Whirlpool’s Not So Swell Adventures With The Donald’s Tariff Spin Cycles

Last January, the Trump administration imposed a penalty on Americans who buy foreign-made washers. The administration argued that the need to protect our domestic washer makers from competition required the imposition, for a period of three years, of a 20 percent duty on the first 1.2 million imported washing machines each year and a 50 percent duty on quantities above that threshold. Whirlpool loved the idea of getting a leg up on two of its most fierce competitors and increasingly consumer darlings

Here’s the thing: When you cheer for protectionism, you never know when you might become the victim of the next round of consumer-punishing tariffs. That’s what happened to Whirlpool, which is now a victim of the 25 percent steel tariffs imposed by the administration to protect the steel industry from foreign competition.

Meanwhile, appliance-repair businesses are making a killing as consumers put off the purchase of new appliances in favor of the expensive (but relatively cheaper) repairs they wouldn’t have purchased in a not-so-long-ago pre-tariff past. Poor protect-me-but-not-thee Whirlpool; this sad turn of events has forced the company to reconsider many of its hopes for expansion.