Protectionism has cross-party support in the U.S., and nationalist parties continue to gain traction in Europe. Where there is inequality, there is a surge in protectionism; a risk that could trigger the next global economic crisis sometime around 2020.
The Trump administration's trade war and a hard Brexit could send tariffs to levels not seen in 15 years, according to UBS economist, as per Market Watch.
The Swiss bank views the U.S. tariffs, along with retaliatory measures (tit-for-tat with China), as the most significant factors boosting the metric. Second, are fears of a hard Brexit, which refers to the potential split between the U.K. and the European Union.
"Combined, these two would add 142 [basis points] to the average global import tariff, essentially reversing 15 years of progress in global tariff reduction," said UBS chief economist, Arend Kapteyn, in a recent note.
The first chart shows how the U.S. significantly outpaces the U.K. in the bank's report of "which tariff wall if bigger." In other words, the next global economic crisis could be triggered by President Trump's trade war.
The next chart reveals how the average global tariff could skyrocket to levels not seen since the early days of George W. Bush's first presidential term.
Kapteyn then warns that trade wars and a hard Brexit could be the perfect cocktail to stymie global growth. "We wanted to give some sense of the jump in trade disruptions."
* * *
BofA's Michael Hartnett sings a similar tune of the coming turmoil. He warns U.S. fiscal easing and protectionism late in the economic cycle could cause trouble.
In the chart below, controls on trade, capital, and labor are likely to soar to levels not seen since the 1940s, effectively wiping out more than a half-century of progress under globalism.
"Further action on China ($200bn increase from 10% to 25%), another potential round on China ($250bn at 25%), and autos ($158bn), could raise U.S. tariff revenue as % total imports to levels not seen since 1946," Hartnett said.
Hartnett sees the trade war between the U.S. and China morphing into the next cold war, which the first stage has already begun: militaries in both countries are racing to acquire quantum computing, artificial technology, stealth warplanes, hypersonic weapons, lasers, robotics, and low Earth orbit weapons. By 2035, China is projected to outspend the U.S. on military spending.
He said tax cuts and trade wars late in the economic cycle had boosted U.S. EPS, but they have also stymied global GDP in 2018.
Late-cycle fiscal easing and trade disputes could be what ushers in the next global recession:
"Note the two prior episodes of late-cycle fiscal easing led to currency overvaluation, domestic overheating, and massive schisms in global markets: U.S. in the late-1960s when U.S. unemployment rate was 3.9%...breakdown in Gold Standard Followed; German reunification fiscal boom which decoupled Germany from Europe...leading to the European Rate Mechanism crisis in 1992," Hartnett ended the note.
Both Kapyeyn and Hartnett are on similar pages that global economic turmoil is around the corner. Now is the time to prepare.