The series of economic and financial developments on Friday was a strange, confusing and exhausting microcosm about why the global economy is in danger of collapse.
It showed the strange interaction of the actions of the Chinese government in escalating trade warfare with the United States, sober global central bankers who have limited powers of deployment, and an American president whose public statements are often more likely Complaints seem driven by the strategy.
President Trump arrives in France on Saturday a meeting of the group of 7 industrialized nations that has set the stage for fireworks and confusion. On a dizzying day, he seemed to be looking for who or what to cause economic problems. He had used Twitter to refer to his own Federal Reserve chief as an enemy of the United States, and then to urge American companies to stop doing business with China.
The global economy could still develop well. Most economic data in the United States was solid. However, should there be a recession and a collapse of international trade next year, the story of the episode could issue a chapter on the Friday collision of official action in the government offices of Beijing at the Grand Tetons in Wyoming and Oval Office.
It became clear in real time how quickly the risks of an escalating trade war and the break-up of years of financial and political ties could surpass the ability of central banks – ordinary first responders in times of economic distress – do something about it.
President Trump's first shot raises risks at a delicate moment as the major economies in Asia and Europe are already shaking and policymakers are in a position to stem the damage in question.  "The escalation, the unpredictability, the unpredictable nature of political developments is central to what's going on, and these are not things that can be integrated into an economic model," said Julia Coronado, president of MacroPolicy Perspectives, a business consultancy. "Something breaks. It's very dangerous. "
A single news cycle highlights how these different policies can influence each other in an unpredictable way.
When Friday broke in the United States, China announced that it was paying $ 75 billion in tariffs on goods that will come into effect on September 1. New US tariffs on Chinese goods come into effect on the same day.
While this is not good news for those hoping for trade peace between the two largest economies in the world, it was proportional – more reactive than escalating. The financial markets shrugged. At 10:00 in the morning, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell made a speech in Jackson, Wyo., Where the world's leading central bankers gathered for an economic symposium every August. The financial world was eager to see what the Fed would do next.
Financial markets are increasingly pointing to a slowdown in the United States. However, most of the measures are continuing their growth and the labor market is quite healthy. Will the Fed respond proactively to these market fluctuations and to signs that corporate confidence is waning?
Mr. Powell made a nuanced speech signaling that the Fed was committed to a "risk management" approach aimed at adjusting policies to prevent bad things from happening. His words left open the options of the Fed.
However, he made it clear that a collapse in global trade relations was not the sort of thing that could well address the Fed's interest rate policy.
"While monetary policy is a powerful one, Powell said," It can not be a set set of rules for international trade. " The central bank can only adjust its policy to try to respond to the way in which changes in trade policy affect the overall outlook.
The implicit message: If an unpredictable trade policy undermines the economy, it is likely that the Fed's tools are limited in overcoming the damage. Lowering interest rates in this situation would be like giving painkillers to someone with broken bones – better than not, but unable to solve the underlying problem.
The speech did not seem to fit well with the White House.
President Trump, who called on the Fed to cut interest rates by one full percentage point, issued a series of tweets at 10:57 am that outraged the "weak Fed" and asked, " Mine only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or Chairman Xi?
He followed that with those who called on American companies to leave China. The stock market, which had remained stable after Powell's speech, crashed.
At 5:00 pm, after the financial markets were closed, the tweet tweeted the president that he was escalating the trade war, shifting 15% duty to $ 300 billion in imports from 1 October and increasing the $ 250 billion import quota to 30 percent from 25 percent.
The division between sober, cautious central bankers and unpredictable policies that jeopardize the economy is not just seen in the US. Speaking at the Jackson Hole Symposium was Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, who described a limited way of compensating monetary policy for Britain's potentially chaotic exit from the European Union in the fall.
Monetary policy can only help to smooth out the adjustment to the great real shock that a sudden Brexit would bring without an agreement, "said Carney, and this ability would be limited by the need to keep inflation under control ,
Beyond Commerce In his speech on wars and Brexit, Powell cited China's possible crackdown on protesters in Hong Kong and the instability of the Italian government as factors in a turbulent summer on the financial markets.
This is the global economy in 2019. A volatile political environment in many countries The world's major economies are constantly overshadowing new risks, both to financial markets and to companies and consumers making economic decisions every day.
But that's not like the 2007 and 2008 crises, when central banks came together to address a possible collapse of the global financial system. This scary and catastrophic episode fit in well with central bank instruments.
This is not the case. It may be reassuring to believe that behind the scenes are some wise men and women who are keeping the world economy from falling into a ditch.
The lesson of the past few months is that forces unfold that they can not do much to contain. And if Friday is a clue, their caution and sobriety can make matters worse.