We run a lot of bearish stories in FINSUM, and with good reason—there are a lot of them out there and we feel the need to share those views with advisors and investors. However, when there is a credible bullish story, we jump at the chance to run it. Today we have one. Robert Shiller, perhaps the godfather of doom and gloom with his CAPE ratio, has just made an uncharacteristic statement: he says that stocks may rise much higher before eventually falling. The Nobel laureate says “The stock market could get a lot higher before it comes down … It’s highly priced, but it could get much more highly priced”. Shiller had previously been warning (last year) about how overpriced the market was. Shiller says the reinvigorated market has to do with President Trump’s pro-business drive.
FINSUM: It is interesting to hear someone as typically bearish as Shiller saying that stocks may rise a good deal more. Something to pay attention to.
The market has periodically started to worry about the regulation of the tech industry. For a while that felt a bit premature, but given recent events, it is starting to feel more real. For instance, the FTC has just begun a marathon of hearings, which will run through November, into the state of competition and consumer protection in the digital economy. The hearings are about more than tech though, as they are fundamentally about inequality and worker’s rights across the whole of the economy. The head of the FTC said “In my view, basing antitrust policy and enforcement decisions on an ideological viewpoint (from either the left or the right) is a mistake”.
FINSUM: These hearings seem like the first stage of what might prove to be big changes for anti-trust policy in the US. If changes do happen, we believe they will be much more far-reaching than just for tech.
It would be an understatement to say that a lot is riding on the midterms. Control of Congress is at stake, and within it, the whole policy agenda of the country. The stakes are even higher because of how politically divided the country is. Many think the Democrats will take the house but lose the Senate, resulting in a split Congress. This puts many investors at ease because it could block some of the right’s more extreme impulses (such as those against free trade). However, there is reason to worry that Republicans might fare far worse. That reason is that Donald Trump is the most unpopular president ever in such a buoyant economy. According to one polling expert, “There’s a huge disconnect … The economy doesn’t seem to be dominating in a way that it often does in elections”.
FINSUM: Our worry for the Republicans is that Trump is making the midterms more about himself than the party, and given the high degree of disapproval, that approach could really end up costing Republicans in the midterms. Consider an all-blue Congress come November a considerable tail risk.
Ever since the now infamous “op-ed” about Trump’s inner circle appeared in the New York Times earlier this week, there has been increasing discussion of the 25th amendment, so we thought it would be good to give a quick primer on it. Basically what the amendment allows for is a president’s cabinet to remove them from office if they are deemed “unable to discharge the powers and duties” of the office. The vice president and a majority of the cabinet need to agree in order to remove the president. But if the president protests, it takes a 2/3 majority in Congress to remove the head of state. It has never been used to remove a president and was only ratified in 1963.
FINSUM: Given the likelihood that Trump would protest any move, a 2/3 majority in Congress seems like a massive obstacle for anyone trying to remove the president.
Bloomberg has reported that prosecutors from the Southern District of New York have effectively declared war on the president. In the last week it became clear that Michael Cohen had accepted a guilty plea and given testimony incriminating Trump and that prosecutors had offered immunity to Trump’s CFO Weisselberg. In the words on Bloomberg, “Once the Southern District gets its jaws onto a string of crimes, it doesn’t let go”. Weisselberg will likely be required to give information on all criminal activity he knows about, which could pose problems for Trump both personally and in terms of the presidency.
FINSUM: It seems like there is a veritable army of prosecutors and investigators going after Trump right now. It may all not amount to much, but we would expect more turbulence and fireworks.