Thanks to Donald Trump, Washing Machines Cost 12% More This Year

"And if you buy now, we'll only charge you 12 percent more than we did last year!"Gene Blevins/ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

Via Jim Tankersley, here’s a chart that shows what happened to the price of appliances after President Trump imposed tariffs on Chinese-made washing machines:

The response of appliance manufacturers was simple: freed of competition from China, they raised the price of both washers and dryers (which are typically purchased together). Conversely, the price of refrigerators and dishwashers, which weren’t affected by the tariffs, stayed roughly the same.

This comes from a paper written by Aaron Flaaen, Ali Hortaçsu, and Felix Tintelno, which you can read here. The authors calculate that manufacturers raised the price of washers and dryers sold in America by about 12 percent, which represents $1.5 billion in extra costs paid by consumers.

Were there benefits? The authors estimate that the tariffs produced about 1,800 new jobs—and that’s it, since there’s no indication that factory wages increased. The vast majority of this extra money is additional profit since most of the washers and dryers would have been sold anyway regardless of Trump’s tariffs, but at a lower price. At a bare minimum, you can figure that (a) consumers paid 12 percent more for their washers and dryers and (b) manufacturers—most of whom are based overseas—raked in more than $1 billion in extra profits. In return, 1,800 Americans got new jobs.

Your mileage may vary, but this sure doesn’t seem like a very shrewd deal to me.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate