The canary and the Caterpillar:


November 13, 2019 - 10:15 AM

Just over a week ago, Caterpillar laid off 120 workers at its plant in Victoria, Texas. That concerned us, not just because those are 120 Texans suddenly unemployed, but also because Caterpillar is one of those companies that jumps off the news page. It’s a bellwether. Because the company makes equipment used in construction, its success often forecasts growth. As goes Caterpillar, so goes the economy.

But this news also stands out because of the reason for the layoffs. A company spokesperson blamed “market conditions” and said that trade tensions with China have made customers wary of committing to large capital expenditures. Caterpillar’s Asia-Pacific sales fell 13% in the latest quarter. In other words, the Trump administration’s continuing trade war is having continuing casualties in Texas.

We’ve chronicled in previous editorials how trade tariffs have cost Texas farmers. Now, Texas industrial workers are taking their place in that line.

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