Updated Dec 2, 2019

Trump says he will restore steel and aluminum tariffs against Brazil and Argentina

President Trump tweeted Monday that he will restore steel and aluminum tariffs against Brazil and Argentina due to their currency devaluations.

"Brazil and Argentina have been presiding over a massive devaluation of their currencies. which is not good for our farmers. Therefore, effective immediately, I will restore the Tariffs on all Steel & Aluminum that is shipped into the U.S. from those countries."

The big picture: Trump's tweets show that he is not afraid to open a potential new front in his ongoing global trade war even as the 2020 presidential election approaches — and also touched on his antagonism with the Federal Reserve, which he said should lower rates to prevent similar actions from other countries.

Reality check: Both the Brazilian real and Argentine peso are freely traded and have been for years. The currencies have weakened because of political upheavals and dwindling growth forecasts in the two countries — not government intervention.

  • In Argentina's case, the weak currency has been one of the biggest pain points for its citizens as its economy attempts to pull out of a lengthy recession. It has helped fuel spiraling inflation and erode buying power, putting one in three people in poverty, the highest level in close to a decade.

What they're saying: "Trump’s tweets suggest a failure to understand how trade flows, exchange rates, or economies function at the most basic level," Karl Schamotta, chief market strategist at Cambridge Global Payments, tells Axios.

  • "His actions are completely counterproductive, and will only apply more pressure on both currencies, driving them down against the dollar, while damaging central banks which are doing their best to fight depreciation."
  • "He is somehow managing to make human suffering worse in these countries — while also making U.S. economic leadership laughable."

Behind the scenes: A source familiar says that Trump is fighting Fed Chair Jerome Powell every day about a strong dollar. The president and Peter Navarro, one of his most hawkish trade advisers, claim that it is seriously "overvalued" and believe countries that are devaluing are trying to game the system.

  • Trump is preoccupied with getting China to announce a massive purchase of U.S. agricultural goods. The same source says that "the agriculture part of the China deal is driving him mad."
  • A former senior Trump administration official who worked on trade told Axios, "Can understand his frustration, but un-exempting minor metals tariffs isn’t going to do or change anything. It just betrays his emotional reaction and makes the U.S. position look weak."
  • Brazil is America’s major global competitor to sell soybeans to China. And Argentina inked a deal earlier this year to export soymeal, a livestock feed, to China, per Reuters.

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The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,410,228 — Total deaths: 345,105 — Total recoveries — 2,169,005Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.