UPDATE: MarketWatch tallies the damage:
— MarketWatch (@MarketWatch) December 6, 2016
President-elect Donald Trump’s Twitter account, which may or may not be making autonomous decisions about the fate of the free world at this point, struck again early this morning with an outburst directed at one of America’s most important worldwide export businesses, aircraft manufacturer Boeing:
Donald Trump on Tuesday called for the cancellation of a Defense Department contract with Boeing to build the next generation of presidential aircraft, decrying the deal as too expensive.
“Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!” the president-elect wrote on Twitter.
As it turns out, Trump’s Twitter tirade against Boeing came in response to comments from the CEO of the company that were apparently not supportive enough of the incoming President’s trade policies:
Trump’s tweet came just 22 minutes after the Chicago Tribune published comments by Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, who said he worried that Trump’s promises of a more protectionist trade policy could hurt his company, which does robust business with China. Muilenburg told the Tribune that he would urge the president-elect to take a warmer stance toward the kinds of trade deals he railed against on the campaign trail, warning, “If we do not lead when it comes to writing these rules, our competitors will write them for us.”
Per usual, nobody knows where Trump got these numbers from, as Yahoo! News’ Michael Walsh reports:
It’s not clear how Trump, who frequently tweets exaggerated or baseless claims, arrived at that number. Reuters, citing budget documents, reported that the “budgeted costs for the Air Force One replacement program are $2.87 billion for the fiscal years 2015 through 2021.”
The aircraft manufacturing company issued a statement clarifying that it is currently under contract for $170 million to determine the capabilities of the new aircraft.
But who cares? The message Trump wanted to send was sent.
Boeing stock slumped Tuesday morning in the wake of the president-elect’s remark, [Pols emphasis] but rebounded somewhat as the morning progressed.
Yes, Boeing’s stock price rebounded once the market realized Trump’s attacks were baseless, but Trump’s ability to hurt Boeing’s market valuation just by Tweeting about them is a warning that very few CEOs in America will miss. The nexus of President-elect Trump’s celebrity influence and the real power he is about to have as President is producing something new in our politics.
And if Trump is going to use it to silence his critics, it’s both new and scary.