NPR has been tracking retail prices, to gauge the effects of tariffs on consumer costs. They picked a particular Walmart in Georgia and compiled a shopping list of a 100 items. Items selected to run the gamut of all the many different things that Americans regularly buy. They published an article that compares the prices from a year ago to now. Here is a link to their article. Cod and cabbage lead the list with the largest jump in price, but these price increases have more to do with bad weather than with tariffs. While garlic, with the third largest price jump is a good example of the effects of tariffs. What got me interested in this subject, was the higher price of toilet paper that I had already noticed. Apparently, this price increase is not tariff related either, but is because of higher transportation costs for its raw material, wood pulp. Some things on their shopping list have gone down in price, but unfortunately I had failed for the most part to notice these changes. This is because for the most part I don’t but those items often enough to notice the changes. China’s reverse tariffs have forced down the price on some seafood items like shrimp and lobster. Even though Saint Louis is as landlocked as you can get, I’ll have to have to start shopping for more shellfish. Most of the items on the NPR list did not change in price.
The pictured salty is not likely to carry any of the shopping items on the NPR list. With its larger than normal cranes, it is designed to carry outsized cargos. A popular example of this type of cargo are wind turbine blades. With this ship’s name, Happy River, I leapt to the conclusion that it was of Chinese origin, but now I am not so sure. It was built in the Netherlands and was likely deadheading back down, after dropping off turbine blades that usually come from Germany.
I think that the protectionist trade policy that the current administration has adopted is horribly misguided. Trade wars are not easy to win. Especially, when you try to go mano a mano and all alone against a command economy. The latest round of US tariffs have been delayed until after the rush of this year’s holiday shopping season. That means that the real bite from tariffs won’t be felt until next year, which also happens to be an election year. We’ll see how happy voters are about getting a huge sales tax, just in time for next year’s election.