Cumberland Advisors Market Commentary – Tariffs – Macroeconomic Versus Microeconomic Effects: In the Long Run We Are All Dead

Robert Brusca of FAO-Economics details some interesting information on US trade and the likely impacts that the current US-China trade war could have on prices.[1]

Market Commentary - Cumberland Advisors - Impact of Tariffs

He has provided us with a deep dive into the mechanics and macro costs of the current tariff “war.” Here are data suggesting that markets may have overreacted to this week’s round of tariff increases and their implications for the US economy.
1) US total non-petroleum imports amount to about 9.5% of US GDP, while US imports from China, though large in dollar amount, account for about 15% of US total imports, or only 1.4% of US GDP.
2) The president has increased tariffs on goods from 10% to 25%, a 15% increase on potentially 1.4% of US GDP, so the first-round impact is less than a 0.2% increase in price pressures and about .4% for the full impact of the 25% tariff.
3) Brusca clearly demonstrates that, despite the administration’s assertions, US importers initially pay the tariffs, not the Chinese exporters, and these prices are then either passed on to US consumers and/or absorbed by the importers in the form of lower profits. Of course, these tariffs increase the relative price of Chinese import products and mean that over time demand will be reduced and customers will substitute goods from other non-Chinese sources or change the mix of goods purchased, thereby lowering the impact of the tariffs in the longer run. Fortunately, ready substitute suppliers exist for most of the goods imported from China. Of course, there are exchange-rate implications as well.
4) Finally, Brusca argues that the overall price impacts in terms of changes in the CPI will be small, since goods have less than a 20% weight in the overall CPI.
5) To be sure, on selective products US producers may engage in parallel pricing behavior; and in some markets, like appliances, the price impacts already have been quite significant.

What about US exports, since China is raising tariffs on its imports from the US in retaliation?

1) US exports in total are about 13% of US GDP, of which goods account for about half, or 7.9%, of GDP. Services are not that important to our trade with China. The Washington Post reports that in the six-month period ending in March 2018, U.S. exports to China have dropped about $18.4 billion, some of which was offset by increases to other areas in the world.[2]
2) Total US exports to China amount to only about 6% of US total exports, or 0.6% of GDP.
3) While these aggregate macro statistics seem small when weighed against the size of the US economy, this does not mean that the tariff situation has not caused problems for key sectors of the US economy, especially agriculture, or to particular parts of the country. For example, for selective producers, like soybean farmers, the damage to their short-run and long-run production and income from the first round of tariffs (not to mention what might happen this time) has been devastating. Particularly hard-hit are farmers in North Dakota and Iowa. In 2017, China bought about $12 billion in soybeans, or approximately 25% of the US crop. In 2018 US exports of agricultural products totaled $9.3 billion, and soybeans were $3.1 billion.[3] By March of this year the figure was down to $1.8 billion.
4) Other segments hit to date have been tech and autos. Particularly hard-hit have been the states of Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Tennessee, Washington, and California. Many of these states have been supporters of the Trump administration. Funds have been allocated to provide a safety net for agriculture, but such subsidies are at best temporary, and they come out of taxpayers’ pockets. Moreover, why is it that farmers are subsidized when other producers who have been and will be adversely impacted are not singled out for support as well? Which ones will get subsidies and which ones will not? This is one game where timing is everything.
5) Finally, recent research from Columbia University on the impacts of the 2018 tariffs reveal several important conclusions. The costs to the US economy of those tariffs through the first 11 months were about $6.9 billion or .03% of GDP.  Furthermore, the costs of those tariffs were entirely born by the US and passed through in the form of higher prices with little estimated impact upon prices received by exporters to the U.S. Interestingly, US domestic producers also raised their prices.[4]

In summary, the current trade war is playing out on two fronts. At the macro level, tariffs and trade have, at best, a small and second-order knock-on effects on the US economy. Those who are predicting dire consequences are selling both our economy and producers short. However, the fact that the macro implications are minor at this date does not mean that the microeconomic impacts, especially in critically politically important parts of the country, are small or can be ignored. People and producers are being hurt, and it is often the smaller farmers and manufacturers who are not only being hurt but being driven out of business. These people won’t be around in many cases when the trade war is resolved, and the economic and political fallout from their losses will be important. Indeed, recent data suggest that family farm bankruptcies are on the rise.[5] There is an old saying in economics: “In the long run, we are all dead.” Let us hope this does not apply to the US agriculture and small-business manufacturing sectors.


