published: February, 01st 2017
By: Rick Wedell, CIO
Market Timing - 2/1/17
The past few days have seen a little bit of volatility. The rally since November has been under-pinned by two primary factors – improving nominal economic performance, as evidenced by continued strength in the economy and generally positive Q4 earnings reports, and the expectation of pro-business political developments including significant tax reform, both individual and corporate. The first part of that equation, the growing economy bit, is still firmly in place, and got a little bit of a boost this morning as Apple topped estimates. It is the second part that is starting to bog down.
The Republican proposal for a border tax on imported goods is meeting with some pretty staunch opposition, particularly from retailers like Target and Best Buy who, not surprisingly, import a lot of goods. A border tax is generally pro-industrial / pro-manufacturing and anti-consumer, and so it is not terribly surprising to see folks like Boeing line up in support of it, and folks like the retailers above be opposed to it. The reason this is important is that the border tax was part of the way that the GOP was planning to pay for all of the corporate and individual tax cuts – if it is not in the mix, then the very real political reality of wanting to lower taxes while not also adding to the deficit are going to be hard to square with one another for the Republicans. Additionally, since a Border tax will impact some states more than others depending on their mix of industrial production, it could face an uphill climb in the Senate. Meanwhile, as noted by a Barron’s article yesterday, it appears that the ACA repeal / replace is going to take longer than the markets anticipated, and that the Supreme Court nomination is going to give the Senate something else to chew on in the meantime, which may push tax reform further back on the calendar (and even potentially into 2018 if we have more domestic issues creep up). As the Barron’s article states, “The path of least resistance is to do what Republicans did the last time they had one-party control of Washington (the 2003 Bush Tax Cuts): ram tax cuts through reconciliation without offsets, violate the Byrd Rule, invoke the 10-year sunset, create a fiscal cliff, and deal with it later”. So we have a little bit of a fade to the rally as some of the optimism that we’ve seen over the past few weeks has simmered down. The upside case of strong tax reform and significant infrastructure spending is still on the table, but we are not going to see it until later than we were expecting, if at all.
Regarding the Fed meeting today, it is not expected that they will raise rates, but investors will be looking for any color from their commentary as to the expected path of rate hikes for 2017. The Fed dot plot from the last meeting called for three hikes, and the market is looking for more like two based on the forward curve, so we will see if those different estimates start to converge. In the meantime, the 10 year continues to hang out at about 2.5%.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.