Trade war fears pushed U.S. and some Asian stock markets lower Wednesday, following the resignation of U.S. President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser.

National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn was a leading administration opponent of Trump’s plan to impose 25 percent tariffs on steel imports and 10 percent tariffs on aluminum imports.

“It has been an honor to serve my country and enact pro-growth economic policies to benefit the American people, in particular the passage of historic tax reform,” Cohn said in a statement Tuesday announcing his resignation.

In Wednesday’s trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was off more than one percent.  The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell less than that.  In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell one percent, while Japan’s Nikkei stock index had a smaller loss.  Key European indexes made gains, with Germany’s  DAX up more than one percent, while London and Paris made smaller gains.As director of the NEC, Cohn tried to get Trump to abandon his tariff plan.  But the president reiterated Tuesday that he will impose the measures in the coming days.

In a statement released by the White House, Trump praised Cohn.

“Gary has been my chief economic adviser and did a superb job in driving our agenda, helping to deliver historic tax cuts and reforms and unleashing the American economy once again.  He is a rare talent, and I thank him for his dedicated service to the American people.”

Chief of Staff John Kelly also praised Cohn.

“Gary has served his country with great distinction, dedicating his skill and leadership to grow the U.S. economy and pass historic tax reform.  I will miss having him as a partner in the White House, but he departs having made a real impact in the lives of the American people,” he said.  

There was no immediate announcement from the White House about a replacement for Cohn.

Cohn’s extensive policy portfolio included tax and retirement, infrastructure, the financial system, energy and environment, health care, agriculture, global economics, international trade and development, technology, telecommunications and cybersecurity.

He also played a critical role in advancing the president’s deregulatory agenda and organizing Trump’s successful participation in the World Economic Forum in January.

Cohn, former president and chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs investment bank, is one of several top-level White House staff members to resign this year, including communications director Hope Hicks, deputy communications director Josh Raffel, and staff secretary Ron Porter.

Cohn was one of several Wall Street veterans tapped by Trump for senior administration positions after the 2016 presidential election.


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