James Forsyth

Trump’s trade war could cause global economic carnage

Trump's trade war could cause global economic carnage
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The most striking thing about Donald Trump’s inaugural address was how little it tried to reach out to those who had not voted for him. On election night, Trump made a deliberate effort to strike a graceful note. He said that America owed Hillary Clinton a ‘major debt of gratitude for her service to our country’.  To those who hadn’t voted for him, he said, ‘I'm reaching out to you for your guidance and your help’.

But today, after thanking the Obamas for their help in the transition, his message was aimed squarely at his base. He talked about an ‘American carnage’ that he was going to stop and repeatedly pledged to put ‘America First’. Perhaps, the most alarming line in the speech was Trump’s statement that ‘Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.’ If Trump sparks a global trade war, that would be disastrous for the world economy.

Trump clearly regarded his inaugural address as another campaign speech. But as the old US political adage has it, ‘You campaign in poetry, you govern in prose’. So, now we wait to see what his governing prose is, and how different it is from his campaign poetry.