In the continuation of a disturbing pattern, President-elect Donald Trump caused Toyota's stock to lose over $1.2 billion in market value in a matter of minutes by tweeting a threat to tax the company's imports.
President-elect Donald Trump's senior advisor Kellyanne Conway is already on record taking pride in the fact that he can influence stock prices with a single tweet, and, on Thursday afternoon, that reckless power was on display once again. At 1:14 pm, Trump tweeted an explicit threat at Toyota:
Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for U.S. NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2017
The Toyota Motor Company's stock took an immediate nosedive that represents over a billion dollars in market value:
— Tommy Christopher (@tommyxtopher) January 5, 2017
The stock rebounded slightly, but is still trading down significantly. As we have noted before, though, even a short-term change can be gamed if someone knows it is coming, and the dollars that investors lose in the interim represent Americans' jobs and/or life savings.
Characteristically, Trump got the facts of his tweet wrong. As Bloomberg notes, the new Toyota plant is to be built in Apaseo el Grande, Guanajuato, not Baja. In an email to Bloomberg, a Toyota spokesman paid lip service to Trump, while also reminding him just how many Americans are employed by Toyota:
“With more than $21.9 billion direct investment in the U.S., 10 manufacturing facilities, 1,500 dealerships and 136,000 employees, Toyota looks forward to collaborating with the Trump Administration to serve in the best interests of consumers and the automotive industry,” Scott Vazin, a company spokesman, said in an e-mail.
The company employs 365,000 workers in the United States who, along with U.S. consumers, would be hurt by Trump's promised "retribution" — as opposed to the $7 million in taxpayer money Carrier was handed by Trump and Mike Pence when it shipped 1,300 jobs to Mexico.
Trump's ability to influence stock prices is dangerous by itself, but this pattern also begs for the corporate media to continue to press for financial transparency from Trump and all of his associates, any or all of whom could personally enrich themselves from knowing what he is going to tweet next, and when.