White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said in an interview published Wednesday that the US is at "economic war with China" and dismissed the ratcheting up of tensions stemming from North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile activity as "just a sideshow."
In the interview with The American Prospect, a progressive publication, Bannon said "the economic war with China is everything," arguing the US needs to be "maniacally focused on that."
"If we continue to lose it, we're five years away, I think, 10 years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from which we'll never be able to recover," Bannon said.
"We're at economic war with China," Bannon told the Prospect. "One of us is going to be a hegemon in 25 or 30 years, and it's gonna be them if we go down this path. On Korea, they're just tapping us along. It's just a sideshow."
Meanwhile, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell to near a six-month low last week, pointing to a further tightening in the labor market that could encourage the Federal Reserve to lay out a plan to start unwinding its massive bond portfolio.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 232,000 for the week ended Aug. 12, the Labor Department said.
That was the lowest level since the week ended Feb. 25 when claims fell to 227,000, which was the best reading since March 1973. Data for the prior week was unrevised.
It was the 128th week that claims remained below 300,000, a threshold associated with a robust labor market. That is the longest such stretch since 1970, when the labor market was smaller. The unemployment rate is 4.3 percent.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims dropping to 240,000 in the latest week. The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 500 to 240,500 last week.