How to Think Like Donald Trump

One consequence of this week’s trade confrontation with China, coupled with the immediate volatility of Wall Street prices, was the Spirited Reasoner’s acquisition of a new psychic skill: the ability to read President Trump’s mind.

Here’s how anyone can do it:

  1. Start with the requirement that the Trump base expects our President to be the most macho dude in the world.
  2. Note that, oops, China’s leader is appearing to be more macho than Trump because China is cheating on its trade dealings with the U. S.
  3. Thus, Trump must up the macho ante by threatening to impose massive tariffs on Chinese imports.
  4. But then, because tariffs are bad for so many U. S. companies that import foreign components or sell agricultural products to China, the stock market slumps, and appears to be in danger of a major crash.
  5. So, to avoid appearing weak, Trump must say that China is on the verge of making a deal favorable to the U. S., thus avoiding the need to impose tariffs.
  6. This statement makes the stock market go back up.
  7. But then China makes it clear that they are not about to make any such deal.
  8. Which forces Trump to impose the tariffs.
  9. Which causes the stock market to slump yet again.

What’s the next step?

Since President Trump cannot have it both ways—i. e., keeping his macho stance while also maintaining a strong stock market—he has only one option. And that’s the Trump option we’re now able to predict, as follows:

  1. Make some sort of secret arrangement with China that will actually work in China’s favor.
  2. Claim publicly (and falsely) that he’s made a very tough, pro-U. S. deal that is much better than the old Obama-era deals. He’s confident that his base will not check the facts, because they hate pointy-headed intellectuals and won’t trust anything the fact-checkers say.
  3. Watch the stock market go up, as the temporary trade crisis disappears.
  4. Watch his base applaud, as he crows about his trade victory.

There is, of course, one other option for a person of Trump’s mentality: keep up the macho posture, slap on the tariffs, and watch the stock market slide lower, along with the U. S. economy.

But there’s an election coming. Spirited Reasoners are willing to bet that President Trump will eventually opt for the cynical, political approach. He can’t afford a recession.