The Group of 7–Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States–is scheduled to meet on Friday, June 8, and Saturday June 9 to discuss, in theory, global economic growth. In reality, the group will discuss trade, U.S. tariffs, and U.S President Donald Trump’s trade policies. The preparatory meeting of the group’s finance ministers ended on Saturday with a rebuke of U.S. trade policies: “What this G7 is going to show is that the United States are alone against everyone and especially alone against their allies,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters on Friday.
The talk hits the fan in British Columbia on Friday, the traditional first day to discuss trade at these two-day meetings. President Trump has infuriated Canada and European Union members of the G7 by imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum and by pulling out of a deal to monitor Iran’s nuclear activities. Japan, for its part, fears being sidelined in its own back yard in Washington’s summit with North Korea, on again for June 12.
There’s no doubt that the meeting will start out at least with the Group of 7 divided into the Group of 6 and then United States. The worst outcome is that the meeting will end with the Group of 7 itself in disarray. If these leaders can’t even pull the usual innocuous joint statement on Saturday out of this chaos, I’d expect markets to notice. Especially noteworthy would be a meeting that ended with little more than an announcement of retaliatory tariffs from U.S. trading partners. Unfortunately that’s not an unlikely outcome.
There’s no simple way to play the G7 disarray on trade, but I’d watch the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the most sensitive of the major U.S. market averages to big U.S. exporters such as Boeing (BA) and Caterpillar (CAT.) Given that any fireworks might well take place after the market’s close on Friday, I wouldn’t be surprised to see nervous positioning by investors and traders toward the end of this week.