The United States and China were unable to reach a deal last week and doubled down on their trade war. U.S. President Donald Trump escalated tariffs already in place and threatened to impose them on all Chinese exports to his country. Beijing promised countermeasures. Both sides have misjudged the appetite of the other for a conflict and it is a virtual certainty that the situation will get worse before it gets better.

Trump is convinced that U.S. trade partners exploit American largesse and naivete to steal jobs and intellectual property. Many economists and business professionals agree. He is virtually alone, however, in the conviction that trade wars and tariffs are effective ways to level the playing field. He has been quick to use both against countries he believes are unfair traders — China, which sells over $500 billion of goods to the U.S. every year, among them.

Last year, Washington imposed billions of dollars of tariffs on Chinese products, prompting the Beijing government to impose its own levies against U.S. exports to China and to commence negotiations with the U.S. to avoid escalation. By all reports, those talks were going well; at a meeting last month with chief Chinese negotiator Liu He, Trump said that an "epic" deal was possible.