The writers of the Groundhog Day screenplay were likely sharpening their pencils after the conclusion of the most recent meeting of the G20 in Osaka, Japan on June 28-29.
That’s because yet another meeting of the G20 produced another so-called “trade truce” between the United States and China. If this all feels vaguely familiar, there’s a reason for that.
The outcome from the meeting between President Trump and President Xi on the sidelines of the G20 in Japan mirrored the outcome from their previous meeting on the sidelines of the G20 in Buenos Aires last December.
Back then, the Chinese promised to go on a buying frenzy of American farm products, while President Trump promised not to increase tariffs on goods imported from China during the upcoming trade negotiations.
Well, China never made good on its agricultural promises, the trade negotiations failed and President Trump eventually raised tariffs on Chinese imports.
Given that developments from the last two G20 meetings have been nearly identical, one can easily apply comments from last December to the current circumstances.
For example, former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk made the following comments in December after the first trade truce was announced: “Ultimately, this truce will be nothing but a 90-day reprieve if we can’t come together and have a common understanding on the path forward.”
That statement appears particularly prescient both then and now. The only difference this time is that no specific timetable has been announced.
And according to reports from the G20, the likelihood of a deal aren’t that high. The director of the White House National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, appeared to lower expectations for a quick resolution when he said of the final sticking points, “The last 10% could be the toughest.”
Other soundbites emanating from Japan regarding the trade war conjured a similar feeling of deja vu.
President Trump tweeted after Osaka that the Chinese will begin buying “large amounts of agricultural products.” That was the exact sentiment expressed after Buenos Aires, when China indicated that purchases of American agricultural commodities would happen “immediately.”
Given the hollow ring to these much-repeated promises, some reference to “the Chinese buying HUGE amounts of American agricultural products” could replace “I Got You Babe” as the anthem for a Groundhog Day reboot.
In sum, the highly anticipated meeting between the American and Chinese trade delegations in Japan yielded the following:
- Trade negotiations between the U.S. and China will resume
- China is expected to restart purchases of American agricultural commodities
- The U.S. will delay additional tariffs (for an undetermined period of time).
What was conspicuously missing from the aftermath of the most recent meeting was any indication that real progress had been made on resolving the thorny issues that derailed the talks in the first place.
It’s this latter that will be most relevant to the upcoming negotiations, and the force that will ultimately push international financial markets in one direction or the other. But for the time being, market attention will undoubtedly shift from Osaka to several other points of interest on the upcoming financial calendar.
At the top of the list is the Federal Reserve meeting scheduled for July 30-31, which could include a widely anticipated rate cut. The second item, which spans an extended period, is Q2 corporate earnings, which kicks into high gear during the week of July 15.
“Earnings season,” as it is widely known, occurs four times a year and encompasses the public release of quarterly financial results from publicly traded companies. Aside from using earnings to ascertain the prospects of individual companies, investors and traders often use the health of corporate earnings as a barometer for the economy.
It’s likely the Federal Reserve will also be watching earnings season closely, alongside the status of trade negotiations between the U.S. and China, ongoing unemployment levels and inflation.
Traders seeking to learn more about strategies commonly used during corporate earnings may want to review a previous installment of Best Practices on the tastytrade financial network. That episode, titled “Earnings Mechanics,” provides an introduction to volatility-based earnings trades.
Sage Anderson is a pseudonym. The contributor has an extensive background in trading equity derivatives and managing volatility-based portfolios as a former prop trading firm employee. The contributor is not an employee of luckbox, tastytrade or any affiliated companies. Readers can direct questions about any of the topics covered in this blog post, or any other trading-related subject, to email@example.com.