Goldman Sachs simulations point to a problem for global growth: The Trump White House

Goldman says Trump's policies may hurt global growth

President Donald Trump's drive toward tighter trade and immigration policies are set to dampen global economic growth, Goldman Sachs said in a note on Monday.

"Our simulations suggest that Mr. Trump's policies could boost growth slightly in 2017 and 2018, but are likely to weigh on growth thereafter if trade and immigration restrictions are enacted," Goldman said.

"Moreover, the risks around our base case appear asymmetric: a larger fiscal package could boost growth moderately more in the near term, but a more adverse policy mix would likely lead to a significant slowdown, higher inflation, and tighter policy in subsequent years."

Goldman pointed to headwinds for the fiscal policies, which would have been positive for economic growth.

"The timeline for passage of a fiscal bill has moved into late 2017 or maybe even early 2018, and the hyper-polarized political climate has reduced whatever slim chance existed for bipartisan cooperation, e.g. with regard to infrastructure spending," it said.

Late last month, Trump signed an executive order temporarily restricting travel for people from seven majority-Muslim countries. The order, which the courts have since halted, affected a broad spectrum of refugees, travelers, legal residents of the U.S. and some U.S. citizens.
Additionally, Trump has threatened to curb H-1B visas, which allow companies in the U.S. to bring in foreign workers.

While noting that it was difficult to estimate the potential implication of the policies, Goldman pointed to the potential chilling effect on labor growth.

"Net immigration currently contributes an estimated 0.4 percentage points to U.S. population growth and accounts for most of the projected growth rate of the potential labor force of around 0.5 percent," it said. "We think that it is plausible that tighter immigration restrictions will reduce this inflow substantially over the next few years."

On trade, Goldman's base case was that severe protectionist measures, such as across-the-board tariffs, weren't likely in the near term, but it noted that those would likely be met with symmetric retaliatory tariffs.

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"The most likely policies in the near term involve the announcement of a formal process to determine whether China is 'manipulating' its currency, and the initiation of trade remedy cases on a number of products," it said.

Other analysts have also pointed to the potential hit to global economic growth from Trump's protectionist policies.

In a note last week, analysts at Citi called the rise in protectionism "a material and rising risk," with the U.S. accounting for much of that.

"Increases in protectionism can have major adverse effects on growth," the Citi note said, citing OECD estimates that a permanent 10 percent rise in trade costs could shave global gross domestic product (GDP) by around 1 percent in the medium term.

Citi noted the adverse effects would be reinforced by retaliation measures in other countries and as rising uncertainty dampens business confidence, reducing capital expenditure.

—By CNBC.Com's Leslie Shaffer; Follow her on Twitter @LeslieShaffer1

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