[2] See “The First Round of China Tariffs Already Stifled U. S. Exports,” Washington Post, May 16, 2019.
[4] See Amiti, Redding and Weinstein, “The Impact of the 2018 Trade War on U.S. Prices and Welfare,” Discussion Paper DP13564, Centre for Economic Policy Research, March 2, 2019.
[5] See “Corn, Dairy Farms Lead Chapter 12 Bankruptcy Filings, Report Shows, Mike McGinnis, Successful Farming, March 27, 2019. https://www.agriculture.com/news/business/agriculture-leads-bankruptcy-filings-report-shows



Sarasota financial advisor: Don’t panic over trade tariffs!

Sarasota financial advisor: Don’t panic over trade tariffs!

By Ray Collins | May 15, 2019

John Mousseau says it is important not to get caught up in concerns about a trade tariff war with China.

“If you’re sitting there and you read just the headlines, it looks like a cannon ball shot across the bow of the ship. In essence what it is, is just a shot in a longer term negotiation. I think it was long overdue to negotiate with some trading partners. The U.S. — in terms of being a world partner — has given up more than it has gotten in the last few years,” Mousseau said.

Mousseau said neither the U.S. or China wants a full-scale trade war.

Read and see more stories by Ray Collins here:  https://www.mysuncoast.com/authors/raycollins/

 




Why the US-China trade war won’t last

How Trump’s trade war is unraveling the Trump rally

Cumberland Advisors in the News

Excerpts below.

By Matt Egan, CNN Business
Tuesday, May 14th 2019

The United States and China don’t just coexist. Their massive economies are deeply intertwined in ways that make the intensifying trade war unsustainable.

Tariffs are the weapons of choice as both sides attempt to improve their negotiating leverage. Consumers and businesses find themselves caught in the crossfire. The levies will increase costs, muddle supply chains and drive up debilitating uncertainty.

UBS cut its 2019 GDP growth forecast for China from 6.4% to 6.2%. While Beijing will try to soften the blow with stimulus, UBS said growth could slip below 6% in 2019 and 2020 if the trade war deepens.

“The risk is monstrous. It’s very troubling,” said David Kotok, chairman and chief investment officer at Cumberland Advisors.

The interconnectedness of China and the United States has been driven in part by the millions of people in China that have been lifted out of poverty.

“You have an expanding middle class wealth effect,” said Kotok, who also serves as director of the Global Interdependence Center, an organization advocating for the expansion of free trade.

Read the full article here: CNN Business


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Cumberland Advisors Market Commentary –  Robert Brusca Ph.D. on Tariffs, Trade, and the Fed

Market-Commentary-Cumberland-Advisors-Trade

My longtime friend and veteran international economist, Bob Brusca, has given us permission to publish his superb discussion of the trade war effects.

Here is the link: Robert Brusca, Ph.D. of FAO-Economics on Tariffs, Trade, and the Fed

-David




This Is a Serious Confrontation Between World’s Biggest Economies, Says Cumberland’s Kotok

This Is a Serious Confrontation Between World’s Biggest Economies, Says Cumberland’s Kotok

Bloomberg Daybreak Asia
May 9th, 2019, 9:10 PM EDT
Bloomberg-This Is a Serious Confrontation Between World’s Biggest Economies, Says Kotok

David Kotok, chairman and chief investment officer at Cumberland Advisors, discusses the U.S.-China trade negotiations and their impact on markets. He speaks on “Bloomberg Daybreak: Asia.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Watch at on Bloomberg.




Markets freak (a little)

Excerpt from Politico Morning Money

By BEN WHITE (bwhite@politico.com; @morningmoneyben) , AUBREE ELIZA WEAVER (aweaver@politico.com; @AubreeEWeaver)
05/08/2019 08:00 AM EDT

Markets freak (a little) — Wall Street finally gave a nod to the possibility that talks with China could fail and President Trump could follow through on his threat of full trade war. But it wasn’t much of a drop.

What happened — Cumberland’s David Kotok tells MM: “The trade war risk is now being confirmed. That is a healthy realization rather than a fantasy goldilocks scenario. It’s about time markets woke up to the reality that a trade war hurts everyone and that includes economic growth, earnings, profits and stock prices worldwide.”

Read the full Morning Money Newsletter at POLITICO.com .


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International Stocks Off to a Strong Start in Q2 Despite a Heavy Fog of Uncertainty

Global stock markets are continuing to advance following one of the best first-quarter performances in years, with the global iShares MSCI ACWI ETF, ACWI, gaining 14.9% year-to-date April 5th.

