Amid Trade Tumult, Goldman Sachs Now Sees Two More Interest Rate Cuts This Year

File: U.S. President Donald Trump's Second Year In The Oval Office
U.S. President Donald Trump (left) and Xi Jinping, China's president, shake hands during a news conference in Beijing in November 2017. Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Qilai Shen—Bloomberg via Getty Images

With the prospects of a trade deal between the U.S. and China now appearing dimmer than ever, the global economy could be in for a rocky ride—and that could force the Federal Reserve’s hand when it comes to monetary policy, according to Goldman Sachs.

The Wall Street investment bank has revised its interest rate outlook in the wake of President Trump’s announcement that the U.S. will impose a new 10% tariff on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports. That news sent the markets spiraling on Monday, and Goldman analysts believe it will spur the Fed into slashing rates as many as three times over the course of this year.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) cut interest rates for the first time in a decade last week, and Goldman had already anticipated yet another round of quantitative easing later this year. But the bank now expects a further two cuts through 2019—forecasting a 75% chance of a cut of 25 basis points in September, and a 50% chance of an additional cut of 25 basis points at the Fed’s October meeting.

With the Trump administration reverting to a hard-line stance in trade negotiations with China, and the Treasury Department officially labeling Beijing a currency manipulator on Monday, Goldman says it now believes that “no [trade] deal will be reached before the 2020 election.”

“While we had previously assumed that President Trump would see making a deal as more advantageous to his 2020 re-election prospects, we are now less confident that this is his view,” according to the bank’s analysts.

That’s likely to cause further drag on a global economy that’s already shown signs of sluggishness amid the protracted trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies—and could force the FOMC to go beyond the mere 50 basis points’ worth of interest rate cuts it had “most likely envisioned” for this year, Goldman says.

The bank added that the Fed will likely press pause on further cuts in December, noting that some on the FOMC “would push back harder against rate cuts that summed to 100 [basis points] or more.” That 1% figure has historically been “reserved for situations in which there was a strong chance that the economy was already headed into recession.”

Things have yet to get anywhere near that bearish. But with economic growth starting to slow down and no end in sight the U.S.-China trade war, the Fed may find itself acquiescing to Present Trump’s monetary policy interventions, after all.

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—Amid trade tumult, Goldman Sachs now sees two more interest rate cuts this year

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