Big Picture – China-U.S. Trade War, White House Statement, Manufactured Home Pro Alert

Still from video that follows official White House statement.

This special report will come in three parts plus an analysis and should be pondered by industry professionals who have direct or indirect ties to manufactured housing production, investors, and advocates.


·        The first section is a video a pull quotes from CNBC which shed light on some of the challenges within China that are normally not discussed much as it faces this trade conflict with the United States.

·        Part two is an official statement from the White House to MHProNews about China, trade, and a comment that was spotlighted last week in the president’s “order” to American businesses to being preparing to have their businesses leave China. Some thought that was rhetorical, but this White House statement makes it clear that the Oval Office believes it has the legal authority to do this “order” – so producers, suppliers, and others take note.

·        The third part are samples of statements to MHProNews from manufactured housing professionals with direct ties to HUD Code manufactured home production.

·        Finally, we will have some closing thoughts and analysis.

Let’s start with the CNBC video with some bullets and pull quotes.


China’s Debt Bomb

·        Fraser Howie, an independent analyst, told CNBC: “China is very much past the tipping point where the debt simply no longer can be ignored.”

·        The trade war has put a dent in efforts to pare its massive debt as Beijing sought ways to boost its slowing economy, which was at its lowest growth in 27 years this year.

·        In what some analysts called effectively a rate cut, the People’s Bank of China also this week launched a key interest rate reform — the loan prime rate — that would make borrowing costs for companies cheaper.

·        But Howie told CNBC that the issue was really whether there would be demand for more credit.


China … (had) this huge stimulus and turn on the credit taps and they drove all this global demand,” Howie said. “But there clearly was going to be a cost … and now they are suffering (from) it.”

China is very much past the tipping point where the debt simply no longer can be ignored. The cost of servicing the debt simply distracts from almost everything else,” said Howie. 



Remarks by President Trump Before Marine One Departure 

 Issued on: August 24, 2019


South Lawn
August 23, 2019
11:03 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  We’re going to France.  We’re going to have a good few days.  I think it will be very productive seeing a lot of the leaders, who are friends of mine, for the most part.  I wouldn’t say in a hundred percent of the cases, but for the most part.

And I think we’re doing very well.  Our economy is doing great.

We’re having a little spat with China, and we’ll win it.  We put a lot of tariffs on China today, as you know.  They put some on us; we put a lot on them.  We’re up to about $550 billion.  They’ve been hitting us for many, many years — for over $500 billion a year — taking out of our country much more than $500 billion a year.  So, we want that stopped.  Okay?


Q    Do you still want to (inaudible) China next month? 

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we’ll see what happens.  At this moment, they want to do that.  So we’ll see what happens.  If they want to have talks, we cert- — I’m always open to talk.


Q    What authority (inaudible) tariffing companies (inaudible)?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, in 1977, we had an act passed — a National Emergency Act.  I have the absolute right to do that.  We’ll see how that goes.  But I have the absolute right.  1977 — check it out.


Q    (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I think our tariffs are very good for us.  We’re taking in tens of billions of dollars.  China is paying for it.  They’re, as you know, manipulating their currency.  I think that our tariffs are working out very well for us.  People don’t understand that yet.

At the same time, China has had the worst — the worst year probably in anywhere from 30 to 50 years.  Their worst year.  And they want to make a deal.


Q    (Inaudible) Jay Powell?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I’m not happy with Jay Powell.  I don’t think he’s doing a good job at all.  I don’t think he’s much of a chess player.  But, I’ve got him, so, you know, that’s what I have.  That’s what I have.  What can I tell you?  He’s not much of a chess player.


Q    In the summit, sir — (inaudible) Japan (inaudible)?

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m going to see Prime Minster Abe.  I look forward to it.  He’s a great gentleman.  He’s a great friend of mine.


Q    South Korea ended military intelligence agreement with Japan.  Are you worried about that?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we’re going to — we’re going to see what happens.  President Moon also a very good friend of mine.  And we’ll see what happens with South Korea.


Q    Did Kim Jong Un break a promise to you by doing further missile testing? 

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I don’t think so.  I think that we have a very good relationship.  We’ll see what happens.  That could always change, but we’ll see what happens.

