Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump's sweeping proposals on international trade, if implemented, could unleash a trade war that would plunge the US economy into recession and cost more than 4 million private sector American jobs, according to an empirical analysis of the two candidates' trade agendas by the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate, has expressed skepticism about trade but does not advocate a change in the status quo.
Marcus Noland, Tyler Moran, and Sherman Robinson employ a macroeconomic model to show that if Trump raises tariffs sharply on China, Mexico, and other trading partners, export-dependent US industries in the information technology, aerospace, and engineering sectors would be the most severely affected. But the shock resulting from Trump's proposed trade sanctions would also damage sectors not engaged directly in trade.
In a separate legal analysis, Gary Clyde Hufbauer argues that there is ample precedent and scope for a US president to unilaterally raise tariffs as Trump has vowed to do as a centerpiece of his trade policy.