, but what I can do for myself and for the other people and groups of people around me.  

I'm a lot more comfortable with this than many of my generation and older (I'm 50) because I was forming my perceptions of the world in a very politically-aware family during the Vietnam War and Watergate, so I was never burdened with a lot of faith and trust in the Empire and the corporatocracy to begin with.  

I've seen a lot of people go through a great deal of pain dealing with such disillusionment, to the point that a lot of them reach a point where they just decide to keep their faith in something that no longer rewards such faith, and then they scramble for excuses why their cultural mythologies no longer line up with reality.

Whereas, I've been amazed things haven't collapsed faster than they have.  That's my impatience.  As things work less and less well and make less and less sense, I've become increasingly comfortable with merely maintaining my own standards and sticking to basic things that have always worked.  And I've been teaching my kids the same; we'll see how they do.  In today's society, you can make yourself stand out and elevate yourself socially and economically by merely showing up 5 minutes early, returning phone calls, texts and e-mails, wearing a clean button-down shirt, not saying "fuck" all the time, not having visible tattoos and piercings, saying "please," "thank you" and "I beg your pardon," and calling people "Mr." or Ms." until they personally request that you address them by their first names.  

As the social structures of Empire decay, many people mimic the devolution.  Just by not doing that, you elevate yourself.  Interesting phenomenon.

Raging Debate's picture

Amazing the return respect by calling someone Mr. or Mrs. when trying to get things done. Good point and useful for all here. Titles assign personal respect AND accountability. We were not in a trade war the last 40 years, it was a sellout. Now that we busted the budget trade wars will begin. Tarriff away it has my blessing. The pain is short term. The result is tightening labor, rising wages. A a wage spiral is exactly what is needed. 

Billy the Poet's picture

I'm of a similar age. One of my early memories involves a black and white TV picture of a somber scene at a railroad station. I think it must have been Bobby Kennedy's funeral.

swmnguy's picture

I thought about this conversation while doing other things, and caught on something.  

I don't think all the Elites are interested in doing the bankruptcy & liquidation maneuver.  There seems to be a significant Elite opposition to this plan, indeed.  The Clinton/Democratic Party Elites aren't into this at all.  A lot of the GOP-centered Elites aren't either.  The Elites who control the corporate mainstream media aren't up for this.

The people whose goal this is have been around the whole time, of course.  They had just been shut out of control of the levers of power.  And, until about the second week of November last year, it seemed they'd continue to be shut out.  Hence a lot of the surprise, and the tone of outrage since then.  These people have made their intentions clear for a long time, but most people didn't take them seriously and indeed still do not.  They will soon enough, if I'm correct.

At the highest levels, this is an internal battle between factions of the Elites, and most of them never thought this group would actually get into power.

SheHunter's picture

Nice to see tyou are still around. !!  One of the originals since I joined.  Most have moved on.  Cheers.

CNONC's picture

I can't say if this applies to empires other than Rome, as I have no access to similair records, but some limited genealogical research I have seen suggests that, as Rome weakened, the Roman elites migrated, with their wealth, to the provinces and intermarried with the local elites.  As the influence of Rome waned, the influence of the local elites rose to fill the vacuum.  This process was not rapid, but occurred over 200 years, including many generations.  But the suggestion that may be drawn, assuming the accuracy of the research, is that the European elites of the post Roman era were substantially the same families as held sway in Rome. 

That would, to some extent, match what we see today, as the Western elites become "citizens of the world," while the Western citizen finds himself overwhelmed by inbound migration.

swmnguy's picture

Interesting, and that does make sense.  I agree that we can see some echoes today.  As it becomes perceptible that the Empire is decaying, one would prefer to hedge one's bets and not be too closely tied to the viability of that Empire.  I myself, while by no means "Elite," like to live in a pleasant provincial backwater of Empire, prefer not to have any one employer who grants me benefits suited to my loyalty and place in our neo-feudal system, and like to spread my bets around to the extent of my ability to do so.  Whereas even in my parents' generation, the conventional wisdom encouraged a young man to get in good and get in early with a corporate or political patriarch and work one's way up.  Nowadays that's only a viable option for somebody already born into the Elites, or as a way to gain skills and set out on one's own.

Again, our social structures are different, our technologies and cultures are different, so the choices we perceive are different and also therefore our preferred options.  But we're responding to the same thing, which is Empire in decline.

