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Letter from Washington

Political Insider

2:30 PM EDT:  Fed Chair Powell’s news conference, live on C-SPAN.I will forward a transcript as soon as it becomes available.  

This morning’s Wall Street Journal preview leads with:

Federal Reserve officials are on track to leave interest rates unchanged at their two-day meeting ending Wednesday and could indicate they are comfortable holding them steady for a while.

The central bank in January signaled a pause in rate increases, and officials are ready to announce more details of how they will end the runoff of their $4 trillion asset portfolio later this year. The Fed has taken some action to withdraw stimulus from the economy every quarter since late 2016, and that streak will end this week.

The central bank releases its new policy statement at 2 p.m. EDT along with updated economic projections and any potential addendum to its balance sheet plans. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will start his press conference at 2:30 p.m. 

See last night’s Bloomberg preview as well.

President Trump’s schedule (EDT):

11:30 AM:  Daily intelligence briefing;

12:10 PM:  Departs the White House, South Lawn en route to Joint Base Andrews;

  2:30 PM:  Delivers remarks at Joint Systems [Tank] Manufacturing Center, 1155 Buckeye Road, Lima, OH;

  5:00 PM:  Arrives McKinley Air Inc., 5400 Lauby Road, Suite 4, North Canton, OH;

  6:00 PM:  Participates in a roundtable with campaign supporters at Brookside Country Club;

  6:30 PM:  Attends a campaign fundraiser in Canton, Ohio; and

  9:00 PM:  Arrives back at the White House.

“Trump faces failing strategy on auto jobs as he heads to Ohio.”  Last night’s Politico article led with:

President Donald Trump heads to Ohio Wednesday embroiled in a fight with General Motors and the United Auto Workers over the closing of GM’s Lordstown plant. But his attempts to save manufacturing jobs have battered the auto industry and could erode his loyal base in the Midwest.

Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum have cost Ford and GM about $1 billion each. GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra cited the tariffs in November when she announced the 14,000 job cuts that included the Lordstown plant’s shuttering. Potentially making things even worse, Trump is now weighing new tariffs on foreign automobiles that could threaten hundreds of thousands of additional U.S. jobs.

“The reality is auto tariffs would put Ohio into a recession,” said Dan Ujczo, a Columbus-based international trade lawyer who has been closely studying the impact of recent trade actions on Ohio companies.

Ultimately, that could jeopardize Trump’s support in the Mahoning Valley and other blue-collar Great Lakes regions that voted for him in 2016.

“He’ll lose those the second he puts auto tariffs on,” Ujczo said. “These people understand you can’t cut off your nose to spite your face.” According to a Morning Consult tracking poll, Trump’s approval rating in Ohio has fallen 19 percentage points since January 2017.

“High-Level U.S.-China Trade Talks to Resume in Final Push for Deal.”  Yesterday afternoon’s Wall Street Journal article led with:

WASHINGTON—Negotiators for the U.S. and China have scheduled a new round of high-level trade talks in Beijing and Washington, aiming to close a deal by late April to end the yearlong dispute between the world’s two largest economies.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin plan to fly to Beijing next week to meet with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, Trump administration officials said. The following week, a Chinese delegation led by Mr. Liu is expected to continue talks in Washington, the officials said.

People tracking the negotiations said the talks appear to be in their final stages, following a rocky patch after Chinese leaders were unnerved by President Trump’s decision to abruptly break off nuclear-disarmament talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in February.

“We’re in the endgame,” said Myron Brilliant, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

If the two sides continue to make progress, he said, they should be able to finish a trade deal by the end of April—or about one month later than previously expected.

The two sides are aiming for a package deal that includes substantial increases in U.S. exports to China, and Chinese pledges to boost protection of intellectual property, end pressure on U.S. companies to transfer technology to their Chinese partners and reduce subsidies for Chinese firms.

Political Insider

About Pete Davis

Pete Davis

Pete Davis advises Wall Street money managers on Washington, DC policy developments that affect the financial markets. Visit his website here daviscapitalinvestmentideas.yolasite.com.

Articles by Pete Davis

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