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June 12, 2018 | Trumped

A best-selling Canadian author of 14 books on economic trends, real estate, the financial crisis, personal finance strategies, taxation and politics. Nationally-known speaker and lecturer on macroeconomics, the housing market and investment techniques. He is a licensed Investment Advisor with a fee-based, no-commission Toronto-based practice serving clients across Canada.

In a Bud Light-infused moment, it’s possible to see how an under-employed, bitter factory worker in Cleveland, Flint or Gary would support Donald J. Trump, New York billionaire with a personal air force living aside a trophy wife in a golden penthouse festooned with pictures of himself. After all, people now think in Tweets. Drain the swamp. Fire and fury. Lock her up.

When he said he’d kick foreign ass and bring the jobs back, as astonishingly naïve as that may be, they believed. Because they wished to. Somebody was to blame. Trump would thump them. He spoke deplorable, and connected. The perfect man for a time when slogans win votes. Dougie Ford learned that one. More of the ilk to come.

But for Canadians to support this guy (as evidenced in the comments section of this pathetic blog) is a revelation. They view the Donald not so much as trumpeting America, but rather championing the embattled, fading, struggling middle class full of aging dudes whose station in life is kaput. They may cheer a disruptor, but seem unaware of the consequences. And there could soon be many in the wake of the first attack in my lifetime by Americans on a sitting Canadian prime minister.

So let’s talk cars. This is a big deal.

On the weekend, while calling T2 weak and dishonest, Trump Tweeted “I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the (G7 communique) as we look at tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. market!” This is the nightmare scenario for the Canadian economy, and especially southern Ontario. The country’s biggest export is oil – 20% of what we ship. The second is cars – 15%, worth about $53 billion.

Trump is already moving towards imposing a tariff on cars assembled in Canada so stiff that companies like Ford, GM, Chrysler or Honda would simply stop. Which is what he wants, despite the fallout. Currently about 90% of all the vehicle production in this country flows south, and 65% of those cars is made from parts that flowed north. It’s a totally integrated industry.

About 120,000 Canadians work in cars. A third of those are in assembly plants and the rest make parts. Together it adds up to $80 billion in economic activity. The Auto Pact of 1965 began this interweaving of jobs, skills, parts, bodies, glass, steel, rubber, chips, wires and plastic and massive plants in Brampton, Oshawa, Woodstock and Windsor stand as monuments to its success.

But last month the protectionist, nationalist, jingoistic leader of the free world initiated a Department of Commerce investigation to determine if the 53-year-old arrangement was suddenly a threat to US national security. This is the same argument used to slap new tariffs on steel and aluminum produced by Canada, America’s longest and strongest ally. The Commerce Department will be accepting input for 10 more days, then hold two hearings in July, and then it’s showtime.

Economists are apoplectic. The estimated job loss would be between 300,000 and 500,000, with 195,000 of those occurring in the US. American consumers would pay, on average, $6,400 more per vehicle because of lost manufacturing capacity and higher input costs. Canadians plants would simply close, and car prices here escalate substantially.

Says fabled car guy and analyst Dennis Desrochiers: “It’s a nightmare scenario for Canada, the United States and Mexico, but the biggest hit will be on the U.S. So, Trump can’t be serious.”

Trump’s argument is that imports of cars and trucks have increased from 32% of all cars sold to 48% over the last two decades, while US-based auto manufacturing jobs have declined 22%. Under NAFTA there are no tariffs now on the flow of cars or parts across the three borders, which has led manufacturers to move jobs, plants and resources to where they make sense. So, if Chrysler can make Dodge Challengers and Chargers cheaper in Brampton than in a neighbouring US state, that’s what happens.

So it would appear tariffs would cost American jobs and make cars more expensive for American families. They would decimate a swath of the Canadian GDP and pretty much destroy a century of cooperation, growth and mutual support. Unemployment here would rise and the loss would be of high-paying, good-benefit manufacturing jobs. Local economies would be decimated, and housing markets levelled. The US would be seen as more isolationist than at any time since the First World War, when it left Canada to do most of the fighting.

Meanwhile Trump went to Singapore to meet a dictator. He lavished praise on a man who months ago threatened to nuke LA. And he calls Canada’s prime minister a dishonest, betraying backstabber.

And after we gave them Mike Holmes. Really.

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June 12th, 2018

Posted In: The Greater Fool

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