Thursday, May 24, 2018

On the Auto Tariff News

Here's the close to my note to staff this morning regarding yesterday's announcement that the Commerce Dept will explore, on national security grounds, the prospects for imposing tariffs on foreign-made cars:
As for immediate investment implications, it remains to be seen. Right now it's "under investigation" and will take a bit. Maybe the market shrugs it off till it gets close, maybe not. In any event there are only negatives here from an economic/equity market standpoint. Probably immediately positive for bonds and gold...
Here's from Bespoke's morning commentary:
"Overnight, the Trump Administration fired its latest salvo in trade “wars” which are beginning to look much less organized than that particular violent endeavor usually does. To wit, the Administration is looking into the possibility of imposing import tariffs on autos made abroad on national security grounds. Leaving aside the fact that more than 60% of vehicle sales (auto plus lightweight truck, including pickups) are domestically manufactured, this is a bit of a head scratcher. Roughly one-quarter of imported autos (value, not unit, basis) come from Mexico (chart). Describing Canada or Mexico as national security threats is obviously absurd, with the next 4 countries listed all playing host to large US military presences on top of national security cooperation via groups like NATO, the very definition of allies. The simple reason to go this convoluted path of national security threat? No other way would hold up in court, given the various treaties and trade agreements the US is party to. US equity index futures briefly rose into positive territory this morning but have been modestly in the red most of the session, while rates are close to unchanged and the dollar is lower."

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