Squeezed in the Middle

It’s ironic. Just as the economy seems to be picking up steam and the Fed is ratcheting up rates to stay ahead of inflation, the prospect of additional tariffs and trade wars risks putting a damper on the whole party.

A recent survey of middle market dealmakers by Antares Capital (and featured by our friends at S&P LCD in their weekly wrap) highlighted these dueling forces. Just under 40% of respondents feel better about the economy than they had in January. But 47% of lenders surveyed expressed worries about what’s to come for the economy.

That view is indeed colored by trade and tariffs. As LCD reported, “more than two-thirds of respondents said they were concerned about trade issues, which could have top-to-bottom implications on supply chains.” They also note the survey came before June’s G-7 meeting that roiled US relations with European allies.

Peter Nolan, Antares’ loan syndication chief, put the dilemma succinctly. “What could be a continued and robust expansion may be blunted by our own trade policies.”