The problem with trying to put together a comprehensive guide to the likely investment impacts of a Trump administration on the fly in the day after the election is that you inevitably leave stuff out. This being the Internet, however, it’s easy to add on to that post.
Here are the six points that I forget to make yesterday. I’m posting them here separately and also folding them into last night’s post http://jubakpicks.com/a-new-landscape-for-investors-after-a-trump-victory-my-guide-from-a-w-i-cant-find-an-xy-or-z/ so that guide will be if not complete at least completer. (Or “biglier” if you prefer.) The six items are China, Rudy Giuliani, Oil, Russia, Tax repatriation, and War.
Again in alphabetical order:
China. Candidate Trump promised that he would fix our trade deficit with China by negotiating a better deal. As with so many of the better deals that Candidate Trump promised, President Trump is going to have to actually figure out how. Trump has accused China of manipulating its currency to lower the prices of its products so one route would be to have Treasury brand China a currency manipulator. The Obama Administration has shied away from applying that designation, despite considerable pressure from some Congressional Republicans, figuring that such a confrontation wouldn’t do anything positive for U.S.-China relations. A Trump administration could go ahead and see where the chips fell with the owner of the world’s largest portfolio of U.S. Treasuries. Candidate Trump also promised to bring back jobs from China. His negotiating leverage, he said, was the huge volume of trade that China does with the United States. The threat of slapping a huge tariff on China (I heard Trump mention a figure as high as 40% in one speech) would be enough to do the job. Exactly how and why these jobs would come back to the U.S. from China (as opposed to going to Vietnam, for instance) remains a puzzle. But financial markets are taking the possibility of a trade war with China and others as a real danger. It’s one explanation for the big drop in technology stocks on November 10. Facebook (FB) was down as much as 6.4% and Amazon (AMZN) declined as much as 7%.
Rudy Guiliani. Financial markets always look to key presidential appointments in order to judge the likely character and direction of an administration. That’s even more important this time around since President-elect Trump has no record in public office to use to evaluate his likely path and because during the campaign his positions have been contradictory and extreme. If Trump appoints seasoned hands to key post, his supporters may be disappointed since that won’t look like the revolution many voted for. It will be, however, remarkably reassuring to financial markets. If on the other hand, he appoints partisan spokespeople from the campaign, markets will find this scary because it increases the unpredictability of policy in a Trump administration. Names to watch to see if Trump is headed the partisan route include Rudy Guiliani (former New York mayor who has been mentioned for Attorney General) and Newt Gingrich (who has been mentioned, perhaps only by Newt Gingrich) as Secretary of State.
Oil. Candidate Trump promised to get the government out of the way so that U.S. oil and natural gas producers could lead a revolution that would make the U.S. the world’s leading producer of those fossil fuels. This always struck me as an odd promise since the “heavy-handed regulations” of the Obama administration haven’t seemed to slow down the domestic oil and gas industry to any significant measure on a path to #1 in production. Getting rid of existing regulations or killing prospective regulations might indeed save the industry a few bucks (by eliminating new rules on methane emissions from natural gas drilling operations and pipelines, for example) but the real determinant of how much oil and natural gas U.S.companies produce will continue to be world supply and demand and their effect on global oil and natural gas prices.
Russia. Russian stocks rallied after Trump’s victory on the assumption that a Trump administration would end the sanctions imposed on Russia as a result of its intervention/invasion of Ukraine. No doubt about it but Trump is more likely to end those sanctions than a President Clinton would have been. And without U.S. jawboning in favor of keeping the sanctions in place, it’s likely that the European Union would abandon its efforts too. But Russia’s economic problems are much bigger than these sanctions. Russia’s economy is severely unbalanced and depends on the price of oil for its health. If you think OPEC will succeed in producing a plan with significant reductions in production on November 30, then Russia is a good investment–at least in the short run and as long as you can overlook the endemic corruption in the Russian economy.
Tax repatriation. Before the election pretty much everyone in Washington agreed that creating a tax holiday that would let U.S. companies bring back some of the $1.3 billion in profits they have trapped overseas would be a good idea. It failed to advance, in large part, because no one wanted to give the political opposition a chance to tout a legislative victory on the issue. Candidate Trump has promised to bring this money back home and said that its repatriation would create thousands of jobs. Studies of the 2004 Bush administration tax holiday, which brought back $312 billion, however, show that most of the money went to acquisitions, stock buy backs, and CEO pay. The 15 companies that brought back the most cash, a Congressional investigation found, cut jobs and reduced spending on research and development.
War. Ads by the Clinton campaign that stressed Candidate Trump’s more bellicose rants didn’t win the election, but I do think they created worries in the minds of voters (even if they voted for Trump) and investors about whether a President Trump could be trusted not to start World War III or at least lead the United States into more regional wars against countries such as Iran. I think those established doubts are likely to make any signs of a bellicose President Trump immediately worrying to financial markets. Think of those Clinton ads as living on as an irritant that will increase financial market volatility anytime Trump faces a potential military test. The only way to end these doubts is for a Trump administration to demonstrate a more disciplined “temperament” (to use the Clinton campaign’s favorite word.) Until then, more volatility on less evidence.