220, 221 - Whatever it takes
The first of September has come and gone and with it, a list of new tariffs enacted. List "4A" to be exact (see table below). In fact, The USTR increased the planned September 1st tariff of 10% to 15%. U.S. Customs will also start collecting a 15% tariff on December 15th on the remainder of the $300 billion list (list "4B"). Hey, 10 percent here, 15 percent there - whatever it takes right? During a call made to a Decatur, Illinois farm trade show audience, President Trump, reportedly stated that he could do a "quick deal" with China to boost his 2020 re-election prospects.(Wow!) Is it even possible to find an equitable resolution to this trade war ? much less in time for a 2020 re-election bid? Neither party wants to be the first to blink. Not discounting the egos at play here, is there any confidence these leaders possess the forbearance required to go about disentangling themselves from this circuitous trade war? But who knows? It's been reported today that the US and China will meet in October for another round of trade war talks - or another round of hope for the best but plan for the worst.
Hoping that the light at the end of this tunnel is a train carrying gold bullion
The U.S. and China have been locked in this tit-for-tat trade war since the spring of 2018. To date, Chinese imports have dropped about 12% through June this year and U.S. exports to China have fallen by 19%.The New York Times has reported, "across the income spectrum, the tariffs may cost up to $970 for America's wealthiest households and as low as $340 for its poorest." The hard reality is the US comprises only about 18% of Chinese exports - while a significant percentage, it's not enough to really use as leverage. And while on the subject of dismal numbers, Clive McDonnell of Standard Chartered Private Bank believes the probability of a U.S. recession in the next 12 months has risen from 25% to "as high as 40%." He also recommends in these times of financial uncertainty, putting your money in gold. Sounds good, as long as the American consumer still has money to invest.
Somebody wants to party like it's 1984
This trade war has taken it's toll on our industry, resulting in increased prices and assorted supply chain challenges. With tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum, manufacturers of LED fixtures, lamps, and lighting components have already taken a pretty big hit. Together, now with this latest round of list "4A" tariffs impacting lighting ballasts and filament lamps, will it be welcome news or just more head-scratching absurdity that the Trump Administration just announced a roll back on the requirements for energy efficient lamps? The DOE is selling this as giving consumers back their choice between halogen, incandescent, compact fluorescent or LED lighting sources.
If trump is successful in his bid for re-election, and turning back the clock on technology, will this herald the return of the venerable 60 watt incandescent lamp? Can you imagine, if passed, how this ruling would change the lighting industry? How fast can we retool to manufacture these obsolete lamps and can we do it cheaper than China? (Do we still have lamp manufacturers left?) Hopefully, these aren't questions that need answering - just silly, rhetorical musing.... "Alexa, order more thermal paper for the fax machine!"