Investors are currently worried about the trade war between China and the US. Tensions have reached a new peak this week after threats from President Trump regarding hiking the tariff rate to 25%. This big development, and the trade war generally, prompted JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon to weigh in this week. “The odds of something bad happening [in trade negotiations] is now double. Whatever you thought they were — 2%, 5%, 10% is probably doubled. That’s why the market is reacting to it because they’re not just afraid of the direct effect, they’re afraid if it reverses global trade, it reverses global growth and hurts trade around the world”. All that said, he sees an 80% likelihood a deal will occur because smart people on both sides will make it happen.
FINSUM: We agree with Jamie. Both sides have a lot on the line and we think everyone will eager to seal a deal, even if a modest one, and move on. Perhaps that is western-centric thinking though.
What is the biggest threat to the bull market? Is it a recession, high valuations, interest rate volatility? In reality, the biggest threat to the bull market might be rearing its ugly head now—a trade war. Trade tensions between the US and China have skyrocketed again this week and it has investors worried that there could be a global slowdown in trading which would sink the economy. In fact, that is the point that some don’t understand—it is not just about whether the US and China close a deal in the near term, it is about how the trade tensions the US and China create percolate through the global economy. Astute market watchers will have noticed new data out of China shows that exports have dropped, a sign of potential weakening.
FINSUM: We think cooler heads will prevail and the US and China will get a deal done. Our expectation is that it will not be ground-breaking in scope, but that it will be enough so that both countries can claim victory and investors can happily put these tensions in the rear view mirror.
Stocks woke up to a volatility explosion this morning. President Trump made a surprise announcement that he was considering boosting tariffs on China. Specifically, the president threatened to raise tariffs to 25%. Beijing is reportedly infuriated. The comments come towards the end of what seemed to be a smooth negotiation with Beijing about a new trade package. Therefore, they riled markets to a major extent. Headline indexes shed a couple percent at peak (so far) and sectors like technology and industrials sold off sharply. The trade delegation from Beijing is still expected to attended a planned tariff meeting this week.
FINSUM: It is very hard to know how significant this is (whether Trump actually wants to do this), or whether this is just a negotiating tactic.
The trade war seems to be back on with full force. Trump spooked markets today by warning that he may impose higher tariffs on China. With that in mind, here are the stocks and sectors most at risk of big selloffs. Industrials and technology shares are the most vulnerable to tariff worries. It is difficult to say what stocks will be most affected because the potential impacts are widespread. However, the following list looks very at-risk: Colfax, Danaher, Emerson Electric, Fortive, Gates Industrial, 3M, and Kennametal.
FINSUM: We are very early in the volatility for this round of trade fears. Hopefully this minor panic will be the extent of it.
The ECB put out research today making an argument that we hadn’t heard very much—that any trade war would hurt the US most of all. According to the ECB, “if Donald Trump’s administration was to raise tariffs and other barriers on imports by another 10 per cent — and other countries were to retaliate — growth would drop more sharply in the US than in either the euro area or China” (quoted from FT). The ECB found that one year of heightened trade tensions could knock 2% off US GDP.
FINSUM: The analysis of the actual economic impact may be credible, but the ECB is totally missing the point about the China. The risk for them is not just economic, but social and political—because they have an unelected government, officials there are under extreme pressure to keep the people happy with economic growth.