Apr 23, 2019

Whirlpool gets a trade war boost from price hikes

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Data: Company filings; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

Whirlpool is selling fewer appliances in its biggest market, but still raking in record profits, according to its first quarter earnings report.

Why it matters: Whirlpool, whose CEO once praised protectionist trade policies, quickly went from the winning side to the losing side of President Trump's trade war. But it's since fended off waning demand with price hikes on washers and dryers, which in turn, has caused even less demand.

The big picture, via the New York Times' Jim Tankersley: "Companies that largely sell imported washers, like Samsung and LG, raised prices to compensate for the tariff costs they had to pay. But domestic manufacturers, like Whirlpool, increased prices, too, largely because they could."

Background: Trump imposed tariffs as high as 50% on imported washing machines in January of last year, which Whirlpool hoped would turn consumers away from its foreign competitors.

  • Months later, the Trump administration announced steel and aluminum tariffs, sending prices for the raw material needed to make appliances higher. "The global steel costs have risen substantially, and in particular, in the US, they have reached unexplainable levels," CEO Marc Bitzer told analysts last year, as CNN reports.

Yes, but: Researchers argue in a paper released this week that the industry's price increases are not a result of higher material costs, but "domestic firms exploiting their market power."

  • Whirlpool isn't denying that. In a release alongside its earnings report, Blitzer attributed the strong results to "successful execution of price increases" despite "a soft demand environment."
  • Shares of Whirlpool rose 8% in late trading on Monday.

Go deeper: Investors don't care about the Trump trade war with China

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 p.m. ET: 1,347,803 — Total deaths: 74,807 — Total recoveries: 277,402Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 p.m. ET: 368,196 — Total deaths: 10,986 — Total recoveries: 19,828Map.
  3. Trump administration latest: President Trump's economic adviser Peter Navarro warned White House colleagues in late January the coronavirus could take over half a million American lives and cost close to $6 trillion, memos obtained by Axios show.
  4. 2020 update: Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks governor's attempt to delay in-person primary voting delayed until June.
  5. States latest: West Coast states send ventilators to New York and other states with more immediate need — Data suggest coronavirus curve may be flattening in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
  6. World update: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson moved to intensive care as coronavirus symptoms worsen.
  7. Stocks latest: The S&P 500 closed up 7% on Monday, while the Dow rose more than 1,500 points.
  8. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Docs: Navarro memos warning mass death circulated West Wing in January

Image from a memo to President Trump

In late January, President Trump's economic adviser Peter Navarro warned his White House colleagues the novel coronavirus could take more than half a million American lives and cost close to $6 trillion, according to memos obtained by Axios.

  • By late February, Navarro was even more alarmed, and he warned his colleagues, in another memo, that up to two million Americans could die of the virus.

Driving the news: Navarro's grim estimates are set out in two memos — one dated Jan. 29 and addressed to the National Security Council, the other dated Feb. 23 and addressed to the president. The NSC circulated both memos around the White House and multiple agencies.

Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks governor from delaying state's primary

Tony Evers. Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Wisconsin's Supreme Court on Monday blocked an executive order by Gov. Tony Evers (D) that attempted to delay in-person voting for the state's primary election — currently scheduled for Tuesday — until June 9.

Driving the news: Judges ruled 4-2 along ideological lines that Evers does not have the power as governor to unilaterally postpone the election, despite the fact that the state has a stay-at-home order in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health