Will the US and China make a substantial trade deal? That is a trillion Dollar question for markets. Some argue that China may defer doing any deal and take the risk that Trump does not win the election, effectively letting the clock run out. However, an astute view is that China might be desperate to do deal while Trump is still in office. The reason why is that if Trump were to lose to a Democrat, who in all likelihood would be a more conventional US president that takes a much friendlier approach with international allies, then China would be in a very compromised position. A Democratic president would likely approach the Chinese trade deal with a much more united front of trade allies, which would be a worst case scenario for Beijing.
FINSUM: The irony of this is that Trump has been by far the hardest president on China in memory, but at the same time, the Chinese have the best chance at a good resolution by dealing with him.
If you are feeling some relief because of the “trade truce” between the US and China, don’t. At least that is what Morgan Stanley and Bank of America are saying. Morgan Stanley explains that the current rally is very reminiscent of what happened last November, just before the market imploded and had the worst December on record. At that time, the US and China had another truce which sent markets rallying. However, bigger tensions loomed larger and set the market up for a historic fall. One of the big issues was that the seeming ”truce” stopped inventory managers from purchasing because there was no more incentive to stockpile.
FINSUM: The most interesting view here is the idea that the markets are trapped between the “Powell Put” and the “Trump Call”. That is the concept that every time markets are doing well, Trump will try to drive a harder bargain with China, and if the market falls, Powell will cut rates. In this way, markets could be trapped in a banded range.
Trump and Xi are meeting this weekend alongside the G20, and the encounter seems likely to pivotal in the trade war between the US and China. No one is expecting a whole lot, but there is some hope of a potentially positive new path. The more likely outcome, however, appears to be an escalation of the conflict. If that happens, with both sides raising tariffs and escalating rhetoric, a mild global recession over the next six quarters seems probably, says UBS. This would likely prompt global rate cutting by central banks.
FINSUM: This seems like a decent forecast. The irony is that because of their ability to stimulate, the US and Chinese markets will probably be hurt the least by this, as it will more likely be emerging markets that take a hit.
In what comes as a potentially very good sign, the Treasury Department announced yesterday that a trade deal with China was close to becoming a reality. Steve Mnuchin, head of the Treasury, said that a deal with China was “90% of the way there”. On a slightly less positive note, he continued “The message we want to hear is that they want to come back to the table and continue because I think there is a good outcome for their economy and the U.S. economy to get balanced trade and to continue to build on this relationship”. Trump will meet Xi at the G20 gathering this weekend.
FINSUM: Mnuchin is not particularly given to exaggeration, so we take this 90% number as pretty meaningful. The downside is that the Chinese aren’t at the negotiating table right now.
The trade war between the US and China has been pretty intense for some months, but many are wondering if it is headed for a cool down as the countries come to an agreement. The odds of such a development look bleak, according to Bloomberg, because each side’s alternative is looking better. Trump and Xi will meet at the G-20 summit this week to talk over their country’s trade issues, but given that both countries have realized they have good options outside of one another, it seems unlikely a deal will materialize.
FINSUM: We think a symbolic deal could still happen, but it is hard to envision an impactful and comprehensive deal being agreed any time soon.