On the surface, the US seems to have a major upper hand in its trade war with China. Simply put, they export a lot more to the US than we do to China, which means that they have more to lose than we. However, looking closer at the imposition of the US’ attest tariffs, a significant weak spot emerges. That weak spot is that the US has become overly reliant on some very niche but important Chinese exports. Mot of these are things people have never heard of, like carbonate esters and fluorine salts, both used for electric car batteries. Nonetheless though, they are very important, and 297 such imports were recently exempted from the US tariffs.
FINSUM: Barite (for oil and gas exploration) and Ibuprofen, are other crucial imports. This is one of the pressure points where China could simply cutoff supply and the US would be in a difficult position.
Many investors are simply unfazed by the current trade war erupting between the US and China (just look at share prices for evidence). However, even those who may be bullish on equities need to be worried for oil. While the increasing sanctions on Iran are supportive of prices, a trade war would likely be very bad. The reason why is that increasing tariffs would likely cause an economic downturn in emerging markets, which would then heavily sap oil demand, leading prices lower.
FINSUM: The oil and other commodity markets are demand-driven (and realistic) in a way that stocks aren’t. Watch them for where the economy is actually headed.
One of the many factors that has been odd about the market’s rise since the beginning of summer has been how it did so at the same time as global trade tension was building. No better example of this odd pairing can be found than yesterday’s market—Trump imposed tariffs on $200 bn of extra Chinese goods, and the Dow rose over 0.5%. Why is this the case? Barron’s argues that it is because investors fundamentally believe that China and the US won’t let a trade war get out of control because of fears of mutually assured economic destruction. Accordingly, they see almost all negotiations and actions through rose-colored glasses.
FINSUM: We are not as sanguine as the market about the risks of the current trade war. Our biggest worry is not even about trade negotiations, per say, it is more about the ill will that is being built up which may create a future impasse on a seemingly resolvable issue.
President Trump has just ordered $200 bn of further tariffs to be applied to Chinese goods. The Chinese have responded strongly, vowing to retaliate to the measures. The Chinese government said “We have been stressing that talks need to happen on the basis of parity, equality and good faith … What the US has done shows no sincerity and good faith at all”. The Chinese says they will impose tariffs on $110 bn of US goods, or about 85% of all US imports to the country.
FINSUM: These tariffs come just before the US and China were set to hold another round of trade talks. We have no idea how those are progressing, but this is really going to anger the Chinese.
One moment it seems like détente, the next, all out economic war. Well, the latter seems to be stealing the stage this week, as the US and China are trading barbs over trade. The Trump administration is set to impose a fresh round of tariffs on $200 bn of Chinese goods. The new tariffs come just as the US and China were planning to have a fresh round of negotiations on trade. However, China make be backing away from such talks, as a senior Chinese official recently said “China is not going to negotiate with a gun pointed to its head”.
FINSUM: There is so much back and forth and “noise” in this trade battle with China that it is very hard to get a fix on what is actually happening.