Mohamed El-Erian sees a 60% chance that Trump's hard line with China and Europe yields 'fairer trade'

Key Points
  • Economist Mohamed El-Erian says there's a 60 percent chance that President Donald Trump's hard line with China and Europe yields "fairer trade."
  • El-Erian puts a 15 percent chance on a "Reagan moment" in trade, but 25 percent odds that Trump's approach will result in a global trade war.
There's a 15-percent chance for a 'Reagan moment' for trade, says Allianz's El-Erian

Economist Mohamed El-Erian said Monday there's a 60 percent chance that President Donald Trump's hard line with China and Europe yields "fairer trade" for the U.S.

On CNBC's "Squawk Box," the chief economic advisor at Allianz predicted a 15 percent chance that Trump's approach would result in a "Reagan moment" in trade, especially with China. It would be similar to Ronald Reagan's tough stance against the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

"That would transform the landscape," El-Erian said. Reagan also engaged in aggressive trade policies, including quotas on Japaneses cars. Some analysts say the policies were mixed.

El-Erian gave a 25 percent chance that Trump's trade moves would spark a global trade war.

Trump first proposed tariffs in March to correct what he deemed were unfair trading practices — moves that were met with retaliatory measures from the European Union, Canada, Mexico and China.

A new round of U.S. tariffs on $16 billion worth of Chinese imports kicked in on Thursday, prompting an equivalent retaliation from Beijing.

El-Erian, considered one of the world's most influential financial market thinkers, previously said he expects the U.S. will win the trade war, citing the performance of U.S. markets relative to China and others.

But he said Monday the real question for investors is "how much damage would we incur in the process of winning this?"

"I've said from day one, it's just a matter of time until other countries realize that their best approach is to collaborate with the U.S. and fix things that are broken," El-Erian said.