Donald Trump and the Indiana Carrier factory, explained

A huge PR coup for the Trump Show that’s almost certainly economically irrelevant.

The plants weren’t closing because Carrier was losing money hand over fist or because the products they made were obsolete. It was simply cold-hearted medium-term economic planning — it would be cheaper to do it in Mexico.

.. And as liberal economist Dean Baker writes, it is roughly correct that facilitating the relocation of industrial activity from the US to Mexico was one of the goals of the NAFTA deal.

.. It’s true that something abstract like a 0.25 percentage point cut in the federal funds rate or a temporary partial suspension of the payroll tax would do a lot more to create jobs than jawboning a single company about a single factory. But Trump’s willingness to roll up his sleeves and get involved in the problems of one American community indicates an obsessive focus on boosting the fortunes of working-class Midwesterners — even as his administration’s big-picture policy focus remains on deregulating Wall Street, enacting an enormous tax cut for rich people, and slashing spending on assistance to the poor.

.. The free media Trump is going to garner from this deal is worth many, many millions of dollars of television ads, so letting Trump have his win could simply be a highly cost-effective way to earn some goodwill from the president-elect.

.. undertakes a major effort that’s pretty clearly aimed more at a PR win than a particular policy goal is there’s always the risk that he’ll be inclined to give away the store in his negotiation for the sake of the photo op.

.. Trump has arguably laid out a blueprint for large-scale blackmail.