President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports are getting a lot of blame for slowing the global economy, but it’s all the uncertainty from his Twitter habit and trade policy more broadly that could be even more harmful.
According to a report by Bloomberg Economics’ Dan Hanson, Jamie Rush and Tom Orlik, uncertainty over trade could lower world gross domestic product by 0.6% in 2021, relative to a scenario with no trade war. That’s double the direct impact of the tariffs themselves and the equivalent of $585 billion off the International Monetary Fund’s estimated world GDP of $97 trillion in 2021.
China would be hit harder by the uncertainty factor, with its GDP lower by 1% compared with a 0.6% chunk taken out of America’s economic output, the analysis showed.
“The tweet is mightier than the tariff,” the Bloomberg economists wrote in their report.
The U.S. president’s social media posts on trade, many of which are about China, sometimes appear several times a day and other times not at all. His contradictory takes on the progress of negotiations with Beijing send a chill through businesses that are making decisions about investing and hiring.
A survey released last week by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found a growing conviction among businesses that tariffs were hitting their bottom line.
The Fed responded to economic headwinds with a rate cut of 0.25% last month. The Bloomberg Economics report said that while monetary policy can be used to mitigate uncertainty shocks, it cannot prevent the damage entirely. If central banks respond to demand weakness, world GDP will be 0.3% lower in 2021 than it would be in a no-trade-war scenario.
For every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. Some call it the concept of cause and effect. Others would term it reaping what you sow. At Standard Bank, this means that #GoodFollowsGood.
From August to October, Standard Bank will launch the Tweet Machine, a mobile industrial container that acts as a factory of sorts by linking the global reach of social media to 3D printers and laser cutters, which will produce 1000 set square and ruler kits for grade 6 learners. This is the first installation in the world to turn tweets into educational tools.
The idea will be to kick-start a positive impact initiative on social media by encouraging South Africans to tweet about something positive using the #GoodFollowsGood hashtag. Standard Bank will then facilitate the forward payment of this positivity by transforming these tweets into stationery sets for learners that are part of the Standard Bank Tutuwa-BRIDGE School Programme. The five-year partnership with Tutuwa-BRIDGE seeks to support schools in improving learner outcomes. Both learners and school performance will be monitored to ensure that the impact is effective and long-lasting.
The technology powering the Tweet Machine is a customised Python programming script on a master computer to scrape Twitter and other social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn for posts using the #GoodFollowsGood hashtag. The social media posts will be fed to a special micro-controller unit called a Raspberry Pi, which will send the appropriate print commands to the 3D printers and laser cutters housed inside the Standard Bank Tweet Machine.
“Our goal is to use the power of social media to illustrate that everything you do sets something in motion. The Tweet Machine activation is a live demonstration of positive words having a positive impact, while at the same time creating tangible education tools to benefit young learners,” said Katlego Mahleka, Senior Manager, Brand at Standard Bank Group.
The public will be able to view and contribute to the stationery by posting on social media and feeding directly into the printers and laser cutters as they work. The activations will be held at a two venues in Johannesburg: Melrose Arch Square (30 August – 2 September) and Singularity U Summit (15-18 October).