Financial Strategies

Tariffs increasing market volatility

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Thank goodness we live in the United States. Among the blessings we share is an economy that has been more self-reliant than most. The United States contains vast amounts of natural resources, the world’s largest economy, a steady central banking system and a relatively resilient consumer. This positively compares our economic and political structure to China, Germany and Japan.

We as a nation face a new challenge … the fact that the world’s second largest economy, China, seems to be attempting to take advantage of the rest of the world. Governments around the world imposing tariffs on imports is commonplace. The United States’ tariff rate on industrial products — prior to the changes of the last few months — is among the lowest in the world, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The tariff issue has been brewing for the better part of two years. However, the real issue the world has with China may have little to do with actual tariff rates, but rather industrial espionage and China’s global expansionary plans over the long term.

Two of the more egregious practices which the Chinese government has undertaken during the last number of years have been:

• To gain access to China’s economy, importers may need to take on a Chinese partner … someone who may be tied directly to the Chinese government. This allows China control over import levels, prices and business practices of companies.

• Industrial espionage has been a common practice of various Chinese-based companies backed by the Chinese government. Additionally, foreign companies may be required by the Chinese government to provide access to patent-protected manufacturing processes and proprietary industrial secrets. If companies refuse to comply with these requirements, they may not be allowed to sell their products to them.

These requirements have provided the opportunity for China’s companies to mimic high-tech manufacturing efficiencies gained through hard work and investments by companies and people from around the world.

Therefore, we are in a Catch-22. While someone needs to rein in China, there are definitely concerns around the problems increased tariffs may bring upon our economy.

There could be another round of issues with China coming. There remains about $300 billion of annual Chinese imports into the United States that haven’t been affected by the tariff war … yet. Will the Trump administration apply the new 25% tariff rate to these imports? As of this writing, we don’t know, but, by most accounts, the Chinese authorities are not backing down on their practices that we, and much of the rest of the world, want addressed. This amounts to about half of all imports from China, therefore providing the United States significant power to apply further pressure to China’s exports to our country.

The potential impact from these new tariffs could cause an increase in inflation along with slower overall growth in consumer discretionary spending. Perhaps the biggest impact may be on both consumer and business sentiment. In the meantime, the uncertainty of the trade issues affects capital market price volatility levels and investors may remain wary for the time being.

Patricia Kummer has been a Certified Financial Planner and a fiduciary for over 30 years and is Managing Director for Mariner, LLC d/b/a Mariner Wealth Advisors, an SEC Registered Investment Adviser. Please visit www.marinerwealthadvisors.com for more information or refer to the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure website (www.adviserinfo.sec.gov). Securities offered through MSEC, LLC, Member FINRA & SIPC, 5700 W. 112th Suite 500, Overland Park, KS 66211.

This commentary, by Patricia Kummer with William B Greiner, CFA, chief economist for Mariner Wealth Advisors, is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to Mariner Wealth Advisor’s investment advisory services and general economic market conditions. The views expressed are for commentary purposes only and do not take into account any individual personal, financial, or tax considerations. As such, the information contained herein is not intended to be personal legal, investment or tax advice or a solicitation to buy or sell any security or engage in a particular investment strategy. Nothing herein should be relied upon as such, and there is no guarantee that any claims made will come to pass.

The opinions and forecasts are based on information and sources of information deemed to be reliable, but Mariner Wealth Advisors does not warrant the accuracy of the information that this opinion and forecast is based upon.

Patricia Kummer

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