While many are worried about the domestic economy and whether the US is headed for a recession, those invested in emerging markets should perhaps be even more concerned. One of the fears specialists in the area have is that there is probably about $200 bn of unreported Chinese loans on the books of emerging market borrowers. China is not obligated to report these loans anywhere, so no one is quite sure of the size of the exposure. The risk is that as the economy sours, and these credits debts become distressed, China could impose some severe conditions on borrowers, which could cause emerging markets to seize up.
FINSUM: We could see this becoming an issue, especially because China will be feeling distress itself, which means it is likely to use a heavy hand. Even if nothing comes of this, it will likely weigh on EM asset prices in the near-term because of the uncertainty.
The markets nosedived again today as recession fears are spiking amongst investors globally. While US investors got a bit of a reprieve from the trade war due to the announcement that new tariffs had been delayed, bad economic data out of Germany and China made a global recession look more likely. The big selloff not only dragged US bonds into a 2/10-year inversion, but also inverted the UK yield curve for the first time since 2008. German bonds saw yields fall to a record low (in negative yield territory).
FINSUM: The doom and gloom is warranted given the current backdrop, but it is also not unreasonable to think the current “wall of worry” is the perfect mountain for this bull market to climb.
While investors might not feel it right now, tariffs do have some upsides. The most direct one—revenue for the US Treasury. US Treasury income is surging because of the recent tariff hikes on Chinese goods. The rolling 12-month sum of customs duties collected by the Treasury (through the end of June) was $63 bn, almost double the sum of the same period last year. If Trump enacts another round of planned hikes on September 1st, the US will likely collect $100 bn in tariffs this year.
FINSUM: This is a good number, especially at a time of major government over-spending. However, it must be remembered that the large majority of this bounty will be eaten up by aid paid to US farmers as part of tariff relief efforts.
Markets took a nosedive yesterday. Last week was bad, but yesterday’s falls were so steep they amounted to about as much as all of last week. All fears over rates and the trade war came to a head when Trump labeled China a currency manipulator. The S&P 500 fell about 3%, meaning the total decline in the index since last week is around 6%. The Dow lost 760 points. The losses amounted to the worst single day drop since early 2018.
FINSUM: The “currency manipulator” claim is largely symbolic. While it certainly won’t help a deal get done, it is hard to see it having a tangible outcome. This seems like a lot of pent-up market anxiety manifesting itself.
Trump’s tariffs are having a major impact on the US’ trading relationships. The data has been showing such, but now there is a very significant data point: China is no longer the US’ largest trading partner. Mexico has now assumed that position. The decline in trade with China comes alongside an escalating trade war that has seen tariff hikes and restrictions on both sides.
FINSUM: We are now officially of the position that this trade war with China will not be resolved any time soon, so this decline in trading seems to be the end of an era.