President Donald Trump declared China the “grand champions” of currency manipulation on Thursday, just hours after his new Treasury secretary pledged a more methodical approach to analyzing Beijing’s foreign exchange practices.
In an exclusive interview with Reuters, Trump said he has not “held back” in his assessment that China manipulates its yuan currency, despite not acting on a campaign promise to declare it a currency manipulator on his first day in office.
“Well they, I think they’re grand champions at manipulation of currency. So I haven’t held back,” Trump said. “We’ll see what happens.”
During his presidential campaign Trump frequently accused China of keeping its currency artificially low against the dollar to make Chinese exports cheaper, “stealing” American manufacturing jobs.
But Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin told CNBC on Thursday he was not ready to pass judgment on China’s currency practices.
The Trump-Putin honeymoon continues to chill… that is if Trump’s top foreign policy advisors speak for the president, which remains very much unclear.
As discussed yesterday, in the clearest sign yet that when it comes to diplomacy with Russia, there are two clear axes developing within the Trump administration: a Pence/Mattis/Haley foreign policy and a Trump/Bannon/Miller foreign policy, Vice President Mike Pence told the crowd at the Munich Security Conference that he would “hold Russia accountable” even as he vowed “unwavering support” for NATO. This prompted the following interesting scene moments later, as recounted by Bloomberg.
Shortly after Vice President Mike Pence pledged to “hold Russia to account” while looking for common ground in a speech to European allies, a hawkish Russian legislator reached out to shake his hand as he passed through a crowded hotel corridor.
“Mr. Vice President, I am from Moscow and we hope we will reach those arrangements you were talking about,” said Alexei Pushkov, a member of the defense committee in the upper chamber of the Russian parliament. He enthusiastically told reporters afterward that he saw the Vice President’s smile as a good sign.
Global large-and-mid capitalisation stocks have climbed to within easy striking distance of setting a new all-time high for the first time in almost two years, led by a strong performance by US equities.
The MSCI all-world index, which tracks companies in 46 countries that account for 85 per cent of the investable equities market, closed on Monday at 441.14, just 0.35 per cent away from the all-time high it struck in May 2015.
The gauge has climbed by 23.5 per cent over the past 12 months, partly reflecting a sharp rebound from a fall at the start of last year.
Equity bourses around the world have been lifted by a brightening outlook for the world economy, along with a recovery in the price of oil.
World Bank economists reckon global growth will accelerate from 2.3 per cent in 2016, to 2.7 per cent this year, and 2.9 per cent the next year. The optimism has come as central banks in Europe and Asia have loosened monetary policy in a bid to spur faster growth.
In the US, the Federal Reserve has pledged to only “gradually” tighten policy. Some economists have also marked-up their estimates for the rate of expansion for the world’s biggest developed economy on expectations that Donald Trump and a Republican Congress will roll-out business-friendly policies.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s semiannual testimony takes the spotlight next week as investors watch for clues on US monetary policy and her take on the current political climate.
Here’s what to watch in the coming days.
Ms Yellen will deliver her “Humphrey Hawkins” testimony before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, followed by an appearance before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday.
The Fed has signalled three interest rate rises this year. Sticking to its mantra that all meetings are ‘live’, investors will watch for closely watch “how forceful she is in promoting the notion that March is still on the table,” said Tom Porcelli of RBC Capital Markets.
Indeed, federal fund futures currently imply a 13.3 per cent chance of a rate rise next month, according to CME data.
“Given the uncertainty of timing on the fiscal agenda and the relatively modest uptick in inflation thus far this year, we think it will be difficult for the committee to get enough members on board for a hike in March (not to mention that the French election in late April/early May looms large as a potential catalyst for global volatility),” Mr Porcelli said. “But Yellen could certainly move the “perception” needle on this.”
In the Q&A session, Ms Yellen will likely be grilled on Fed independence, the central bank’s economic outlook and its view on Mr Trump’s planned proposals.
Verbatim on what Trump said on currencies in his press conference with Abe
Exactly what Donald Trump said regarding currency devaluation.
