To those hoping for a quick resolution to the US-China trade war, Axios had some bad news earlier today, reporting that the trade feud is “likely to last much longer than originally thought — extending well into the second half of next year and perhaps beyond, experts say.” According to Axios, the main reason for the protracted conflict is that neither side is prepared to appear politically weak at home, and both are ready to absorb economic pain.
With few probable winners, the biggest losers would be farmers, users of steel, and consumers in the US, manufacturers of all types will see business leave to neighbors like Vietnam and Malaysia in China, while dampening economic growth in both nations and around the globe.
However, as the general manager of the Bank of International Settlements, Agustin Carstens warned, the greater risk is not how many points of GDP the rising tariffs will subtract from the US and China, but the growing danger to globalization itself, and on Saturday, Karstens delivered a scathing critique of rising protectionism, a not-so-subtle rebuke to Trump’s use of tariffs and trade talks to wring concessions from China, Mexico and many other countries.
Reversing globalization “could increase prices, raise unemployment and crimp growth,” Carstens, the former head of Mexico’s central bank, told fellow central bankers at the Jackson Hole annual economic symposium. Additionally, higher tariffs could (actually, just say would) drive up U.S. inflation and force the Fed to raise rates, driving up the dollar and hurting both U.S. exporters and emerging market economies in the process, Carstens said.
Protectionism also threatens “to unsettle financial markets and put a drag on firms’ capital spending, as investors take fright and financial conditions tighten,” he said.
“These real and financial risks could amplify each other, creating a perfect storm and exacting an even higher price”, the rotund central banker warned.
Alongside Carstens’ speech, the BIS released a research paper titled “Global market structures and the high price of protectionism” which that estimated that revoking NAFTA would mean a loss to GDP of $37 billion in Canada, $22 billion in Mexico,