Credit Bubble Bulletin

Credit Bubble Bulletin2018-10-30T12:00:02-06:00

Presented by Doug Noland

Weekly Commentary

May 31, 2019: So Much for the Trump Put

So Much for the “Trump Put.”

May 31 – Bloomberg (Felice Maranz): “President Trump’s promise to impose tariffs on goods until Mexico halts a flow of undocumented immigrants is being panned by analysts and economists… Here’s a sample of the latest commentary: MUFG, Chris Rupkey: ‘If you are going to turn the world upside down with these America First trade sanctions against imports from China, car imports from Europe, and now immigration from Mexico, you risk turning the economy upside down… Keep your eye trained on stock market valuations as the magnitude of the decline will tell you when investors have had enough and are rushing to the safety of cash in an increasingly dangerous and uncertain world.’ Cowen, Chris Krueger: ‘In the space of a few hours last night, Trump overturned all we thought we understood about the near term direction of the Administration’s trade strategy’… The president ‘unveiled a one-two punch that we believe will make USMCA extremely hard to pass in both Mexico and the U.S.’ ‘When Tariff Man returned on a rainy Sunday (May 4) to announce tariff escalations on China, we detected a consensus that this was merely a negotiating tactic… In the 27 days that have followed, no public talks have been held and the tariff escalation for goods in-transit along with China’s escalation on $60 billion in U.S. exports is hours away.’ AGF Investments, Greg Valliere: ‘These tariffs break new ground’ …because ‘they’re political, a punishment to Mexico for not stopping the surge of immigrants from Central America.’ He listed five ‘enormous implications’: Damage to USMCA ratification process; potential that a ‘slumbering’ Congress may awaken; Trump may not be finished with new tariffs, triggering higher prices for products…; Trump doesn’t seem to be listening to advisers, appears unconcerned by market and economic damage; Federal Reserve may now be forced to cut rates, but that may not be enough to reverse the damage.’”

May 31 – Bloomberg (Michelle Jamrisko and Enda Curra): “Prospects for a U.S.-China trade deal just became even more remote after President Donald Trump whacked tariffs that could rise to 25% on Mexico until that country stops immigrants from entering the U.S. illegally. ‘A U.S.-China trade deal will be even less likely,’ said Khoon Goh, head of research at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group… ‘At the end of the day, what’s the point of doing a deal if the U.S. can just impose tariffs arbitrarily?’ Investors are already bracing for a prolonged economic stand-off between the world’s two biggest economies. One potential beneficiary of the impasse was likely to be Mexico as companies considered shifting supply chains away from China toward lower-cost markets closer to American consumers. The latest escalation of Trump tariffs threatens that process.”

May 31 – Bloomberg (Michael Sin): “‘Trade policy and border security are separate issues. This is a misuse of presidential tariff authority and counter to congressional intent,’ U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) says… ‘Following through on this threat would seriously jeopardize passage of USMCA.’”

May 31 – Bloomberg (Michael R. Bloomberg): “President Donald Trump’s approach to trade policy had set new benchmarks of incoherence and irresponsibility even before his threat to impose escalating tariffs on imports from Mexico — but this latest maneuver takes the cake. The administration plans to harm businesses north and south of the border, and to impose additional new taxes on U.S. consumers, not to remedy a real or imagined trade grievance but to force Mexico to curb migration to the U.S. This is a radical and disturbing development. The administration is invoking a law that allows it to impose emergency economic sanctions. It’s safe to say that Congress never envisaged that those powers would be used in a case like this.”

According to CNBC reporting (Kayla Tausche and Tucker Higgins), the President’s Mexico tariff move was “spearheaded by advisor Stephen Miller.” That the decision was made despite opposition from both Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Trade Representative Lighthizer is only more troubling to the markets (and the world more generally). Has the President “gone off the rails”? CNBC: “The surprise decision to announce the tariff plan came as Trump was ‘riled up’ by conservative radio commentary about the recent surge in border crossings… As the tariff plan was formulated, top advisors, including Vice President Mike Pence, who was traveling, and Larry Kudlow, who was undergoing surgery, were away.” (more…)

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