By Steve Goldstein
Chinese President Xi Jinping took to the virtual Davos stage to address Fed Chairman Jerome Powell with this message: Please don’t lift interest rates.
“If major economies slam on the brakes or take a U-turn in their monetary policies, there would be serious negative spillovers. They would present challenges to global economic and financial stability, and developing countries would bear the brunt of it,” said Xi, according to a transcript of his remarks on Monday.
Of the major central banks, the Fed is expected to be the most aggressive, with financial markets now pricing in four rate hikes, and the U.S. central bank is concurrently expected to start reducing the size of its nearly $9 trillion balance sheet. Yields on the benchmark 10-year Treasury /zigman2/quotes/211347051/realtime BX:TMUBMUSD10Y +1.59% on Tuesday reached the highest level since January 2020.
Traditionally, Fed officials brush off concerns about how their policies impact other economies, saying they can only make monetary policy for the U.S. economy.
Xi has reason to be nervous about Fed tightening.
Despite tariffs that were started by President Donald Trump and continued under President Joe Biden , Americans are still aggressively buying Chinese products. Through November, China was the No. 1 source of imported goods at $463 billion, topping Mexico at $350 billion and Canada at $324 billion.
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Craig Bothan, chief “China+” economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, pointed out that export growth has helped China compensate for weaker domestic growth and propped up its manufacturing sector.
China’s economy continues to slow, falling to a 4% growth rate year-on-year in the fourth quarter from 4.9%. On Monday, the People’s Bank of China cut two policy rates by 10 basis points.