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The U.S.-China Trade War Has Far to Run, but an Interim Deal Is Coming

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The March 1 “deadline” for resolving trade disputes with China has come and gone. Trump called off the threat of higher tariffs scheduled to be imposed that day if China did not reach a comprehensive trade deal with the U.S., including more Chinese purchases of U.S. goods and verifiable progress on protection of U.S. intellectual property and forced transfers of U.S. technology.

None of those things happened, but Trump believed there was sufficient progress to call off the tariff increase until he had a chance for a high-level summit with Chinese President Xi. That summit is now planned for Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, later this month.

Markets consider this planned summit to be good news and have rallied in response. It looks like the worst of the trade war may be behind us. But according to this articlenot only does the trade war have far to run, but the global economy is weakening with or without trade war progress.

The summit is likely to take place and some favorable news will be announced. But resolution of the tough issues (intellectual property and technology) is far from complete. More importantly, global growth is slowing regardless of the trade situation because of overly tight monetary policy by the Fed since 2017.

The markets’ celebration of trade war progress was overdone and premature. As growth slows and trade war tensions continue, expect more market drawdowns and trend reversals.

The good news reported here is temporary and superficial. The hard part on solving trade issues and reviving growth is yet to come.

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