Kim Jong Un has been, you know, pretty straight with me, I think.  And we’re going to see what’s going on.  We’re going to see what’s happening.  He likes testing missiles.  But we never restricted short-range missiles.  We’ll see what happens.  Many nations test those missiles.  We tested a very big one the other day, as you probably noticed.


Q    Six hundred and twenty-three points — that’s what the Dow was down today because of what you tweeted.  Do you have a responsibility for that?

THE PRESIDENT:  Not at all.  Not at all.  Because if you look at from November 9th — the day after the election — we’re up 50 percent or more.  We’re up many, many points.  We were at about sixteen or seventeen thousand.  We’re at 25,000, so don’t tell me about 600 points.


Q    Do you have a message for Justice Ginsburg?



Q    Do you have a message for Justice Ginsburg? 

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I hope she does really well.  And our thoughts and prayers are with her.  And it’s a very serious situation.  I’m hoping she’s going to be fine.  She’s pulled through a lot.  She’s strong, very tough.  But we wish her well — very well.


Q    Mr. President, are you going to talk to President Macron about the technology tax (inaudible)?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, I am.  I don’t like what France did.  They put a technology tax on our tech company.  And it’s not that I’m the biggest fan of the techs companies — the tech companies, because, as you know, they were very much opposed to the Republicans, and they are very much opposed.

Somebody came in the other day and said the election that we had in ’16 with Hillary Clinton, that it could’ve cost me anywhere from 2,600 — from 2,600,000 votes to, I think, it went up to close to either ten or maybe fifteen million votes.

So I’m not a big fan of the tech companies, but I don’t want foreign companies and foreign countries — I don’t want them doing anything having to do with taxing unfairly our companies.  Those are great American companies.  And, frankly, I don’t want France going out and taxing our companies.  Very unfair.

And if they do that, we’ll be taxing their wine or doing something else.  We’ll be taxing their wine like they’ve never seen before.  I don’t like it.  That’s for us to tax them.  It’s not for France to tax them.

Other than that, I have a very good relationship with, as you know, with Macron — as you say.  And I think we’re going to have a very good couple of days.  I look forward to being in France.


Q    What did you mean yesterday when you said you were the “chosen one”?  Did you mean it in a biblical sense?

THE PRESIDENT:  Let me tell you, you know exactly what I meant.  It was sarcasm.  It was joking.  We were all smiling.  And a question like that is just fake news.  You’re just a faker.


Q    Are you interested in changing your ideas about giving reparations to African Americans in this country?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I never stated my idea, so you tell me what my ideas were.  I never stated them.  They’re your ideas.


Q    Okay well —

THE PRESIDENT:  So don’t — no, no, no, no.  Don’t put a question like that.  I’ve never stated my ideas, so don’t put the question like that.


Q    Do you want Powell to resign?



Q    Do you want Powell to resign?  Do you want Powell to resign, sir?

THE PRESIDENT:  Do I want him to resign?  Let me put it this way: If he did, I wouldn’t stop him.


Q    President Xi — you referred to him as Chairman Xi today.  You get along well with him, you do business with him.  I think you maybe even called him a friend at one point.  Today you implied that he’s an enemy, along with Jay Powell.  Is he an enemy or a friend?

THE PRESIDENT:  He’s a very good competitor, but we’re going to win.


Q    Mr. President, why did you decide not to pursue your foreign aid cuts?  Your decision package for the foreign aid cuts — why did you decide not to cut?

THE PRESIDENT:  We’re going to be spending that money in different ways than you think.  But rather than renegotiating everything again, I’m going to do it the way I just said.  We’ll be distributing that money differently.


Q    (Inaudible) Danish Prime Minister?

THE PRESIDENT:  Called me.  A wonderful woman.  We had a great conversation.  We have a very good relationship with Denmark.  And we agreed to speak later.  But she was very nice.  She put a call in, and I appreciated it very much.


Q    (Inaudible) with China?

THE PRESIDENT:  Look, China has been hurting our country for 30 years with the money they’ve been taking out.  Other Presidents should’ve done something about it, and they should’ve done it a long time ago, whether it was Clinton or Bush or Obama — any of them.  They should’ve done something about it.  And they didn’t.  I’m doing it.  And I have no choice, because we’re not going to lose close to a trillion dollars a year to China.  And China understands that. 

