Late Monday, the U.S. blacklisted 28 Chinese companies because of their alleged role in human-rights violations against Muslim minorities ahead of the high-level discussions which will be led by China Vice Premier Liu He on Thursday.
Bloomberg also reported the Trump administration is moving ahead with discussions around possible restrictions on capital flows into China, with a particular focus on investments made by U.S. government pension funds.
These unilateral actions by the Trump administration will be enough to bring on a mild recession sometime next year. Why? Because attempting to isolate the 2nd largest, or largest economy in the world—depending on which economic measure is used—can only harm international trade on which U.S. and world economic growth depends these days.
Manufacturing activity is already contracting, signaling that it is in a recession. The service sector will take longer to see the effects of the U.S. decoupling from China and international trade in general from the various trade wars because services are less dependent on foreign trade.
And last week Trump also said he would add a 10 percent tariff in September to the remaining $300 billion in Chinese imports that had previously been excluded from earlier U.S. duties. China retaliated by suspending purchases of American farm crops and letting the value of its currency fall, effectively making Chinese goods cheaper to buy and negating some of the damage from U.S. tariffs.
The Chinese imports being taxed are consumer goods, such as TVs, computers, wash machines that American consumers buy.
The result? Both the Producer Price Index for wholesale goods (red line in graph), and probably the upcoming Consumer Price Index (dark blue line) shows where we are heading.
Wholesale prices in the PPI index are falling because of declining demand for unfinished goods, which are the raw material for finished products. The increase in wholesale inflation over the past 12 months slid to 1.4 percent from 1.8 percent, marking the lowest level in almost three years.
“Similarly, a more closely followed measure that strips out volatile food, energy and trade-margin costs was flat in September. The increase in the so-called core PPI over the past year dropped to 1.7 percent from 1.9 percent,” according to MarketWatch.Another sign of declining demand is the 10-year Treasury yield declining to 1.55 percent; also recession territory, as investors flee stocks to the safe haven of U.S. Treasury securities.
It means the Fed will probably continue to lower their interest rates in an attempt to boost spending, which could keep consumers in the game for a while longer, but at a lower level of consumption as they save more of their earnings.
Hence there is the possibility of a mild recession next year when consumers begin to realize that current U.S. economic policies only interested in punishing China, rather than negotiating a beneficial outcome in good faith, will harm American consumers as well.
Harlan Green © 2019
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