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Facts Matter

The scale of the U.S.-China trade deficit

President Trump previewed a plan of action this morning to reduce the U.S.-China trade deficit on Twitter, saying, "China has been asked to develop a plan for the year of a One Billion Dollar reduction in their massive Trade Deficit with the United States."

By the numbers: A reduction of $1 billion would comprise just a tiny fraction of the $375.2 billion trade deficit that the U.S. had with China in 2017. That deficit has been expanding since 1985 and, in 2016 alone, it grew by over $28 billion.

Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

The facts

  • China's global profile grew when it was allowed to join the World Trade Organization in 2001. Membership in the WTO entitled China to the stable tariff rate enjoyed by other members.
  • Since then, Chinese exports have taken over the world. China has quickly emerged as a manufacturing powerhouse, often buying raw materials from the U.S. and other nations and exporting the finished products back to the States.
  • In 2017, the U.S. imported $505.6 billion worth of goods from China. While U.S. exports to China have grown as well, they've risen at a much slower rate.
  • Yes, but: With various U.S. economic figures — such as industrial output and exports — at or near record highs in 2017, China's rise hasn't come at the U.S.'s economic expense, per Scott Lincicome, a trade policy expert at the Cato Institute:
"We like to think of global trade as an expanding pie. Your share might decline relative to other countries, but that's fine as long as your domestic indicators are doing better than they were last year."

Where things stand

  • Trump plans to announce his steep tariffs — 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum — on Thursday. The across-the-board tariffs will not only impact Chinese exports to the United States but also will apply to close allies as well. The European Union has already announced a round of politically-targeted tariffs against the U.S. in response to Trump's trade moves.
  • Trump also tweeted about China's theft of U.S. intellectual property, which has been a continual flash point in U.S.-China relations. There had been plans to punish China with tariffs based on that threat stretching back to the Obama administration, indicating a much wider level of support for that action.

The bottom line

QuoteThese tariffs may be the last moment when America gets to set the terms of engagement with China.
— UC Hastings law professor Frank Wu at a Brookings event Wednesday
Haley Britzky 3 hours ago
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Zuckerberg happy to testify if it is "the right thing to do”

A portrait of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg
A portrait of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Jaap Arriens / NurPhoto via Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he would be "happy" to testify before Congress if it was "the right thing to do," in an interview with CNN's Laurie Segall.

Why it matters: Facebook has been under the microscope lately for what Zuckerberg called earlier today the "Cambridge Analytica situation." Zuckerberg said if he was the "person...who will have the most knowledge," then he'd be the one to testify in the face of Facebook's data-collection situation.

Bob Herman 1 hour ago
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Jamie Dimon's $141 million payday

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon speaks at an event.
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon speaks at an event in 2016. Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon took home more than $141 million in 2017 after calculating the actual realized value of his stock, according to a preliminary draft of the banking giant's annual proxy document. Dimon's compensation is calculated as $28.3 million when using the estimated fair value of his stock. But that compensation figure doesn't matter as much because it doesn't reflect what executives report in their personal income tax filings.

Why it matters: It's the highest pay package of any active corporate CEO from 2017, based on Securities and Exchange Commission documents that have been filed thus far. Dimon's compensation is also 1,818 times higher than what the average JPMorgan employee makes.