The Democrats are mulling one their biggest risks heading into 2020. That huge decision is whether to make Medicare for all part of their platform for the next election. The House currently has no less than eight proposals for how to make Medicare available to all. None of them are likely to pass in the next two years as the Republicans have control of the Senate. However, adopting the goal of Medicare for all would be a major signal about the direction of the Democratic party headed into the future. The idea is popular with liberals, but more contentious with swing voters.
FINSUM: This is a high risk/high reward strategy. It could either become a major rallying cry or another reason for those in the middle to abhor the left-most leanings of the Democrats. Speaking from a politically neutral position, we do think this would be a good strategic move for the left, as one of the big challenges for the party is that President Trump and the right have grabbed the reins on shaping the vision for the future of the nation. This would be a chance for the Democrats to start to put forth their own cohesive vision.
The market has been worried about trade for almost half a year now, ever since the rhetoric surrounding it began heating up in June. It has been a major factor in several volatility events in stocks, including in October’s big selloffs. However, a meeting this weekend has the potential to put those worries to rest. Alongside the G20 summit this weekend, Trump and Xi will meet for dinner to discuss the trade tensions between their countries.
FINSUM: Trump and Xi seem like two men that get along well personally, but have an immense amount of competing interests that they need to represent. That said, we have faith that good personal relationships can help bridge such differences. (e.g. see the Cold War)
The Democrats may have won the House, but they are at a definitive crossroads. While the Republicans currently have a well-defined brand and agenda, the Democrats found themselves largely without a leader and without a clear agenda (other than being anti-Trump). That means they will have some big decisions to make in the near term as they try to mount a push for the presidency in 2020. There appear to be two major policy decisions the party is considering. The first is whether pursuing a fruitless impeachment against Donald Trump would be worthwhile, and the second, and frankly more intriguing question, is whether they will adopt a “Medicare for all” platform.
FINSUM: So much hangs in the balance right now. The Democrats have let themselves be overshadowed by the Republican party and will need to find their ideological and policy footing ahead of the next election. We expect the party’s agenda will move further left in order to serve as a mobilizing foil for its base.
For the first time in over a decade, Wall Street is giving more to the Democratic party than the Republican party. For the last ten years, big Wall Street banks and financial houses have leaned towards giving more to Republicans, who had a more favorable policy agenda. However, the pendulum seems to have swung the other way on the back of the kind of disruptions some current Republican policies may bring to bear (e.g. trade war). Bankers themselves are also giving more to Democrats.
FINSUM: Bloomberg framed this giving as an attempt by Wall Street to “soften a blue wave”. That sounds like a fair characterization to us—Wall Street wants to make sure to soften the hard edge of some possible forthcoming democrat policies.
The GOP seems to be on its back foot heading into the midterm elections and that has the party nervous. The political bombing attempts and the synagogue horror have both sent Trump’s approval rating sharply lower. Now the party is worried that pre-Trump Republicans in affluent suburbs may not show up to vote, which is making them worry they may lose more ground than forecast. According to polls, this group of affluent long-term Republicans has a lower overall interest in the midterms, which may sap much needed votes against the more motivated Democrats.
FINSUM: This is a problem in itself, but the fact that the midterms have become so much of a referendum on Trump at the same time as his approval rating is falling is not a good sign for the party.
President Trump has been complaining about the Fed’s hawkish behavior for several months. However, yesterday he seemed to escalate his discontent into something more specific. He told the media that he “maybe” regretted appointing Powell to lead the Fed. He said he was intentionally signaling the Fed that he wanted lower interest rates, but he acknowledged that the Fed was an independent entity. When pushed about the circumstances under which he would fire Powell, the President declined to comment.
FINSUM: Investors should keep an eye on whether Trump escalates his rhetoric into action. We doubt he will do anything about the Fed in the near term, but the market would certainly have a big reaction.