43 top economists were polled on Trump's latest big policy - not a single one said it would help Americans

Business Insider | Mar 14, 2018, 01.23AM IST

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President Donald Trump

  • A new survey of 43 economists found that 93% disagreed or strongly disagreed with the idea that President Donald Trump's new tariffs on steel and aluminum will benefit Americans.
  • The remaining 7% did not respond to the survey.
  • This is broadly in line with other economists, industry groups, and business leaders who have warned that the net economic effects of the tariffs will be negative.

In a new survey of 43 top economists in the US, not a single one said President Donald Trump's new tariffs on steel and aluminum will end up being a net positive for Americans.

Overall, 65% of respondents said they "strongly disagreed" when asked if Trump's move "imposing new US tariffs on steel and aluminum will improve Americans' welfare," while 28% simply disagreed. Three economists, or the remaining 7%, did not respond to the survey conducted by the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business.

The survey attempts to collect responses from economists of wide research backgrounds and political leanings, but nearly every economists agreed that the move was not helpful on net for the country.

"It will help some Americans and hurt others," Daron Acemoglu, an economics professor at MIT, said in response to the survey. "But the overall benefits are likely to be quite limited, and losses larger."

Austan Goolsbee, the former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama, was slightly more animated in his comment on the tariff proposal.

"SMACK. SMACK [punching self in face] SMACK. SMACK," Goolsbee said.

Many economists, business leaders, and industry groups warned following Trump's tariffs announcement that the increased costs to other businesses outside of steel and aluminum would be a larger drag on the economy and job market than the increase in metals production.

A study by the conservative Tax Foundation found that the new tariffs, prior to the exclusion of Mexico and Canada, could lead to $9 billion in additional costs for businesses across the US.

Even if the exempted countries bring that number down, the Tax Foundation's Scott Hodge said, the negative economic effects would still be significant and outweigh positive gains from the recently passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).

"These tariffs could also undermine the economic growth generated from the TCJA," Hodges wrote. "Tariffs increase costs on steel- and aluminum-buying industries, which will eventually be passed to consumers through higher prices on final products."

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