What a difference a presidential tweet makes. After Donald Trump tweeted Sunday threatening China with imposing new 25% tariffs if its trade negotiators fail to move closer to a deal, Monday’s equity markets plummeted, the S&P index down 220 points at midday.
Coincidentally, a UBS survey released Monday showed that investors’ concerns about a trade war had ebbed recently — but the respondents had been polled prior to Trump’s tweet.
UBS conducted its survey of investors in March, getting responses from some 3,653 investors globally. Asked if “trade wars” prompted worries because of their potential impact on their asset portfolios, only 33% of the respondents in the most recent survey agreed.
In July 2018, a UBS survey of only U.S. investors showed nearly half of them — 47% of respondents — identified “trade wars” as having a potential impact on their asset portfolios.
For its survey released this week, UBS polled 3,653 investors and business owners with at least $1 million in investable assets (for investors) or at least $250,000 in annual revenue and at least one employee other than themselves (for business owners).
The respondents included business owners and investors from 17 markets: Brazil, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.A.E., the U.K. and the U.S.
Notably, among the survey respondents in Asia, a global trade war ranked as their top concern — with 46% of them identifying it as such.
But in the U.S., the majority of the respondents didn’t rank a global trade war as even among their top three concerns. Instead, 57% of the U.S. respondents put “my country’s politics” as their top concern.
Arguably though, given that it was Trump’s tweet that threatened to upend trade talks, both the Asian and U.S. investors get credit for making accurate assessments when they addressed the questions posed by UBS in March.