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Remember when the market pooped its pants on Friday after news broke that an increasingly desperate White House was considering escalating the trade war with China by barring US companies from investing in China? 

People who enjoy the free flow of capital in the global economy definitely seemed spooked by a clearly panicky move from an executive branch that is dealing with a few minor hiccups as of late. See, the president is facing an impeachment inquiry, the Commerce Secretary is nodding off at the UN, the Treasury Secretary is publicly out of sync with POTUS on China strategy, there is no China strategy, and Peter Navarro remains somehow in the employ of the federal government. Factoring in those data points, one can see why China might be feeling rather confident about trade talks right now.

But even if the White House wants to look tough, this tactic seems like self-harm. Where could the idea possibly of originated?

This morning, we got a clue:

White House trade advisor Peter Navarro on Monday characterized recent reports that the U.S. is considering restrictions on Chinese companies as grossly inaccurate.

“That story, which appeared in Bloomberg: I’ve read it far more carefully than it was written,” Navarro told CNBC. “Over half of it was highly inaccurate or simply flat-out false.”

So, this idea is clearly a Peter Navarro special. It combines all the hallmarks of his style: Wildly Sinophobic, economically laughable and ultimately self-harming. Watching Navarro get sent on CNBC to walk back the viability of his own idea was pretty great:

 “It was really irresponsible journalism and the problem we have here ... these bad stories push out the good,” Navarro added. “And what happens is as soon as Bloomberg puts it out there, there’s pressure from others to put it out there.”

Yes. All of those good stories on how things are going with China are being so pushed out by "fake" reporting of Navarro telling someone what he wants to do that we can't even remember the last time we saw one. But we are pretty familiar with Steve Mnuchin being forced to clean up everyone's messes via official statements from the Treasury Department, or as we now refer to it "The Department of Calming the Dow Jones Industrial Average."

“It was really irresponsible journalism and the problem we have here ... these bad stories push out the good,” Navarro added. “And what happens is as soon as Bloomberg puts it out there, there’s pressure from others to put it out there.”

So, be careful going forward, Bloomberg. You can't just run a story every time Bob Lighhizer gets tipsy, cries a little, calls you guys up and slurs "You're not gonna fucking believe what fucking Navarrro wants to do now!" because you'll end up watching Crazy Pete on another network denying his own ideas while Steve Mnuchin's staff churns out memos to make sure everyone keeps pretending that the worst cabinet in generations is not putting the global economy on the brink of total destruction.

Happy Monday! 

Peter Navarro: Reports that US would restrict Chinese companies were ‘fake news’ [CNBC]

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