If anyone was in doubt about whether Trump administration cabinet officials spoke for the president when indicating he was not backing down in a tariff fight with China, the man himself cleared that up on Friday.
“This is the time. You know the expression we’re playing with the bank’s money,” US President Donald Trump said on Friday in response to a question about how far he was willing to take the trade battle.
“We are being taking advantage of and I don’t like it,” he said, confirming the sentiment conveyed by top economic adviser Larry Kudlow a day earlier.
“I would have a higher stock market right now,” he added, continuing that “it could be 80% [higher since his election] if I didn’t want to do this.”
In the same interview, Trump said he was “ready to go to 500,” referring to a dollar amount of Chinese goods that could potentially face tariffs.
The president declined to say whether he holds Chinese President Xi Jinping personally responsible for “holding up the game,” as Kudlow had suggested on Thursday, saying only that “I really like president Xi a lot.”
US equities took a hit on the news but quickly made up losses. Major indices were trading higher as of late Friday morning.
The comments came after the president interjected himself in the monetary policy debate, saying that he was “not thrilled” with interest rate hikes.
“I’m not thrilled because we go up and every time you go up they want to raise rates again. I don’t really – I am not happy about it,” he said in an interview that was reported Thursday afternoon.
“But at the same time I’m letting them do what they feel is best,” he continued, before adding “but I don’t like all of this work that goes into doing what we’re doing.”
The dollar fell on Friday when the president weighed in again on monetary policy, this time via Twitter.
China, the European Union and others have been manipulating their currencies and interest rates lower, while the U.S. is raising rates while the dollars gets stronger and stronger with each passing day – taking away our big competitive edge. As usual, not a level playing field…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 20, 2018