Gary Cohn: I Think China Will Open Up Their Markets

Melanie Arter | January 20, 2020 | 3:26pm EST
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(Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

( - Former National Economic Council Director Gary Cohen told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that he does not see a recession on the horizon despite some economists say.

“I know a lot of people have been talking about a recession. I do not see a recession on the horizon here. The U.S. economy is strong and continues to be very strong. The U.S. consumer is very strong. If you look at what's happened in the last couple of years with tax reform, we have put more disposable income in the hands of the U.S. consumer, and the U.S. consumer is out spending it,” he said.

“So then why is the president and his-- the man currently in the job you once held, Larry Kudlow, continuing to criticize the Fed chairman?” host Margaret Brennan asked.

“I am not worried about interest rates right now. I think our interest rate policy is in a good place, I think the consumer is in a good place, and I think the U.S. economy is in a good place. We actually have interest rates at a level right now where activity is growing. I think that, you know, fourth quarter GDP will come in around two, two and a half percent,” Cohn said.

“So you differ from the president on that quibble about interest rates currently?” Brennan asked.

Cohn said he and the president don’t differ on the economy being strong. He also said the Fed is in a good place on interest rate policy.

On trade, Cohn said "anytime the United States and China get together and sign an agreement, I think we should applaud that.”

“I mean the mere fact that we got a 90-plus-page agreement signed between the two countries is very good relative to where we were months ago when everyone thought we were going to continue to feud with China. So we've got some trade agreement in place,” he said.

“The Chinese are going to buy some more goods from the United States, which has to be a good thing, but there's also, in that agreement, there are some provisions that free up trademarks and trade patents and trade secrets, which is very, very good,” Cohn said.

“I thought this was about intellectual property and theft and all of those things?” Brennan asked.

“This did not address the big issue. The big issue the president and I agreed upon is that the Chinese had been stealing our intellectual property. They've been infringing on our trademarks. They've been infringing on our copyrights. It has not addressed that, and we still have to continue to address that,” Cohn said.

When asked whether he thinks China will hold up its end of the deal and enact some of the reforms they said they would carry out, Cohn said, “I think they're going to. I think they're going to open up their markets. I think the Chinese have been close to opening up their markets for the industries that were listed in there. So I'm cautiously optimistic that the Chinese are going to start reforming and opening up their markets.”

Cohn said he left the Trump administration “for a variety of different reasons.”

“The president and I had very open conversations about my policy views and his policy views. We'd accomplished a lot, and at the end of the day, he was going a different direction on some of the trade negotiations than I would have gone. I agreed fundamentally on what the issue was,” he said. “I just didn't agree on how to solve the issue.”


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