President Donald Trump told business leaders in a speech to the Economic Club of New York on Tuesday he might not be done raising tariffs on Chinese goods.
If Beijing doesn’t agree to America’s trade terms, he said, “we’re going to substantially raise those tariffs.”
“They are dying to make a deal,” Trump said, describing the Chinese trade negotiators. “We are the ones deciding whether or not we want to make a deal.”
Trump administration officials are negotiating with China on a “Phase 1” trade agreement that would diffuse a trade war that has weighed on U.S. economic growth.
Last month Trump made an optimistic announcement of an agreed-to deal that caused the stock markets to rally. Within days, the Chinese had dumped cold water on it.
Trump used the speech at the Economic Club to highlight a U.S. economic “boom” while downplaying any negative impacts from tariffs that most economists, including those on the Federal Reserve’s policy-setting FOMC, cite as a major reason behind 2019’s GDP slowdown.
Instead, Trump blamed America’s slowing pace of economic growth on the Fed. In recent months, the central bank made three consecutive cuts to its benchmark rate, currently set at 1.75%, but the president said he wants it below zero.
“Remember we are actively competing with nations who openly cut interest rates so that now many are actually getting paid when they pay off their loan – known as negative interest. Whoever heard of such a thing? Give me some of that. Give me some of that money. I want some of that money. Our Federal Reserve doesn’t let us do it.”
Under a negative rate policy, banks and other financial institutions have to pay interest for parking excess reserves with the central bank. The European Central Bank introduced negative rates in 2014.
It’s a way to encourage banks to lend to businesses and consumers, who don’t get paid when they pay off their loans, contrary to the president’s description.
After quoting stock gains, Trump said that “you could have added another 25%” to the stock market’s climb if the Fed had “worked with us.”
“But we all make mistakes, don’t we?” Trump asked.
Trump also said that India and China were taking advantage of the U.S. by being designated as developing countries.
“We’re a developing country, too,” Trump said.