Fed’s Bullard Says ‘Angst’ Rising Over Growing Trade Disputes

(Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said worries over escalating trade disputes are weighing increasingly on businesses across his district.

“I would say I’m hearing full-throated angst,” Bullard said Thursday during a telephone call with reporters. “All aspects of the economy are affected, but agriculture is certainly” being hit, he said.

Bullard, whose district includes parts of seven states including most of Missouri and all of Arkansas, said some suppliers were using the threat of new tariffs as a reason to raise prices, even when new tariffs would not directly target their business.

“That shows you how uncertainty over trade policy can feed back” into business decision-making, he said.

China and the U.S. have threatened tariffs against each other that could unsettle the global economy if the world’s two largest trading partners match all their rhetoric with action.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell told a policy conference last week in Portugal that, in principle, “changes in trade policy could cause us to have to question the outlook,” and that “for the first time, we’re hearing about decisions to postpone investment, postpone hiring.”

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