This weekend, President Donald Trump announced a major economic deal with Beijing. "China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars," he wrote on Twitter. "Farmers will be a a very BIG and FAST beneficiary of our deal with China. They intend to start purchasing agricultural product immediately," he added. "Farmers, I LOVE YOU!"

A few days later, Trump flip-flopped. "We are either going to have a REAL DEAL with China, or no deal at all--at which point we will be charging major Tariffs," he wrote. "If a fair deal is able to be made with China, one that does all of the many things we know must be finally done, I will happily sign. Let the negotiations begin."

These quick-succession declarations roiled markets: Stock prices bounced and then plunged as traders responded to good news (a potential U.S.-China deal) and bad (the apparent lack of a "REAL DEAL"). It seems trade wars are not, in fact, good and easy to win--especially if it is not clear what winning looks like. For all of Trump's bellowing about tariffs and China and trade, his goals and strategies remain confused and confusing, and much of what he wishes to accomplish might be impossible.

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