Whereas a simple Bing search reveals that the concept was mentioned 165,000 times in 2016 and 302,000 times in 2017, it popped up a full 613,000 times in July alone.
The latest of many chapters in this sad story came at the very end of the month, when president Trump ordered his administration to consider hiking proposed tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports from 10% to 25%. The final decision is pending until September.
There is no lack of concerned comments, some fearing that imminent trade war (if it hasn't already started) may severely reduce the volume of global trade, with correspondingly devastating consequences for global growth.
“How come stock markets climbed that much when so many people expressed such grave concern?”
Growth estimates have not been cut by much, though. Indeed, 2018 growth estimates for both USA and the eurozone are higher than they were at the beginning of the year, although there has been a slight reduction in 2019 growth estimates over the past couple of months.
And stock markets around the world actually climbed in July, with S&P delivering a total return of 3.7 per cent and the MSCI World Index 3.2 per cent (in local currencies). In the Nordics, the OMX Stockholm 30 posted a gain of 3.6 per cent and the Oslo Børs benchmark index 2.0 per cent.
So here's the question of the month: How come stock markets climbed that much when so many people expressed such grave concern?
Simple: An even greater number of people expressed their confidence through trading in shares. They may not have opened their mouths, but they certainly expressed an opinion through putting (or keeping) their money in the stock market.
As some of you may know, betting odds are often a better predictor of elections than opinion polls; you do think twice when it doesn't come for free. Similarly, stock market movements are often a good predictor of growth (the opposite does not hold true). The present prediction, then, is that things are still looking good.
Of course, the global political chicken race may yet go horribly wrong, escalating into an all-out trade war. But it is certainly worth noting the preliminary verdict of all the thousands and millions of people involved in stock markets around the world: They express, through their wallets, confidence that the parties will eventually come to their senses.