Over the weekend, Donald Trump abruptly announced that that the tariffs he threatened to impose on Mexico would not go into effect, having used his singular dealmaking skills to strike an agreement in which our neighbors to the south would stop the flow of undocumented immigrants into the United States. Hours later, he was complaining about coverage of the deal by the “Fake and Corrupt news Media,” which didn’t hail his negotiating prowess but correctly noted that 1) many of the actions pledged by Mexico were reportedly agreed to months ago, and 2) Mexico refused to give Trump the thing he really wanted, a “safe third country” treaty that would have allowed the U.S. to reject asylum-seekers if they hadn’t sought refugee status in Mexico first. That suggested that the tariffs—which would have had a catastrophic effect on both countries—were not, in fact, instrumental in getting Mexico to accede to the White House’s demands, but rather the ravings of a delusional man who was somehow convinced at the eleventh hour to call them off and just claim victory anyway, reality be damned. Which, of course, he did, only to be contradicted by Mexico before doubling down on the whole thing once again:
Yes, that’s the president of the United States waving around what he insists contains a secret agreement with Mexico that nobody knows about, after he was called out by the media for trying to claim his tariffs had resulted in totally new, hard-won concessions from Mexico. “So right here is the agreement,” he told reporters Tuesday, one day after Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s foreign minister, publicly denied said secret agreement existed. “It’s very simple. It’s right here. And in here is everything you want to talk about. Done. It’s done. It’s all done.” Naturally, he refused to unfold the paper and show the group assembled what it actually said.
Also on Tuesday, Trump told the press that farmers totally have his back in 2020, despite his actions on trade destroying their livelihoods and requiring multiple, multi-billion-dollar bailouts. “The best thing that ever happened to the farmers is me,” Trump said before departing for Iowa. “The farmers are my best friends.”
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Larry Kudlow unconcerned about data that shows Trump’s trade war is dinging the economy
“I wouldn’t put much stock in one month’s jobs number,” the National Economic Council director told CNBC, after the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that the U.S. created a mere 75,000 jobs in May, an outcome experts blamed on the president’s tariffs on China and other countries. Speaking of which, Kudlow, claimed that economic growth will be completely unaffected by Tariff Man’s exploits. “The U.S. economy is very strong,” he said. “I think we’re in very good shape and I think we’ll maintain a 3% growth pace this year.” Kudlow added that that growth is “not contingent on a China deal,” in what may or may not have been a signal that Trump, who said Monday that tariffs are a “beautiful thing,” will be dragging this thing out indefinitely.
Goldman CEO begs to differ
In an interview at Recode’s Code Conference in Arizona, Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, speaking for virtually everyone outside the president of a small group of White House personnel, said that while he agrees there are “very significant,” fundamental differences between the U.S. and China, tariffs are not the way to go about effecting change. “I am not a big fan of the economic cost of tariffs and I think there is a real economic cost to the U.S. economy and to consumers,” Solomon said. “We have to rebalance [but] the question is, how will it happen, and over what period of time? I think we can make progress on narrow issues around trade.” He added that “there’s no question if the president continues to use tariffs for a broader, political agenda, it can have an impact on market activity,” which it seemingly already has.
Solomon’s viewpoint, of course, echoes that of former Goldman Sachs president turned White House Economic Council director, who quit his job at the White House after failing to convince Trump that tariffs were a terrible, self-defeating idea. In an interview with Freakonomics recorded in March, Gary Cohn told host Stephen Dubner that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and economic adviser Peter Navarro used dirty tactics to convince Trump the levies were a good idea, effectively ratf–king the country into a trade war that is hurting our own interests.
Mark Zuckerberg gets a taste of his own medicine
Two artists and an advertising company created a deepfake of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg saying things he never said, and uploaded it to Instagram. The video, created by artists Bill Posters and Daniel Howe in partnership with advertising company Canny, shows Mark Zuckerberg sitting at a desk, seemingly giving a sinister speech about Facebook’s power. The video is framed with broadcast chyrons that say “We’re increasing transparency on ads,” to make it look like it’s part of a news segment.
“Imagine this for a second: One man, with total control of billions of people’s stolen data, all their secrets, their lives, their futures,” Zuckerberg’s likeness says, in the video. “I owe it all to Spectre. Spectre showed me that whoever controls the data, controls the future.”
The real, original clip is from a September 2017 address Zuckerberg gave concerning Russian election interference on Facebook. According to Facebook’s argument for keeping up a doctored video of Pelosi made to appear as though she was drunk and slurring her words during a speech last month, the fake Zuckerberg should remain!
Trump Says He’s Holding Up Trade Deal With China Ahead of G-20 (Bloomberg)
States File Suit in Bid to Block Sprint-T-Mobile Merger (WSJ)
New Jersey Wants to Cut Ties With Hedge Funds (Bloomberg)
Treasury Finishes Rules Ending Blue-State Tax-Cap Workarounds (WSJ)
Trump slams China’s tech scene, says it doesn’t have the capability of “the geniuses in Silicon Valley that walk around in undershirts” (Business Insider)
Regulators Are Left in Dark as Concern About Risky Loan Market Grows (Bloomberg)
Steven Spielberg writing horror series you can only stream after midnight (NYP)
Lock of Beethoven’s hair up for auction (UPI)
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