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Trump’s trade war a ‘symptom of paranoid delusions’

Trump’s protectionism is therefore protecting consumers and investors from their confidence in the stability of the market

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US president Donald Trump initiated, then backed off, then resumed, an ongoing trade war with China over its alleged theft of technology and intellectual property, as well as the trade deficit between China and the US. In Trump’s mind, applying pressure on the Chinese through economic tariffs can spur the Chinese to be more ‘fair’.

Trump doesn’t seem to understand, however, that much of what Americans buy is manufactured in China and then exported to America, meaning that Trump’s ‘pressure campaign’ stands to increase the cost of doing business and therefore increase the cost of many of the products which his own constituents purchase.

For this reason, some Chinese media describes Trump’s brand of protectionism as a form of ‘paranoid delusions’, which will come back to bite hits own constituents. Trump’s protectionism is therefore protecting consumers and investors from their confidence in the stability of the market, and in the purchasing power of the USD, of which it will take more to purchase goods which Americans buy and which are largely Chinese produced.

Reuters reports:

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – U.S. protectionism is self-defeating and a “symptom of paranoid delusions” that must not distract China from its path to modernization, Chinese media said on Friday as Beijing kept up with its war of words with Washington while markets wilted.

President Donald Trump threatened on Monday to hit $200 billion of Chinese imports with 10 percent tariffs if China retaliates against his previous targeting of $50 billion in imports.

Investor fears of a full-blown trade war have weighed on markets, including Chinese shares, which posted their worst weekly loss since early February. Even ordinary Chinese people aired their unhappiness on social media.

China’s commerce ministry accused the United States on Thursday of being “capricious” over trade issues and warned that the interests of U.S. workers and farmers would ultimately be hurt, vowing to hit back with “quantitative” and “qualitative” measures.

The official China Daily said in an editorial the United States had failed to understand that the business it does with China supported millions of American jobs and that the U.S. approach was self-defeating.

The English-language newspaper cited research by the Rhodium Group saying Chinese investment in the United States declined 92 percent to $1.8 billion in the first five months of the year, its lowest level in seven years.

“The woes the administration is inflicting on Chinese companies do not simply translate into boons for U.S. enterprises and the U.S. economy,” it said in an editorial headlined “Protectionism symptom of paranoid delusions”.

“The fast-shrinking Chinese investment in the U.S. reflects the damage being done to China-U.S.-trade relations … by the trade crusade of Trump and his trade hawks,” it said.

The U.S. administration on Tuesday issued a report about how Chinese policies, and what it described as China’s economic aggression, were threatening the technologies and intellectual property of not just the United States but of the world.

While the White House report did not go beyond what the U.S. has said previously – that China engages in theft of technologies and intellectual property (IP) – it did not help to soothe tension. China has repeatedly denied accusations of IP theft.

U.S. FIRMS
The 30-stock Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped for an eighth consecutive session on Thursday as shares including Caterpillar Inc and Boeing Co wilted.

Big U.S. manufacturers and automakers were also under pressure after Germany’s Daimler cut its 2018 profit forecast and BMW said it was looking at “strategic options” due to the Sino-U.S. trade war.

Shares of Apple Inc, whose iPhones are assembled in China by Foxconn, also declined.

Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou said on Friday the U.S.-China trade war was the Taiwan company’s biggest challenge.

“What they are fighting is not really a trade war, it’s a tech war. A tech war is also a manufacturing war,” Gou said.

A Sino-U.S. trade war could disrupt supply chains for the technology and auto industries – sectors heavily reliant on outsourced components such as those supplied by Foxconn – and derail growth for the global economy, analysts say.

Uncertainty over how the tariff war would unfold in the near term is also starting to move commercial decisions in the energy sector.

Industry sources told Reuters that Chinese oil buyers will keep taking crude from the United States through September, but plan to cut future purchases to avoid a likely import tariff.

China has put U.S. energy products including crude and refined products on lists of goods that it will hit with import taxes. But no activation date has been specified for this cluster of products yet.

‘TUMBLING’ INDEX
Shares in Shanghai dropped 4.4 percent for the week, while China’s blue-chip CSI300 index fell 3.8 percent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index shed 3.2 percent for the week, its poorest weekly showing since late March.

The share losses have prompted sarcastic posts in China’s social media, while others compared the falling stocks to China’s 2015 market crash.

“The tumbling Shanghai Composite index must be China’s so-called quantitative and qualitative counter-measures,” one social media user mused.

