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Art Cashin: Powell may be Trump's ally after all when it comes to China trade talks

Key Points
  • If the Fed chairman were to continue to show an openness to possibly cutting interest rates, Art Cashin reasons that such a signal would give the president more leverage with China.
  • The veteran trader suggests Trump might feel more comfortable pressing for "a bit tougher" trade deal with China, knowing a rate cut could help support the U.S. economy.
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Cashin: Trump will be a tougher on China if the Fed keeps hinting at a cut

President Donald Trump may find an unlikely ally in China trade negotiations: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, veteran trader Art Cashin told CNBC.

If Powell were to continue to show an openness to possibly cutting interest rates, Cashin reasoned Thursday that such a signal would give Trump more leverage with China.

"Turns out [Trump] may have an ally in the trade talks," Cashin said. That would certainly be ironic given the president's repeated criticism of Powell for hiking rates too aggressively last year.

Success in getting American and Chinese negotiators back to the table to try to end the nearly yearlong trade dispute rests with Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. They are set to meet Saturday at the G-20 summit in Japan.

Cashin suggested the president might feel more comfortable pressing for "a bit tougher" trade deal with China, knowing a rate cut could help support the U.S. economy in the event that talks remained stalled.

Last month, Trump tweeted that a cut would essentially guarantee a positive outcome in the trade war.

At their two-day June meeting that ended last Wednesday, central bankers voted to keep rates steady but indicated a cut was possible later in the year if factors such as the U.S.-China trade war weigh on the economy.

"As always, we will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion, with a strong labor market and inflation near our" 2% objective, Powell said at his post-meeting news conference.

However, Powell also maintained that the Fed is "insulated from short-term political pressures."

Wall Street is betting on a rate cut at the Fed's meeting next month, with 26.1% odds on a more aggressive 0.5% move and 73.9% odds on a more conservative 0.25% move, according to the CME FedWatch tracker.

On Monday, Cashin said he's leaning toward thinking the Fed will cut rates by 0.5% next month.