Trump Blames Manufacturing Slump on Fed for Keeping Dollar Too Strong

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 26: U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he returns to the White House after attending the United Nations General Assembly on September 26, 2019 in Washington, DC. Earlier today the Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testified before the House Intelligence Committee about a whistleblower …
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President Donald Trump blasted the Federal Reserve Tuesday after survey data showed the manufacturing sector had the weakest month in around 10 years.

“They are their own worst enemies, they don’t have a clue,” Trump tweeted. “Pathetic!”

The dollar’s strength is measured against other currencies. When other currencies weaken, the dollar strengthens against those currencies.

A stronger dollar makes U.S. exports less attractive to foreign buyers because they become more expensive. The dollar’s recent strength–it surged to a 29-month high against a basket of rival currencies on Tuesday, according to Reuters–is largely attributable to investors seeking out relatively higher interest rates in the U.S. compared with rates available on safe bonds in Europe and Asia.

While the Fed has been cutting rates in recent months, so has the European Central Bank.  The Fed’s current bench market target is between 1.75 percent and 2 percent, far above the -0.6% of the euro zone.

The market largely agrees with Trump. The dollar weakened a bit after Tuesday’s manufacturing numbers came out, likely because traders believe it makes future Fed rate cuts more likely.

The futures market was indicating on Tuesday a 62.5 percent chance of a quarter-point cut at the Fed’s October meeting, up sharply from the 39.6 percent chance indicated just one day earlier. The odds of a second rate cut in December moved up from 17.5 percent to 29.5 percent.  The odds that rates remain unchanged through the end of the year fell to 19 percent from 33.7 percent.

“US manufacturing plunge reinforces need for further Fed action,” ING chief international economist James Knightly wrote in a note. “Given the worries over trade tensions, the weakening global growth story and the strength of the dollar, which is hurting the relative competitiveness, we don’t expect to see a rebound in the performance of the manufacturing sector anytime soon.”

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