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Carl Icahn Sold 1 Million Shares in Imported Steel-Dependent Company Two Weeks Ago; He Should Have Sold a Month Ago.


The Guardian reported today (attributing the first report to Think Progress) that Carl Icahn, worth about $17 billion, sold a million shares in a company that experienced a sharp loss after President Trump announced a 25% tariff on imported steel to take effect next week.  Mr. Icahn sold his shares in Manitowoc, who makes cranes, starting February 12, for roughly $32-34 million.  The Commerce Department reported its recommendation for tariffs on February 16.  By this morning, the share price had dropped 5.48%, meaning that Mr. Icahn avoided a loss of roughly $6 million.

A little history: Manitowoc was selling at roughly $23 a share until last July, when it began to rise dramatically, to a peak of $43.59 on January 26.  It then began a rapid drop, past $32 on February 12, to $27 this morning.  So Mr. Icahn should have sold in January.  It seems that this company, which is barely making a profit, has share prices that are greatly affected by peripheral news, such as the performance of Caterpillar, a much larger maker of the same equipment.  Mr. Icahn had been holding his shares for three years.

Mr. Icahn was named as one of Mr. Trump’s special advisors during the presidential election but resigned his position due to complaints about conflicts of interest.  He apparently remains a major Trump supporter.  Meanwhile, Australia  obtained an assurance that they would be exempted from the tariffs last July at the G20 summit when Mr. Trump was considering a tax of 20%– less than his final figure of 25%.

The whole idea of slapping heavy tariffs on steel imports is a typical Trumpian nationalist notion, in line with his pronouncements since his presidential campaign.  According to news accounts, companies that consume steel account for eighty times as many jobs as companies that produce steel in the United States.  So this tariff will do nothing to improve the US jobs picture, at the same time that it risks starting a nasty global trade war.  It is unlikely that US companies will suddenly start producing enough steel to satisfy the demands of our companies that consume steel, and the imposition of tariffs will have a distinctly negative effect on our economy.

Jim Sciutto tweeted that the European Union is planning to place retaliatory tariffs on Harley-Davidson, Levi’s, and bourbon whiskey.

Therefore, the likelihood of US economic growth improving over the next year has suddenly been significantly reduced.  Negative effects on our economy will result in Mr. Trump becoming even less popular than he is today, perhaps making his impeachment and removal more likely.  The substitution of “Moral Mike” Pence as president will, however, not be an improvement.

Logically, if we establish that Russian meddling in the presidential election has caused a fraudulent result, both Trump and Pence should be impeached and removed for cheating.  That will probably not happen.

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