The stock market was up huge today (or as Trump would say, yuge), with the S&P 500 gaining 1.6% on top of .3% gains on Monday. This suggests the market isn’t concerned about the overblown tariffs and the possibility of a ‘trade war’, which I have argued is more about posturing and signaling than an actual economic threat.
Unable to get policy through, Trump needs to convey strength to his supporters, and going on these mini crusades/tirade on Twitter against miscellaneous targets is one way of conveying/signaling action/progress in the absence of policy. Because the media has a stethoscope glued to Trump’s Twitter, his message is amplified, causing temporary fluctuations to the market and gasps of panic from the media, “what if he’s serious?” “What if China and America declare war”, and so on. The media’s amplification creates the illusion that there is dramatic progress when in reality nothing has changed, especially because there is no follow-through or policy, just FUD and rhetoric. He’s sorta like a blindfolded drunkard swinging his fists erratically, but not landing any blows: a scary sight to behold yet harmless. Yesterday it’s North Korea and the NFL. Today it’s Amazon. Tomorrow it’s China. Maybe next week it’s Procter & Gamble because their tide pods gave him indigestion or something.
Alluding to what Scott Adams has said numerous times regarding persuasion, creating the illusion of action is as effective, if not more so, as actual action. Most voters cannot tell the difference.
Regarding Trump and Amazon, anyone who has read my blog probably already knows my opinions and predictions about it: much like the tariffs and Trump’s chest-thumping against China, nothing substantive will come of it. Amazon stock will keep going up, with these Trump comments amounting to nothing more than speed bumps on an unending trajectory higher.
USPS raising prices would probably result in Amazon and its 3rd party sellers raising prices. Also it would inconvenience non-Amazon users, such as regular people who use the post office. As the trite saying goes, there is no free lunch. I think this is just another example of Trump playing to the base on Twitter, but without a plan or much of a desire to follow through on it.
What a lot of people don’t understand is that there are two sides to Trump: the uninhibited public image he cultivates on Twitter, and then the more nuanced, pragmatic side that he exhibits in private to his colleagues and associates. He talks a tough on Twitter about Amazon and China, but in reality Trump knows that Amazon is an American capitalist success story and an important part of the U.S. economy, and so he doesn’t want to punish it too harshly, if at all.
The same goes for Facebook and its privacy concerns, which I think are largely manufactured my the media–the same media that said in 2016 that the world would come to an end if Trump won.