What We’re Tracking on Thursday, 2 February 2017
Are we on the precipice of a global currency war? The FT has a great piece this morning suggesting that recent comments from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and German Chancellor Angela Merkel “underscore alarm over US’s radical approach to USD,” noting that “The Trump administration’s willingness to break with tradition and comment about currency valuations has raised fears that the US might lead the world into a new round of currency wars.” US President Donald Trump and his top trade advisor, Peter Navarro, have been adamant that a strong USD is undercutting the competitiveness of US exports. Navarro went so far as to tell the FT yesterday that “Germany is using a ‘grossly undervalued’ euro to ‘exploit’ the US and its EU partners.” The specter of a conflict is making headlines across the business press today.
Other US-related news you need to know about this morning:
- Former ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson has been confirmed as the Trump administration’s secretary of state (we rather like the guy, to be frank; the NY Times and Politico have more)
- The H-1B visa program is, as we suggested earlier this week, next on Trump’s immigration hit list, the Wall Street Journal reports. The White House and Congress are working on “a draft of an executive order [that] directs the government to re-examine a range of visa programs to ensure they prioritize and protect ‘the jobs, wages and well-being of United States workers.’”
- The US Federal Reserve has left rates on hold in its first meeting since The Donald took office. The Fed “painted a relatively upbeat picture of the U.S. economy that suggested it was on track to tighten monetary policy this year,” Reuters said.