Even Under Mercantilist Theory, Trump is Wrong

Donald Trump is, to put it nicely, a fact-challenged person.  Makes sense; populists typically are (for example, see my many many posts on Bernie Sanders).  One of his arguments for his tariff schemes is that the US is “losing” at trade.  That argument is based off of a long-since-discredited economic theory known as Mercantilism, where the wealth of a nation is created by exports (Mercantilism was first challenged by Adam Smith in 1776, and later empirically discredited by David Ricardo in the 1800’s and subsequent waves of economists in the 1900’s and 2000’s).

But, even if we assume Trump is right about exports, he is still wrong on the facts.  The United States is, according to the World Factbook, the world’s largest exporter (excluding the EU).  The US exports $2.14 trillion of goods and services each year.  The closest competitor is China, who exports $1.51 trillion goods/services.  US exports are 41.7% higher than our closest competitor.  The US’ export market is the 8th largest economy in the world.  We export more than 196 countries produce.

Even under Mercantilist misunderstandings, the US still stands tall.

3 thoughts on “Even Under Mercantilist Theory, Trump is Wrong

  1. Jon, did you really mean to refer to China as a competitor? Maybe I’m overly sensitive to the use of that word in reference to cooperative, mutually beneficial global trade.


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