Donald Trump spoke to reporters on Thursday afternoon following another manic day on Wall Street, where stocks managed to eke out a small gain after gyrating for most of the session.
Conflicting soundbites out of China further muddied already murky trade waters. A short statement by the Finance ministry suggested Beijing is set to retaliate imminently to Trump’s planned September 1 tariffs, but subsequent rhetoric from the Foreign ministry struck a more conciliatory tone.
Trump’s China-related tweets on Thursday didn’t do much to clear things up, and neither did his comments late Thursday. “[China] is doing very poorly, they want to make a deal”, Trump said, en route to Manchester, New Hampshire, where he’s convening a MAGA rally.
He went on to effectively dare China to push back. Specifically, Trump said he does not expect retaliation to the levies that will go into effect in two weeks, despite what China said on Thursday. Pressed on what he might do if Beijing did hit back, Trump emphasized that the country is losing a lot of jobs, an effort to suggest that Xi simply cannot afford to push things much further. As far as the September meeting on trade is concerned, that’s still on, apparently. The president also indicated he has a call scheduled with Xi “soon”.
On the US economy, Trump launched into a diatribe centered around the idea that most of what’s good is attributable to him. “If for some reason [I don’t win] in the 2020 election, you’ll see this economy go down the tubes”, he warned, reiterating the same fearmongering he’s resorted to on a number of occasions recently.
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Trump also weighed in again on the situation in Hong Kong. On Wednesday evening, the president delivered a series of tweets that made little sense and did nothing to help clarify his position on the civil unrest in the city.
He essentially recapped those when asked by reporters to elaborate on where he stands. Amusingly, the president is now referring to his tweets as “memos”.
As you can see, Trump is sticking with the idle talking point about not wanting to see a “violent crackdown”, which is a completely nebulous thing to say. The president again suggested that Xi sit down with the protesters and try to talk things out, although he also admitted that’s a far-fetched proposition.
Finally, when pressed about gun violence in America, Trump said one idea is to start building more mental institutions. No, really…