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White House intensifies confusion and fear on US-China deal

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White House intensifies confusion and fear on US-China deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration raised doubts Tuesday about the substance of a U.S.-China trade cease-fire, contributing to a broad stock market plunge and intensifying fears of a global economic slowdown.

Investors had initially welcomed the truce that the administration said was reached over the weekend in Argentina between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping — and sent stocks up Monday. But on Tuesday, after a series of confusing and conflicting words from Trump and some senior officials, stocks tumbled, with the Dow Jones shedding about 800 points, or 3.1 percent.

White House aides have struggled to explain the details of what the two countries actually agreed on. And China has not confirmed that it made most of the concessions that the Trump administration has claimed.

“The sense is that there’s less and less agreement between the two sides about what actually took place,” said Willie Delwiche, an investment strategist at Baird. “There was a rally in the expectation that something had happened. The problem is that something turned out to be nothing.”

Other concerns contributed to the stock sell-off, including falling long-term bond yields. Those lower rates suggested that investors expect the U.S. economy to slow, along with global growth, and possibly fall into recession in the coming year or two.

John Williams, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, also unnerved investors by telling reporters Tuesday that he supports further Fed rate hikes. His remarks renewed fears that the Fed may miscalculate and raise rates so high or so fast as to depress growth.

The disarray surrounding the China deal coincides with a global economy that faces other challenges: Britain is struggling to negotiate its exit from the European Union. Italy’s government is seeking to spend and borrow more, which could elevate interest rates and stifle growth.

And in the United States, home sales have fallen sharply in the past year as mortgage rates have jumped.

Trump and White House aides have promoted the apparent U.S.-China agreement in Buenos Aires as a historic breakthrough that would ease trade tensions and potentially reduce tariffs. They announced that China had agreed to buy many more American products and to negotiate over the administration’s assertions that Beijing steals American technology. But by Tuesday morning, Trump was renewing his tariff threats in a series of tweets.

“President Xi and I want this deal to happen, and it probably will,” Trump tweeted. “But if not remember, I am a Tariff Man. When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so.”

Trump added that a 90-day timetable for negotiators to reach a deeper agreement had begun and that his aides would see “whether or not a REAL deal with China is actually possible.”

He revisited the issue later Tuesday with a tweet that said: “We are either going to have a REAL DEAL with China, or no deal at all – at which point we will be charging major Tariffs against Chinese product being shipped into the United States. Ultimately, I believe, we will be making a deal – either now or into the future. China does not want Tariffs!”

The president’s words had the effect of making the weekend agreement, already a vague and uncertain one, seem even less likely to produce a long-lasting trade accord.

“We expect the relationship between the world’s two largest economies to remain contentious,” Moody’s Investors Service said in a report. “Narrow agreements and modest concessions in their ongoing trade dispute will not bridge the wide gulf in their respective economic, political and strategic interests.”

Among the conflicting assertions that White House officials made was over whether China had actually agreed to drop its 40 percent tariffs on U.S. autos.

In addition, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday on the Fox Business Network that China agreed to buy $1.2 trillion of U.S. products. But Mnuchin added, “If that’s real” — thereby raising some doubt — it would close the U.S. trade deficit with China, and “We have to have a negotiated agreement and have this on paper.”

Many economists have expressed skepticism that very much could be achieved to bridge the vast disagreements between the two countries in just 90 days.

“The actual amount of concrete progress made at this meeting appears to have been quite limited,” Alec Phillips and other economists at Goldman Sachs wrote in a research note.

During the talks in Buenos Aires, Trump agreed to delay a scheduled escalation in U.S. tariffs on many Chinese goods, from 10 percent to 25 percent, that had been set to take effect Jan. 1. Instead, the two sides are to negotiate over U.S. complaints about China’s trade practices, notably that it has used predatory tactics to try to achieve supremacy in technology. These practices, according to the administration and outside analysts, include stealing intellectual property and forcing companies to turn over technology to gain access to China’s market.

