Economy: Stutter Step

OK, Trump announces tariffs on washing machines, and Whirlpool announces it will StarryNight_by_Van_Goghhire 200 more workers in the US.

The next morning, Kimberly-Clark announces that it is laying off upwards of 5,000 employees, even while its profits are increasing.  Apparently, in the height of flu season, people are buying fewer tissues. Go figure.(1) In any case, the layoffs and closure of 10 manufactturing facilities come in the context of a $3.3 billion operating profit and increase in stock dividend.(2) Clearly we know who matters, and it’s not the employees. The company acknowledged increased profits from tax reform, but that did nothing for job security.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the tariffs. My personal experience is that Whirlpool makes lousey products that last three or four years and then die. The control panel for our dishwasher died after three years — the “normal” wash cycle button now triggers steam clean and everything else triggers a light wash. The repair cost exceeds the price of the machine. And the tariffs? They’ll allow Whirlpool to raise prices. So, as both China and South Korea have said, the people affected will be US consumers, who will have to pay more for less.



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