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The Trump administration is concerned with the U.S.’s current trade deficit with the world. It has been increasingly aggressive in its posture with trade partners in the hopes of closing trade deficits.

Besides steel and aluminum tariffs, lumber tariffs, and possible automobile tariffs, the U.S. is threatening to impose tariffs on $450 billion worth of various types of Chinese goods. Each of these nations has responded with tariffs of their own on a range of products, including American pork, whiskey, machinery, tobacco, coal and a diverse array of others.

The main characteristic of the global trade environment now, said Joseph Foudy, a professor of economics at NYU’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business, is uncertainty. That makes it difficult to determine the long-term costs of the escalating, multilateral trade conflict.

“The toughest thing to price in is just the market uncertainty and those effects,” Foudy said. “The stock market is jittery, but there’s so much uncertainty about what [the] U.S. and others will impose. We see them move nervously but toward no particular outcome. It is slowing down business investment; uncertainty does that … businesses need to know what’s happening or they just put things on hold.”

According to Foudy, the future is unclear. The ongoing back and forth between the U.S. and other nations could continue to grow, or the tariffs could simply be leverage to extract concessions elsewhere, and the turmoil will wane. It’s hard to say, he said, especially in the age of “Trumpian uncertainty.”

“I could easily foresee this turning into a series of tit-for-tats where each country is harmed, there is some negative effect on market confidence and it brings down GDP growth by a quarter or half percent,” Foudy said. “But there is so much uncertainty as to whether U.S. will carry through on these threats and how many threats on tariffs are really just to get concessions on other issues.”