Ex-Treasury Secretary Tells Macomb Trump Tariffs Could Cost Jobs, Raise Prices

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, never a fan of President Trump, says recent tariffs proposed on steel, aluminum and China could backfire, sparking higher prices for consumers and making businesses less willing to make new investments.

Courtesy of Macomb Community College

Trump Administration officials say they may wait until June before imposing new tariffs on goods made in China.

President Trump announced the tariffs in retaliation for what he calls China’s unfair trade practices, including the alleged theft of U.S. technology and intellectual property.

The delay in imposing tariffs gives the Administration time to negotiate revisions with China and head-off what many Trump critics fear could become a trade war.

Those critics include one of the chief economic advisors during the Clinton and Obama Administrations.

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary and Director of the White House National Economic Council Larry Summers spoke this week at Macomb Community College.

He says a potential trade was with China depends on the negotiating tactics used by the Trump Administration.

“If it’s all threats and something is worked out I doubt there’ll be any serious consequences,” Summers says. “If we impose tariffs and then China responds and then we respond, you get a cycle of escalation (and) I think the consequences could be quite serious.”

Summers says a trade war with China would mean higher prices for consumers, less real income for workers and fewer new investments by business owners. 

He adds that, in his view, Trump’s proposed steel tariffs could backfire, raising prices and costing jobs for manufacturers in Michigan and elsewhere.


Click on the audio link above to hear the full interview with Larry Summers


  • Quinn Klinefelter
    Quinn Klinefelter is a Senior News Editor at 101.9 WDET. In 1996, he was literally on top of the news when he interviewed then-Senator Bob Dole about his presidential campaign and stepped on his feet.