Steel Demand

Market demand appears to be softening.  Our faith in the growth trend in steel demand is being tested by tariff threats and Chinese retaliation, the latest twists in the Trump/China trade war.   Prolonging negotiations while increasing tariffs, as Trump promised over the weekend, has been met with dismay by the markets.  And with retaliation by the Chinese a certainty, in our view, the global trade and demand picture is likely to get worse.  Demand has already been negatively impacted by the tariffs, in our view, as manufacturers and other customers of steelmakers suffer from higher tariff-induced cost pressures and intensified price competition from foreign-based importers of the same manufactured products.  The US solution to this is to propose additional tariffs on the manufactured products. The problem is that the basis of free and fair market competition has been replaced by an escalating series of tariffs. Trump’s protectionist instincts are stronger than we had ever earlier imagined and are not defendable economically, in our opinion.  Raising tariffs has long-term negative implications for productivity in all sectors of the economy.

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