We were wondering how long before one of our favorite “perma-skeptics”, Socgen’s Albert Edwards, would chime in on the global trade war that broke out in the past few weeks, especially since trade protectionism, tariffs and subsidies are the opposite side of the same “strategic” coin of currency devaluation which we have observed for the past decade, and both of which have one purpose: to make one nation’s goods and service (and stocks) cheaper to the outside world (curiously, in recent years, it has emerged that “soft” protectionism i.e. currency devaluation, is far more acceptable to the establishment than direct or targeted trade intervention via tariffs and trade protectionism).
We got the answer today when in a note, what else, warning what comes next, Edwards writes that whereas “a trade war and competitive currency devaluation was always going to be the end game in our Ice Age thesis as a global deflationary bust destroyed wealth, profits and jobs” and it now looks that this endgame “might be arriving sooner than we had anticipated.”
The reason: central banks. The catalyst: Donald Trump.
As Edwards explains, while the world is all too quick to point the finger at Trump for daring to expose that the trading emperor is naked, the real culprit behind massive trade imbalances is elsewhere, usually inside a central bank building:
“Increasing trade tensions are an inevitable consequence of the side-effects of QE pursued by central banks – especially the ECB. In the near term, there are a couple of trade issues rankling the US Administration far more than steel and aluminium that could easily trigger a full-scale trade war. More immediate is the impending result of a US probe into China’s alleged theft of intellectual property. And boiling away in the background are Germany’s, and now too the eurozone’s, outsized trade surpluses.”
Edwards begins his analysis by pointing out something trivial: politicians lie.
In this context, Edwards claims that President Trump “is a most unusual politician. Like him or loath him, he seems to be doing something politicians seldom ever do: namely, attempting to fulfill his election promises. This is most unusual!”
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