Washington/Davos – President Donald Trump waded into the uproar over the US currency Thursday, saying he wants to see ”a strong dollar,” countering comments by his treasury secretary that appeared to signal the opposite and sent the greenback plunging to three-year lows.
It was an inauspicious start to Trump’s first foray as president onto the glitzy global stage at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, as he was forced into damage control mode to calm skittish foreign exchange markets.
Trump told CNBC that remarks a day earlier by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, which seemed to favor a weak dollar to help US exporters, ”were taken out of context.”
”Ultimately, I want to see a strong dollar,” Trump said, sparking a rally for the US currency, which had hit a three-year low against the euro earlier in the day, regained some ground after Trump spoke.
But the greenback was still below the level seen before Mnuchin’s remarks, which drew a sharp rebuke from Europe.
At 2200 GMT, the euro was at $1.2393, down a hair from a day earlier and well below its session peak of $1.254.
The furor underscored global concerns that the United States is taking a more adversarial approach towards its trading partners as part of its ”America First” nationalist economic agenda.
”Obviously a weaker dollar is good for us, it’s good because it has to do with trade and opportunities,” Mnuchin said on Wednesday.
He then walked his comments back, clarifying that he was not signaling any change in US policy, as markets went haywire.
”I thought my comment on the dollar was actually quite clear… we are not concerned with where the dollar is in the short term,” Mnuchin told reporters.
”It is not a shift in my position on the dollar at all,” he said.
”In the longer term, we fundamentally believe in the strength of the dollar.”