Not helping sentiment, the yuan extended its decline against the dollar this week, falling to its lowest in more than five months on Friday.

“Chinese exports are now contained, domestic demand has long been weighed by soaring home prices, and the yuan will depreciate, so everyone, hurry up and convert to U.S. dollars,” one social media user quipped.

The Global Times, a tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, said in an editorial China needed to be realistic about how it could handle the United States and look at other strategies.

“The U.S. has the upper hand over China in technology, defense and international influence, and therefore the country will continue to have a strategic initiative over Beijing for the foreseeable future,” it said.

“As long as China remains clear-minded in strategy, level-headed in its U.S. policy, and avoids a full-fledged geopolitical competition or a strategic clash against the U.S., China will be able to withstand U.S. pressure. In other words, China should focus on its domestic affairs.”

China should keep promoting its own economic development and ensure its growth exceeds that of the United States in both quantity and quality, the paper said.

“As long as China can effectively utilize its successful policies and experiences accumulated since the reform and opening up, and avoid subversive mistakes, the country will see robust momentum for development,” the Global Times said.

China got its economic boom largely because of American corporations’ desire to decrease their expenses by conducting their production in an environment of relaxed regulations and depressed wages, which is a large part of what China has to offer American firms.

Trump’s tariffs, therefore, aren’t as much of a pressure applied to the Chinese as it is to American firms producing their goods in China and shipping them back to America to be sold to the American consumer.

These tariffs increase the expenses which these corporations will bear, which, by extension, the American consumer will bear. Ergo, Trump’s pressure campaign, via tariffs and eliminated international trade participation agreements, isn’t enough to incentivize those companies to return their production to America, at least not as long as it’s cheaper to produce their products elsewhere and as long as they can pass the expense of Trump’s tariffs on to the consumer. In the end, Trump is damaging a world market system which America built to benefit America, and America will realize the effects of market pressures applied by the president who they elected to relieve their economic concerns.

 

 

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DenLilleAbeJackJohn MasonAndré De KoningDidierF Recent comment authors
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DenLilleAbe
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DenLilleAbe

320 million American citizens cant be wrong! They put him the the WH. Everything else is fake news. Jobs will return in millions, healthcare will be free and all the nasty Mexicans and Canadians will have to go home, as will the Chinese and Indians and some other ones too.
Everything will be fine!
Some people on this earth is in for a rude awakening, hehe!

Jack
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Jack

A load of cobblers. He is totally right and knows exactly what should be done to revers the incredibly dreadful situation inherited after previous administration.

André De Koning
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André De Koning

In psychopathology and psycho-dynamic theory we call it “paranoid defensiveness”, not really “delusion” (which implies psychosis). Trump uses narcissistic psychic defenses, but indeed it always leads to trouble for the person and those who suffer the impact of their power as it is all self-defeating rather than constructiveness. On the other hand, he also has a healthier side and this might come through in terms of his wish to make less war and look for peaceful solutions. He also has the strength to counter the deep state for which one would need sufficient gratification, so that is useful in the… Read more »

John Mason
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John Mason

US is asking for it so why doesn’t Russia or China or whoever do the world a favour and put that useless nation out of its’ misery. May as well do it now, going to happen sooner or later but the sooner the better. No one wants, cares or even likes the US and they won’t be missed.

DidierF
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DidierF

The free market system failed the US.

Terry Ross
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Terry Ross

US tariff policy , by needlessly increasing the imported price to US consumers of US goods produced in China, bears some similarity to the nonsensical decision of Ukrainians to needlessly hike the cost of Russian gas by buying it from reselling countries.

Bill Spence
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Bill Spence

Trump cannot direct corporations to start producing the products from China that he wants to stop. Trump must restart US manufacturing but he lacks power. The US political system is a derelict in need of rebirth owing to the archaic Constitution.

Tariffs will not do the job.

Tommy Jensen
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Tommy Jensen

As American I need to tell you guys the party is over. The days you could suck America dry is finished. Whining, howling and barking, yes we know it hurts when you have to pay for what you filled in your basket.

Vince Dhimos
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Vince Dhimos

And the tragedy is that none of this trade war is based on economics, it is all politics: http://www.newsilkstrategies.com/news–analysis/todays-america-politics-trumps-economics

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Theresa May’s soft Brexit plan continues to fail, as EU now pushing for UK to leave (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 138.

Alex Christoforou

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Theresa May’s soft Brexit strategy has been such a monumental failure that even Brussels negotiators are now pushing for the UK to simply leave the union, in what has becoming a British debacle, and a thorn in the Conservative Party’s side.

