ANALYSIS

DONALD Trump has gone on another Twitter rampage, and he has picked a brand new target. It is not immigrants, or China, or the Democrats. It is instead Amazon. The online retailer - a shining example of contemporary US capitalism - is now in The Donald's sights.

According to an inside source reported in the US press, the President is "obsessed with Amazon."

Mr Trump began his tirade a week ago, and it seems to be intensifying. There have now been five tweets accusing Amazon of a range of horrible things, including dodging taxes, putting small retailers out of business and even ripping off the US Postal Service.

Trump has been targeting Amazon in his comments recently.
Trump has been targeting Amazon in his comments recently.

In response to these attacks from the most powerful person in the world, the share price of the enormous American tech company shrivelled up.

Amazon's stock was most recently trading at around $1400 per share, down from around $1600 per share a few weeks ago.

That has cost the Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos a very large sum of money. It is possible that was the point all along.

Would Donald Trump honestly care about a big successful business dodging taxes? Why would he antagonise a successful thriving American business that is taking on the whole world? The answer is those issues are probably secondary. There's something else going on.

According to sources who spoke to US publication Vanity Fair, it's personal. "'He's off the hook on this. It's war,' one source told me. 'He gets obsessed with something, and now he's obsessed with Bezos,' said another source. 'Trump is like, how can I f**k with him?'" the magazine reported.

It is not just that Bezos is dozens of times richer than the President. It probably has nothing to do with Bezos being comfortable enough to embrace his own baldness either. The real problem is that Jeff Bezos owns a little newspaper called The Washington Post.

SCOOPS, EVERYWHERE

The Washington Post is a good publication. Very good. Since the election of the Trump government it has gone from being a second-rank newspaper to being one of the very best.

Oftentimes, when a killer story breaks about Donald Trump, the reporters who got the scoop work at The Washington Post. Like the time they discovered the President has casually given classified information to Russian diplomats. The newspaper has made the President's life a lot harder.

Mr Trump was already angry at The Washington Post even when he was just a candidate for the Presidency, back in late 2015.

 

His anger at Jeff Bezos goes back a long way.
His anger at Jeff Bezos goes back a long way.

That tweet made Jeff Bezos respond with a joke about shooting Donald Trump into space. (Like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos has a space company on the side.)

 

Trump probably wouldn’t love the number of retweets on this.
Trump probably wouldn’t love the number of retweets on this.

 

WHO WILL HIT THE ROCKS FIRST?

Donald Trump is taking a risk by laying into Amazon. The stockmarket was already falling when he decided to revive this feud. And when he tweets about Amazon it makes the stock price fall further.

The war of words has had a direct affect on Amazon shares this week.
The war of words has had a direct affect on Amazon shares this week.

 

The high stock market is a major achievement of the Trump presidency - according to Trump. If his tweets make Amazon fall, that's bad news for stocks.

Technology stocks, which has been a huge success story in the last few years, are already having a bad time, as Facebook crashes because of its scandal over user data. Mr Trump could be accelerating a stock crash that makes him look bad.

Even if the President wins this round though, it seems like Amazon will have the last laugh. US leaders last four or eight years. Mr Trump might have just three years left (or, possibly, even fewer if the Mueller investigation into Russian connections finds something serious). Amazon looks likely to last much longer. Any damage that Mr Trump can inflict might be serious, but it will probably be temporary.

 

Jason Murphy is an economist. He publishes the blog Thomas The Thinkengine. Follow Jason on Twitter @Jasemurphy



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