I hope that with President Xi — I have a good relationship, but they understand we’re not going to do it.  And this is more important than anything else right now — just about — that we’re working on.

We have to make sure that our taxpayer — look, we have helped rebuild China like nobody else.  And they’ve done a great job.  And I don’t blame China.  I blame our Presidents, our representatives, past administrations, for allowing that to happen.  It’s a disgrace.


11:12 P.M. EDT



Manufactured Housing Insider Insights

There are those who think the impact on this will be modest, others fear it could be more disruptive.

Here are some comments by email from industry producers connected with the Manufactured Housing Institute trade group, as well as an independent not affiliated with that body. Typos are in the original.

It’s [tariffs, trade war are] not a big impact for us, everyone buys some items from China but our estimate months ago was negligible price increase would be taken. Most expensive item in the home is the frame, which hud want [won’t’] let us remove. Wood, shingles, Sheetrock, floor covering doesn’t come from China. Off record…”

The HUD comment is about the frame that acts in part as the carrier to the manufactured home.  A legal change to allow for a removable chassis was almost ‘a done deal’ in the 1990s, until MHI backed out of a deal with the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR), per sources. That may be a topic for a future report.

Another source told MHProNews,Please keep it off the record. Our view is that for most products sourced overseas it will still be cheaper to buy in China.  The companies that will really be hurt are those that do not directly source from Chinese manufacturers, but go through third-party vendors, who often charge 30-40% markups…” 

Note that these comments came prior to this White House announcement, above.  There are those who think that this may be more disruptive to some companies than others, depending on the degree to which components may be acquired from China.

Certainly, others in the housing industry have purchased from Chinese vendors for years too.  So shifts in pricing should be relatively uniform.


Thumbnail Analysis

As noted last week in the market report linked below, while actually invoking this emergency power would likely result in some court fight, that already occurred on a wall/border issue earlier this year.  The Trump Administration won that battle and was able to redirect some funds from different parts of the federal budget to the construction and repair of the wall/barriers along the U.S. Mexican border.  While there is no guarantee that invoking federal emergency powers with respect to this trade war would have the same outcome, the federal court’s border decision in favor of the Trump Administration provides a possible clue.

There are China experts that have been saying for years that something like this is necessary. MHProNews has periodically brought forward video interviews with such experts to keep industry professionals appraised of the developments.

With the U.S. and Japan announcing a tentative trade deal during the G7 meeting, that may take some pressure off the Trump Administration.  But there were no signs that President Trump was feeling pressured by voices inside or outside of the U.S. on this issue.  It’s a problem he campaigned on, and has periodically sounded off about for years before announcing his ultimately successful White House bid.

With reforms passed in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act the ability for companies to make such a move back to the United States is better than it has been in years.

Shifting production from Communist China to other overseas countries might have a modest benefit to the U.S. in this sense.  Fewer American dollars pouring into China would mean less money fueling their years of military buildup.  That could take pressure off the U.S. military budget over time, depending on various scenarios play out.

But what is arguably more certain is that bringing those dollars away from China and back to the U.S. would be the real prize. That could fuel more factory-work, and investing domestically would have positive ripple effects on the U.S. economy.

By taking a ‘Xi is my friend,’ approach for some 2 years, President Trump won’t dodge barbs from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce who have stated publicly that they not keen about these developments. Nor will the 45th president dodge the insults of various challengers, which are mounting.

It’s a gamble.  But if the gamble pays, it could be a substantial win for President Trump going into 2020. By showing no hurry in making a deal – his Art of the Deal ability to walk away – it might bring about the very concessions that President Trump, including several Democratic leaders, have said they believe would be good for the nation.  We’ll monitor and report as necessary.


Update: Since this article was drafted, there is word that China is asking the White House to resume trade talks.  We’ll track that, as markets at this time are responding positively.

That’s a wrap on this installment of “News Through the Lens of Manufactured Homes and Factory-Built Housing,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

SoheylaKovachDailyBusinessNewsMHProNewsMHLivingNewsSubmitted by Soheyla Kovach for
Soheyla is a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and Connect with us on LinkedIn here and here.

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