Central bankers have seen the future of trade friction and don’t like it, OPEC’s wheeling and dealing is in full swing, and Mnuchin sends Trump a signal. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about.
Trade Brawls Worry Central Bankers
The world’s most powerful central bankers warned that escalating international trade tensions are spooking companies and threatening the global economic expansion. “Changes in trade policy could cause us to have to question the outlook,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said during a panel discussion at a European Central Bank conference in Sintra, Portugal. “For the first time, we’re hearing about decisions to postpone investment, postpone hiring.” His sentiment was echoed at Wednesday’s event by Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda, ECB President Mario Draghi and Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe. Those four central banks set monetary policy for more than a third of the world’s economy.
Mnuchin Gives Trump the Silent Treatment
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is signaling his displeasure with President Donald Trump’s trade war with China by saying nothing at all. Mnuchin, typically a vocal booster of even Trump’s small-bore economic achievements, is maintaining a deliberate silence to show his dissatisfaction as the president proceeds with tariffs on tens of billions of dollars in Chinese goods, said two people familiar with his thinking. Mnuchin, who favors a more measured approach to the trade problem, decided silence was his best option after losing an internal White House battle last month to protectionists as the president considered the China tariffs, they said.
No Deal on ZTE … Yet
Several Republican members of Congress said they and the president made progress Wednesday toward a compromise to let Chinese telecommunications company ZTE Corp. stay in business while addressing lawmakers’ national security concerns. Trump wants to soften a provision in a Senate defense policy bill that ZTE has said would undo it. Senators want stronger penalties on the company, which they view as a security threat to the U.S., while Trump seeks to keep ZTE alive as a bargaining chip in a wider trade dispute with China.
OPEC Racing for an Oil Deal
The odds that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will reach an oil-production deal increased as Iran edged away from a threat to veto any agreement that would raise output. After sitting down with counterparts from several countries, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said he was optimistic, a day after he said a deal was unlikely. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said every minister he’s spoken to agrees it’s time for the cartel to look toward boosting output. Crude futures rose the most in more than a week.
Kuroda Backs Call for 3% Raises
The BOJ’s Kuroda endorsed a Japanese government call for employers to raise wages by 3 percent a year, far faster than the current pace, to help the central bank meet its inflation target. The government request is “quite appropriate,” Kuroda said Wednesday during a panel discussion at a European Central Bank forum in Sintra, Portugal. Though the pace has picked up this year, Japan’s wage gains remain a missing link in the central bank’s push to get inflation to its 2 percent goal. The government has been asking for wage increases for the last five years, this year urging the 3 percent boost during a “spring offensive.”
What we’ve been reading
This is what caught our eye over the last 24 hours.
- China just handed the world a 111-million-ton trash problem.
- Jack Ma’s financial powerhouse is betting its future on helping rivals.
- Saudi Arabia and Argentina earn MSCI upgrades.
- Trump retreats on family separation.
- A tech rally drove U.S. stock gains Wednesday.
- Chinese direct investment in America is collapsing.
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