‘He has a point’: Christine Lagarde tackled Trump’s trade war, climate change, and the gender pay gap on the Daily Show with Trevor Noah

  • Christine Lagarde shared her views on topics including climate change, the US-China trade war, and the gender pay gap in an interview on the Daily Show with Trevor Noah.
  • The managing director of the International Monetary Fund said President Donald Trump has made a couple of fair points about US trade with China.
  • She joked the impact of tariffs on global growth could be equivalent to removing Noah’s home country of South Africa from the planet.
  • We’ve gathered her comments on five topics below.
  • View Markets Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Donald Trump ‘has a point’ in his trade war with China


Donald Trump hasn’t been totally off the mark in his claims about unfair trade between the US and China, Lagarde said.

“President Trump has a point on intellectual property. It is correct that nobody should be stealing intellectual property to move ahead,” she said. “He has a point on subsidies, you cannot just go about competing with others out there that are heavily subsidized.”

“On these points clearly the game has to change, the rules have to be respected,” Lagarde said, adding that there need to be “adults in the room” for trade talks.

However, she argued that tariff hikes are unwise as they hurt US companies importing goods rather than China, and “the ultimate person who will bear the brunt of those tariff increases are the consumers, and particularly the low-income consumers, those who need to actually buy reasonably cheap products.”

Lagarde also framed the impact of tariffs on the global economy specifically for the South African comedian. The IMF estimates a 25% tariff on all trade between the US and China would “shave off about half a percentage point of growth,” she said. “That’s the equivalent of removing South Africa from the planet.”

$US5 trillion are being spent on subsidies to burn fossil fuel


After Lagarde identified climate change as a key global challenge, Noah asked her how she could begin to address it.

“Around the world you have roughly 5 trillion dollars that are being spent on subsidies to burn fossil fuel,” Lagarde replied. “This is not a good use of public finance.”

“Instead of that you should put that money in health, in education, in hospitals, in infrastructure,” she said.

Reducing inequality would boost economic growth


Noah asked Lagarde how investing in education, infrastructure, and health could boost economic growth.

“It helps by reducing the inequalities,” Lagarde replied. “If young kids in all countries of the world, particularly the low income countries, can go to school, they will be better off.”

“If women, instead of walking miles to get water as is the case in so many countries, can actually access a road, a highway, and go and fetch water without having to spend all those hours,” she continued. “If kids are born in a hospital where there is appropriate care then clearly they’re going to be better off for the rest of their life.”

“So by doing that you improve the prosperity of people, not today, not tomorrow, but maybe in five, 10 years’ time because that’s critically important for the future,” she concluded.

Women often face a ‘glass cliff’


Trevor Noah and Christine Lagarde discussed her appointment to managing director of the International Monetary Fund in 2011, soon after the global financial crisis struck. Noah raised the idea of a “glass cliff,” or putting a woman in charge during difficult times.

“Did it feel like you were stepping into a job where you were destined to fail?” Noah asked.

“It was intimidating, yes, but your point is so right,” Lagarde replied. “Whenever the situation is really, really bad, you call in the woman.”

“And the woman did a great job,” Noah added.

The gap in workforce participation and wages between men and women is a ‘waste of resources’


Noah asked Lagarde about her longstanding push for gender equality.

The IMF chief highlighted the fact that investing in women’s education and employment grows economies, raises income per capita, and boosts corporate profits. She also flagged the stubborn gaps in workforce participation and wages between men and women.

“This is a complete waste of time, and waste of energy, and waste of resources,” she said. “Women have to be given the same opportunities, be given the same salary, and have the same exact rights as men.”