Bridgewater: War With China Has Begun

Has a trade war started? The stock market doesn’t suggest that a full-scale trade fight between China and the U.S. has erupted, but a tweet from Ray Dalio, founder of hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, implies otherwise.

Friday afternoon, Dalio tweeted: “Today is the first day of the war with China.”

The tweet from the founder of the world’s largest hedge fund, which manages some $160 billion, comes after the U.S. slapped levies on $34 billion of 25% on China’s exports at midnight, and President Donald Trump threatened further action.

In response, Beijing issued in-kind tariffs on 545 items, including cash crops and cars, intensifying a long-simmering dispute between the world’s largest economic superpowers, which threatens to roil global economies.

China’s Commerce Ministry said the U.S. is “launching the largest trade war in economic history to date.”

However, stock investors appeared to mostly shake off the recent developments in global trade, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq Composite Index closing solidly higher on Friday.

Wall Street was fixated on labor-market data for June that showed that a better-than-expected 213,000 jobs were created last month.

However, some worry that average investors may be underestimating the potential for a protracted China-U.S. spat to deliver a more significant and blow to the domestic economy.

Morgan Stanley Wealth Management recently wrote in a recent report that analysis suggesting that the impact of trade clashes will be de minimus don’t fully account for the “risks associated with America’s increasingly aggressive position on trade,” Ryan Vlastelica noted in an article earlier this week.

By the looks of Dalio’s tweet, the investment professional may think investors are underplaying the potential impact as well.