Promises, Promises: Can Trump Deliver For Investors?
My Millennial daughter thinks her Baby Boomer dad is hopelessly square and she’s probably right. She rolls her eyes when I play music that was popular with the turtleneck-and-martini crowd during the 1960s.
This past Friday night, while I nursed a cocktail, Burt Bacharach’s 1968 tune Promises, Promises popped up on my stereo and it made me think: What happens to the markets if Trump doesn’t keep his promises?
Trump’s many promises sparked a rally that still hasn’t abated, but the upward momentum is showing signs of fatigue. As this bull market sputters into its eighth year, potential catalysts for a correction are strewn about the landscape like landmines.
One potential catalyst is looming ever larger and it’s making Wall Street nervous: the increasingly tenuous nature of the many pro-business vows that Trump made on the campaign trail.
Trump seems sincere in wanting to fulfill his promises, but obstacles are mounting that are beyond the control of even the president.
Construction hits a roadblock…
Case in point: Reports surfaced last week that Republican lawmakers plan to postpone action on infrastructure spending until 2018, to give the harried Congress more time to implement tax reform and repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The surprising news was quite a letdown to investors who had been piling into construction stocks since November 9 in anticipation of a Trump building boom.
The revelation punished construction giants such as Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT) and Fluor (NYSE: FLR), which plunged 3.3% and 6.2%, respectively, during the final two trading sessions of last week.
Even immediate tax reform isn’t a sure thing. Wall Street has been salivating at the prospect of reduced corporate and personal income taxes, but that task will be complicated by the competing agendas of lobbyists.
Ari Charney, chief investment strategist of Utility Forecaster, throws cold water on the notion that tax reform is a sure bet to keep this aging bull market alive:
“Even with President Trump’s vow to unveil a ‘phenomenal’ tax plan, it’s starting to look like Congress might not get around to passing a tax-reform package until late this year…
Although the market is still running on fumes, the typical ugliness of the legislative process has not been lost on Wall Street’s sell-side analysts…
For instance, strategists at Goldman Sachs believe that the market could end up giving back some of its recent gains once investors awaken to the reality that tax reform could provide a ‘small, later tailwind’ to earnings growth than previously expected.”
As constituent anger at congressional town halls amply demonstrates, replacing Obamacare also is proving more complex than expected, an uncertainty that’s creating headwinds for the entire health care sector.
Indeed, former House Speaker John Boehner last week asserted that Republicans were “wildly optimistic” on the campaign trail in promising voters a full and immediate repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act. Now retired from the political wars and happily playing golf, Boehner flatly predicted that repeal of Obamacare wouldn’t happen.
Paging John Keynes…
At first blush, Trump’s ambitious promises seemed to be a Keynesian’s dream: huge boosts in federal spending that would prime the pump and stimulate the economy. On closer inspection, this notion is illusory.
Let’s not forget that the GOP’s Tea Party caucus effectively controls the House of Representatives and these fiscal hawks already are growing restive at the thought of simultaneously hiking infrastructure and defense spending, building a multi-billion dollar border wall, and slashing taxes.
Jim Pearce, chief investment strategist of our flagship publication Personal Finance, says political risk now threatens your portfolio to an unusual degree:
“For investors, the usual risks of the financial markets are now compounded by a new hazard that is impossible to predict or quantify: a capricious president with the power to move markets in a single tweet. Until that changes, the stock market’s behavior will be just as mercurial.”
But even amid this turmoil, you shouldn’t abandon the market. Opportunities to make money still exist — as long as you follow the right advice.
Linda McDonough, chief investment strategist of Profit Catalyst Alert, is cautious but not fearful. With nearly 30 years of experience in hedge funds, Linda has witnessed her share of crashes, recessions and political upheaval. Through it all, she has demonstrated a consistent knack for making money for her followers:
“I expect the stock market to be rocky this year. Amidst the whipsaw initiated by overdone expectations, abandoned stocks and nonstop presidential tweets, I expect to find many profitable opportunities this year.”
Jim Pearce, who also serves as chief investment strategist of Breakthrough Tech Profits, is similarly optimistic:
“Short-term traders are directly impacted by the daily machinations of the stock market, but long-term investors view negative volatility as a buying opportunity, and positive volatility as an opportunity to raise capital by selling fully priced holdings. The upshot is that volatility is desirable to investors who know how to use it to their advantage.”
The takeaway: Don’t make buy-and-sell decisions based on generalizations. Stick to the fundamental analysis of individual investments.
To be sure, there will be winners and losers under a Trump regime — that’s true of every administration, whether it’s liberal or conservative, Democratic or Republican. For example, defense and construction stocks are still poised to thrive under Trump’s policies… but you must pick the right stocks, at the right time.
Our experts will be there every step of the way, to help you make the right decisions. That’s a promise you can count on.
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