Putrid_Scum's picture

Your thesis rings true for my family line. We were sea faring merchants that ended up further and further distant from the centre of turbelence, and ended up buying a portion of Ireland. 

We're not even sure what our origin is, we're that old, French I guess. And we've stayed here. 

But the Top have two choices : World War or The Reset.

And I can tell you, word is it's gonna be the latter. 


TexasDave's picture

Open up a history book and plant a finger. Conscious societal suicide is a pretty common theme. And the power base is typically used, abused, and then flushed down the drain.


Billy the Poet's picture

I'm fairly well versed in history but I can think of no examples of the theory which was offered. How does the decline of the British empire or the Spanish empire, to cite two examples, relate to the theory that the elites have long planned to purposely collaspe the system in order to profit?

Implied Violins's picture



Read up on the history of the world's reserve currency:

This shit is cyclical, happening every 70-100 years like clockwork for at least the last 500 years, and is definitely PLANNED.

Billy the Poet's picture

That article states...


The transition of one World Reserve Currency is a cycle that stems from social behavior


...which is different from saying that specific powerful individuals have historically made the deliberate choice to destroy the status quo which empowers them. The article sounds more like a variation on The Fourth Turning.

If I missed any documentation regarding specific individuals with such plan then perhaps you could pull the quote for me.


Implied Violins's picture

How about documentation that shows that only eight families have been responsible for these events over the last several hundred years?

Here's the first article in a series - very well documented:

These families have a history of controlling BOTH SIDES of a conflict, selling weapons to both, then selling out one side in order to consolidate control over BOTH...then giving loans for reconstruction. And they never seem to run out of psychopaths willing to do their bidding for price - even if that price is eventually their honor and/or lives. See: Trotsky, Napoleon, Mussolini, Hitler, etc.

Billy the Poet's picture

A little too pat. The competing theory that such trends are societal and cyclical which you posted in your first link seems more likely.

Implied Violins's picture


A 'little too pat'??

Did you actually read that article, and the others in that series?

There is a very good book that covers the history that we are talking about: William Bramley, 'The Gods of Eden'. And despite what he says in his introduction, it IS a history book, with 52 pages of references. And it is very cheap on Amazon.

But if even that book proves too esoteric for you, read Antony Sutton (his Wikipedia page has several links to free downloads of his best works), and Gary Allen/Larry Abraham, "None Dare Call it Conspiracy" (1971), the updated version ("Call it Conspiracy") which you can download for free on-line with a simple 'net search. And realize that what they describe within those pages has happened, REPEATEDLY, since the time of Babylon.

I've done my homework. Have you? Or are you going to continue to regurgitate bullshit that has been taught us by a corrupted system that wishes to point us away from the truth?

Putrid_Scum's picture

They have been engineering the stable descent for the past ten years, since 2008. And in my humble opinion, have done a pretty good job. In the sense that it was stable.



Roger Rabbit's picture

It's obviously the goal regardless of whatever else happens.

toady's picture

"Why does China need to sell steel to the US anyway?  Why can't they just turn it into cars, washing machines, etc....."

It's a 50-50....50% of the time the steel doesn't actually exist, and 50% of the time the buyer doesn't pay.

HalinCA's picture

Bingo.  Like everywhere else, even this 'workers' paradise' state is rigged so they get the minimum needed to keep them in line while the parasiites at the top launder money in Vancounver BC and elsewhere.

Just how the Hell has the whole 'capitalist' Western world has been brainwashed into thinking 'free trade' benefits anyone but the 0.01% and the banksters is beyond me.

If American had not used British loans to overbuild its factories in the 19th century, it never would have needed an overseas empire of any kind at all. 

Being the "Arsenal of Democracy" in two world wars just made thing worse.

So blame the last 150 years of war and stupidity on the use of debt to expand America's factories faster than our domestic markets supported. 

el buitre's picture

What happens to the US$600 billion trade deficit when the rest of the planet refuses to trade real stuff for electrons painted red, white,& blue?  When Russia and China guard the backs of smaller countries so they no longer fear an invasion or coup d'etat to  install "democracy" when they sell their stuff for gold or other currencies?  When the SWIFT system has competition?  When US economic "sanctions" are laughed off.  The Hildabeast leaks admitted what anyone with an IQ over 70 knew.  That Gadaffi was murdered to stop his plan to issue a gold back African dinar.  Wonder where his 160 MT of gold is now?  I think Trump knows what's coming and is just trying to get ahead of the curve.  The problem is that the US is so bankrupt and so much manufacturing has been off-shored, that it will probably take decades for the US to return to being a manufacturing and industrial power.

