“For almost one and a half years, President Trump’s tariff initiative has confused and roiled the markets,” said former tax attorney Andy Friedman in Friday morning’s “The Washington Update.”
That proved to be the case as the equity markets weakened on Friday, the morning after President Donald Trump vowed to impose 10% tariffs on the remaining $300 billion of Chinese imports on Sept. 1. Over the past 15 months, the U.S. has levied 25% tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese merchandise.
“If the lack of progress [in trade talks] becomes apparent — or if businesses report lower earnings due to tariff-induced cost increases — a market pullback may follow,” according to Friedman.
Trump first levied tariffs on imports in early 2018.
“The power to impose tariffs lies with Congress,” Friedman said. “But Congress long ago delegated that authority to the president in cases of national emergency or to protect national security.”
While the president is using tariffs in the hope of getting trading partners like China to negotiate more favorable trade treaties, “This process has confused the markets and caused volatility,” Friedman wrote.
On Thursday, Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell described “trade policy uncertainty” as one reason for the group’s decision to cut interest rates by 25 basis points.
The markets dislike tariffs since “they can impair economic growth” via higher prices and declining U.S. exports, Friedman says. China, for instance, has hurt U.S. farmers by its refusal to buy U.S.-made soybeans.