A week ago it didn’t seem like it was going to happen, but nonetheless it is. Trump plans to move ahead with imposing $50 bn worth of tariffs on China starting as soon as tomorrow. The move is expected to bring heavy retaliation from Beijing. Several days ago, China made a conciliatory offer to boost purchases of US goods by tens of billions of Dollars.
FINSUM: We think the US’ approach to link the trade situation to working with China on North Korea is not a very smart angle, as nuclear security and agricultural goods don’t sit comfortably.
President Trump seems to have emerged from the summit with North Korea with a very high degree of confidence that the situation there has been handled. Trump put in writing yesterday that “there is no longer a nuclear threat of North Korea”. Interestingly, North Korean state media also reported the meeting as a major success, but did not mention denuclearization at all. Trump did backtrack a bit, saying “I may be wrong. I mean, I may stand before you in six months and say ‘Hey, I was wrong’. I don’t know that I’ll ever admit that, but I’ll find some kind of an excuse”.
FINSUM: We think this summit was a success and that Kim has played the whole situation very sharply. Our only concern is the lack of detail about how North Korea will actually go about denuclearizing.
The long-awaited, and hotly contested US-North Korea summit between President Trump and North Korea leader Kim went very well yesterday. The summit lasted for hours and resulted in a commitment from North Korea to denuclearize in exchange for the US pledging security guarantees for the country. Trump said the two signed a “very important” document. Trump reported that “My meeting with Chairman Kim was honest, direct and productive … We are prepared to start a new history ... and write a new chapter between our nations”.
FINSUM: For the first time we got the feeling that North Korea has played this whole situation very slyly. They built up nuclear capabilities (probably) simply to have a better bargaining position, and it appears to be working.
After 6 months of posturing, threats, and cancellations, it is all finally going to happen tomorrow. President Trump will meet North Korean leader Kim in Singapore. The South Koreans are referring to the meeting as the “summit of the century”, and everyone seems to hope it will be a success. It will be the first time two sitting leaders of the two nations have met. Trump is hoping clinch a deal for a denuclearization program in exchange for making North Korea more included in the economic system.
FINSUM: The US is cautioning that this will be the start of a long program rather than a big bang deal. That seems reasonable given the history here.
Earlier this week it was former NYC mayor, and current Trump lawyer, Rudy Giuliani saying it. Now it is the president himself. Earlier this week, Trump confirmed on Twitter that “he has the absolute right to pardon himself”. However, after affirming his right, he followed up by saying “but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?”.
FINSUM: The amazing thing about that statement is it may very well be true given the broad pardoning powers of the US presidential office. However, doing so would go against the fabric of the American checks and balances system and would almost certainly get Trump impeached. We understand he is frustrated by the investigation, but he needs to walk a fine line.
It looks like Trump’s efforts to put pressure on China over trade might be paying off. In what we think looks like a significant concession, Beijing has just offered to buy an extra $70 bn of US goods if Trump agrees not to impose the tariffs he has threatened. Trump has said he wants China to cut its trade surplus with the US by $200 bn. The $70 bn would mostly go to US agricultural products, energy, and manufactured goods.
FINSUM: China just made an offer that amounts to over 33% of what Trump demanded. That seems like a pretty good step.