Despite lots of hopes that a US-led trade war would never come to pass, it is now happening. The US has just imposed $50 bn worth of tariffs on China, which is an escalation of previous metal tariffs, and appears to be a major step towards starting a global trade war. With that in mind, how can one protect their portfolio? While almost all sectors are affected by a trade war, the worst ones will be industrials, autos, and meat producers. Auto companies are likely to be hit very hard by tariffs, so it is best to stay away.
FINSUM: The other thing the market does not seem to be taking into account is that tariffs seem likely to increase US inflation, as companies tend to pass along the increase cost of production onto consumers. That could be an additional downside risk, but one potentially offset by the chance of recession.
Before President Trump got elected, and immediately after, there was a great deal of excitement that financial firms were going to experience a flourishing as the US cut back heavily on financial regulation. 500 days in that hope has failed to significantly materialize. While small and medium sized banks have benefitted, and the DOL’s fiduciary rule is gone (great for wealth management), large banks have not seen gains. For instance, the Fed has made stress tests for large banks more stringent.
FINSUM: Banks had the prop trading rules (Volcker rule) weakened recently, so that is positive, but otherwise there hasn’t been much change.
President Trump seems to have emerged from the summit with North Korea with a very high degree of confidence that the situation there has been handled. Trump put in writing yesterday that “there is no longer a nuclear threat of North Korea”. Interestingly, North Korean state media also reported the meeting as a major success, but did not mention denuclearization at all. Trump did backtrack a bit, saying “I may be wrong. I mean, I may stand before you in six months and say ‘Hey, I was wrong’. I don’t know that I’ll ever admit that, but I’ll find some kind of an excuse”.
FINSUM: We think this summit was a success and that Kim has played the whole situation very sharply. Our only concern is the lack of detail about how North Korea will actually go about denuclearizing.
The long-awaited, and hotly contested US-North Korea summit between President Trump and North Korea leader Kim went very well yesterday. The summit lasted for hours and resulted in a commitment from North Korea to denuclearize in exchange for the US pledging security guarantees for the country. Trump said the two signed a “very important” document. Trump reported that “My meeting with Chairman Kim was honest, direct and productive … We are prepared to start a new history ... and write a new chapter between our nations”.
FINSUM: For the first time we got the feeling that North Korea has played this whole situation very slyly. They built up nuclear capabilities (probably) simply to have a better bargaining position, and it appears to be working.
After 6 months of posturing, threats, and cancellations, it is all finally going to happen tomorrow. President Trump will meet North Korean leader Kim in Singapore. The South Koreans are referring to the meeting as the “summit of the century”, and everyone seems to hope it will be a success. It will be the first time two sitting leaders of the two nations have met. Trump is hoping clinch a deal for a denuclearization program in exchange for making North Korea more included in the economic system.
FINSUM: The US is cautioning that this will be the start of a long program rather than a big bang deal. That seems reasonable given the history here.