Conservatives and investors, consider yourselves notified: Bernie Sanders could very well be the next president. Bernie is jumping in the Democratic race and now looks like the frontrunner after what looked like a failing campaign just a few months ago. Bloomberg is draining votes from Biden, which is helping Bernie. He is looking very good in the first three big contests of the Democratic primary, and it looks more likely than not that he will win the bid. He had a huge fundraising round in Q4, leading the democratic field. What made his dominance in fundraising so impressive was not just the size relative to the crowded race, but the fact that his average donation was only $20, showing the scale and intensity of his support.
FINSUM: We still think Bernie would falter against Trump in the main race, but his odds for getting the bid are improving.
The election may still be ten months away, but the whole year is likely to be framed by it, markets being no exception. With that in mind, Morgan Stanley has some advice for investors. The first thought they offer is that in this case, being reactive is probably better than being proactive. If you reflect on 2016, everyone thought that a Trump victory would hurt stocks. The exact opposite happened. In this case, don’t assume a Democrat victory would be bad. Accordingly, it may be wise to wait until the election and then allocate as seems fit at that time. The other thing to bear in mind is that a Democratic sweep could be surprisingly good for stocks. According to Morgan Stanley, ““We would expect that a Democratic sweep in 2020 could deliver the greatest impulse to the economy” because of its greater odds of bringing a fiscal stimulus than when the government is divided between parties.
FINSUM: We really like this line of reasoning from MS.
Calm and collected asset manager Vanguard has just made an eye-opening call about 2020. The firm’s chief economist and investment strategy chief, Joseph Davis, says there is a 50-50 chance of a correction in 2020. The market hasn’t seen a correction since December 2018, when it dropped to within a hair of a bear market. Davis says he usually sees about a 30% chance for a correction in any given year. Vanguard says that while investors were too pessimistic about recession chances this year, next year they’ll be too optimistic about re-inflation.
FINSUM: Seems a reasonable call, if rather safe.
It is not going to be a huge crash, but Morgan Stanley thinks US stocks will struggle in 2020. The bank thinks the US is clearly “late-cycle” and that its growth will wane from 2.3% to 1.8% next year. It believes the Dollar will weaken and stocks will struggle. The bank thinks most of the benefits of the Fed’s rate cuts have already been priced into the market. “In 2020, the economy will grow more slowly as the bulk of the positive lift from lower interest rates will have been absorbed and households balance higher income with higher prices from tariff”, says Morgan Stanley. The bank says emerging markets are likely to outperform.
FINSUM: Of all the forecasts we have seen lately, this one seems the most realistic. We don’t see a big bust coming, but a plateau seems very believable.
Warren and Sanders’ tax plans have been scaring those on the right for several months, especially as Warren has risen to become the dominant candidate for the Democratic bid. But how much of a negative effect might her plans have on the market? The answer is probably not much, and if anything, it will be bullish for risk assets. Firstly, Warren’s plan will only touch the top 75,000 households in the country, so it is a niche focus. But secondly, because of the taxes imposed, ultra high net-worth families will need to be more aggressive in their asset allocation in order to continue to grow their wealth, meaning they will likely put more capital into risk-on investments.
FINSUM: This was quite a useful insight. It is hard to imagine Warren’s wealth tax being good for the market, but the logic of this argument (from Barron’s) seems sound.