March 2, 2017

Stock Market is up because of Donald Trump


To some (Trump's critics), the parallels today are astonishingly similar to the depiction in director Hal Ashby's iconic 1979 movie of Chauncey Gardiner, whose knowledge is totally based from what he sees watching television.

To others (Trump's devotees), our new president is Ronald Reagan reincarnated, bringing with his administration newfound support for our foundering middle class and introducing fiscal policy that will break the domestic economy out of its decade-long doldrums.

To me, the stock market is always a dynamic and ever-changing volley of probabilities.

Though some see my volleys as an attack on President Trump, they are not. 

I believe strongly that the lion's share of the post-election rally was Trump-related. The upset election victory provided the spark for stocks, and it is the assumption that the president's pro-growth initiatives will be realized in an orderly fashion both in timing and magnitude that has continued that spark.

As a consequence (and after the 12% rally since early November), the market outlook over the next few months will depend on the morphing of the president's political promises into economic reality.

Will that baton pass be smooth or will the baton be dropped? That's the $2.5-trillion question -- the amount representing how much the market capitalization of the U.S. exchanges has grown since the election.

On that score I have spent the last few days questioning in the following columns the market's apparent verdict that optimal economic, employment, interest rate, inflation, political and geopolitical outcomes lie ahead.

As we move toward the proposed Trump tax cuts to be elaborated upon in the president's address to Congress next week, pay heed among other things to the 1987 stock market schmeissing that followed the 1986 Reagan tax cuts.

And pay heed to the unlikely kaleidoscope of optimal outcomes against a backdrop of unprecedented division in Washington, D.C., and polarization among the electorate around our country.

Indeed, from my perch, those optimal outcomes are no more likely than in the children's fairy tale Goldilocks, which an increasing amount of market participants have embraced.

Importantly, two important asset classes and gauges of risk and growth -- the gold and fixed-income markets -- don't seem to be endorsing the vigorous U.S. economic recovery thesis.

Bottom Line

Beware of the consensus notion of optimal outcomes as, in the spring, there may not be economic growth.

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