In return for the postponement in the higher U.S. tariffs, the White House said China had agreed to step up its purchases of U.S. farm, energy and industrial goods. Most economists noted that the two countries remain far apart on the sharpest areas of disagreement, which include Beijing’s subsidies for strategic Chinese industries, in addition to forced technology transfers and intellectual property theft.

Chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow acknowledged those challenges in remarks Tuesday morning.

“China’s discussed these things with the U.S. many times down through the years and the results have not been very good,” he said. “So this time around, as I said, I’m hopeful, we’re covering more ground than ever … So we’ll see.”

Complicating the challenge, Trump’s complaints strike at the heart of the Communist Party’s state-led economic model and its plans to elevate China to political and cultural leadership by creating global champions in robotics and other fields.

“It’s impossible for China to cancel its industry policies or major industry and technology development plans,” said economist Cui Fan of the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

Trump had tweeted Sunday that China agreed to “reduce and remove” its 40 percent tariff on cars imported from the U.S. Mnuchin said Monday that there was a “specific agreement” on the auto tariffs.

Yet Kudlow said later that there was no “specific agreement” regarding auto trade, though he added, “We expect those tariffs to go to zero.”

___

Associated Press writer Joe McDonald in Beijing contributed to this report.

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Democrats

Veronique de Rugy: Green New Deal would be hundreds of TRILLIONS of dollars in federal commitment

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Veronique de Rugy Green New Deal would be hundreds of TRILLIONS of dollars in federal commitment

If there’s a word that’s not necessarily negative one could use to describe the Green New Deal, it would be “ambitious.” The deal has so much wrapped into it that it’s hard to tell which components are designed to save the environment and which ones are intended to destroy the economy.

Estimates put costs for the “green side” of the resolution at somewhere between $12-$20 trillion. Then, there’s the Medicare-for-All component that is estimated at $32 trillion over a decade.

And that’s just the start.

This isn’t just a “green” deal. It’s a hodgepodge of policy proposals that include massively growing the welfare state, inserting government even more into the job markets, and a universal basic income that they refuse to actually call a universal basic income. The much-maligned FAQ that was posted and quickly removed from the website of sponsor Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) mentioned paying people who were unable or even “unwilling” to work.

“Even in the best case scenario where you substitute a UBI for all the other forms of welfare, it’s insane,” said Veronique de Rugy, Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, on ReasonTV.

But here’s the problem. The Green New Deal doesn’t substitute a universal basic income for other welfare programs. In the Green New Deal, the programs recommended are supposed to be additions, not substitutions.

“It’s a really hard system to support even in its ideal form,” de Rugy continued. “Then there’s this Green New Deal version which doesn’t even seem to entertain this notion of actually substituting for all the rest, so it’s on top of what we have now.”

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The real question we need to ask is whether or not the Democratic Party is actually going to support this. In its current form, the Green New Deal is a fantasy, and perhaps that’s what the more-sane Democrats are shooting for by supporting it. By giving it their attention now, they can work their way down to more reasonable proposals for everything from environmental protection to job creation programs to different versions of socialism.

In other words, they may be using the hyper-leftism of the Green New Deal as a gateway to get to the palatable leftism of what’s quickly becoming mainstream socialism.

The Green New Deal shouldn’t scare conservatives because it can’t happen. What should concern us is the end result negotiated down from this starting point. Given the GOP’s negotiating track record lately, we don’t know what we’re going to get when the Green New Deal is trimmed down to reality.

 


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Democrats

Even Drudge can’t deny the insane spending by Washington DC today

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Even Drudge cant deny the insane spending by Washington DC today

What did GOP control of the House, Senate, and White House do to spending and the national debt? Did Republicans demonstrate the fiscal responsibility that has been one of their alleged traits for decades? Did they match the spending under Presidents Bush and Obama, maintaining the status quo? No, and no. They looked at the spending and debt accumulation of the past and said, “Hold my beer.”

