Support for free trade policies among professional economists is famously overwhelming.
So it surprising that only a very small group of economists expected President Donald Trump’s embrace of tariffs and aggressive trade negotiations will have a serious negative impact on the U.S. economy.
In its latest survey, the National Association for Business Economics found that just 2.4 percent of respondents see the Trump administration’s trade policies as “strongly negative for the economy.”
Slightly over 12 percent expect a moderately or marginally positive impact. Given the traditional support of the economics profession for free trade policies, that figure is surprisingly high. Back in the summer of 2016, just 9 percent of economists said that U.S. policy should become more protectionist.
Forty-six percent of business economists surveyed said they expect the Trump administration’s trade policies to be marginally negative. In the August 2016 survey, 65 percent said U.S. trade policy should be “more open and free.” Another 23 percent said it should remain unchanged.
Twenty-seven percent of respondents expect the effect will be “moderately negative,” according to the survey.
“Overall, the panel assesses trade policy on U.S. GDP growth through 2019 as largely negative, although not strongly so,” the NABE said in a statement.
Adding together those who think the Trump administration’s trade policies will have a positive effect or only a marginally negative effect produces a 58 percent majority of economists. That’s a stark contrast with the almost daily headlines warning that President Trump is endangering the world economy by stirring up a trade war.
The economists also do not expect the economy to enter a recession until 2020.