"It was a bit of a rough day on Wall Street — the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell over 800 points," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "My condolences to the entire Jones family. Our economy will be missed." He used a Chumbawamba song to explain this week's especially volatile market, but he was as stumped as most people about the proximate cause of Wednesday's panic: the dreaded inverted yield curve. "Do you have any idea what that means?" Colbert asked. "If so, please tell me, because I have been watching TV all day long and I am still not getting it." He showed one chart that kind of made sense.
"Now one thing that is definitely not helping the world economy is Trump's trade war with China, but we may be getting some relief," thanks to Trump's delay of half of new tariffs until Dec. 15, giving retailers time to stock up on Christmas imports, Colbert said. "It's odd that Trump would back down to protect American consumers, because he's been clear about one thing all along," China is paying for the tariffs. He ran through some of the bizarre items you'll be able to import until Dec. 15, but "one product that has been dropped from Trump's tariff list permanently is Bibles," Colbert said, feigning shock. "Our Bibles come from China? No wonder Jesus is always talking about sharing everything with the poor: They're selling us commie Jesus!"
The Late Show also enlisted Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to explain Trump's tariff about-face.
And if you want to actually understand the inverted yield curve, The Week's Jeff Spross has a helpful explainer, and so does The Wall Street Journal. Peter Weber
Louisiana's governor greeted President Trump on Tuesday wearing big, hairy Trump socks, and Stephen Colbert was impressed. Although "fun fact," he joked on Tuesday's Late Show. "Those socks were made in China and now cost $1,000." Trump was in Louisiana to talk to a group of energy workers, and among his topics of conversation were his 2016 election victory's TV ratings, Joe Biden, and a "brief tangent about wind power," Colbert said. But "Trump's not just tilting at windmills, folks, he's also jousting with China."
Colbert ran through the latest developments in Trump's trade war with Beijing. "Trump is not worried, as he demonstrated by getting up at 6:30 a.m. and calmly sending out 10 tweets," he deadpanned, reading some of them. Asked later about his trade war, Trump called it a "squabble," then explained how it shouldn't harm U.S. consumers or businesses. Yes, "to stop paying tariffs, all you have to do is stop using products made in China," Colbert repeated. "That is going to be awkward for Trump. He's going to have to stop using his own ties — and his hair, I'm guessing."
"Of course the people suffering the most in this trade war are America's farmers," Colbert said. Trump insists America's "great Patriot Farmers" will come out ahead, but the farmers don't think his promised $15 billion in subsidies will cover their losses — and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) doesn't think their "sacrifices" are that big compared with soldiers in a real war. "Wow, that is true, of course, but it's a weird way of getting out of answering a question," Colbert said. "'Honey, did you take the garbage out?' 'No, but neither did the men who laid down their lives at D-Day!'"
"Speaking of politicians using the troops, we might be going to 'squabble' with Iran," Colbert said, and Trump didn't exactly deny drafting plans to send up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East. Watch below. Peter Weber