By Alan Murray and David Meyer
March 5, 2018

Good morning.

President Trump shows no sign of backing down from his threatened imposition of tariffs this week. Indeed, if anything, he seems to be doubling down.

After tweeting Friday that “trade wars are good, and easy to win”—a statement that flies in the face of both economics and history—he took a shot at European critics Saturday, saying: “If the E.U. wants to further increase their already massive tariffs and barriers on U.S. companies doing business there, we will simply apply a Tax on their Cars which freely pour into the U.S.”

The threatened tariffs on steel and aluminum—while cheered by those industries in the U.S.—will mean higher costs for a host of others, including aircraft and car manufacturers, beer and soft drink makers, and other canned goods companies. Most of the business community, and many of the president’s own economic advisers, are urging him not to do it, or at least soften the blow by targeting certain offending countries. But there’s no sign he’s heeding that advice (and ample signs he isn’t.) For the president, this one is about making good on a campaign promise. He also seems to believe his bellicose rhetoric will soften up U.S. trading partners into making better deals with the U.S. in the future.

Saturday night, I attended the annual Gridiron Dinner—a 132-year-old, white-tie Washington tradition that is meant to be an opportunity for the President and the press corps to do some good-natured ribbing. The president started by joking that it was “another calm week at the White House. We are finally running as a fine tuned machine.” (At least I think that was a joke.) He went on to say that his “staff was worried I couldn’t do self-deprecating humor. But nobody does self-deprecating humor better than I do.”

From there, the president descended into a series of attacks on his opponents and a defense of his administration…among other things, taking credit for driving North and South Korea together for the Olympics. The president clearly thinks his trade outburst will have the same beneficent effect on U.S. trading partners. Let’s hope he’s right.

I’m traveling to Singapore, via Korea, this morning, where FORTUNE’s Brainstorm Design conference starts on Tuesday. I’ll be reporting from there all week.

News below.

Alan Murray


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