Many media pundits and analysts are now asking if the latest impasse in Brexit talks means that we are indeed seeing the last days of Theresa May?

While much of the mess the Conservative Party finds themselves in because of Brexit is squarely Theresa May’s fault, much of the damage done by May’s inability to close the deal on Brexit will not go away, even if she does.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Theresa May’s continued failure to obtain her soft Brexit dream, placing herself (and her Conservative Party) in such an embarrassing position, that European Union negotiators, tired of never ending talks, are eager to see Britain go away, in what will be an inevitable hard Brexit.

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“Are these the last days of Theresa May?”, authored by Stephen Bush via The New Statesman:


Are these the last days of Theresa May? This morning’s papers are full of stories of plots and ultimatums to the Prime Minister unless she changes her Brexit strategy, whether from her Scottish MPs over any extension of the transition period due to concerns over fisheries policy, from her Brexiteer MPs over the backstop or from her Cabinet over practically everything.

All this before the Budget next Monday, when Philip Hammond is going to have to find some way to pay for the extra cash for the NHS and Universal Credit all while keeping to May’s pledge that debt will continue to fall as a share of GDP. So added to all May’s Brexit woes, a row over tax rises could be coming down the track.

Of course, the PM’s position has been perilous for a very long time – in fact, when you remember that her period of hegemony ran from July 2016 to June 2017, she’s actually been under threat for more of her premiership than she hasn’t. But just because you roll heads 36 times in a row doesn’t mean your chances of rolling tails aren’t 50/50 on roll 37, and May’s luck could well be running out.

But while May shares a good size of the blame for the mess that the Conservative Party are in, it’s not all her fault by any means and none of those problems will go away if May is replaced or changes tack to win over her internal opponents in the European Research Group.

Ireland has a veto over the end state and only an indefinite and legally binding backstop for the island of Ireland will do if any deal is to be signed off. It’s true to say that no deal also means a hard border on the island of Ireland, but it’s also true that it will always been in the political interests of whoever is in office in Ireland for a hard border to be imposed as a result of no deal rather than for the Irish government to acquiesce in the creation of one through a EU-UK treaty.

The DUP can bring the Conservative government to an early end so they, too, have a de facto veto over any deal that creates barriers between Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom. But the only UK-wide solution – for the backstop to encompass the whole of the United Kingdom – is nothing doing with pro-Brexit Conservative MPs who don’t want an indefinite backstop. It’s also politically tricky with many EU member states, who don’t want the default outcome of the talks to be a UK-wide backstop, which many regard as a threat to the sanctity of single market. (The only reason why it is acceptable on the Irish border is because Ireland is still a member state and because the Irish border was both the location and the cause of political violence within living memory.)

Added to that, the Conservative parliamentary party seems to be undergoing a similar psychological journey to the one that Steve van Riel described during the 2015 Labour leadership election: that groups of any kind tend to reach a more extreme position the longer an issue is debated. Brexiteers who spent 20 years saying they wanted a Norway style deal now talk of Norway as a betrayal. Leavers who cheerily talked about making Northern Ireland into its own customs area before Brexit now talk of the backstop as a constitutional betrayal. And Conservative Remainers who only reluctantly backed an In vote to avoid the political upheaval of negotiating Brexit, or the loss of David Cameron, now call for a referendum re-run and privately flirt with the idea of a new party.

Some of that is May’s fault, yes. But none of it is going to go away if she does and all of it makes the prospect of reaching a Brexit deal considerably less likely.

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Saudi Crown Prince Spoke To Khashoggi By Phone Moments Before He Was Killed: Report

The shifting Saudi narrative of the killing has been met with scepticism and condemnation from the international community.

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Via Zerohedge


In the latest bombshell report involving the Khashoggi murder, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly spoke on the phone with journalist Jamal Khashoggi moments before he was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkish pro-government daily Yeni Safak disclosed the new alleged details of the case in a report on Sunday, contradicting claims by Saudi authorities that Prince Mohammed played no part in Khashoggi’s murder.

“Khashoggi was detained by the Saudi team inside the consulate building. Then Prince Mohammed contacted Khashoggi by phone and tried to convince him to return to Riyadh,” the report said.

“Khashoggi refused Prince Mohammed’s offer out of fear he would be arrested and killed if he returned. The assassination team then killed Khashoggi after the conversation ended,” it added.

