President Trump’s chief trade advisor
In 2016, Navarro served as a policy advisor to the Donald Trump presidential campaign. On December 21, 2016, Navarro was selected by President-elect Donald Trump to head a newly created position, as director of the White House National Trade Council.
Navarro’s views on trade and China have been widely characterized by economists as fringe. University of Michigan economist Justin Wolfers described them as far “outside the mainstream,” noting that “he endorses few of the key tenets of” the economics profession. Scott Sumner, the Ralph G. Hawtrey Chair of Monetary Policy at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, said that Navarro’s views on trade economics and macroeconomics, two sub-fields that Navarro has published no peer-reviewed research in, demonstrate basic errors and confused thinking. Harvard University economics professor Gregory Mankiw has said that Navarro makes the kind of mistakes that “even a freshman at the end of ec 10 knows.”
Navarro has, for instance, repeatedly characterized value-added taxes as a tariff, whereas Sumner notes that “this is a very basic error. International economists almost universally agree that a VAT is neutral with respect to trade.” A New Yorker reporter described Navarro’s views on trade and China as so radical “that, even with his assistance, I was unable to find another economist who fully agrees with them.” Tim Worstall, senior fellow at the Adam Smith Institute, has described Navarro as “alarmingly ignorant about trade”. According to Worstall, the reason why there are no economists who support Navarro’s views is because he makes very basic errors about trade economics.
According to Richard Baldwin, Professor of International Economics at the Graduate Institute, Geneva, Navarro’s economic plan for Trump reflects “astoundingly ignorant economics”. Dan Ikenson, director of Cato’s Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies, described Navarro’s views on trade as “misguided” and “dangerous”. The Economist magazine has described Navarro’s views on trade as “dodgy economics” and “fantasy”. Laurence Kotlikoff, Professor of Economics at Boston University, describes Navarro as starting, together with President Trump, a new school of economic thought — “Stupid Economics.”
Why did I post this? I just read an article on the Wall Street Journal about trade deficits that was the worst piece of economics ignorance I have ever read in that august newspaper. After I finished with that poorly reasoned, badly written hack job, I went back to see who was the economic muggle who wrote it. I was dismayed to see that it was the president’s chief advisor on trade.
What a nightmare.