America Inc and the rage against Beijing

ONE of the naughty secrets about America’s trade war with China is that it has the tacit support of much of America’s business establishment. For the past 20 years big firms’ default mode has been Sino-infatuation. Schumpeter attended a dinner in 2016 between the captains of USA Inc and Li Keqiang, China’s premier, and you could taste the deference in the air more keenly than the beef on the plates. But lately bosses’ mood has flipped into a hostility that risks becoming jingoistic and unhelpful.

While a few Sino-dependent companies such as Apple and Boeing want to lower the temperature, many others consider themselves mistreated by China; for them, it is payback time. This stance has two flaws. The sense of victimhood is over the top; American firms have done reasonably well in China. And it is stoking the White House to escalate a conflict that may spill over from trade tariffs into a war over investment by multinationals.

China may have been bad for steel workers in Cleveland…Continue reading

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