TOKYO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – For decades the United States led the push for lower tariffs worldwide, but President Donald Trump is testing the solidarity of his G20 peers with a protectionist line on trade, putting central bankers in a tough spot with depleted resources to battle a downturn that may be coming sooner than expected.
The U.S.-China trade war is the elephant in the room at this week’s G20 summit of the world’s top economies, and major central banks may find themselves pressed into defensive action in short order should an expected face-to-face meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping go badly.
Race - Bottom - Interest - Rates - Currency
The resulting race to the bottom in interest rates – and currency values – could rekindle the kind of acrimony among G20 officials so evident during the years of massive bond buying by the U.S. Federal Reserve after the financial crisis.
And the race may already be under way.
Pressure - Markets - Signs - Economy - Fed
Under pressure from financial markets and wary of signs the global economy might be slowing, the Fed earlier this year called an effective halt to further rate increases, and at its meeting this month indicated rate cuts may be on the way.
While Fed officials on Thursday pushed back on market expectations for a significant, half a percentage point rate cut as soon as next month, the U.S. central bank is still seen lowering rates once or twice by the end of this year.
Shift - Talks - G20 - Meetings - Discussion
It is a shift that could make for tense talks at the G20 meetings, and force a discussion on how to fight the next recession before Europe and Japan end the extraordinary monetary steps taken to fight the previous one.
The impact of looser Fed policy may be felt around the world through a decline in the dollar, which could pressure Europe and Japan to follow suit to keep their exporters competitive...
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