Is ‘The Art of the Deal’ author taking a page out of Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’ with his trade dispute feint?

Posted by & filed under Sun Tzu in the News.

If – as Sun Tzu declared in The Art of War – “all warfare is based on deception”, what type of trade war is the US President Donald Trump seeking to wage on his enemies, to make America great again? 

Can we expect the full frontal assault deployed, for example, against Japan in the 1980s? Or in these days of asymmetry and misinformation – a strategy the Russians call Maskirova – can we expect something a little less obvious, more nuanced, but packing just as powerful a punch?

Certainly, the underwhelming market response to news last week – that the US had imposed trade tariffs on South Korean washing machine and Chinese solar panel manufacturers – suggests only a low probability of a tit-for-tat trade war breaking out. In fact, equity markets in Seoul and Shanghai actually closed higher in the days after the tariff news was announced.

Read the rest of the article here. 

2 Responses to “Is ‘The Art of the Deal’ author taking a page out of Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’ with his trade dispute feint?”

  1. Gregory Dunkling

    Your post, dated Feb 2018, has, over the following six months proven to be mostly incorrect. Oh, prognostication with Trump is a most difficult task.

    First, you assume that Trump has a well crafted, coherent strategy. Like most things with this man, he identifies a problem with some level of accuracy then his proposed solutions fall mostly apart. He clings onto his facts, but they are not real facts, to drive home a message. It does not follow that he can convince others that what he seeks, “totally open markets” is viable. That works only for the top dog. All others suffer. Historically this has always been the case.

    As to provoking consumers, much of the impact will occur after the November election. With the exception of agriculture and few other industries, the impact of tariffs won’t be felt for months.

    Trump also counts on his “base” to stick with him regardless of their pain and he may be largely correct.

    As for the “extraordinary impact” fiscal changes will have on US businesses and incentives to relocate and repatriate investments back home, several things are already none. To-date, most companies have utilized these large sums for stock buy-backs incentivizing and benefiting executive compensation, not decisions to move plants back to the States. Secondly, the global supply chain is complex. After decades of building a vast network of suppliers, manufacturers and distribution centers, these are not unwound or changed easily. While it might happen to some extent, there’s little evidence this is occurring. The difference between the the 21 percent US (not 15 percent) and China’s 24 percent will not drive many huge business decisions.

    “Trump suggests the tax cuts will mean more jobs and more investment in the US.” Well, I won’t dwell on this, it’s plenty clear we are not seeing a boom in new investment due to the tax cut. There is, on the other hand, a boom in inventories in anticipation of higher process due to trump tariffs. This too will past next quarter.

    “After cost-benefit analysis, investments destined for lower cost destinations in emerging markets may now be established in America.” Well that was the theory but where is the evidence of this?

    Your projection about U.S. dollar and China’s renminbi was dead wrong. Over the last few months China’s currency has depreciated significantly, in short order.

    I won’t go on. You might want a “Take 2” and rewrite this article.

    As an expert in “The Art of War”, it would be far more instruct to demonstrate how the Chinese are using these strategems to tremendous success against the U.S. – in global economic, international influence, NK, and in the Trump Trade War.

    Now a $12B welfare plan is rolled out to farmers being clobbered by retaliatory Chinese tariffs. Ah, the Art of War. Hit them where it hurts and bleed them dry. Undermine their will to fight.

    Negotiating to put a name on a building is in a different league compared with fighting a trade war with China.

    • beckysheetz

      Dear Gregory,

      Thanks for writing and for your thoughtful response. This post is shared from the South China Morning Post. Their views and their perspectives are their own. We simply shared it for our readers to consider.

      Happy strategizing!



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