While the report is so far unconfirmed, the New Arab reports that so far Turkish pro-government media have been receiving a steady stream of leaks many of which turned out to be accurate, including pictures of the hit team as they entered Turkey and reports of audio recordings of the murder said to be in the possession of Turkish authorities.

Meanwhile, the Saudi version of events has been changing significantly over the past two weeks with authorities conceded Saturday that Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist and a Riyadh critic, was killed inside the kingdom’s Istanbul diplomatic compound following a “brawl”. The admission came after a fortnight of denials with the insistence that the journalist left the consulate alive, starting on October 5, when Crown Prince MBS told Bloomberg that Khashoggi was not inside the consulate and “we are ready to welcome the Turkish government to go and search our premises”.

On Saturday, the kingdom announced it had fired five top officials and arrested 18 others in an investigation into the killing – a move that has widely been viewed as an attempt to cover up the crown prince’s role in the murder.

The shifting Saudi narrative of the killing has been met with scepticism and condemnation from the international community, and has left the U.S. and other allies struggling for a response on Sunday. As Bloomberg reports, France demanded more information, Germany put arms sales to Riyadh on hold and the Trump administration stressed the vital importance of the kingdom and its economy to the U.S.

In Sunday radio and TV interviews, Dominic Raab, the U.K. politician in charge of negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union, described the latest Saudi account as not credible; French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called for “the truth’’; and Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said his government would approve no arms sales so long as the investigation was ongoing.

Earlier on Sunday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir acknowledged a cover-up attempt. The dramatic reversal, after Saudi officials had previously said the columnist left the building alive, has only complicated the issue for allies.

Saudi Arabia’s al-Jubeir told Fox News on Sunday that the journalist’s death was an “aberration.”

“There obviously was a tremendous mistake made and what compounded the mistake was the attempt to cover up,” he said, promising that “those responsible will be punished for it.”

More importantly, he said that Prince Mohammed had no knowledge of the events, although if the Turkish report is confirmed, it will be yet another major flaw with the official narrative.

Several senior members of US President Donald Trump’s Republican Party said they believed Prince Mohammed was linked to the killing, and one called for a “collective” Western response if a link is proved. In an interview with The Washington Post, President Trump, too, said the Saudi narrative had been marked by “deception and lies.’’ Yet he also defended Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as a “strong person,’’ and said there was no proof of his involvement in Khashoggi’s death. Some members of Congress have questioned his willingness to exonerate the prince.

“Obviously there’s been deception and there’s been lies,” Trump said on the shifting accounts offered by Riyadh.

On Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised to disclose details about the case at a meeting of his AK Party’s parliamentary faction on Tuesday, Haberturk newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, as Western firms and high-ranked officials scramble to avoid any Saudi involvement, Russia is more than happy to step in and fill the power vacuum void left by the US. As a result, Russian businesses are flocking to attend the investment forum in Saudi Arabia, as Western counterparts pull out.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has had considerable success boosting Moscow’s influence in the Middle East at U.S. expense, by standing by regimes that fall afoul of the West, including in Syria and Iran. Last week Putin signed a strategic and partnership agreement with Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, backed by $25 billion in loans to build nuclear reactors. Until El-Sisi came to power, Egypt had been closely allied to the U.S.

Meanwhile, all eyes are fixed squarely on the Crown Prince whose position of power is looking increasingly perilous. Congressional leaders on Sunday dismissed the story proffered earlier by the Saudis, with Republican Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bob Corker of Tennessee saying they believed the crown prince was likely involved in Khashoggi’s death.

Lawmakers said they believe the U.S. must impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia or take other action if the crown prince is shown to have been involved. Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat, said the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. should be formally expelled until a third-party investigation is done. He said the U.S. should call on its allies to do the same.

“Unless the Saudi kingdom understands that civilized countries around the world are going to reject this conduct and make sure that they pay a price for it, they’ll continue doing it,”’ Durbin said.

The obvious question is what happens and how the Saudi royal family will respond if it is pushed too far, and whether the worst case scenario, a sharp cut in oil exports, could be on the table if MBS feels like he has little to lose from escalating the situation beyond a point of no return.

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The Biggest Winners In The Mediterranean Energy War

Energy companies are flocking to the Mediterranean after oil and gas discoveries in the territorial waters of Israel, Cyprus, and Egypt.

