JPMorgan Says Trump May Sell Dollars as Weapon in U.S. Trade War

With the U.S. waging a trade war on several fronts, economists are starting to take seriously the idea that President Donald Trump could act on his preference for a weak dollar.

“While not our base case scenario, we cannot rule out a turn toward a more interventionist currency policy, particularly since the current administration has, at times, hinted at a preference for dollar weakness or objected to perceived Chinese currency manipulation,” Michael Feroli, JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s chief U.S. economist, said in a research note this week.

In a Twitter flurry last month, Trump accused China and the euro area of manipulating their currencies, and complained that a rising dollar is blunting America’s “competitive edge.” In a reference to interest-rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, the president said “tightening now hurts all that we have done.”

The U.S. hasn’t intervened in markets to sell the dollar since 2000 when it united with fellow members of the Group of Seven in an effort to boost the sliding euro. It last bought greenbacks in 2011 as part of an international bid to stop the yen from surging after an earthquake and tsunami in Japan led locals to repatriate cash.

But analysts are awakening to the reality that Trump may follow through on his jawboning, with potential implications for the independence of the Fed.

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