Trump's top trade advisor Peter Navarro's books frequently cite a made-up scholar named 'Ron Vara' who appears to be his alter ego

Peter NavarroNational Trade Council adviser Peter Navarro appears before President Donald Trump arrives to sign executive orders regarding trade in the Oval Office at the White House, Friday, March 31, 2017, in Washington. Trump left before signing the orders.Andrew Harnik/AP

  • In many of his past books on China and economic issues, President Donald Trump's top trade adviser Peter Navarro has cited a supposed Harvard scholar and investor named "Ron Vara."
  • There's just one problem: according to a new report in the Chronicle Review, "Ron Vara" himself doesn't exist, and appears to be an alter ego for Navarro himself. After all, "Ron Vara" is simply the word "Navarro" rearranged.

  • In his books, Navarro, an extreme China hawk, cites Vara's bombastic, colorful commentary on China., describing him as a Harvard economist turned-wealthy investor.
  • In a 2001 book, he wrote, "As macrowave traders go, Ron Vara is in a league of his own - a very major league. In fact, this Dark Prince of Disaster has made a very large fortune making the very best out of very bad situations."
  • In response to the Chronicle, Navarro acknowledged Vara was an alter-ego said it was "refreshing that somebody finally figured out an inside joke that has been hiding in plain sight for years."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

In almost all of his past books on China and economic issues, President Donald Trump's top trade adviser Peter Navarro has cited a supposed Harvard scholar and investor named "Ron Vara" often nicknamed the "Dark Prince of Disaster" offering bombastic, colorful commentary on China.

There's just one problem: according to a new report in the Chronicle Review, "Ron Vara" himself doesn't exist, and appears to be an alter ego for Navarro himself. After all, "Ron Vara" is simply the word "Navarro" rearranged.

Navarro has been leading the charge on the administration's controversial trade policies, and has consistently been one of the few administration officials to enthusiastically back Trump levying tariffs on China and lend credence to Trump's economic policy decisions.

But Navarro has been criticized by fellow economists for peddling over-exaggerated and apocalyptic narratives about China's danger to the world economy - views that Ron Vara appeared to also share when mentioned in Navarro's books.

Read more: One of Trump's top advisers claimed the yield curve has signaled 'a very strong Trump economy.' But he said the exact opposite in his book in 2006.

The Chronicle noted that in his 2011 book "Death by China," for example, Navarro quoted Vara as saying "only the Chinese can turn a leather sofa into an acid bath, a baby crib into a lethal weapon, and a cellphone battery into heart-piercing shrapnel."

The revelation that Ron Vara is a nonexistent economist was mainly uncovered by Tessa Morris-Suzuki, an East Asian studies scholar at Australian National University who dug into the character of Ron Vara while doing research on the parallels to Navarro's extreme rhetoric on China to the "yellow peril" and anti-Asian sentiment pervasive in much of the 20th century.

In her research, Morris-Suzuki couldn't find any evidence that Vara actually attended Harvard in the 1980s, or existed anywhere outside of Navarro's books.

In response to the Chronicle Review, Navarro claimed that Vara is a "whimsical device and pen name" that didn't serve as a factual source for any of the content of his books on China.

The co-author of "Death by China," USC professor Greg Autry, told the Chronicle Review that Vara was an "alter ego" figure who, as the Chronicle described, "dispenses cutesy business aphorisms as well as dire warnings about Chinese food."

But as the Chronicle noted, Navarro described Vara as a completely separate person in his 2001 book "If it's Raining in Brazil, Buy Starbucks."

Read more: Even Trump is now admitting that US companies like Apple may be shouldering the cost of his China tariffs

In it, he wrote, "As macrowave traders go, Ron Vara is in a league of his own - a very major league. In fact, this Dark Prince of Disaster has made a very large fortune making the very best out of very bad situations."

The chapter went on to describe how Vara, "a struggling doctoral student in economics at Harvard" writing about utilities, came to the breakthrough revelation that "nuclear power no longer had a future in the United States," and went on to "use some of his tuition money" to short two utilities-related stocks.

Conveniently, Navarro himself actually did get a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard in the 1980s, and, you guessed it, wrote his doctoral thesis on utility regulation.

In response to the Chronicle, Navaro characterized Vara as Alfred Hitchcock-like character and said it was "refreshing that somebody finally figured out an inside joke that has been hiding in plain sight for years."

Read the full story at the Chronicle Review>>

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