Understanding Trump's Trade War Tactics in One Picture

For the 42nd time, Trump reports trade war progress with China.

Bloomberg reports China, U.S. to Hold Trade Talks ‘in October’ as Mistrust Remains.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He agreed to a visit “in early October” during a telephone call on Thursday morning Beijing time with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, according to a statement from China’s Ministry of Commerce. A cautious statement from the USTR’s office confirmed that ministerial-level discussions will take place in “the coming weeks,” without specifying when.

Liars Poker

On August 26, I reported Trump Claims "Meaningful" Talks at the "Highest Level", China Doesn't Confirm

A spokesman for the U.S. Trade Representative didn’t respond to questions about when the call took place and between whom.

Asked later in the day to clarify whom the calls were with, Mr. Trump said: “I don’t want to talk about calls. We’ve had calls. We’ve had calls at the highest levels.”

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported Trump Warns China Not to Stall Talks.

It seems the phone call Trump announced on August 26 ago has finally been placed.

With that confirmation, please look on the handy-dandy chart at the top to figure out where we are.

Trade War Cycle

Is anyone keeping track?

I just made up a number "for the 42nd time". Perhaps its on the low side.

China Cycle Spinning Fast

The China cycle is spinning extremely fast right now.

Progression Example

Important Note

The cycle with China repeats at a rate 3-10 times faster than the cycle with Europe which in turn is faster than the cycle with Mexico. Track each country individually although the cycles may overlap on occasion.

When things are purportedly going very well with China, that's when Trump is most likely to make an attack out of the blue on someone else, typically Germany.

On a timeline basis, I sense an attack on Germany or the EU coming soon. But as noted above, we may need a more China cycles to be sure.

Stop the Damn Lies

For a Trump trade refresher course on how the full cycle works historically, please see Dear President Trump: Stop the Damn Trade Lies

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (31)
No. 1-11

Wow, good to see what I've been trying to figure out for months put in to pictures/words!

I think this stuff is done to give somebody(ies) a heads-up some hours before it happens, to put in a few appropriate orders.


One of the problems is Trump doesn't know what he wants out of the will decide based on his gut at the appropriate time. This makes it harder for negotiators. I believe there was already a proposal by the Chinese to drop all tariffs which Trump didn't like and based on my recollection wanted to negotiate which tariffs both sides would keep. It's a detail most supporters are not aware of and contradicts the notion that Trump is playing hard ball to force the Chinese to adopt open trade. Trump wants managed trade and he very much wants to protect some U.S. industries. He's already signaled to the Japanese an unwillingness to drop tariffs on auto parts. If this were merely about getting the Chinese to stop intellectual theft of property not only would the discussion be simpler but Trump would then have the moral high ground. The Chinese would probably go along with dropping all tariffs as they already have a labor price advantage and even accepting that the Chinese know its a temporary one at best as Chinese wages are rising and they are already losing business to Asian neighbors with lower average wages. Automation is also reducing the labor advantage. Anyone who thinks the U.S. doesn't subsidize its businesses is either naive or intentionally fooling themselves.


This is all politics. The people who wanted to move American manufacturing overseas were American CEOs and bankers. But Trump can't attack them, he's one of them. So he has these fake attacks on China to keep the schleps voting for him. And vote for him they will! Plus, think of the money he can make. Call for tariffs, stock market tanks, put his money in and announce talks, ka-Ching. Take profits. Rinse, repeat.

Wasn't there something about a wall? How did that go for the schleps?


I think we're winning the trade war. Companies are starting to move manufacturing out of China. Not necessarily back to the US. Other countries with cheap labor. It won't help us much, but it will hurt China. Which I suspect is the real goal. They'll deny any issues until things collapse in order to save face.


China is seeking world domination! The past dufussess played into their hands for greater financial results. Now there is a scintilla of awareness that these people of the yellow kingdom want us dead.