Contrary to what some investors might believe, the U.S.-China trade dispute is not really about trade, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Friday as stocks tumbled on rising tensions between the two countries and weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs data.
“The trade war with China is not about trade,” Cramer said. “Sure, the Chinese government has all kinds of unsavory practices when it comes to trade — and a lot of other things — but that’s not really the point. The trade war is about who gets to be a global superpower.”
Many on Wall Street worried that U.S.-China tensions would escalate on Wednesday’s news that the global chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei was arrested in Canada over the weekend, on the same day that President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping reportedly struck a 90-day tariff truce.
But at the end of the day, this fight goes beyond helping U.S. companies, Cramer said. In fact, White House hardliners actually accept that the trade dispute will hurt public companies’ earnings, the “Mad Money” host said.
“The real point is, wherever you stand on this issue, it’s bigger than corporate earnings. It’s bigger than the economy,” he said. “The trade war with China is about global hegemony — who gets to rule the world — and that’s why it’s so darned intractable, because these are pretty high stakes.”
Cramer’s game plan: ‘Difficult crosscurrents’
Investors should prepare themselves for more stock market swings as a host of “difficult crosscurrents” weigh on equities, Cramer said Friday as stocks traded lower.
“Now that the S&P 500 has gone negative for the year, let me give you one warning: I think we’re going to have to slog through these volatility sessions for a bit,” Cramer told investors.
“There are all sorts of difficult crosscurrents here: the trade war with China, the stunning weakness in stocks like bellwether Apple, which got a price target cut from the most influential analyst in the stock, Katy Huberty — it is now down for the year — and, of course, an errant Federal Reserve that’s backed itself into a corner when it comes to the next rate hike,” he said.
Any developments on these complicated issues have the power to sway entire market groups, so Cramer recommended that investors stay vigilant in this challenging layout.
“Get used to these crosscurrents, because this is the new normal, at least for now,” he said.