Tensions between the U.S. and China are heating up, affecting everything from trade to technology. The growing strain between the two countries is causing a ripple effect in U.S. markets and the wallets of the average American. Changes to economic policy geared at creating local opportunities are resulting in repercussions for the average American consumer that are increasingly significant and complex. From the groceries you buy to the car you drive, along with mortgage rates to credit card debt, financial strain is being added to American households.
The U.S. government wants to bring back certain types of manufacturing, like electric cars and computer chips, to American soil.
While this strategy offers domestic growth prospects, it could elevate costs for the average U.S. consumer, especially if Western manufacturing can’t grow fast enough when compared to declining imports.
This means that Americans could face higher costs for everything from clothes to electronics.
If U.S. factories don’t get going quickly enough and imports drop, prices at home will go up and dramatically fuel inflation.
Flow on effects
Increased inflation typically correlates with a rise in interest rates, which in turn can strengthen the U.S. dollar.
While a robust dollar may seem advantageous, it carries the downside of making U.S.-priced goods more costly for international buyers. Furthermore, China has been the big spender when it comes to fancy brands.
But now, their government is cracking down on what it calls ‘luxury spending,’ telling bank employees to ditch the designer gear. According to Barclays analysts, this is putting a damper on sales of luxury goods.
For Americans, this could mean a hit to stock investments in luxury brands or even job losses in companies heavily dependent on Chinese spending. In fact, this has led to a 16% drop in European luxury stocks in the third quarter of 2023.
In addition to local production, the U.S. is also actively looking to shift its reliance from China to friendlier nations when it comes to business partnerships and supply chains. Countries like Vietnam and Mexico are already benefiting from this change.
The Philippines and Mongolia are also eager to secure U.S. investments in various sectors like mining and infrastructure. The strained relations are changing the way America views business growth prospects in different parts of the world, particularly in new emerging markets.
One such market is India, which is increasingly seen as a serious contender to China in manufacturing. It has a large, young population that offers a conducive environment for corporate investment.
Given the escalating tensions between the U.S. and China, businesses are increasingly focusing on India as an alternative market.
The United States is channeling investment into the extraction of rare earth elements, essential components in advanced technology products such as smartphones and laptops.
Success on this front has the potential to stabilize supply chains for technology firms, with the added prospect of reducing costs for high-demand electronics. However, challenges or delays in this initiative could result in elevated pricing for these essential devices.
While the tension creates opportunities, it also poses challenges. U.S. chip-making companies like Intel are getting support from the government. However, big tech companies are vulnerable to actions China might take in retaliation.
For example, Apple’s stock fell by more than 6% on rumors that China would stop government workers from using iPhones.
In a rapidly changing financial landscape shaped by escalating U.S.-China tensions, the average American is finding themselves at the intersection of opportunities and challenges, making adaptability and financial caution more essential than ever.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / danielo