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‘Worries me a lot’ that investors are wildly ignoring China risks, Asia expert Stephen Roach says

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There’s a significant risk catching economist Stephen Roach’s attention, and it has nothing to do with earnings season.

Roach, one of the world’s leading authorities on Asia, is concerned U.S.-China relations could erode further in the coming weeks.

“There are a lot of balls in the air right now that are very worrisome,” the former Morgan Stanley Asia chairman told CNBC’s “Trading Nation” on Wednesday. “You’ve got a real problem here, and it’s one that worries me a lot, and I think the markets are completely ignoring.”

Roach sees bipartisan in the Senate for the Strategic Competition Act of 2021 as a troubling development. His reason: it reflects a hard-line approach against China that could spark retaliation.

“My fear for the last several years is that what started out as trade war would turn into a tech war, and then eventually morph into a cold war,” Roach said. “Those fears have come to pass. Just this week, there are significant developments that lead me to underscore that risk.”

He also lists a new U.S. intelligence report as particularly worrisome.

‘The annual threat assessment was released yesterday [Tuesday] by the office of national intelligence and it clearly labeled China as America’s No. 1 threat,” said Roach, who’s monitoring building tensions between China and Japan, too.

According to Roach, it appears President Joe Biden will continue many of the Trump administration’s policies against China.

Roach warns the increased U.S.-China tensions exacerbate his dollar crash call. Late last spring, he predicted the greenback would drop 35% against other major currencies over the next year or two.

“The dollar moved down sharply in the second half of 2020. It reversed course in the first quarter of this year and now it’s under downward pressure again,” Roach said. “It reflects my concerns over the current account deficit in the United States, unwillingness of the Fed to tighten interest rates for the conceivable future, and then the possibility that Europe may end up having a stronger commitment to fiscal policy than any of us, myself included, thought.”

He’s also concerned the current backdrop with China could exacerbate the danger.

“You add to that pressures on America’s role as a global leader that may be brought into play by frictions with China and there’s still, in my view, considerable downside left for the U.S. dollar,” Roach said.

The U.S. Dollar Currency Index is off almost 1% over the past week. It’s down more than 7% over the past year.


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