End Game Analysis

Treasury Boycott Thesis

I am surprised that Rosenberg brings this up because in my mind, this hash has been settled long ago.

What exactly would China, Japan, and Germany do with their reserves and ongoing trade surplus? Mathematically they have to do something.

Historically, that something has been to buy treasuries. But I suppose China could buy could be gold or US equities. The latter would be smack in the middle of an obvious bubble.

And if China were to dump US treasuries, the alleged nuclear option, it would serve to strengthen the Yuan. Recall that China sold US treasuries to support the Yuan and stop capital flight. In a trade war, China would not want an appreciating currency!

I think Rosenberg proposes nonsense, but given the nonsensical actions of Trump, I cannot rule out nonsensical or illogical responses.

This leads us to the most logical real threat.

Yuan Devaluation Thesis

China cannot retaliate with enough tariffs on its own to combat tariffs imposed by the US. However, the yuan does not float. China could devalue the yuan enough to counteract the value of US tariffs.

Of course, Trump could ban Chinese imports in response, but prices at Walmart, Costco, Target, everywhere, would skyrocket.

This scenario is nearly the opposite of what Rosenberg suggests. It is also far more credible.

But hold on. It is not without risk. Recall that China sold US treasuries to stop capital flight. If China devalues, there is a strong likelihood that capital flight would intensify.

Sester Chimes In

Excuse me Brad, but it's now $450 billion proposed.

Lance Roberts Chimes In

Back to Rosenberg

This Tweet makes far more sense.

Relax, Nothing Worse Will Happen

This whole thing could blow over. Trump and China may come to an agreement that brings us back from the brink.

Options

  • Door 1: Treasury boycott with untested results likely to be hugely negative for everyone
  • Door 2: Devaluation with known immediate consequences that are certain to be bad for everybody. The long-term prognosis depends on further retaliations.
  • Door 3. Cooler heads back off the crisis a bit.
  • Door 4. Every country abolishes all tariff

Realistically, door 4 is closed. Curiously, it's the best option no matter what any other country does.

Winning by Losing

  1. Trump Ups the Ante: Trump Now Threatens Tariffs on All Goods from China: $450 Billion
  2. A Fed study shows "Tariffs Kill High-Paying American Manufacturing Jobs and Businesses".
  3. Auto job losses alone are likely to hit 45,000 as noted in Pandora's Box: Another Look at Steel Tariffs.
  4. On June 8, I noted Three US Tire-Chord Makers Threaten to Close Doors Due to Trump Tariffs.

Trump believes China will lose more. This we call "winning".

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

China Eyes Yuan Devaluation in Trade Dispute

Finally, we have a story that makes retaliatory sense vs. the widely believed "nuclear" treasury dumping theory.

Nuclear Option of China Dumping US Treasuries vs Devaluation: Take II

The alleged "nuclear" option of China dumping treasuries is Much Ado About Nothing. A devaluation is another matter.

Setser vs Rosenberg: China's "Nuclear" Option of Dumping Treasuries

Brad Setser and David Rosenberg each discuss the "nuclear" option of China dumping treasuries in a trade war escalation.

Understanding the Trade "Nuclear" Threat, China Dumping Treasuries

It's highly unlikely China would dump US treasuries in a trade war. Yet, the talk surfaces all the time.

Counteracting Tariffs via Sinking Yuan: What Would It Take?

One of the ways China can counteract Trump tariffs is by letting the yuan sink. Let's explore how much.

Senator Grassley Warns "Trump’s Tariffs End or His Trade Deal Dies"

Chuck Grassley, a Republican Senator from Iowa warns Trump in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed: End the tariffs.

Trump's Tax Reform "Global Con" Game

Brad Setser is sure to fuel a long debate over the merits of Trump's tax reform. Setser labels it a "global con".

Trump and China to Sign Trade War Ceasefire on Wednesday

On Wednesday, the US and China will sign a compromise deal that will calm but not end a two-year trade war.

Forget the Yuan: King Dollar is Here to Stay

Many believe deficit spending will kill the US dollar as a reserve currency and the yuan will take over. They are wrong.