There was much rejoicing and buying of stocks when Trump tweeted, to much fanfare and bombast early this morning, that he is "Getting VERY close to a BIG DEAL with China. They want it, and so do we!." Sure enough, just a few hours later, there was a deal. Or was there? Because whereas we now know that the US & China have agreed to a Phase One deal on Paper, and Trump signed off on it... nobody will ever know what's in the actual deal, even once we pass it!
Here's what we do know: according to Fox Business correspondent Edwards Lawrence, China "verbally agreed to buy $50b in agriculture, but that will not be in writing." In fact it appears that nothing will be.
Also, the deal supposedly includes intellectual property protections, something the US has been asking for as a core demand.
A trade source tells me this is a historic day. US & China agree to a Phase One deal on Paper. The source says Chinese verbally agree to buy $50b in agriculture, but that will not be in writing. The source says the deal includes intellectual property protections. #China #Trade— Edward Lawrence (@EdwardLawrence) December 13, 2019
Needless to say, a Chinese IP concession will most certainly not be in writing too.
Other parts of the deal include "increased access to the financial services market. There is language where the Chinese agree not to manipulate their currency. There is enforcement written into the agreement. Dec 15th tariffs do not go forward."
The Phase One deal includes increase access to the financial services market. There is language where the Chinese agree not to manipulate their currency. There is enforcement written into the agreement. Dec 15th tariffs do not go forward. #China #Trade— Edward Lawrence (@EdwardLawrence) December 13, 2019
Perhaps most important for traders is that this is the end of the overnight "trade deal optimism" rally: phase two of the trade deal will "begin after 2020 elections." Which means a whole year without Trump tweets that a deal is very close and that China is dying to do it.
The source says Dec 15th tariffs do not go forward. There will be a small reduction in tariffs on some Chinese goods as a gesture of good will. Phase Two of the negotiations will begin after 2020 elections. #China #Trade— Edward Lawrence (@EdwardLawrence) December 13, 2019
Yet for all of the above, here's the most mindboggling part. Lawrence said that the Chinese have requested that the language of the trade deal will never be made public.
That's right - there is (supposedly) a "deal", written on paper somewhere, specifying certain terms, and signed by certain US and Chinese presidents. And nobody will ever see what that deal actually states.
The source says a signing ceremony will not happen with President Xi. There will be a rollout of the agreement by the White House Friday. The Chinese have requested that the language of the never be made public. #China #Trade— Edward Lawrence (@EdwardLawrence) December 13, 2019
Effectively, the Phase One trade deal "could" be nothing more than a market manipulating blank piece of paper, and since China has only pledged to do something - which nobody will know as it is not written - and since China has not committed contractually in the court of public opinion, it will have absolutely no incentive to abide by the Phase One "deal>"
And just to confirm that it is all a farce, the source said there would be no signing event between President Trump and President Xi, confirming that there is no actual deal to certify.
Of course, none of this mattered to the algos, as markets soared then soared more on Thursday, pricing in for the 563rd time a trade deal that now appears does not exist. Here's the moment when the Dow jumped 400 points on President Trump's trade tweet.
As a reminder, today's "we have a deal" news was just recycled headlines from Oct. 11, when President Trump first announced a phase one trade deal on Twitter.
And while we now have a secret, unsigned "deal", the president spent the last several months jawboning stocks higher on imminent trade deal headlines. During this period, the S&P500 rose by nearly 8%.
Of course, in a world where the Fed's NOT QE is about to inject $500 billion in liquidity in the next 4 weeks, and NOT bail out the biggest US and European banks, it is only fitting that the US-China unsigned, forever secret NOT trade deal is just the catalyst that pushes the NOT market to a new all time high.