It’s not just the Republicans’ fault, but asking Democrats to stop them when they’re on a spending spree is like asking a bartender to stop serving alcohol. It just doesn’t feel right to them and the results of bipartisanship have been quite apparent, as my friend Daniel Horowitz noted on Conservative Review:

The bipartisan spending binge is now worse than under Bush and Obama

https://www.conservativereview.com/news/bipartisan-spending-binge-now-worse-bush-obama/It feels like it was yesterday when I was watching the news as a kid with my parents in 1995, listening to Newt Gingrich, during the infamous shutdown fight, warn about the dire consequences of crossing the $5 trillion debt milestone. It feels like it was yesterday when I was writing press releases for candidates in “the year of the Tea Party” on how Obama and the Pelosi Congress took the debt to $14 trillion in such a short period of time. Now, over eight years into varying degrees of GOP control of Congress and the White House, we have crossed the $22 trillion mark, expanding the debt more rapidly than at any time in our history. Whereas the debt exploded by $5 trillion during Bush’s eight-year tenure, a shocking figure at the time, it has now increased $8 trillion just since Republicans controlled the House in 2011 and by $4 trillion over the past four years, since they controlled at least two of the three political organs of government.

It has become so bad that even Matt Drudge, whose conservative news aggregator Drudge Report has been consistently defending President Trump since well before the 2016 election, is starting to ask questions.

Drudge Spending Binge

Washington DC has had a spending problem for a century. Republicans run on solving this problem during election time, but they’re acting like Democrats between elections. It’s time to let them know we’re watching and we’re not happy about it.

 


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Economy

Trump administration is optimistic about failing economic policies

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Trump administration is optimistic about failing economic policies

In an article I wrote last week following Trump’s campaign rally disguised as a State of the Union Address, I documented how his claim that his trade war and tax cuts had produced “the hottest economy in the world” were merely the rhetorical ramblings of a failed “Republican” running for re-election.

Trump’s trade war has created an economic hell that will take years to recover from, and his tax cuts have failed to provide tax relief for the middle class. In addition, when you throw Trump’s big-government spending into the mix, the federal deficit now exceeds $22 trillion.

The stock market fell late in 2018 and all gains made in the year were wiped out, a crash the administration blamed on Democrats and Fed Chairman Jerome Powell.

While the slide on Wall Street was dismissed as a market correction, recently released economic data from the Commerce Department shows that the overall economy ended the year much worse than the White House would have you believe.

U.S. retail sales recorded their biggest drop in more than nine years in December of 2018 as receipts fell 1.2 percent across the board. This is the largest decline in retail sales since Sept. 2009 when the economy was in a recession.

Trump brags about low unemployment numbers, but according to a Department of Labor report released yesterday, unemployment claims increased by 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 239,000 for the week ending Feb. 9th.

While it’s tempting for some to dismiss yesterday’s report as an anomaly, let’s take a look at the data from another angle.

The four-week moving average of claims — considered a better measure of labor market trends because it irons out week-to-week volatility — was 231,750, an increase of 6,750 from the previous week’s revised average. This is the highest level for this average since January 27, 2018 when it was 234,000. The previous week’s average was revised up by 250 from 224,750 to 225,000.

Of course, the administration famous for identifying unfavorable news as “fake” went right to work trying to spin these economic failures into policy victories.

Saying that he was still “optimistic” about the economy, White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow called the retail sales number a “glitch,” and he invited the feds to “step aside” while praising the president for “ending the war on business.” He then parroted SOTU talking points about how the overall economy was “very strong” despite these recent reports.

There are those who label me a pessimist because I refuse to whitewash the political graffiti of optimism Trump and the GOP spray paint on their crumbling wall of lies and broken promises, but in the words of C. Joybell C.: “Some people are optimists. Some people are pessimists. I’m just a realist who believes that some things are worth fighting for.”

Originally posted on StridentConservative.com.

 


David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.

Follow the Strident Conservative on Twitter and Facebook.

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