Trump hits China for currency devaluation, countering Treasury report

President Trump on Monday criticized China for devaluing its currency days after the Treasury Department said Beijing was not manipulating the value of its money.

Trump said on Twitter that both China and Russia “are playing the Currency Devaluation game as the U.S. keeps raising interest rates.

“Not acceptable!” the president tweeted. 

Trump’s comments came just three days after the Treasury Department declined to label China a currency manipulator despite the president’s repeated campaign promises to do so.

{mosads}Treasury’s twice-yearly report on foreign currency exchange, released Friday, rebuked China for not doing enough to balance its trade surplus with the U.S. But Treasury did not find that China was devaluing its currency, called the renminbi.

Treasury’s report is the third consecutive analysis released during the Trump presidency to avoid labeling China a currency manipulator.

Beijing has been frequently criticized by Western economic powers for taking measures to deflate the renminbi, meant to lower the prices of Chinese goods while encouraging outside investment.

The report does not address Russia’s economic policies in depth. The Russian economy is far smaller, less influential and less integrated into U.S. markets than China’s.

Trump has routinely accused China of manipulating its currency, undercutting American manufacturers, violating trade laws and cheating U.S. politicians and companies. The president has announced $50 billion in tariffs against Chinese imports to the U.S. and has threatened to impose another $100 billion.

China has promised to fight back with its own tariffs on U.S. goods.

Investors are fearful that trade tensions with China and rising Federal Reserve interest rates could suppress economic growth and let more steam out of the volatile stock market.

The Fed raised interest rates once this year and three times in 2017 with the hopes of avoiding an abrupt and damaging end to the recovery from the 2008 recession. With unemployment near record lows, stable economic growth and signs of rising inflation, the Fed is looking to bring interest rates toward historic neutral levels without short-circuiting the economy.

The Fed is expected to raise rates at least two more times for a total of three hikes in 2018. But a growing number of Fed officials and analysts expect a fourth rate hike as inflation begins to reach the Fed’s ideal target.

Raising rates too quickly could cut off job gains and economic growth, while waiting too long could risk overheating the economy and triggering rampant inflation.