“As far as currency devaluations, I’ve been complaining about that for a long time. I believe that we will all eventually and probably very much sooner than a lot of people understand or think; we will be all at a level playing field. Because that’s the only way it’s fair. That’s the only way you can fairly compete on trade and other things. And we will be on that field and we will all be working very hard to do great for our country. But it has to be fair and we will make it fair. I think the United States is going to be an even bigger player than it is right now, by a lot, when it comes to trade. A lot of that will have to do with our tax policy, which you’ll be seeing in the not-too-distant future. We’ll have an incentive-based policy, much more so than we have right now. Right now nobody even knows what policy we have. We’re working with Congress, we’re working with Paul Ryan, we’re working with Mitch McConnell and I think people are going to be very, very impressed.”
A tweet from US President Donald Trump can move markets. It may also move the market’s perception of the credit risk posed by a company named in one of the presidential posts, according to a report from S&P Global Market Intelligence.
“Trump’s willingness to directly call out firms over Twitter has introduced a never-before-seen dynamic to the markets and, correspondingly, it has affected the market-implied credit risk for individual countries,” said Jim Elder, director of corporate and financial institutions at S&P Global Markets Intelligence.
“Since his election, and based on market reactions, the calculations of our Probability of Market Default Signals (PDMS) model have shown a short-term impact on the credit quality of individual firms that have entered his cross-hairs, for better or worse,” he added.
But the impact can vary from tweet to tweet, the report found.
Japan accounted for $68.9 billion of the U.S. trade deficit on goods in 2016, re-emerging as the second-largest contributor for the first time in three years for a potential flashpoint when the leaders of the two nations meet Friday.
The overall U.S. trade deficit on goods shrank by 1.5% to $734.3 billion last year on a Census basis, according to Department of Commerce data released Tuesday. Exports fell 3.2% to $1.45 trillion on a strong dollar, but imports decreased 2.6% to $2.18 trillion.
The country logged a $247.8 billion surplus on services, bringing the overall U.S. trade deficit to $502.3 billion on a balance of payments basis.
The goods deficit with Japan remained roughly flat and accounted for 9% of the U.S. total. The deficit on motor vehicles and parts — an area in which President Donald Trump claims Japan engages in unfair practices — jumped to $52.6 billion from $48.9 billion in 2015, making up nearly 80% of the total American deficit with Japan.
Japanese automakers are increasing production in North America. But cars sold from Japan to the U.S. tend to be higher-end models, and the average price per unit is rising.
China was the top contributor to the U.S. trade deficit on goods, accounting for $347 billion, or 47%. Germany ranked third and Mexico fourth. Trump, seeking to curb the deficit, has accused Japan, China and Germany of manipulating their currencies. The president also demands a renegotiation of NAFTA with Mexico.
Deutsche Bank took out full-page ads in Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Saturday, in which the country’s biggest lender apologized for (getting caught) engaging in market manipulation and misconduct that has cost the company billions. In the ad, signed by CEO John Cryan on behalf of the bank’s top management,the bank said its past conduct “not only cost us money, but also our reputation and trust.“
The ad said “we in the management committee and bank leadership as a whole will do everything in our power to keep such cases from happening again.”
As President Trump drops tape (and tweet) bombs left, right, and center; often saying exactly what he is thinking, it appears the world’s leaders (and establishmentarians) are “shocked” at his inconvenient truthiness. As Tim Bale, politics professor at Queen Mary University of London, said, reflecting on Brexit concerns,
“…our reliance on the United States, in normal times, wouldn’t worry too many people… But Donald Trump doesn’t seem to be a normal president.”
Which seemed to sum things up nicely.
From Australia to Iran, and from Germany to Russia, no one is safe from President Donald Trump’s blunt, win-the-deal approach to diplomacy. As The Wall Street Journal reports, his style has U.S. adversaries and some allies struggling to assess its impact for their countries and puzzling over how to react if they land in the new American leader’s crosshairs next.