7 Wilbur Ross Quotes About Business That Suggest He's Donald Trump's Perfect Pick
While on the campaign trail, president-elect Donald Trump made jobs and trade some of his biggest policy issues. Sure, he lacked concrete plans, but he regularly attacked NAFTA and said that countries, including Mexico and China, had been taking advantage of the United States, playing us for our own economic gain all in the name of free trade. Trump said we needed better deals, and now he's appointed a Commerce secretary that agrees with him. Meet the billionaire investor that got his start buying bankrupt steel mills. These seven Wilbur Ross economic quotes show what he and Trump have in common.
Ideologically — if you can claim Trump actually has one ideology — they have quite a few similarities. But there is one main difference where Ross might have some troubles. Blaming all our problems on China like Trump did might be hard for the guy. Ross is actually a big fan of China and its culture.
"I think the China-bashing is wildly overdone in this country,” Ross said back in 2012 during a CNBC interview. “The reality is that if something were to happen that cost China jobs, like if they upwardly revalued the currency a lot, those jobs aren’t going to come back to the U.S., they would go to Vietnam, they would go to Thailand, they would go to whatever country was the lowest cost, so it’s a fiction on both sides that those jobs will come back.”
That sounds like rational economic thinking, something that has been missing from the conversation since Hillary Clinton conceded to Trump back in November. But we're not looking at a status quo appointment. These seven quotes from Ross on the world economy and trade show that in many ways he and Trump have similar views.
1. Those Darn Auto Companies
Just as Trump has attacked auto companies' decisions to move jobs from the U.S. to other, cheaper countries, Ross has criticized the practice — especially since officially joining the Trump campaign. Ross co-authored a white paper with economist Peter Navarro and touched on the topic:
When auto companies like GM or Ford build new factories in China or Mexico rather than in Michigan or Ohio, additional jobs are also lost throughout the economy. As the National Association of Manufacturers notes, for every one manufacturing job in the US auto industry, many more jobs are created downstream in industries ranging from aluminum, plastics, rubber, and steel to glass, rubber, textiles, and computer chips.
2. And The Currency Manipulators, Too
Ross is also now towing the line on China, at least regarding currency. He and Navarro, in the same paper, argue that trade imbalances only happen (we buy more from China than they buy from us) because their currency isn't open to market forces:
In a world of freely floating currencies, the U.S. dollar would weaken and the Chinese yuan would strengthen because the U.S. runs a large trade deficit with China and the rest of the world.
3. Strike When It's Hot (At Others' Expense)
Trump, back in 2006, talked about how he hoped the housing market would crash because then he could get rich quickly by buying when prices were low. That's the same thought process Ross had for a banking system in Cyprus, which he owns a good chuck of. He suggested they try to benefit from Brexit:
I recommend that Cyprus should adopt and immediately announce even more liberal financial service policies than it already has so that it can try to take advantage of the inevitable relocations that will occur during the period of confusion.
4. Be Tough, Big, And Yuge
Ross is sold on the idea of playing rough when it comes to renegotiating trade deals:
American negotiators keep making the same mistakes. Besides hurting our workers, chronic trade deficits stifle economic growth while we now owe China and other trading partners trillions in U.S. Treasury debt.
5. Not A Fan Of Trade Deals Like NAFTA, Either
Back to the theory that America has made bad deals, Ross specifically criticized the types that have gained steam in recent years like the TPP:
The problem with regional trade agreements is you get picked apart by the first country, then you negotiate with the second, you get picked apart, and you go with the third one, you get picked apart again. What has to be put into perspective — we are the big market, we are the world’s biggest importer, we need to treat the other countries as good suppliers, not as determining the whole show.
6. Tell Them What They Want To Hear
Leaders of some of the big industrial unions, the steel workers, the auto workers — they understand the dynamics of the industry at least as well as the senior management of the companies.
7. No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
Ross summed it up in simple lingo for Fox Business back in August:
Free trade is like free lunch: There is no free lunch. Somebody wins and somebody loses. And unfortunately, we've been losing with these stupid agreements that we've made.
Maybe Trump's team will be able to negotiate other versions of the agreements, but if not, the economic underpinnings that U.S. manufacturing and commerce rely on will be up in the air — and that's something business doesn't respond well to.