It has been stewing for a while, but antitrust regulation regarding some of the stock market’s largest companies is starting to look like more of a reality. However, it is not in the way one might expect. Trump has long said he wanted to work on anti-trust regulation—with Amazon the frequent target of his ire—but now he is taking steps that actually support big companies and corporate power. The way the administration is going about is through the Justice Department filing many legal arguments in cases where it is not even a party. In this way, it is trying to influence how the courts handle competition cases, and it has generally been pushing patent-holder friendly positions and undercutting lawsuits of other enforcement agencies.
FINSUM: This does not track very well with Trump’s general rhetoric, but it does follow a general Republican economic line. It seems positive for stocks.
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.
Investors are currently afraid of the turmoil in the Middle East. The US killing of Iran’s military leader has greatly stoked tensions, and markets are worried about a war breaking out in the Middle East. Since there have been many geopolitical issues in the region in recent history, there are a lot of examples of how markets have reacted. Suntrust bank analysts summarize how the market usually reacts, saying “While it is not unusual to see short-term weakness, these geopolitical events tend to have a transitory market impact … For example, when looking at a sample of geopolitical/military events, the S&P 500 was higher 12 months later in nine of the 12 events we reviewed. The three instances where stocks were down a year later coincided with a recession”.
FINSUM: If a full on war does not happen, we expect the effects will be transitory. The other non-military issue that could cause a problem is a big supply shortage in oil.
This week the House voted to impeach president Trump. But in a little known technicality, he is not formally impeached until the House speaker hands over the impeachment to the Senate to hold its trial. House speaker Pelosi is dragging her feet on doing so in an effort to get the Senate to run the kind of trial the Democrats think is fair. In response, Trump himself is demanding an immediate trial, with Senate leader McConnell mocking the Democrats for their previous urgency on impeachment coupled with their stalling strategy now.
FINSUM: Whether you are on the right or the left, the delay by Pelosi does not look good as it is a contradiction of the previous urgency.