Ben Stein recreates tariff lesson from ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ in NRF parody ad campaign

“Ferris Bueller was one of the best comedies of its generation, but there’s nothing funny about tariffs and trade wars."

NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay

WASHINGTON — Ahead of public hearings this week before the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the anticipated resumption of trade talks between the United States and China, the National Retail Federation today launched a television and digital ad campaign to educate Americans on how tariffs are bad economics. In the ad, economist and actor Ben Stein recreates a scene from the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” in which he lectures students on the negative impact of tariffs on consumers and the economy.


Tariffs are B-A-D Economics

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“Ferris Bueller was one of the best comedies of its generation, but there’s nothing funny about tariffs and trade wars,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “It’s simple — tariffs are bad economics and always lead to unintended consequences. While we are encouraged by trade talks between the United States and China, the very threat of tariffs is causing significant uncertainty for American businesses. We support the administration’s goal of changing China’s unfair trade practices, but tariffs are the wrong approach and will only drive up prices for American consumers.”

The TV spot, which includes both a 30-second and 60-second version, can be viewed on the campaign landing page and began airing on television today on the Fox News Channel morning program, “Fox and Friends.” The ad will also air during the final episode of the season for the NBC show “Saturday Night Live” this weekend and on ABC’s “Roseanne.” The television ads will be supported with a digital campaign encouraging Americans to contact the White House and members of Congress.

A recent study by NRF and the Consumer Technology Association found that the administration’s proposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods would reduce U.S. gross domestic product by nearly $3 billion and destroy 134,000 American jobs. If tariffs were expanded to another $100 billion of Chinese imports as being considered plus additional retaliation by China, a total of 455,000 American jobs would be lost and GDP would decline by $49 billion. Another NRF and CTA study found that a television set made in China that costs American consumers $250 today would cost $308 after the tariffs are applied, an increase of 23 percent.

NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French will testify at the interagency hearing on the proposed tariffs chaired by USTR on Wednesday. 

About NRF  
NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy.