JPMorgan: Trade War Yanks $1.25 Trillion From US Stocks

While market reactions to trade headlines have been quieting of late, the on-again, off-again war over international commerce has still been a costly one for U.S. investors.

The price tag? About $1.25 trillion in lost equity value, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Marko Kolanovic.

Derivatives analysts at the firm devised a technique plot the proximate impact of newsflow in the trade saga, which began in March. They found that weeks of back-and-forth have pushed stocks down by a net 4.5 percent, nixing $1.25 trillion from the S&P 500’s market value.

“Trade tensions continue to inflict damage to investor psychology and business confidence,” Kolanovic said in a note to clients. “A negotiation strategy that includes bluffing/threats can be successful in a two-party negotiation setup, but is more likely to deliver self-defeating results in a complex system such as global trade.”

Whether negotiations or something else, weeks of trade threats among the U.S., Europe and Asia have forced investors to develop thicker skins. On the surface, this hasn’t bothered the S&P 500 too much: the index is up 1.7 percent since March. But besides limiting potentially larger gains, flexing by the world’s biggest economies could have collateral impacts, things like supply chain disruptions and uncertainty over long-term planning, according to Kolanovic.

Geopolitical headlines in global publications haven’t done much to help. The number of daily “trade war” mentions in mainstream newspapers, though down from its peak in March, still hovers near 400, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.