Mnuchin: 'People have misinterpreted some of my comments'

Reporter
Yahoo Finance

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wouldn’t weigh in on where the stock market might be if President Donald Trump had not won the election.

During a Q&A at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Trump touted how the stock market is up 50% during his tenure. He also said he believes that had Hillary Clinton won the nomination that stocks would have fallen 50%.

“Well, I think you know, people have misinterpreted some of my comments about the dollar this week,” Mnuchin told Yahoo Finance’s editor-in-chief Andy Serwer. “I was very clear I’m not making comments about where the dollar is in the short term. I’m not going to make comments about where the stock market would be. But I respect what the president said.”

Earlier in the week, Mnuchin told reporters that a weaker U.S. dollar would be good for the U.S. economy. Speaking with CNBC on Thursday, Trump, who said that he thought Mnuchin’s comments were taken out of context, said that he’d ultimately like to see a strong dollar.

“This is not about trade wars”

Large currency fluctuations have implications for international trade, which has been a major topic at the WEF. Some observers have interpreted Trump’s contentious language toward its trading partners as a threat for trade wars.

“I don’t think this is about trade wars,” he said. “I mean, first of all, we’ve had very, very good discussions. We’re renegotiating trade agreements. So I think, as you know, NAFTA is a very old agreement. We’re in the process of renegotiating that. We’re renegotiating some of our other agreements. And we’ve had very specific conversations with other countries.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin

One way the Trump administration hopes to improve the U.S. competitive position in the international marketplace is with corporate tax cuts. Mnuchin said that the international community has been “supportive.”

“People completely understand that the change from a international worldwide system to a territorial system not only makes sense for us and our companies, but also makes sense for how they’re going to tax people,” he said. “So I think we’ve had very good response. I think some of those countries with high tax rates may need to reconsider things themselves.”

“We’re focused on 3% or higher, sustained GDP”

Meanwhile, on Friday, U.S. GDP for the fourth-quarter came in at 2.6%, lighter than the 3% forecast. 

“In regards to GDP, what we’ve said consistently is we’re focused on 3% or higher sustained GDP. So any one quarter, there’s going to be movements up and down any one quarter. We’re not particularly concerned,” Mnuchin said.

One potential source of economic stimulus would be an infrastructure package.

“We’re going to announce that in the near future,” Mnuchin said. “We’re going to be working with Congress on that. We’ll need legislation. But that’s been a big priority of the president, and we look forward to it.”

“We have a great story to tell,” he added. “We’re open for business. We want people to do business here with the new tax plan. Makes it great. And you know, we’ve been meeting with lots of companies who are going to invest literally billions of dollars in the US and plant and equipment and jobs.”

Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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