President Trump’s trade policies, or perhaps the tariff parts of them, have turned out just like every economist but one predicted: They’re terrible. Unfortunately, the one economist who says otherwise is Peter Navarro, Trump’s main adviser on trade issues. I’m not even exaggerating that he’s the only one: A New Yorker reporter wrote about Navarro’s trade policies that “even with his assistance, I was unable to find another economist who fully agrees with them.” And that’s precisely because those policies are just plain wrong.
It is true that sometimes an entire science is wrong. It happened to chemistry with phlogiston, geology with continental drift, and even economics in thinking that planned economies worked better. However, it’s still the way to bet that if one single member of a science or profession is entirely at odds with everything everyone else says and believes, then it’s the odd man out that is, well, odd. So it is with Peter Navarro and thus Trump’s trade policies.