People think of Peter Navarro, the top White House trade adviser, as President Trump’s mind-meld on tariffs — the most hardline protectionist in the White House. But Navarro used to preach very different ideas in his early career as an economist.
The bottom line: In his 1984 book, "The Policy Game: How Special Interests and Ideologues are Stealing America," that's no longer in print — Axios got a copy from a university library — Navarro sounds a lot like the very administration officials he's sparred with on trade policy. And he argues that tariffs will inevitably send the global economy into crisis.
We asked Navarro what prompted the radical change in his views, and he explained how he went from a free trader to an economic nationalist. In response to "The Policy Game," specifically, Navarro told Axios:
From the book...
There are multiple passages in "Policy Game" that directly argue against Navarro's current positions. Navarro's go-to argument defending the White House's trade moves has been national security. In a June New York Times op-ed, he wrote:
But Navarro's own book topples that argument as well:
Navarro lauded the impact of tariffs on saving American jobs in a May op-ed in USA Today, writing:
But he warned against the harmful longer-run effects of tariffs on jobs in his 1984 book:
And Navarro has emphasized that tariffs won't hurt American consumers, saying on CBS' "Face the Nation" in March that the Trump administration's moves' effect on the prices of consumer goods will be "negligible to nothing."
In 1984, Navarro held a very different view: