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Tariffs and politics: evidence from Trump's trade wars

Author

Listed:
  • Thiemo René Fetzer
  • Carlo Schwarz

Abstract

We use the recent trade escalation between the US, China, the European Union (EU), Canada and Mexico to study whether retaliatory tariffs are politically targeted. Using aggregate and individual-level data we find evidence that the retaliatory tariffs disproportionally targeted areas that swung to Trump in 2016, but not to other Republican candidates. We propose a novel simulation approach to construct counterfactual retaliation responses. This allows us to both quantify the extent of political targeting and assess the general feasibility. Further, the counterfactual retaliation responses allow us to shed light on the potential trade-offs between achieving a high degree of political targeting and managing the risks to ones own economy. China, while being constrained in its retaliation design, appears to put large weight on achieving maximal political targeting. The EU seems successful in maximizing the degree of political targeting, while at the same time minimizing the potential damage to its own economy and consumers.

Suggested Citation

  • Thiemo René Fetzer & Carlo Schwarz, 2019. "Tariffs and politics: evidence from Trump's trade wars," CESifo Working Paper Series 7553, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_7553
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Emily J. Blanchard & Chad P. Bown & Davin Chor, 2019. "Did Trump's Trade War Impact the 2018 Election?," NBER Working Papers 26434, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Nicholas D. Paulson & Allen M. Featherstone & Joleen C. Hadrich, 2020. "Distribution of Market Facilitation Program Payments and their Financial Impact for Illinois, Kansas, and Minnesota Farms," Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 42(2), pages 227-244, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    trade war; tariff; targeting; political economy; elections; populism;

    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • F55 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - International Institutional Arrangements
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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