Markets trade

Nobody Cares About Trump’s Trade Deal Anymore

Sell the news, baby. Sell the news.

“Headline-chaser! Headline-chaser! Headline-chaser, gooooo!”

[Set to Speed Racer theme song]

The Wall Street Journal was busy on Wednesday running down a hot new “scoop” on the Sino-US trade discussions.

And by “hot new ‘scoop'” we mean that according to “a person” (singular, apparently) familiar with the evolving situation, Washington and Beijing are angling to schedule a “signing ceremony in late May or early June.”

That will come after yet another round of face-to-face meetings, which will include the customary charade wherein Bob Lighthizer flies to Beijing for a pow wow with Liu He, only to have Liu follow Bob right back to Washington the very next week to talk about the very same things.

“Under the draft schedule, Lighthizer is tentatively set to travel to Beijing the week of April 29”, the Journal’s lone source said. WSJ adds that Liu is expected to come to Washington the week of May 6.

And yes, that is just as absurd as it sounds, especially considering how many times Lighthizer and Liu have been through this.

This time, though, everybody is serious. Both sides are really looking to “close out” the deal, the Journal promises, on behalf of the unnamed official, who definitively wasn’t just Donald Trump calling the paper and posing as John Miller or John Baron or David Dennison or some other wholly unimaginative fake name.

Less than an hour later, while speaking during an event at the White House, Trump cryptically remarked that things with China are “moving along quite well” and the public will “be hearing about them very, very shortly”.

A while back, we suggested that headlines around the trade negotiations were at risk of succumbing to Brexit syndrome – that is, everybody pays lip service to the idea that each and every piece of incremental news is important, but really, nobody cares. It’s been going on for so long that market participants are exhausted with it.

A quick look at the S&P and USDCNH tells the story – the offshore yuan got a fillip on the news but stocks just don’t care anymore.

So, it looks as though Trump’s “granddaddy of them all” trade deal with Xi might end up being a “sell the news” type of event, considering everyone has spent the last six months buying the rumor.

That would be a real bummer for the president, who last month said this about what stocks would likely do once the deal gets done:


If Trump is interested in what’s really driving markets these days, he might want to take a gander at health care names, which have been massacred as America seems to be coming around to the idea that “Medicare For All” might not be such a bad idea…

5 comments on “Nobody Cares About Trump’s Trade Deal Anymore

  1. Dennis Ryder

    All this phony drama that Trump pulls is just plain bad for business, no matter what the “deal” ultimately is. As a former product developer, if I was still at it, I would have been a full year into diversifying my supply chain away from China if at all possible, as this moron could be around for 5 more years.

  2. H,

    Any thoughts on how the turnaround in China’s equity markets affects its leverage going into the critical stage of the negotiation? With China piling on the stimulus, there seems to be some indication that Xi won’t tolerate a ‘weak China’ narrative.

    Now we get word of this absurd ex-WTO enforcement mechanism, and signs point to Trump capitulating on important issues to get to that cherished photo op. The ‘granddaddy of them all’ deal might turn out to be the ‘granddaddy who soils his Depends and smiles while you clean it up’ deal.

    Although the Stable Genius may think that “two way enforcement” is actually a good idea.

  3. If you brag that something will be the greatest, a and keep people waiting longer and longer for it, the odds go up that the reaction will be disappointment.

  4. Harvey Darrow Cotton

    Well, if there is one thing you can rely on, it is a commitment from the United States government. And if there are two things you can rely on, the first is still a commitment from the United States government, and the second is the word and integrity of Donald J. Trump. So if I was China, I would definitely alter my development strategy to placate an American government headed by Donald J. Trump…

  5. I’m sure this will be as fucktacular as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

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