May 1, 2019

Making sense of Trump's tweet about the Fed and China

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Data: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, FactSet; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

President Trump tweeted an interesting combination of truth, non-sequiturs and lies on Tuesday involving China and the Federal Reserve.

"China is adding great stimulus to its economy while at the same time keeping interest rates low. Our Federal Reserve has incessantly lifted interest rates, even though inflation is very low, and instituted a very big dose of quantitative tightening. We have the potential to go...
"...up like a rocket if we did some lowering of rates, like one point, and some quantitative easing. Yes, we are doing very well at 3.2% GDP, but with our wonderfully low inflation, we could be setting major records &, at the same time, make our National Debt start to look small!"

Reality check: China added stimulus to its economy recently, but it's quaint compared to the military industrial and farm-aid spending added by the U.S. under Trump. China's stimulus has also come largely from the fiscal side — tax and fee cuts and looser lending standards — rather than the central bank.

  • China's central bank has reduced the reserve requirements ratio (RRR) for banks, but has not lowered its policy rate — the thing Trump is calling on the Fed to do — since October 2015. China's central bank policy rate is about 2% higher than the U.S. rate.
  • China's RRR — 14% for large institutions and 12% for small ones — even after recent cuts is significantly higher than that of the U.S. (10% and 3%).
  • The Fed raised rates in 2015 for the first time in nearly a decade and has backed off of the expected quantitative tightening it was set to engage in this year.

Go deeper: Investors loaded up on China at the start of 2019

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A pause button for debts

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Governments have forcibly put much of the U.S. and the global economy on pause in recent weeks, for very good reason. Factories, offices, sporting arenas, restaurants, airports and myriad other institutions have closed down. But one thing hasn't been paused: monthly debt-service obligations.

The big picture: The less movement and activity there is in an economy, the more the coronavirus curve is flattened. But the obligations in bond and loan contracts can't be paused. That's worrying CEOs who fear a wave of business failures if economic activity doesn't pick up next month.

U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under coronavirus public health order

Photo: Jinitzail Hernández/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

The U.S. has expelled more than 6,000 migrants using new powers enabling the federal government to almost immediately turn back border-crossers under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emergency public health order that went into effect March 21, according to new Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data.

The big picture: The order has drastically lowered the number of immigrants in CBP custody to fewer than 100, the agency's acting commissioner Mark Morgan told reporters on Thursday. The number of people coming into the U.S. overall has plummeted due to coronavirus-related travel bans in place at both the northern and southern borders.

U.S. coronavirus updates: 16 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

About 16 million Americans have filed for jobless benefits over the past three weeks due to the economic repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic.

The big picture: Both the federal government and individual states are surveying different models of when it will be safe enough to reopen some parts of the economy and allow Americans to return to work. President Trump is preparing to launch a second coronavirus task force focused on reviving the U.S. economy.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 23 mins ago - Health