- Chris Hayes, host of “All In with Chris Hayes” on MSNBC, spoke with Business Insider at Ignition 2018 on political issues.
- Hayes gave his take on the ongoing trade war with China and said “trade hawkishness against China” is justified.
- He also said he doesn’t trust President Trump to “navigate the difficulties of diplomacy” if the US entered a cold war with China.
Henry Blodget: Alright let’s come back to the other question, which is, so what issue do you think President Trump is right about that most liberals are wrong?
Chris Hayes: I actually think the problem with the President is that there is the abstract position he has and then like the actual embodied version of it as run through his extremely strange brain. I think a sort of trade hawkishness against China and a posture of trade hawkishness against China is not at all crazy and not at all unjustified.
I think there are lots of things that China is doing and has been doing for a long time that are genuinely destructive that generally speaking the American political class has been too content to sort of play “Patty Cake” with them. I think there are really important geopolitical reasons not to enter into a cold war with China and I certainly don’t trust the President to navigate the difficulties of that diplomacy but on a variety of issues there are all kinds of reasons to be genuinely more confrontational with China over their industrial policy.
Blodget: Just before we came on stage, you noted that the President just tweeted that he is quote, “a tariff man.”
Hayes: I’m a tariff man!
Blodget: Yes! And so do you think that’s reasonable?
Hayes: No, I mean that’s a good example of like, he genuinely has a sincerely… sincerely felt and long-held view on trade that I think is deeply mercantilist and emanates from the fundamental worldview that he has over all other worldviews which is that everything is zero sum. Really views that, it’s like if you’re getting over on me, then I’m not getting over on you and vice versa. And that’s the only way things work and who screws who. Who gets the bigger piece of the pie? I think he views all trade that way.
I think like the basic insights of Adam Smith “Wealth of Nations” and the idea of comparative vantage in trade are generally true. I think the modern trading system is broken in all kinds of ways and I think there are ways in which it’s not crazy to use tariffs as a tactic to create different kinds of rules and regulatory structures for international trade. Again, do I trust him to pursue that? No I do not.
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