If the stock markets are any guide, there is reasonable confusion of whether the world is on the edge of a trade war, or merely some localized skirmishes after which there will be a truce. Unusually for the Trump administration, the list of Chinese products threatened by the US has been selected with much forethought. Technology-related items are high on the list while the sort of consumer products with US brand names and stores using China-based manufacturers largely escape, limiting the potential impact on US consumer prices and corporate profits.

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