The tariff war has been weighing on the stock market lately, but don’t be surprised if shares take a lunatic leap as soon as it blows over. My hunch is that regardless of how the dispute with China settles — or perhaps doesn’t — the mindless priorities of the market’s institutional sponsors will remain unchanged. They earn their bread-and-butter the old-fashioned way, after all, throwing Other People’s Money at stocks supported without limit by “research.” So what difference does it make, then, if higher tariffs suck a few hundred billion dollars from a ten-trillion-dollar shell game? With the Fed continuing to supply more or less unlimited credit, it’s not as though the entire sum can’t be magically replaced before it is even missed.
The real economy will get hurt, for sure, but who cares? Who would even know it, assuming the news media, economists and Wall Street’s spin doctors continue to direct our focus toward unemployment numbers that are likely to remain rosy in the months ahead. The stock market doesn’t need an assist from any source so stiff and mundane as “the economy”. It runs purely on financial fuel, and that’s why, for all of the hullabaloo about onerous new tariffs, the outcome of the negotiations will cease to have an effect on stocks a week from now, if that long. Sell the rumor, buy the news.