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Trade Wars and Pie Fights

President Ronald Reagan once likened trade wars to the pie fights in old Hollywood comedies. One pie in the face leads to another. And then another.

Reagan said in his 1986 radio address, “everything and everybody just gets messier and messier. The difference here is that it’s not funny. Protectionism becomes destructionism. It costs jobs”.

In recent weeks, the world’s financial markets have become fearful that an escalating trade rift between the United States and China could smear the world with metaphorical splattered cream and broken crust.

Some of the recent stock market weakness has been attributed to President Trump, after his administration was set on a path to restrict Chinese investment in the United States and impose tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese products. The lurking danger is that this could escalate into something that neither country intends.

The trade sanctions that Trump recently unveiled are meant to punish Beijing for pilfering technology from American companies or for forcing them to hand over technology in exchange for access to China’s market. As expected, China has started baking its “pies” announcing a broad list of US products that could face retaliatory Chinese tariffs, including apples (the fruit), wine, pork and steel pipe.

It should be noted that the tariffs are not exclusively aimed at China and it is likely that any trade war may also include America’s trading partners in Europe, Asia or even the North American Trade Agreement.

During investment periods such as this, we rely on active investment management to take precautionary measures if necessary and take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Our investment team takes full account of a wide range of economic indicators, including the political landscape, to position portfolios accordingly.

If you feel that your investment strategy is not taking account of the latest economic position or has not been reviewed recently it is important to consider having a full review. Our Wealth Management consultancy team is on hand to consider your position and provide advice. To arrange a review please contact Stuart Mather, Consultant, on 01772 550777 or via email

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