Aluminum Foil Duties


So I haven’t seen anyone commenting on this effort to Make America Great Again and increase prices at the register for American consumers… Throughts?

Here’s the opposing argument:


Haven’t read it yet, but aluminum foil is the last thing I think about checking the price on when I buy things. How could this hurt us in the long run assuming this is a lever for opening China’s markets more?


I agree but I’m sure Slim will weigh in soon and point out the error of our ways.


And he’ll be right :wink:

Consider how widely it is used. It’s also anti-capitalist protectionism – based on an excuse that trade deficits are terrible, especially when a foreign government subsidizes an industry. It’s a small industry with few jobs in this country at all. If you read their propaganda, you’ll learn that it’s actually growing in spite of the Chinese industry and government.


We use very little tin foil. Maybe a roll every 6 months. Mostly just when baking sweet potatoes.


Right so it’s meant only to hurt sales of Chinese imports, subsidized by China’s government. So won’t that be like having China’s government just sending its subsidy to our government? If they don’t subsidize then more American plants will make foil.

I’m all for fair free trade, but government subsidies are not fair so we need a fare I fear…


We’re getting subsidized goods at the Chinese taxpayers’ expense. We benefit, they lose. So the problem is… what, exactly?

Oh and Old Dog? Mercantilism, It died for a reason. I think you know that. I don’t need to hand hold you, you should just be wise enough to pursue your own doubts.

FTR, The Road to Serfdom is the basic antidote to this thinking. Hayek was denouncing FDR’s own “jobs are a sacred right” nonsense back in the '40s, because of what it created in the '30s.


Your reasoning ( at least appears to me) to be that we can dissuade China from doing this by taking up this measure, or that we can at least usefully control the effects by doing this. I’am skeptical of that, as It didn’t work out this way for steel.. We simply ended up hurting ourselves by interfering, and the crux of the reason for that would be this:

Aluminum foil is a pretty low-value good, but by making it more expensive, you’ll end up punishing any of our other industries that make consistent use of it, and cede the advantage to foreign competition who will continue to get it at less cost.

2nd-order effects. Those that happen downstream of the issue at hand. It’s been totally ignored by that Bloomberg article. It rather talks a lot about political jockeying…


Government subsidies are not free trade. They’re not fair. They’re not right. They hurt the economy that relies on them. Through the use of government force, they inefficiently allocate resources, providing a windfall for those who buy them cheaply, in this case, the American consumer. They’re not “fair trade,” and they’re not “free trade,” but free trade can solve the problem. “Fair trade,” protectionism, will solve nothing except perhaps to force us to misallocate resources and start making overpriced aluminum foil instead of something more suited to our economy and ensuring Americans lose at the cash register.

Are we really that short on jobs that we need more aluminum foil factories? Apparently so, despite this, the foil association reports that it’s growing! The subsidies aren’t “taking away” anyone’s job even. So what’s the fuss about?

Of course, we as capitalists ought to know that we are literally incapable of centrally planning economics well. We keep telling the socialists this. The law of unintended consequences always bites us in the butt, just like it will bite the Chinese in theirs. Then there’s the opportunity cost to the Chinese people. Foil probably should be spun off to another country, but China wants to keep it. In the meantime, China misses out on producing something better and more valuable that it can trade.

If we tax it in response, we’ll spend more for everything where foil is used, and it’s really common.

It’s everywhere in our economy, the wrappers around our hamburgers and tacos, the seals on our pill bottles, etc. and so forth.