Killtruck's picture

Look around, fuckhead. "Free trade" has been getting us killed for the last 40 years. Been to Youngstown recently?

mofreedom's picture

Been almost 20 years outside the valley, miss it, wanted to work in Pittsburgh, but I had t go home.  Some day I will return home.  God bless.

Billy the Poet's picture

Pittsburgh is a hell hole but the surrounding country is still the nicest place in the world.

Rothbardian in Cleveland's picture

How has the last 40 years been anything approaching free trade?


So we basically blow up the entire production capacity of the first world in the middle of the 20th century except our own.  For the next 50 years we have zero competition.  We respond with labor unions and regulations and taxes.  When the rest of the world finally recovers and begins to compete with us we cry foul.  In your case, lamenting Youngstown.  Youngstown looks like it does because Youngstown did that to itself.  Maybe if we had embraced free trade, liberty and competition for the last 50 years instead of finding ourselves on 3rd base and acting like we hit a triple....then Youngstown wouldn't look like the 50 year old local barfly on a Sunday morning.

VW Nerd's picture


The US not only had a 55 year monopoly on production, but, just as important, a monopoly on money and banking in the form of the US dollar as global reserve currency.  While other countries had to maintain dollar reserves to buy and sell their goods in the world marketplace, oil especially, the US had the luxury of creating dollars out of thin air whenever they ran a deficit leger balance.  This continues to give them a false sense of prosperity and at the same time pisses off countries around the world who are forced to us the corrupt dollar system.  Expect an increase in non dollar trade alliances if Trump refuses to play nice with US trade partners.

Billy the Poet's picture

The fact that US elites can print the reserve currency and send it overseas for real goods is a major factor in the death of domestic industry. When the dollar loses reserve status jobs will return. Some of them anyway.

Dindu Nuffins's picture

You aren't going to compete in free trade against protectionists like China. Only protectionists can withstand the blood-sucking of other protectionist. They'll always undercut you, because they don't play by your silly white-boy ideas of fair play and your values that make worker safety and the environment an expensive concern. Free trade only benefits everyone if everyone embraces it fairly. Prisoner's Dilemma.

LetThemEatRand's picture

"For the next 50 years we have zero competition"

This argument is so ridiculous on its face, yet it is "common wisdom" among the "free trade" crowd.  It does not take 50 years to rebuild factories.  We are being killed by free trade because of wage arbitrage with countries like China, not to mention that China has no real environmental rules.  The only way pure free trade balances those scales is to pay workers in the West a few dollars a day and let our cities fill with smog again, and then you have to ask yourself who will be able to afford to stuff the factories are making.

Rothbardian in Cleveland's picture

No, it didn't take 50 years to build a factory.  That wasn't my argument, perhaps I should have been more clear.  I'd say "they" began to compete with us in the 60's.  We started the race with a head start.  We pissed it away.  As the reality of competion began to take hold we responded not with laissez-faire capitalist, but with quite the opposite.  I'd say "they" passed us sometime in the late 80's and early 90's.  Some wars, the internet, yadda yadda.  We traded leads for a while.  Now "they" are ahead in some areas.  And again, our response is one that is based that we can tax our way back into the lead again.

Kayman's picture

 "We started the race with a head start."  

You've got to stop getting your history education from comic books.

The American taxpayer rebuilt Germany and Japan post WWII. Look it up. Those 2 country's were the greatest industrial competitors to the US until China arrived.

And China exists solely because American politicians let China into the WTO, even though China did not qualify.  And American corporations funded transplanting their factories to China, where there were no labor laws and no pollution control standards.  Top that off with free access to the American consumer market with debt based money and you have what we have today.

A wounded America and a new belligerent enemy/competitor- China.

Rothbardian in Cleveland's picture

The taxpayer?  Hmmm....  From my understanding it was more to the effect of a Haliburton, Carpet Bagger type of effort.


Furthermore, China doesn't exist because we let them into WTO.  They've only been around since...oh i don't know...ancient times.  The corporate exodus to China we can agree upon.