President-elect Trump’s choice for commerce secretary ticks all of the traditional boxes. He’s a successful businessman. He has ideas about how to promote U.S. commercial interests. And he shares his boss’s views about international trade.
Of course, those are also good reasons to be wary of Wilbur Ross. His misguided views on trade agreements and the trade deficit, in conjunction with his affinity for protectionism and backroom deal-making, will necessitate our vigilance to protect the economy and free markets from the follies of crony capitalism.

Wilbur Ross has achieved great business success, mostly from acquiring, restructuring, and selling companies. The Harvard MBA’s talent for buying low and selling high is not in doubt. But since it’s not credible to suggest that a billionaire businessman doesn’t know what he’s talking about, understanding international trade and its benefits must require an entirely different set of faculties, which he lacks. How else to explain his positions?
Ross believes trade is a zero-sum game between Team USA and Team China or Team Mexico. Exports are America’s points; imports are the foreign team’s points. The trade account is the scoreboard, and the deficit on that scoreboard means the United States is losing at trade.