Quest: Mr. Trump and the Davos elites

Quest's Profitable MomentPresident Donald Trump is going to Davos for the World Economic Forum -- and he's tak...

Posted: Jan 12, 2018 11:09 AM
Updated: Jan 12, 2018 11:09 AM

Quest's Profitable Moment

President Donald Trump is going to Davos for the World Economic Forum -- and he's taking many members of his cabinet with him. Davos is famous for being a gathering of heads of state as well as CEOs and other high-powered corporate executives. Considering Trump's "drain the swamp" platform, it is a bit eye-raising that he will be attending an event that personifies global elites.

The White House says President Trump will be there to discuss his "America First" policy. What this means exactly is not clear. I think it is safe to assume there will be some carrots and some sticks in his approach. The visit will be part victory lap...reminding the participants that his election was a rejection by U.S. voters of what Davos is all about. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin hinted that would be the case, saying before the trip that the president was not there to rub elbows with the rich.

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I will be watching for evidence of hypocrisy at Davos. CEOs may like the lower tax rates and deregulation Trump has brought about. But many of his policies -- reversing efforts to combat climate change, restricting immigration, and putting up trade barriers -- are antithetical to what Davos attendees support.

If Trump wasn't going to Davos I bet he would have been excoriated by many business leaders and heads of NGOs from liberal Europe. Let's see how many of them raise a voice over Trump's stances on Iran and Russia now that he is attending. Or will they instead "play the game" and keep quiet, happy to be able to brag they are at Davos, with the president, improving the state of the world?

Will China slow down its U.S. bond buys?

China is the biggest foreign holder of Treasuries. That's why a Bloomberg report which suggested China may halt its purchases of U.S. debt sent the bond market into a tailspin. Yields on the 10-Year Treasury spiked to their highest level in nearly a year.

The stock market is shrugging off these concerns for now. But can that last?

Some worry that inflation pressures will return later this year and force the Federal Reserve to raise rates more quickly than expected. That could make it more expensive for consumers and businesses to borrow money, slow down the economy and put a damper on corporate profits.

-- Paul R. La Monica

NAFTA tensions build ahead of talks

Tension is already building among Canada, Mexico and the United States. It's only growing before the sixth round of NAFTA negotiation, which resumes January 23 in Montreal, Canada.

The Trump administration slapped more tariffs on Canada this week, while Canada is fighting against other U.S. tariffs in a court battle at the World Trade Organization.

Every major player in North America is watching how trade relations develop in the coming weeks. Ford CEO James Hackett told CNNMoney that he believes the Trump administration has the right intentions as it renegotiates NAFTA.

But Mexican and Canadian leaders say the administration's proposals so far are dealbreakers. Some U.S. business advocates call the proposals "poison pills" for trade.

-- Patrick Gillespie

Global economy doing great -- even in Europe

The world has suffered from a frustratingly uneven recovery for years. Strong growth in one pocket of the globe would get drowned out by trouble elsewhere.

Finally, the global economy are firing on all cylinders. Even Europe is charging ahead, with growth likely outpacing the U.S. in 2017.

The broad upturn could last for the "next couple of years," the World Bank said. 2018 is projected to be the first since the financial crisis that the world's economy is running at almost its full potential.

The catch: the World Bank thinks growth may soon peak and decelerate in 2019 and 2020 as the U.S., China and Europe cool off.

-- Matt Egan

It's now easier for Gap to open stores in India

India just made it easier for some Western companies to sell goods to the country's 1.2 billion people.

On Wednesday, the Indian government said that global single-brand retailers, such as Gap or Apple, will no longer need permission to own and operate stores on the subcontinent. Previously, companies had to secure government approval to own more than 49% of an Indian retail operation.

The move is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's broader push to simplify doing business in India.

-- Julia Horowitz

Quick takes

Trump ending protection for Salvadorans threatens key 'lifeline' for poor nation

NYC deals a blow to Big Oil with climate change suit, promise to dump stocks

Warren Buffett built Berkshire Hathaway. Now it's planning for life after Buffett

South Korea, the epicenter of the bitcoin craze, could ban all crypto trading

Hot stock tip: Grab the companies that Trump bashes on Twitter

Austerity hurts. Saudis reverse tax hikes, subsidy cuts to avoid backlash

What's next

Does steel threaten U.S. national security? The Trump administration could answer that question by Monday. It is investigating whether steel imports are a risk to U.S. national security. The thinking behind the investigation is that the administration wants to slap huge tariffs on steel imports. It's just not clear which countries will be targeted or how high the tariffs will be.

The pulse of Wall Street: Big banks and institutions report earnings Friday, including JPMorgan, Wells Fargo and BlackRock, which manages $5.7 trillion. It's the first round of earnings since the GOP tax reform passed and will be an opportunity for America's top financial CEOs to comment on what they intend to do with the savings from the corporate tax cut. Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are all on tap to report results next week.

China's growth: We'll find out how much the Chinese economy grew in 2017 on Wednesday evening ET when the People's Republic reports fourth quarter GDP. One of the major tailwinds behind the global economy last year was stabilized growth from China after a couple years of slowing growth.

U.S. markets closed Monday: There will be no trading in New York in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

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