Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Coming Boom in the Used Telescope Market

If the new President has his way there will soon be a substantial tariff placed on imported goods. The proposed tariff for Chinese goods is 45%. Mexican goods will see at least a 20% tariff in order to "pay" for the wall. At best it will make many of the things you buy more expensive without any clear indication that it will lead to a meaningful increase in U.S. employment. At worst it will lead to a global trade war and an economic collapse that will dwarf 2008's crisis.

[Another way of thinking about the suggested tariffs is that they are 45% and 20% sales taxes on selected things you buy.  Essentially, they're a "Trump Tax."]

As for astronomy, one need only look at the companies that have based their manufacturing in Mexico (Meade) or China (Celestron, Orion, Explore Scientific, Sky-Watcher). If the tariffs are enacted expect the prices of goods from these companies to increase dramatically.

The effects on prices for gear made in Japan, Korea, or Europe is less clear. And and of course some things are made (or assembled, at any rate) in the US, although components often come from foreign manufacturers. It's doubtful prices will drop, even with favorable trade agreements; most companies not compelled to raise prices because of tariffs will raise them anyway (but not as much).

All of this price hiking is going to make the used telescope market more desirable. If you're selling your used gear you'll be able to raise your asking prices and enjoy your little piece of the Trump Tax! But if you're buying, prepare to pay a portion that tax even on used items.

Given the President's habit of saying (or tweeting) something one day and then having his handlers try to walk it back to some form of sanity the next, none of this might happen.

Or maybe he'll screw it up just like he has made a shambles of immigration and security. In which case, start burying gold ingots in your back yard, right next to a copy of the Constitution of the United States.

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