According to a Societe Generale strategist Albert Edwards, a trade war would bring about a financial crisis a lot sooner than anyone expected. Edwards has warned in the past that currency devaluation could spark an economic recession worse than 2008, and now he’s sounding the alarm about Donald Trump’s trade policies.
Edwards now points to the Trump administration’s trade policy as yet another catalyst that could hasten the next crisis. Recent tariffs the US imposed on steel and aluminum imports threaten a full-scale trade war, he claimed. While tariffs and taxes always get passed onto the American consumer in the form of higher costs for goods, it is unfortunate that the tariff talk is ongoing.
The US could also turn on other trading partners as Trump continues to advance his “America First” agenda, reported the Financial Tribune. “Boiling away in the background is Germany’s, and now also the eurozone’s, outsized trade surpluses” with the US, Edwards said. He added, “Expect Trump to soon turn his protectionist fire on both Germany and the EU. That will be messy.”But there is some good news many in the mainstream media continue to ignore:
While much of what Trump is announcing today has already been leaked, here are the details of the import tariffs Donald Trump formally adopted on steel and aluminium imports which allow US allies to negotiate and apply for exemptions, a sign of the growing concern that the president was alienating America’s closest international partners, and that 2 of the 4 largest foreign suppliers of steel will be exempt. –Zerohedge
“A trade war and competitive currency devaluation was always going to be the end game in our Ice Age thesis as a global deflationary bust destroyed wealth, profits, and jobs,” Edwards said in a note on Thursday. “But it looks as if it might be arriving sooner than we had anticipated.”
China exports just 1.1% of its steel to the United States, therefore, the tariffs are considered unlikely to do any serious damage to Chinese businesses. The more immediate fuel for a trade war, Edwards said, is retaliatory action against China by the US for alleged intellectual property theft. The Nikkei Asian Review reported Wednesday that the US was set to impose tariffs on $60 billion worth of Chinese products as punishment. Yet remember, a tariff isn’t going to punish the Chinese; it will punish the American consumer as prices go up to cover the cost of the new tax.
A White House official says there will be no significant downstream price effects, and thus no significant downstream job effects, according to Zerohedge. But that expectation counters multiple statements and prognostications from several companies and industry groups that use steel and aluminum, as well as lawmakers representing them, who have warned the tariffs will harm their businesses or industries.