Former Morgan Stanley chief economist and Asia Chairman Stephen Roach, a leading authority on Asia, said he expects a trade deal between the U.S. and China, but a big market rally off the news will be short-lived.
Roach, in an interview with CNBC’s “Trading Nation,” said investors will ultimately be disappointed when the trade deal happens.
“When the dust settles, there’ll be some realization that this is not a fundamental breakthrough — that the conflict will be enduring,” he said Wednesday. “Take profits very quickly, which would be my sense.”
Roach, who holds a Ph. D. in economics from New York University, is not a fan of President Donald Trump’s strategy of just slapping tariffs on everyone to try and force new trade deals, and he said he doesn’t see a deal between the U.S. and China as having any meaningful effect on trade between the two countries. The trade deficit with China hit a record $323 billion for 2018.
According to Roach, China will likely agree to big multiyear purchases of U.S. agriculture, soybeans, energy and other categories, but it won’t be enough to get U.S. investors excited.
“The bulk of the progress will be on the bilateral trade front which, quite frankly as an economist, I find the least appealing because that’s really a reflection of our own macro-economic imbalances,” he said. “If we can squeeze the Chinese piece, that’ll just send those goods to another higher cost producer. So this is sort of a cosmetic deal, at best. But it’s a deal, and it’s better than nothing.”
Roach said he expects a deal to get done next month, but not because Trump has the upper hand due to China’s slowing economy.
“I don’t think they’re in desperate shape,” Roach said. “The downside pressures are transitory and they’ll be able to stabilize and then show some gradual improvement.”