No, Trump's tariffs did not spark a wave of farm bankruptcies

The Wall Street Journal has been against Trump's trade tariffs, and any chance its writers get, they will put blame on the tariffs for bad things, even when it is obvious they are not to blame.

On Thursday, they had a front-page story that attributed a wave of Chapter 12 bankruptcies (50 total in the U.S.) partially to small tariffs put in place by Trump in 2018.  Any business reporter with a brain knows that those small tariffs had nothing to do with bankruptcies that occurred in 2018.  Those farmers had to be struggling with too much debt for years, and they finally threw in the towel to do a bankruptcy workout program.  So the tariffs absolutely did not cause the bankruptcies in 2018.

It is the debt that caused the problem, not a minor decrease in prices in 2018.  Farmers also had record corn and soybean production and yields in 2018.  The extra yield would have helped.  Has the WSJ attempted to determine how much of the price decrease is related to extra yield and inventory, or are these people so wedded to blaming Trump for the tariffs that they don't care?

If the WSJ would like to blame anyone for the higher bankruptcies in 2018, why doesn't it blame the Federal Reserve?  The Federal Reserve kept interest rates artificially low for years, which encouraged farmers and others to chase up the price of risk assets, like farmland, to higher values than the crop prices and rent prices would otherwise support.  The Fed kept the rates low because President Obama's economic policies did little or nothing to help the private sector, and the only way to get slow growth was to punish savers and push up the price of risk assets.  In the past few years, the Federal Reserve started raising rates, and that especially hurts highly leveraged borrowers, including farmers.

Now that commodity prices came down (commodity prices always fluctuate based on supply and demand — a very simple concept), the over-leveraged farmers and other borrowers will have problems, but the problems are not attributed to the short-term small tariffs.

Then in the article, the journalists say median income according to USDA for farmers in 2018 was negative $1,548.  I can't find that number anywhere.  I found articles saying that according to the USDA, the median income for farmers was an inflation-adjusted positive $76,594, which was down only 1.5% from 2017.

It is truly a shame that the WSJ and so many other news outlets push an agenda instead of just reporting the news.

The Wall Street Journal has been against Trump's trade tariffs, and any chance its writers get, they will put blame on the tariffs for bad things, even when it is obvious they are not to blame.

On Thursday, they had a front-page story that attributed a wave of Chapter 12 bankruptcies (50 total in the U.S.) partially to small tariffs put in place by Trump in 2018.  Any business reporter with a brain knows that those small tariffs had nothing to do with bankruptcies that occurred in 2018.  Those farmers had to be struggling with too much debt for years, and they finally threw in the towel to do a bankruptcy workout program.  So the tariffs absolutely did not cause the bankruptcies in 2018.

It is the debt that caused the problem, not a minor decrease in prices in 2018.  Farmers also had record corn and soybean production and yields in 2018.  The extra yield would have helped.  Has the WSJ attempted to determine how much of the price decrease is related to extra yield and inventory, or are these people so wedded to blaming Trump for the tariffs that they don't care?

If the WSJ would like to blame anyone for the higher bankruptcies in 2018, why doesn't it blame the Federal Reserve?  The Federal Reserve kept interest rates artificially low for years, which encouraged farmers and others to chase up the price of risk assets, like farmland, to higher values than the crop prices and rent prices would otherwise support.  The Fed kept the rates low because President Obama's economic policies did little or nothing to help the private sector, and the only way to get slow growth was to punish savers and push up the price of risk assets.  In the past few years, the Federal Reserve started raising rates, and that especially hurts highly leveraged borrowers, including farmers.

Now that commodity prices came down (commodity prices always fluctuate based on supply and demand — a very simple concept), the over-leveraged farmers and other borrowers will have problems, but the problems are not attributed to the short-term small tariffs.

Then in the article, the journalists say median income according to USDA for farmers in 2018 was negative $1,548.  I can't find that number anywhere.  I found articles saying that according to the USDA, the median income for farmers was an inflation-adjusted positive $76,594, which was down only 1.5% from 2017.

It is truly a shame that the WSJ and so many other news outlets push an agenda instead of just reporting the news.