What Trump really wants

Nice NYT column by Paul Krugman, largely about why autocrats can deal with Trump but countries with an old-fashioned attachment to the rule of law cannot:

Trade conflict is essentially Trump’s personal vendetta — one that he is able to pursue because U.S. international trade law gives the president enormous discretion to impose tariffs on a variety of grounds. Predicting trade policy is therefore about figuring out what’s going on in one man’s mind.

Now, there are real reasons for the U.S. to be angry at China, and demand policy changes. Above all, China notoriously violates the spirit of international trade rules, de facto restricting foreign companies’ access to its market unless they hand over valuable technology. So you could make a case for U.S. pressure on China — coordinated with other advanced economies! — to stop that practice.

But there has been little evidence that Trump is interested in dealing with the real China problem. I was at a trade policy conference over the weekend where experts were asked what Trump really wants; the most popular answer was “tweetable deliveries.”

Lovely phrase that: tweetable deliveries.