Cumberland Advisors Market Commentary

That increase includes strong advances in US stocks. Excluding the US market, the gains in international stock markets have also been impressive. The iShares MSCI ACWI ex US ETF, ACWX, is up 12.9% on a total-return basis. This continued equity market strength is occurring in the face of the heavy uncertainty clouding the outlook for the second quarter and beyond. Important issues for investors include the outcome of the convoluted Brexit drama, the US-China trade talks and other trade disputes, and the dimensions of the moderation underway in global economic growth, in particular growth prospects for China, the US, and Germany. Positive outcomes for these issues would validate recent market gains and provide a tailwind to stocks. Downside risks, however, are significant. Until the fog clears, we can expect volatile markets.

We, of course, do not know how these matters will develop, but recently we have noted some favorable signs. The White House and Chinese sources are signaling that a trade agreement between the two countries may result during the coming weeks, with a signing event involving Presidents Trump and Xi looking increasingly likely. Both parties appear to want a deal. This agreement, which President Trump suggests will be “very monumental,” will most likely have to leave some of the more difficult issues to further negotiations. There are other trade disputes that create uncertainties for investors. The administration’s agreement with Mexico and Canada on revisions to NAFTA is under challenge in Congress, and the US and Europe have yet to resolve their trade disputes.

With respect to the economic outlook, concerns about the slowdown in China have been eased by some positive data. The Chinese government’s efforts to stimulate the economy appear to be having productive effects. If the Chinese economy, the globe’s second largest, does manage to advance at a still-robust 6%-plus pace, this momentum will deliver an important boost to the global economy. It would certainly help the largest economy in Europe, Germany, where the recent slowdown is due in part to weakness in exports to China. Concerns about the strength of the US economy, including some predictions for a recession, also appear to be overdone. Recent data suggest continued strength. Another reason for cautious optimism is the accommodative stance of US monetary policy, which is being followed by the world’s other major central banks.

No one knows how the three years of uncertainty since the June 2016 “Brexit” referendum in the UK will be resolved. The situation changes daily, and it now appears that this uncertainty will likely continue for months and maybe longer. The inability of United Kingdom’s politicians to agree how to leave the European Union has already seriously harmed the British economy. Investment decisions have been deferred or redirected. Britain’s reputation as a desirable host for foreign investment has been damaged, and financial institutions are moving staff and operations to other EU countries.

The date of April 12, when the UK could be forced by legal default into a no-deal departure, is getting perilously close. The effects of such a break would likely push the UK economy into recession, and European Union economies would also suffer. Realizing this danger, both sides are seeking to kick the can down the road. Prime Minister May has written to the EU requesting a delay until June 30. She indicates that this postponement will mean the UK will have to prepare to participate in the EU elections on May 23–26 with the provision that the UK could withdraw from the elections if a deal can be finalized earlier.

The European Council president, Donald Tusk, is proposing a much longer extension that would be “flexible” in that the UK could leave earlier if the UK Parliament reaches an agreement on a deal. Any such extension would have to be agreed by all 27 remaining EU members at their emergency summit meeting next Wednesday, April 10th. The EU has said they would need to see some real progress in the UK’s development of a separation deal to be willing to grant an extension. It is looking likely that an extension will be agreed. If indeed significant progress on reaching a deal can be demonstrated, the EU may be willing to agree to the shorter extension requested by the UK. Otherwise, the EU may insist on a longer delay. The possibility of a disagreement on this point presents an additional risk of an unintended no-deal Brexit.

It is difficult to follow the daily developments in the disarray in Britain’s Parliament over Brexit. This is particularly the case for most US readers who are unfamiliar with the UK’s parliamentary system, which is very unlike the US system, even though the inability to reach decisions may sound familiar. The European Union’s political system is also quite different from that of the US. The deadlock in the UK Parliament reflects sharp divisions within both major parties, the ruling Conservative Party and the opposition Labour Party. The lawmakers of both parties in the House of Commons include both strong proponents of leaving the EU (some of whom are willing even to suffer crashing out with no arrangements for what follows) and strong proponents of a “soft” Brexit that involves maintaining a close trade relation with the EU, perhaps in the form of a customs union. Some of the latter would like to cancel the decision to leave. Many would like to see a second referendum held to check the current preferences of the public. Efforts to find a plan that could gain a majority vote have failed, including the plan of Prime Minister Theresa May, which she had negotiated with the EU.

