Presidential Tweets Express Anger at the Fed

The catalyst today was more tweets from President Trump where he is expressing anger, not only at the Federal Reserve, and at the ECB and at the Bank of China, because he is accusing both Europe and China of being currency manipulators; taking advantage of us by weakening their currencies. He’s saying that a weak currency gives you an advantage.  It doesn’t.

Strong Currency Provides Trade Advantage

When it comes to trade, it is a strong currency that gives you the advantage because trade is all about imports.  How do you get more stuff for your own citizens, and the way you pay for that stuff is by exporting. But the goal is to export as little as possible and to import as much as possible.  If you’re a buyer, you always want to pay the least and get the most. So you pay for stuff when you export because you’re using resources to produce stuff for other people. But you’re not producing stuff for other people because you’re charitable, you’re trying to earn the money to buy stuff for yourselves that other people made.

Is Trump Firing Back?

Having a strong currency is a huge advantage because it means you can claim a greater portion of the global output. Because the dollar has been so over-valued thanks to the generosity or the stupidity of our trading partners, Americans enjoy greater consumption than what would otherwise be available to them if we were limited by our own collective production. So we actually have the advantage. But by calling out China and the ECB for deliberately weakening their currency, you would think that Trump may want to fire back.

Weakening the Dollar

Donald Trump doesn’t control the Fed, but the Treasury Department can intervene in the foreign exchange markets. Maybe, if Donald Trump really believes that these other countries are deliberately weakening their currency and if he has no control over the Fed but he does have control over the U.S. Treasury, he can have the Secretary of the Treasury intervene, go into the Foreign Exchange Market and start dumping dollars, trying to drive the dollar down so that we can reclaim the advantage.  At least the way he looks at it.