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Trade negotiations between the United States and China have boiled down to whether President Donald Trump can trust the Chinese or not, CNBC's Jim Cramer said Wednesday.
"It's not about the trade gap, people. It's about the trust gap," the "Mad Money" host said. "Until investors realize that's what's driving these negotiations, we'll forever be playing this game of 'deal or no deal,' and the market will get hammered every time people realize that we're a long way from reaching a big kind of deal with any kind of accommodation with China."
Cramer said history is playing a factor in the White House's trade strategy because Trump doesn't trust that the country will comply with concessions. Trump does not want to be taken for a ride by China as did the Obama, Bush, and Clinton administrations, he said.
"The hardliners have the upper hand, people, especially after today's statement from the Federal Reserve that inflation is negligible and the economy's fine—not too hot, not too cold," Cramer said. "If the tariffs were really hurting commerce in this country, it would be a different story, but they're just not having that much of a negative impact."
The major indexes fell, Cramer said, in reaction to Trump's assertion that the White House, even with an agreement, would leave tariffs in place "for a substantial period of time" in order to hold China accountable to the deal. There are two things that must happen for the market to keep rising, and Wall Street got one of them later Wednesday, he said.
Cramer blamed the session's lost gains on the trade front.
"Don't jump the gun," he said. "It's terrific to have the Fed on our side here, but the trade war with China remains on the side of the bears for now, which is why today's session ultimately didn't the bull's way."