In desperation and against the wishes of some fellow Conservative Party cabinet members, May last week entered into discussions with the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, attempting to find a compromise withdrawal deal that the House of Commons could support. Following an initial meeting between the party leaders, Conservative and Labour teams are engaged in intensive negotiations aimed at developing a compromise withdrawal agreement that will include a political declaration. It is the latter, nonbinding declaration that might contain the idea of a customs union or a Norway-model option. It may well also contain the idea of a second referendum. If these talks succeed, the plan would be presented to the EU at the Union’s emergency summit Wednesday, April 10th. If there is no progress before the April 10 summit, May will likely be forced to accept a lengthy delay to avoid a no-deal crash-out. Investors and businesses would then face an extended period of continued uncertainty about the UK’s future relations with the EU countries.

Despite the continued uncertainties about the eventual outcome of Brexit, which involves far more complexity than we could summarize above, investors appear to be increasingly optimistic. The iShares MSCI United Kingdom ETF, EWU, is up 2.4% over the past five market days and 15.1% year-to-date April 5th. This performance is better than the Eurozone’s, as the iShares Eurozone ETF, EZU, has gained 13.4%. We are more hesitant with respect to UK stocks at this time. The possibility of a no-deal exit still remains. In addition, the harm already done to the UK economy does not appear to be fully appreciated. The New York Times reports that economists estimate that the British economy is 1.0–2.5% smaller than it would have been without the referendum vote. One can question this analysis, but the 1% decline in business investment expected this year will be evident to all. The financial jobs already lost to Europe will not likely return. The longer Brexit uncertainty persists, the more damage will be done to the UK economy and its reputation. Certainly, a smooth separation process followed by continued strong trade relations would be an important plus for the UK and EU markets, but this outcome is not yet assured.

Bill Witherell, Ph.D.
Chief Global Economist
Email | Bio

Sources: Financial Times, New York Times, Action Economics, cnn.com, BBC News, CNBC.com


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Cumberland CIO Kotok on Where to Invest in the Muni Market

Cumberland CIO Kotok on Where to Invest in the Muni Market

Watch on Bloomberg’s site or embedded below:

https://www.bloomberg.com

 



 


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Sign up for our FREE Cumberland Market Commentaries Cumberland Advisors Market Commentaries offer insights and analysis on upcoming, important economic issues that potentially impact global financial markets. Our team shares their thinking on global economic developments, market news and other factors that often influence investment opportunities and strategies.




Hot Reads: 3 Key Bond ETFs For Your Portfolio

Hot Reads: 3 Key Bond ETFs For Your Portfolio
March 07, 2019
Compiled by ETF.com Staff

ETF.com highlights content for their readers in this day’s “Daily Hot Reads.” They are the self-described “leading authority on exchange-traded funds, ETF.com has delivered clear, independent and authoritative news, analysis and education about ETFs online and in print since 2001.”

On this day, they highlight “Geopolitical Risks In Emerging Market Equity ETFs” on (Seeking Alpha) -The article is also available on our website here: https://www.cumber.com/geopolitical-risks-in-emerging-market-equity-etfs/

See all their picks at ETF.com




Geopolitical Risks in Emerging Market Equity ETFs

Last week included several dramatic examples of unexpected geopolitical developments in emerging markets: Two nuclear powers in South Asia, India, and Pakistan, clashed and appeared to be on the brink of full-scale war; and the US-North Korea summit in Hanoi ended badly, with Trump walking out.

Market Commentary - Cumberland Advisors - Geopolitical Risks in Emerging Market Equity ETFs

Also, unsettling markets were some negative signs about the state of US-China trade negotiations which, later in the week, were offset by some positive signs. With country-specific emerging-market equity ETFs, the risk of such geopolitical shocks is always present. It is interesting to look at how the respective national equity markets reacted to last week’s developments.

The India-Pakistan clash intensified last Tuesday, February 27, when Indian warplanes dropped bombs on a suspected terrorist camp inside Pakistan in response to a deadly terrorist attack on Indian soldiers earlier. Pakistan shot down at least one Indian plane and captured the pilot. Artillery barrages across the border followed, and thousands of troops converged. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan then announced on Thursday that his country would release the captured Indian pilot, “In our desire of peace … and as a first step to open negotiations.” This move appeared to calm matters for the moment, but the situation remains tense. India’s stock market dropped sharply at first but later recovered as the situation eased. The iShares MSCI India ETF, INDA, finished the week up 0.4%. Clearly, should fighting resume, the market would tumble.

