Friday, August 17, 2018

Rickards: We Are in a New Currency War

The problem from an investor’s perspective is they are “slow burn” crises and can linger for a long time before producing anything dramatic such as a shooting war or market collapse. They are not date-driven or date-specific in the short run.

One story that’s under the radar and could blow up soon is Chinese currency devaluation.

If Trump puts a 25% tariff on Chinese imports but China then devalues its currency 25%, then the net effect is zero. The impact of the devaluation offsets the impact of the tariff and then you’re back where you started.

This new currency war seems to be happening.

Once Trump focuses on this, he’s likely to be infuriated and retaliate against China in the currency war and take steps to penalize China for currency manipulation over and above the existing tariffs and penalties for theft of intellectual property. This has a hard date of Oct. 15, 2018.

That’s the date of the U.S. Treasury’s semiannual report on Macroeconomic and Foreign Exchange Policies of Major Trading Partners of the United States.

That report is the formal mechanism for labeling a trading partner such as China a “currency manipulator” with severe consequences. Oct. 15, 2018, is just three weeks before the midterm elections, so it could be a highly popular political move in addition to being economically important.

All of this and more is on Trump’s policy plate right now. Just don’t expect him to handle it the way politicos usually do. Investors should expect dramatic policy shifts and extreme threats. But don’t overreact like the Washington pundits.

Remember, it’s all the art of the deal.

- Source, James Rickards via the Daily Reckoning