Does Anyone In DC Know How To Make A Washing Machine?

Does Anyone In DC Know How To Make A Washing Machine?
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The Trump administration is about to impose its third set of tariffs later this week, this time targeting steel and aluminum. The administration previously imposed tariffs on Canadian soft lumber, solar panels and washing machines. Plenty of free trade defenders have taken the administration to task for imposing these new taxes on Americans so I won't repeat those arguments. What I want to know is if anyone in the Trump administration has a clue how a washing machine is actually made.

It isn't hard to find out. We have this wonderful thing called the internet where you can find out just about anything except maybe why anyone cares what the Kardashians are doing this week. I found this site called How Products Are Made that has a synopsis of how a washing machine is made. Here are some excerpts from the raw materials section:

Many parts of a washing machine are manufactured from sheet steel, usually coated with zinc to improve rust resistance. The steel manufacturer supplies the metal in a coil, which allows the material to be cut to size with minimum waste or automatically fed into the forming process. On some models made by Speed Queen, the spin tub is made of stainless steel. All other models use a steel (called enameling iron) designed for a porcelain coating....

The transmission is generally made from cast aluminum, which arrives from the manufacturer in ingots—20 pound slabs of aluminum.

Will the steel tariffs negate the cost advantage gained by the previously imposed washing machine tariffs? I have no idea and I'd bet my last dollar that no one in the Trump administration does either. This is what happens when you start micro-managing the economy. A more sarcastic commenter might even call it central planning but I'll refrain from that kind of demogoguery. Instead I'll just say that the phrase "fatal conceit" never seemed more appropriate than when applied to this administration - in more ways than one.


Joseph Calhoun is CEO of Alhambra Investment Partners in Miami, Florida. He can be reached at

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