The Duran

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Authored by Vanand Meliksetian via Oilprice.com:


Former Vice-President of the United States Dick Cheney once said: “the good lord didn’t see fit to put oil and gas only where there are democratically elected states… Occasionally we have to operate in places where, all considered, one would not normally choose to go. But we go where the business is.” Europe is surrounded by states with abundant energy resources, but supply from these countries is not always as reliable. Russia, for example, is regularly accused of using energy as a weapon. However, major discoveries of gas in the Eastern Mediterranean could mitigate dependence on Russian gas.

The discovery of a gas field named Tamar near the coast of Israel in 2009 set off a wave of investments in the energy sector. After 9 years, companies are flocking to the region after other discoveries in the territorial waters of Israel, Cyprus, and Egypt. Ever larger finds in the Mediterranean Sea’s Levant Basin such as the Leviathan gas field in 2010 and Zohr in 2015, have the potential to transform the strategic importance of the region.

Turkey’s energy hub ambitions

Few states in the world are geographically so well positioned as Turkey. The country controls Russia’s only warm water port in the Black Sea and serves as a bridge between east and west. Therefore, during the Cold War Ankara was an indispensable member of NATO. More recently, Turkey has the ambition to become an energy hub for Middle Eastern and Caspian energy. Ankara has had mixed successes in attracting investors and maintaining political stability.

After Israel’s significant discoveries, a U.S. backed initiative presented Turkey as an energy hub. Although a land pipeline is the cheapest option to transport gas from the Mediterranean to Europe, political developments have stalled construction. President Erdogan’s escalating public denunciations of Israel have made Jerusalem look for other options. Furthermore, relations with Europe have also been damaged which would be dependent on Turkey as a transit country.

Egypt as the regional gas hub

Egypt’s has the third largest gas reserves in Africa. Therefore, its export-oriented LNG industry came on-stream in 2004 but was shut mid-2013 due to a lack of resources. The growth of the domestic market demanded ever larger volumes, which went at the expense of exports. Instead, Egypt started importing LNG. However, the discovery of the massive Zohr gas field, the largest in the Eastern Mediterranean, has turned around the situation. Egypt imported its last shipment of LNG in September 2018.

Although relations between Egypt and Israel are far from normal, privately held companies have been able to strike a deal. Starting from the first quarter of 2019, in 10 years 64 bcm worth $10 billion will be delivered. The agreement has stirred controversy in Egypt, which until recently was exporting to Israel. However, with this deal, Cairo comes closer in becoming an energy hub.

The recent signing of another agreement, this time with Nicosia to develop a subsea pipeline from Cyprus’ Aphrodite gas field, has been another important step. Cypriot gas will be pumped 400 miles (645 kilometers) to the south to Egypt’s LNG facilities. Difficult relations with Nicosia’s northern neighbors make a pipeline to the north highly unlikely.

Cairo has been able to act pragmatically concerning its relations with its neighbors such as Israel while taking advantage of the limited amount of options for exporting gas. The obvious winner in this context has been Egypt and its LNG industry. Its chances of becoming the regional energy hub instead of Turkey have significantly increased.

Turkey’s hope for luck

All littoral states of the Eastern Mediterranean struck ‘gold’ in the shape of natural gas except for Turkey. Ankara strongly opposes the exploitation of the gas resources in the exclusive economic zone of the Republic of Cyprus without a sharing agreement with Northern Cyprus’ Turkish inhabitants. The Turkish Navy prevented ships from Italy’s Eni from performing exploratory drilling off the coast of the Republic of Cyprus.

In search of its own luck, Ankara has set up a project to start looking for gas in the EEZ of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which is only recognized by Turkey. Kudret Özersay, TRNC deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, proclaimed the desire to turn the TRNC into an energy and electricity hub. However, it seems unlikely that investors will be willing to participate due to political and legal reasons.

The legal situation of the TRNC is an impediment to any major decision involving a longtime commitment worth billions. From an international point of view, the region is de jure part of the Republic of Cyprus, despite holding no control over the region. The TRNC holds no seat in the WTO.

Large investments require solid legal and political support for companies to earn back their investments. The current economic situation of Turkey makes it dependent on foreign money. However, stringent due diligence rules could impede some international banks in lending the necessary funds.

The Eastern Mediterranean Sea basin promises great rewards, but the risks are also high. With Turkey potentially being the only country that doesn’t profit from the gas bonanza, Ankara has acted aggressively to get what it regards as its fair share. However, it faces a united front from the other littoral states of the Eastern Mediterranean. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that Turkey will be able to profit in the same way as Cyprus, Egypt or Israel.

By Vanand Meliksetian for Oilprice.com

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