Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez announced Friday that the U.S. would reverse policy and impose duties on Chinese imports, beginning with coated papers. On a week when the U.S. dollar dropped against all major currencies, what does the tariff herald for the second quarter? Two currency experts gave their views to CNBC's Bill Griffeth.
Rebecca Patterson, global currency strategist at J.P. Morgan, said that Gutierrez' announcement "isn't about the currency, it's about the [Chinese] paper" -- and said that the issue had been "brewing for months." Speaking on "Power Lunch," she maintained that -- despite nationalist rhetoric -- protectionism isn't about campaign politics, "it's about economics."
As for the tariff's possible impact, she said that if the U.S. can weather the subprime slowdown and oil turbulence in the Mideast, and if growth slowly comes back in the second half of the year, the Yankee greenback should prosper.
But Robert Lynch isn't so sure. The HSBC currency analyst cautions that the coated-paper duty "opens the door to more claims by U.S. manufacturers" versus China -- and "maybe even Japan." He said the rise in protectionism is "unhelpful" and indicative of "potential medium-term problems" with the dollar. But to play the potential upcoming currency volatility, he declares that the end-carry trade is "still interesting" --even after the February shakeup. And he notes it's "still favorable" to sell the yen.
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