Published: Sat, April 15, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

Is this a new Trump? Abrupt reversals may reflect experience


President Donald Trump has a new best frenemy.

"Typically, the USA dollar and commodities move inversely, hence should President Trump's comments have their desired effect, he will inadvertently be encouraging a rally in oil prices - ergo, gasoline prices - as well as other commodities", Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData LLC said in an interview.

It's an accusation he has often made against the US' largest trading partner and his sabre-rattling brought fears of a pending trade war between the U.S. and China.

After all, Mr Trump had publicly dismissed North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the US-led military alliance in Europe, as "obsolete".

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: President Xi wants to do the right thing.

The Chinese are also aware that Trump sometimes bluffs, blunders and later backs down.

Eswar Prasad, a professor at Cornell University, said Trump was acknowledging he had arrived at a certain impasse.

"There is a moral affront and there is maybe a personal anger, even a humiliation for Trump", said Hussein Ibish of the Arab Gulf States Institute. But no combination of presidential flexibility has produced the desired result.

But the reversal could also mean that Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping may have figured a way to fix the trade imbalance and the tension in the Korean peninsula during their meeting earlier this month in Florida.

"The US can not and will not bear the burden of an global trading system that unfairly disadvantages our exports and unfairly advantages the exports of our trading partners through artificially distorted exchange rates", it said.

Before the data, Trump's comment that he favored low interest rates had intensified this week's bond market rally that was underpinned by geopolitical worries.

Taiwan bans consumption, sale of dog and cat meat
Repeated offenders will face a maximum of five years in jail and a fine of 5million ($163,000) Taiwan dollars, lawmakers said. Taiwan has banned the selling and eating of cats and dogs after a series of cruelty cases that caused widespread outrage.

Christoph Metzelder: Real Madrid Fears Bayern Munich
Defender Mats Hummels' ankle injury and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer's foot injury have kept their medical department busy. Winger Arjen Robben said the German champions were not nervous about the prospect of losing their star goalscorer.

Evacuations begin in four besieged Syrian cities
The evacuation of the four villages is expected to take place today, the Syrian Observatory told AFP . But residents in Zabadani and Madaya said conditions in their two towns had become too hard to bear.

Tillerson is taking Trump's message to Moscow this week.

DOLLAR TALK: On the dollar's exchange rate against those of major trading partners, Trump said: "I think our dollar is getting too strong, and partially that's my fault because people have confidence in me".

And his budget guru quietly declared that a promise to eliminate the deficit was just "hyperbole".

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks at a press briefing at the White House in Washington February 14, 2017.

"No major trading partner of the United States met the standards identified in Section 3004 of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 for currency manipulation in the second half of 2016", the Treasury Department said in a report to Congress. Mr. Bannon's departure from the National Security Council suggests a return to a pragmatic and professional approach to national security at the expense of an ideological one.

But the idiosyncrasies of a 70-year-old dealmaker may also explain some of his strategic gymnastics. That rebalancing is the opposite of what Trump seemed to favor during the campaign, when he blasted China and wooed Russian President Vladimir Putin at every opportunity. Trump is seeking China's help in dealing with an increasingly belligerent and unsafe North Korean regime.

The report came after China data showed its surplus with the United States was almost unchanged in the first quarter compared to a year earlier at $49.6 billion, and cited China's market protection as an impediment to a balanced trade relationship. But on Wednesday, he backed away from that promise in a Wall Street Journal interview.

"After listening for 10 minutes, I realised it's not so easy", Mr Trump told the paper.

The USW statement went on to say workers have fallen victim to political bartering once again: "Workers are still not interested in having their jobs used to incent China to help deal with the nuclear threat of North Korea". "But it's not what you would think".

Mr Trump continues to demand greater burden-sharing from allies, as the Europeans will discover when he lands on their continent next month.

Those looking for a "Trump doctrine" might have to wait, but those looking for explanations may look no further than the man himself.

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