Bernie Sanders has just made his big pitch to America’s Millennial generation. The candidate has vowed to eliminate all student loan debt for both undergraduates and grad students, and make all future tuition free. To fund the $1.5 tn write-off, he is planning a new tax on stock, bond, and financial derivatives trades which he forecasts would bring in $2.4 tn over a decade. One of the things that differentiates this plan from others, like Warren’s, is that it will eliminate all debt, not just that of the lowest income borrowers.
FINSUM: This is an interesting plan from a strategic perspective because it not only appeals to the left and the young, but also the richest of the young because it would eliminate all debt regardless of income. This point has brought criticism from some Democrats.
The trade war between the US and China has been pretty intense for some months, but many are wondering if it is headed for a cool down as the countries come to an agreement. The odds of such a development look bleak, according to Bloomberg, because each side’s alternative is looking better. Trump and Xi will meet at the G-20 summit this week to talk over their country’s trade issues, but given that both countries have realized they have good options outside of one another, it seems unlikely a deal will materialize.
FINSUM: We think a symbolic deal could still happen, but it is hard to envision an impactful and comprehensive deal being agreed any time soon.
Hong Kong has erupted into full scale riots with over 1m people taking to the streets. Protesters are angry over a new measure that would allow mainland China to extradite accused criminals from Hong Kong to their courts, a measure which many in Hong Kong say is a clear violation of China’s agreement to leave Hong Kong’s freedoms in place for 50 years. The US has condemned the measure in serious terms, but the reality is that Hong Kong’s fate, and the US’ protection of the city-state, may become a pawn in the trade war, with the US government using it as an element to help it get a better deal.
FINSUM: This seems like one more way for Beijing to exert control on Hong Kong, and we dislike it as much as the protesters on the street. There has been a furious international backlash to the proposal, but it remains to be seen how it may impact the trade war. One more thing we think is important to note: there are 85,000 Americans living in Hong Kong.
In a great example of how Trump’s new tariffs on China will reverberate around the US economy, Nike and Adidas are panicking over the new Trump moves. The pair just led a consortium of 173 companies who penned an open letter to the President imploring him to stop the tariff move immediately. Nike and Adidas say the tariffs will be “catastrophic”. Clothing and footwear already endure some of the highest tariffs, so hiking them further will increase costs and create huge logistical complications. The letter summarized their view this way, saying they will be ”catastrophic for our customers, our companies, and the American economy as a whole”.
FINSUM: If you are a company that makes or imports a lot of your merchandise from China, this is going to be a very rough period. We expect the market will start to take this into account as the full impact of the trade war is digested.
President Trump warned yesterday that he hoped the US could avoid a war with Iran. Some of the president’s advisers are more hawkish on Iran that Trump himself. Tensions are rising sharply and Trump is reportedly quite against going to war with the middle eastern state. The White House has been warning about increased threats from Iran, but few details have yet been shred, even with Congress, so for now the specifics are unclear.
FINSUM: Since the details of the threat are not at all known, it is hard to make an opinion on a course of action.
President Trump has taken a flurry of brisk actions as part of the ongoing trade spat between China and the US. After hiking tariffs and considering more, Trump now officially took the step of effectively outlawing US business with Huawei. He issued an executive order that gives the Commerce secretary power to review any transactions that could pose a risk to national security. The US Department of Commerce also put Huawei on its “Entity List”, which means US companies will need to apply for a license before doing business with it.
FINSUM: To be completely honest we are quite worried about the implications of this trade war and how it could play out on many fronts. The trade war almost feels like a microcosm of the larger political and cultural leadership struggle between the US and China and that worries us.