Risky And Riskier

Global Finance editor Andrea Fiano says that President Donald Trump's tariffs on imports could lead to serious economic repercussions and that corporates should take a hard look at cryptocurrencies and their underlying technologies.

APRIL 2018 | VOL. 32 NO. 4

Dear Reader,

Roberto Azevedo, the director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), granted Global Finance not one but two interviews within a single month. This happened for a very simple reason: In just a few weeks the global trade scene changed dramatically.

What seemed to be a rosy scenario for global growth in advanced and emerging economies has morphed into a cloudy future with potential global risk. The announced US tariffs on some imported goods, and retaliation moves by China and others, could spark a trend with serious consequences. The risk, as Azevedo told Denise Chrispim Marin in the second interview (accessible at www.gfmag.com), is that escalation will lead to a global recession. That does not have to happen, obviously, and the effect on the growth of some countries could be only partial, but the risk is there. Unilateral moves and retaliation should not be used when these issues could be worked out among members with the help of the WTO.

Initially several economists thought that the Trump administration’s stance on trade would not have a real negative effect on the economy domestically or globally, but uncertainty is high. In any case, in a global scenario of rising rates and potentially higher inflation, these new trade frictions are a big risk for the months to come. The outcome is impossible at this point to predict.

Our cover story this month focuses on a topic that is not specifically tied to a macroeconomic trend—although it’s plenty risky—nor it is primarily a political topic, although regulation is close at hand: cryptocurrencies.

What, if anything, corporates should do about cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin is not an easy question, although the underlying technology of blockchain holds great promise. While some companies are active in both areas, most still have a wait-and-see approach. That might be smart with volatile and risky virtual coinage, but not necessarily on the blockchain side. We provide an overview for our corporate readers struggling to understand what is real, what is legal, and what is just hype among the nonstop announcements about virtual currencies and other blockchain offspring.

Andrea Fiano | Editor