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The Economist: this is the most important thing for 2019

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Reference News Network reported on December 31 British media said that the most important story in 2019 is trade-more precisely, the trade war.

A report on The Economist website on December 25 that looks back on 2019 focuses on the term "trade." According to the article, due to China's rise, technological innovation, and most importantly, US President Trump's protectionism, some companies have been forced to reconsider the composition of the supply chain, especially in the North American Free Trade Area. Over the past 25 years, the North American Free Trade Area has formed the United States, Canada, and Mexico into a group of three nations close to a single market for commodities. Just before the end of the year, trade administration negotiators in the Trump administration approved the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), in the House of Representatives. Rarely, Democrats and the president they are trying to impeach together.

The report points out that 2019 is coming to an end, and tariffs on Chinese exports to the United States are higher; China has achieved great results in seeking new export markets. While U.S. trade negotiators are going through difficult formal procedures, President Trump is thrillingly throwing "grenades" online, and he unexpectedly announced policy via Twitter. The resulting uncertainty is putting pressure on investment and the global economy.

It is reported that the rules-based global trading system is falling apart. As the Trump administration has blocked the appointment of new judges, the WTO has no appellate body to exercise its responsibilities at the end of this year. In the future, disputes will be settled through first-instance hearings, and countries will regain bilateralism. Although the shutdown will not happen immediately, the loss of independent refereeing is another blow to the trading system as the world becomes full of protectionism and populism.

The trade war has caused global markets to rise and fall. At the beginning of the year, people rekindled their hopes. When it turned out that people with such hopes were too happy, the market ’s fear of a global recession increased and investors bought bonds to hedge. They have become accustomed to a new normal: bond yields are negative. But by the end of the year, there were signs that global manufacturing was stable, investors regained their risk appetite, and reinvested in commodities and emerging market currencies.

As the global economic growth slowed, the Fed began to cut interest rates. The U.S. economy has weathered the effects of the recession, and after a few difficult years, emerging markets have had a respite from easing. Although economic growth has slowed down, China has successfully suppressed the urge to introduce a large-scale stimulus policy. In Europe, Christina Lagarde replaced Mario Draghi as president of the European Central Bank, and she continues to use monetary policy to stimulate the continent's sluggish economy. Germany's manufacturing industry has been in a bad shape since the beginning of the year, and no respite has been found, and the country cannot escape the fate of the recession.

The report pointed out that during this year, the competition between banks and fintech companies has continued to accelerate. In terms of profitable cross-border capital transfers, flexible startups have eroded the market share of traditional banks. Driven by the popularity of e-commerce and contactless payments, the once-dead-looking giant companies started to thrive and carry out mergers and acquisitions, raising questions about whether modern society is ready for a largely cashless future. The insurance industry with phobias about technology is facing increasing risks, including reinsurance companies' desire to eliminate middlemen and catastrophic losses caused by climate change. But the biggest of all the threats comes from the giants that dominate the smartphone space: Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon. They are trying to enter the financial services industry, which may hollow out former leaders.

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