I was talking to a financial journalist yesterday asking what he liked about his job. “I don’t have to read or write about Trump 24/7. I have a new beat, he said, trade.
Our conversation could have been accompanied by gathering storm clouds, high winds, and ominous music because the IMF meeting not too far away from New York in Washington warned “tit for tat” trade wars would slow the US and world economy. President Trump’s trade wars were particularly singled out as the cause.
More bad news and a footnote to the IMF report, today China announced lower than expected third quarter annual GDP growth rates and its lowest rate of annual growth in 30 years because of a slowdown in exports and manufacturing investment. The official Chinese press release didn’t quite put it the same way the Financial Times and other Western outlooks described the same news. In the preamble to the same news of the disappointing 6.0 growth rate, between the 2018 and 2019 third quarter, is this language:
“In the first three quarters of 2019, faced with mounting risks and challenges both at home and abroad, under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, all regions and departments implemented the decisions and arrangements made by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, adhered to the general working guideline of making progress while maintaining stability, ..”
A textual analysis of the official bulletin of the Chinese statistical bureau reveals a boasting tone and focus on the national leader. Yesterday, Trump tweeted that the economy would crash if one of the Democratic candidates, who he referred to as “clowns” were elected.
The IMF report has an ominous title – The World Economy in Synchronized Slowdown, Precarious Outlook – and message. The world economy growth rate for 2019 will slow to 3 percent down from their forecast for 2019 of 3.3 percent just six months ago and down from the 2017 3.8 percent rate. Three percent doesn’t sound that bad except it is the worst forecast since the Great Recession of 2008. The report called on Germany to run fiscal deficits, for the US and China to step down from trade wars and for Central Banks to keep loose. The Turkish economy was called out for special instability. Who caused that?
Even for my acquaintance the journalist –thinking he escaped politics to the real world of business and leaving his Washington reporters to monitor the “realDonaldTrump” on Twitter – the world economy, too, is Trump 24/7.