Entering text into the input field will update the search result below

Soup And Steel Tariffs


U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilber Ross appeared on CNBC on Friday, March 2, 2018, to defend President Trump's proposed 24% tariff on steel and 10% tariff on aluminum coming into the United States from foreign sources, during which he held up a can of Campbell's (CPB) Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup to claim that tariffs would have a minimal impact on American consumers. The following video shows the entire 21 minute-long interview, where Ross holds up his Campbell Soup can prop to make his point at roughly the 3:50 minute mark.

Checking Ross's math, we find that a 25% increase in the cost of the current $0.026 of tinplate steel in one of Campbell Soup's iconic Number 1 size soup cans would indeed raise its cost by roughly $0.006 to $0.032 per can.

The problem with Ross's math is that it doesn't consider just how many cans of soup that Campbell makes and sells each year: 440 million. Of which, some 200 million are Campbell's Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup like the prop he used in his CNBC interview, or 45% of the total. Campbell's Condensed Tomato Soup is its second-best seller, whose sales account for 85 million cans each year, or 19% of Campbell's annual total.

Thanks to President Trump's tariffs, a financially-troubled Campbell Soup Company will need to pay up to an additional $27.3 million to buy the imported steel that it cannot avoid given the limited capacity of U.S. steel producers in order to deliver the same 440 million cans of soup to the market, which would be on top of the $11.44 million than it is currently paying to do so at Ross's $0.026 per can cost point.

That seemingly tiny cost increase at the consumer level, when rolled up to the company's bottom line, may be enough incentive to change

This article was written by

Ironman is the alias of the blogger at Political Calculations, a site that develops, applies and presents both established and cutting edge theory to the topics of investing, business and economics. We should acknowledge that Ironman is either formerly or currently, and quite possibly, simultaneously employed as some kind of engineer, researcher, analyst, rocket scientist, editor and perhaps as a teacher of some kind or another. The scary thing is that's not even close to being a full list of Ironman's professions and we should potentially acknowledge that Ironman may or may not be one person. We'll leave it to our readers to sort out which Ironman might behind any of the posts that do appear here or comments that appear elsewhere on the web!

Recommended For You

Comments (3)

Interesting chart but a log scale would be helpful.
Ironman at Political Calculations profile picture
We have previously featured the data in log scale! See here:


Given the total magnitude of the change in prices over the last 120 years, which fit between $0.10 and $1.00, we would argue that there is not much additional insight that you can get from seeing the data presented in log scale as compared to linear scale.
Pompano Frog profile picture
Dear Reader..

I thank the author for providing the entire interview.

Wilbur Ross has more experience than any..any previous Commerce Secretary.

Here is his wikipedia entry:


Notice he ran the bankruptcy restructuring practice for a Wall Street investment bank.

He fully understands that our political leaders in both political parties have traded access to the U.S. market in exchange for global influence. This has been a long term economic disaster.

Global corporations have been setting the economic agendas throughout the democracies. Policy is set for the benefit of these global corporations by politicians who only care about donations from this group and have no interest in long term per capita economic growth.

If tariffs are a negative why does China and all of the other high growth countries, not only have tariffs, but regulatory tariffs such as subsidized financing and VAT (national sales tax) rebates? They must have little understanding of how to generate wage growth long term.
Disagree with this article? Submit your own. To report a factual error in this article, . Your feedback matters to us!

Related Stocks

SymbolLast Price% Chg
VanEck Steel ETF
Invesco DB Base Metals Fund ETF
iPath Dow Jones-UBS Aluminum Total Return Sub-IndexS ETN
DB Base Metals Double Short ETN
DB Base Metals Double Long ETN

Related Analysis

To ensure this doesn’t happen in the future, please enable Javascript and cookies in your browser.
Is this happening to you frequently? Please report it on our feedback forum.
If you have an ad-blocker enabled you may be blocked from proceeding. Please disable your ad-blocker and refresh.