Wall Street Journal Recession Warning

 

By DTN's Washington Insider

Progressive Farmer/DTN - 8/12/2019

 

The Washington Post reported late last week that trade policies have become increasingly personal and focused on a particular controversial advisor, Peter Navarro—who warned on Thursday that the “Trump’s trade war could trigger a recession.”

 

The Post noted that Navarro is a strong proponent of going hard after China using tariffs to force trade practices. His official title is White House assistant for trade and manufacturing.

 

“The Wall Street Journal will write what it writes. It doesn’t sound a lot different from the People’s Daily in terms of the news that it puts out," Navarro said in an interview on Fox Business Network.”

 

The Post obviously enjoyed the controversy and noted that People’s Daily is the largest newspaper in China and provides an official outlet for the Chinese Communist Party. The Journal, by contrast, is owned by businessman Rupert Murdoch and his family and its editorial board is widely considered a leading Republican and capitalist voice.

 

The Journal’s Thursday editorial, “A Navarro Recession?,” cautioned that Trump’s escalating trade battle with China is backfiring by causing businesses to stop investment and reduce hiring. The editorial blamed Navarro for giving the president poor advice.

 

“Mr. Trump’s willy-nilly trade offensive could be the mistake that turns a slowdown into the Navarro recession,” the editorial board wrote.

 

Navarro dismissed the editorial as biased and wrong when he was asked about it in a Fox TV appearance. He insisted the U.S. economy is doing well and blamed Congress and the Federal Reserve for the fact that hiring has slowed from last year and that business investment dried up in the second quarter.

 

“This economy is solid as a rock,” Navarro said. “But President Trump doesn’t want a very good economy, he wants a great economy.”

 

However, the stock market has mostly gone sideways since Trump started putting tariffs on various items and countries in January 2018, the Post said. And, while business leaders and the Wall Street Journal editorial board say the trade war is harming the economy Navarro insists that all blame falls on the Fed, even though Trump appointed the Fed chair and most of its board of governors.

 

Navarro predicted that the Fed would reduce interest rates three or four more times by the end of the year, an unprecedented amount of aid at a time when the economy is doing pretty well.

 

“I believe that by the end of the year, we’ll have 75 to 100 basis points in cuts, not because this economy is weak, but because of this spread problem,” Navarro said, referring to the difference between the Fed’s 2.25 percent benchmark interest rate and the 1.72 percent yield on 10-year Treasury bonds.

 

The Fed cut interest rates in July for the first time since the financial crisis, citing increased uncertainty from slowing global growth overseas and trade tensions.

 

Hope of a quick resolution to the U.S.-China trade war faded last week as both sides have dug in further, the Post said. At Navarro’s urging, Trump said he will put 10% tariffs on an additional $300 billion worth of Chinese imports. China responded by devaluing its currency, a move Trump detests, although it does help alleviate the costs of the tariffs.

 

It turns out that the Wall Street Journal is far from the only critic of current U.S. trade policies. Bloomberg also reported that former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said on Sunday that the U.S. and world economies are at their riskiest moment since the global financial crisis a decade ago as a result of growing trade tensions.

 

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