WORLD FINANCES: China – U.S. Tensions Paint a Grim Future for 2020 Finances. Is there a way out?
More than a year of the US-China trade war
What started as largely a trade dispute in 2018 has transformed itself into a vengeful sequence of structural opposition – covering:
- National security.
Growing signs that the world’s two largest economies are decoupling and some specialists are predicting a cold war that will reshape the global balance of power.
Washington is mired in domestic political division and disengaging from the world, meanwhile an increasingly combative Beijing with its tit-for-tat approach to diplomacy.
The climate of interaction is turning more and more dangerous as the death of U.S.’s established policy of engagement has created doubts on every aspect of its relationship with China. We’re definitely at an intersection where the very fabric of their relationship is decaying in distressing ways.
Impact on the global economy
Trade tensions have slowed global economic growth to its lowest level since the 2008 financial crisis. Predictions point out that global growth would stay at 3% percent, the slowest pace of the last decade and a 0.3-percentage-point downgrade from previous forecasts.
A marked deterioration in manufacturing and global trade, along higher tariffs and continued trade policy ambiguity is detrimental to the overall investment landscape and the demand levels for capital goods.
The cost of money is falling, with the European Central Bank (ECB) cutting its deposit rate to minus 0.5 per cent and declaring the renewal of QE from 1 November 2019. Even though further QE will keep the cost of borrowing for companies down, a deteriorating economic environment, low inflation and maybe even deflation are all highly possible.
This is predicted to negatively affect the world’s cash flow and none of these significant top indicators appear to suggest that a recovery is soon to happen.
It’s as if there is a bicameral world economy:
- Consumption is holding up.
- Manufacturing is deteriorating.
But the fact remains that it is manufacturing that leads the economy. The uncertainty over terms of trade and tariffs plus the UK’s chaotic Brexit negotiations, have led to these weak manufacturing indicators.
And although geopolitical uncertainty in all its forms is always with us, the September drone attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities decreased the supply of oil, causing a 20% spike in the price of oil at a time.
The general prediction for 2020 is certainly a grim one:
- Business sentiment and investment intention is low.
- Geopolitical uncertainty is creating economic instability.
- Manufacturing landscape is rapidly is deteriorating.
The inevitable result is poised to be:
- Lower employment rates.
- And its correspondent fall in consumption.
As an investor, is there an alternative to this?
Although rather utopic, the most obvious way out would come out of a fundamental change in attitude on both sides, where each government stops seeing the as a threat to their notion of global order and political systems.
But, since the two countries remained caught throughout 2019 in an economic and geostrategic tussle, things appear to be spiraling towards a world power faceoff rather than conciliation.
While the so-called phase one trade deal was largely viewed as diplomatic optics in a time of crisis, it was far from enough to:
- Stop the protracted war between the two nations.
- End the deep-running tensions.
- Or undo the damage caused to the global economy.
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