Trump goes quiet as stock market falls on trade war, rate hikes

Days after Trump took office, he signed an executive order aiming to roll back regulations and stop the creation of new rules. He has since taken various other steps to scale back regulations, which Republicans and the business community have largely cheered.

Anticipation of tax cuts, and subsequently stronger corporate earnings, boosted stocks throughout 2017. In December, Republicans passed a plan to slash tax rates for corporations and pass-through businesses and temporarily trim rates for most individuals. Trump repeatedly contended the law would boost job and GDP growth — and help stocks in the process.

The script has flipped this year. Stock markets endured a rough February, driven in part by an expectation of rising interest rates and more aggressive Federal Reserve policy.

Shortly after that, Trump started his policy of imposing tariffs on imports in order to pressure allies into striking new trade deals. He first put duties on steel and aluminum. Then, Washington and Beijing began imposing an escalating series of tariffs, with the Trump administration most recently slapping 10 percent duties on $200 billion in Chinese goods last month. Those rise to 25 percent at the end of the year, and Trump is considering another $267 billion in tariffs.

The trade conflict has led to concerns about a widening economic war that could raise costs for businesses and consumers and damage economic growth. Trade negotiations between the U.S. and China have stalled. The Trump administration reportedly wants Beijing to come up with a specific proposal to stop the alleged theft of intellectual property before talks start again, which complicates any effort to make progress on trade.

As markets have reacted poorly to the Fed’s three interest rate increases this year, the president has increasingly lashed out at the politically independent central bank. In a Wall Street Journal interview this week, he said he was “very unhappy with the Fed because [President Barack] Obama had zero interest rates.”

Trump added that he “maybe” regrets appointing Fed Chair Jerome Powell to the post.

Trump’s top economic advisor, for his part, claimed fears about Democrats winning a House majority drove the market declines more than concerns about slowing global economic growth and rising interest rates. On Tuesday, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told reporters that “I think the stock market is worried that Congress will change and will overturn these pro-growth policies.”

Many market experts believe October’s carnage will be short-lived. Trump will likely start talking up the stock market again when the pain ends.

Take his last tweet cheering on the stock market. It came on Oct. 16, when major indexes rose more than 2 percent following a week of carnage.

First, he noted that the Dow rose 548 points.

The next day, Trump referenced what he said was a quote from “Fox & Friends,” a morning TV show the president frequently watches that covers him favorably. “Network News gave Zero coverage to the Big Day the Stock Market had yesterday,” he wrote, apparently quoting an unidentified speaker.

The Dow has fallen 3.7 percent since Oct. 17. The president has not tweeted about the market since.

— Additional reporting by CNBC’s Fred Imbert

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