Market analysts are prognosticating that an escalation in the trade wars could give pause to the Fed’s current rate-hiking policies moving forward as they could potentially stymie economic growth. However, despite the growing concerns of trade wars, Powell said its wide-ranging effects have yet to penetrate the economy and cause any disruptions.
Powell mentioned that loss of business confidence could reduce investor capital and the long-term effect on the financial markets are reasons that could bring trade wars under heavier scrutiny by the Federal Reserve. However, without hard data to substantiate these concerns as a result of the trade wars, Powell could not definitely say that tariffs are to be dealt with head on just yet.
“Until we see it in the numbers, it’s hard to say how one would react,” said Powell.
More talk of trade wars came back to rack the markets on Monday, but the tangible impact of tariffs is less than one might think as third-quarter earnings season comes to a close. According to data from FactSet, only 9% of companies that have reported earnings thus far said tariffs are having a negative impact.
Delving deeper into the data of S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings, the mention of the word “tariffs” came up during earnings reports less times than the previous quarter–138 as opposed to 157. The decline in the number of instances where tariffs were mentioned could signal that the impact of trade wars could be waning.
“The small decline in the number and percentage of companies discussing tariffs in the third quarter relative to the second quarter may be a sign that there is slightly less concern in corporate America about widespread impacts from the tariffs throughout the economy,” wrote John Butters, senior earnings analyst at FactSet.
For more trends in fixed income, visit the Rising Rates Channel.