Morgan Stanley
  • Thoughts on the Market Podcast
  • Nov 23, 2022

Mixed News from the U.S./China Meeting

With Michael Zezas
U.S. Public Policy Research for Investors


Welcome to Thoughts on  the Market. I'm Michael Zezas, Head of Global Thematic and Public Policy Research for Morgan Stanley. Along with my colleagues, bringing you a variety of perspectives, I'll be talking about the intersection between U.S. public policy and financial markets. It's Wednesday, November 23rd, at 10 a.m. in New York.

Last week, many of my colleagues and I were in Singapore meeting with clients for Morgan Stanley's annual Asia Pacific Summit. Top of mind for many was the recent meeting between U.S. President Biden and China's President Xi. In particular, there was much Thanksgiving that the two sides seemed to agree on a few points that would create some near-term stability in the relationship. But we caution investors not to read more into their meeting beyond that, and accordingly continue to prepare for a multipolar world where the U.S. and China disassociate in key economic areas.

True, there were statements of respect for each other's position on Taiwan, a return to key policy dialogs, and a recognition on both sides of the importance of the bilateral relationship to the well-being of the wider world. But that doesn't mean the two sides found a way to remain interconnected economically. Rather, it just signals that economic disconnection may be orderly and spread out as opposed to disorderly and quick. Look beyond the soothing statements from the meeting, and you see policies on both sides showing work toward economic disconnection with industrial policies and trade barriers aimed at creating separate economic and technological ecosystems. An orderly transition to this state may be costly, but it need not be disruptive.

This dynamic still leaves plenty of cross-currents for markets. It's good news overall for the macroeconomic outlook as it takes a potential growth shock off the table. It's also good for key geographies that will benefit from investment towards supply chain realignment, such as Mexico, as we recently highlighted in collaborative research with our Mexico strategist. But it poses challenges for companies that will be compelled to take on higher labor and CapEx costs as the U.S. seeks distance from China on key technologies. Semiconductors have been and will continue to be a key space to watch as the sector incrementally shifts production to higher cost areas in order to comply with U.S. regulatory demands.

So bottom line, we should all feel a bit better about the outlook for markets following the Biden/Xi meeting, but just a bit. The U.S.-China relationship isn't going back to its inter-connected past, and the cost of disconnecting in key areas is sure to hurt some investments and help others.

With Thanksgiving this week, I want to take a moment to thank you, our listeners, for sharing this podcast with your friends and colleagues. As we pass another exciting milestone of 1 million downloads in a single month, we hope you continue to tune in to thoughts on the market as we navigate our ever changing world. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at Morgan Stanley.

While the recent meeting between U.S. President Biden and China’s President Xi has signaled near term stability for the relationship between the two countries, investors will need to understand what this means for future economic disconnection.

In this Thoughts on the Market series, Michael Zezas offers perspective on how U.S. public policy affects equity and fixed income markets, including trade tensions, infrastructure and government policy. Listen to this week’s update.

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