The long-standing India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir is one of the most dangerous geopolitical risks. This clash is a reminder to investors that this risk should not be ignored. Indian stocks have been trending downward for fundamental economic reasons. Economic growth slowed to 6.6% in the fourth quarter of last year from 7% in the third quarter, which in turn was slower than the second quarter’s 8% growth rate. The ETF INDA is down 5% for the last twelve months ending March 1st and is down 2.3% year-to-date. Other emerging markets were also down last year. However, unlike Indian equities, most other emerging markets have rallied so far this year. The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF, EEM, is up 8.8% year-to-date. Our International and Global ETF Portfolios are overweight in emerging markets, but we are not holding any India-specific positions.

The unpredictable North Korean regime and its nuclear capabilities constitute another dangerous geopolitical risk overhanging markets, particularly that of South Korea. The failure of the Hanoi summit appears to have resulted from inadequate preparations at a lower level and failure to recognize that the very complex and difficult issue of denuclearization could not be settled prematurely by a “deal” between two heads of state. There now is the risk that, following this humiliation for Kim, he will respond by moving to add to North Korea’s nuclear capabilities. Hopefully, seasoned diplomats on both sides will seek to restore the negotiations.

As was the case for India, South Korea’s stock market dropped in response to the bad news, with the iShares MSI South Korea Capped ETF, EWY, losing 2.2% over the week. But unlike the case for Indian stocks, the South Korean market has participated in the emerging-market rally so far this year. Despite last week’s losses, EWY is up 7.12% year-to-date as of March 1st. We are maintaining our South Korea positions in our International and Global Portfolios, while monitoring further developments closely.

The South Korean economy is strong, with close ties to the US economy. It is quite advanced and is considered by many to no longer be an emerging-market economy. The Korean equity market is large, accounting for 14% of the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF, EEM, and is exceeded only by Hong Kong’s 23% share. China’s share in EEM is only 8%, but that does not yet include most of the Mainland China stocks. South Korea’s equity market is heavily weighted (40%) with technology stocks. Samsung Electronics alone accounts for 23% of the holdings. Long-term investors in South Korea’s equity market using EWY have done well: The annualized total return over the past 10 years is 12.37%.

Last week was also a volatile one for Chinese stocks, which lurched down and back up with each press comment and tweet hinting at the state of US-China trade talks or the severity of the moderation in the growth of China’s economy. In the end, the broad-based iShares MSCI China ETF, MCHI, was little changed for the week, with an increase of 0.5%.

There was a definite plus for Chinese stocks announced before the market opened on March 1st. The index publisher MSCI announced that it will quadruple the weight of Mainland China shares in its benchmarks. The benchmarks are the basis of many ETFs and funds. It is estimated that this quadrupling will lead to new passive inflows into Mainland China’s stock markets of some $US 80 billion. Chinese equities are also participating in the emerging-market recovery. MCHI is up over 16% year-to-date.

Investors who wish to limit exposure to the country-specific risks inherent in emerging-market stocks can invest in highly diversified ETFs that include stocks from a number of national markets. Two good examples are the ETFs EEM, mentioned above, and the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets Index Fund, VWO. Investors in individual-country ETFs need to monitor developments closely and seek to separate the noise in the daily news flow from developments that signal meaningful and lasting changes in the prospects for a market. Often events that capture the headlines for several days or more have little lasting market impact. At Cumberland Advisors we sort key signals from the noise by bringing together fundamental economic and financial analysis, technical market analysis, and geopolitical expertise.

William Witherell, Ph.D.
Chief Global Economist & Portfolio Manager
Email | Bio


Exchange traded funds may not correlate to designated indices and have additional fees and expenses, including the duplication of management fees.
 


Sources: Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, CNBC.com, ETF.com


Links to other websites or electronic media controlled or offered by Third-Parties (non-affiliates of Cumberland Advisors) are provided only as a reference and courtesy to our users. Cumberland Advisors has no control over such websites, does not recommend or endorse any opinions, ideas, products, information, or content of such sites, and makes no warranties as to the accuracy, completeness, reliability or suitability of their content. Cumberland Advisors hereby disclaims liability for any information, materials, products or services posted or offered at any of the Third-Party websites. The Third-Party may have a privacy and/or security policy different from that of Cumberland Advisors. Therefore, please refer to the specific privacy and security policies of the Third-Party when accessing their websites.

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