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Relief that Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping came to a trade truce will likely be short-lived. That’s because the two men have less command over the forces shaping global commerce than they might like to think.

The decline of trade and manufacturing began in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, long before either leader came to power or tariffs started volleying between Washington and Beijing. The trade war has harmed confidence, but it’s just a sideshow to the deeper underlying currents in the global economy, which is driven by the ebb and flow of credit.

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