Three Kneelings and Nine Knockings


Paul Krugman, Trump and the Art of the Flail: Protectionism is worse when it’s erratic and unpredictable.

As you have probably Sherlocked out from the subtitle, Krugman—who has a Nobel Prize in international trade economics—contributes to the discussion by distinguishing predictable and steady protectionism from erratic protectionism. He concludes,

Protectionism is bad; erratic protectionism, imposed by an unstable leader with an insecure ego, is worse. But that’s what we’ll have as long as Trump remains in office.

And, now, follow the logic through to the next step. What Krugman knows, Xi Jinping also knows. Which means it should be, and very probably is, a very high item on President Xi’s bucket list to get the Trumpster out of the White House.

Which, in turn, means that Xi is not going to let the Trumpster off the hook like Mexico and Canada did with their NAFTA redux deal.

Which means that there won’t be a China deal at all. Or, if there is a China deal, it will be accompanied by a whole lot o’ kowtowin’ on Trump’s part.


The kowtow, or the three kneelings and the nine knockings. Kneel down, knock your head vigorously on the ground three times. Get up. Do it again. Get up. Do it again for the third time. Described as an athletic exercise designed to leave no doubt in anyone’s mind about who was the superior and who was the inferior.