“I’m not happy with Jay Powell, I don’t think he’s doing a good job at all”, Donald Trump told reporters, as he departed for the G-7 meeting in France late Friday in the US. “But I’ve got him”, he added.
The president was weighing in after a long, absurd day during which stocks plummeted following a series of tweets that found Trump likening Powell to Xi Jinping and “hereby” ordering US companies to find “alternatives to China” and move any production back to America.
Asked if he wanted Powell to resign, Trump said “if he did, I wouldn’t stop him”.
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Trump’s tweets, delivered hours after Beijing retaliated to his latest tariffs, were a bridge too far for markets. Investors dumped risk assets on the threat of further escalations, which the president delivered after the closing bell in the form of more tariff hikes.
Asked by reporters about the situation with China, Trump parroted the usual line about how long the Chinese have been “hurting us”.
“Look, China has been hurting our country for 30 years with the money they’ve been taking out”, he said. At this point, it’s pretty clear Trump believes his own narrative – that bilateral trade deficits represent one country “taking” money “out” from another. That isn’t what bilateral trade deficits represent. Note that Trump now says “we’re losing close to $1 trillion a year to China”. It wasn’t clear where he got that number.
“This is more important – just about – right now than anything else we’re working on”, he continued. If Friday was any indication, the administration is about to be “working on” a plan to bolster the equity market if the president continues to push the envelope.
Trump also said he’s “always open to talks”, but on Saturday, China struck a defiant tone.
Beijing “strongly opposes” the new tariffs, China’s Commerce Ministry said, in a statement, urging the US side not to “misjudge the situation”.
Trump, the ministry warned, “shouldn’t underestimate [the Chinese] people’s determination”.