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Here’s What You Missed 2/4/19

Daniel Chase

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After spending time watching what felt like the shortest Super Bowl in the history of the game, I am left with a few takeaways that I think I should share with you. For those of you who missed  the game, or elected not to watch it, the New England Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams, and the game was largely underwhelming. Most points scored were from field goal kick which leads  to my first thought; if I spent the proper time training and really invested in making it happen, I firmly believe that I could become an NFL kicker by the end of this year. This is not meant to discredit the athleticism of special-teams athletes, but I think, if there is a position on a team in a sport most accessible to someone like myself, becoming a kicker would be it.

I’ll hold for the applause, and here’s what you missed in the news over the weekend. 

Trump Goes Nuclear 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Friday that the United States will formally begin the process of withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a Cold War-era armistice agreement with Russia that has served as the most significant piece of anti-nuclear proliferation legislation in recent history. Pompeo said that “Russia has refused to take any steps to return to real and verifiable compliance over these 60 days,” and because of this, the U.S. wants out. 

“To this day, Russia remains in material breach of its treaty obligations not to produce, possess or flight test a ground-launched intermediate range cruise missile system…The United States will therefore suspend its obligations under the INF Treaty effective February 2, and we will provide Russia and other treaty parties with formal notice that the United States is withdrawing from the INF Treaty effective in six months pursuant to Article 15 of the treaty.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo 

In perhaps the most embarrassing geopolitical example of “if they don’t have to, why should we?,” the Trump administration decided that the US no longer wishes to be unilaterally bound by the INF treaty, and Russia is to blame. For you non-history buffs out there, my apologies for glazing over the explanation of the INF. The treaty was signed back in 1987 by Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, which prohibited the US, and Russia, from fielding ground-launched cruise missiles capable of flying between 310 and 3,420 miles. Following the nastiness of the Cold War, the INF treaty was the white flag both countries needed to see to calm things down a bit. 

Please Don’t Sign My Yearbook

Over the weekend, it was revealed that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam may have been a card-carrying member of the Ku Klux kLan in the mid-80. Several unanimous calls from several politicians including Rep. Karen Bass, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, who said that the Governor “does not understand the seriousness of his actions.” Though Gov. Northam has yet to admit to the media why he was dressed in the infamous white robes, he did apologies for appearing in the photograph on his yearbook page. 


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Fed Announces No Rate Cuts, But Sees A Cut In The Future

Joe Samuel

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For the past couple of years, the United States Federal Reserve has been in the middle of a lot of speculation. The trade war between the United States and China has created a clamor for cuts in interest rates.

But on Wednesday, the Fed held the interest rates as they were. Furthermore, the Fed officially announced that no cuts in interest rates were forthcoming in 2019. It’s interesting to note that the markets are betting heavily on a forthcoming rate cut from the Fed. Some even expect the cuts to be formalized in July.

Rate Cut Ahead?

The Fed has ruled out the possibility of any cuts this year (allegedly). But many market watchers believe that a lot depends on how the market conditions evolve over the coming months. The uncertainty regarding the trade war with China is a major problem.

Yet experts believe that if it turns into a prolonged skirmish, then the Fed might reconsider its position. The United States President Donald Trump has led been campaigning for lower rates from the Fed for some time.

After having delivered his statement on Wednesday, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell seemed to imply that rate cuts could not be completely out of the question in 2019.

“Many participants now see the case for a somewhat more accommodative policy has strengthened.”

The decision by the Fed was possibly one of the most-watched events in recent times. Long-term ramifications are the main concern.

Market participants had been calling for multiple cuts. But the Fed voted to keep benchmark rates within the 2.25% and 2.5% range. It was the range that had been back in December when the Fed had controversially raised the interest rates. The voted had been passed 9-1 in favor of holding the rate.

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Trade Talks Fail, What’s Next For The Market?

Jon Phillip

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The trade war between the United States and China has probably been the biggest economic and diplomatic development since the turn of the year. Although the world’s two biggest economies were locked in talks for months over a new trade deal, it all unraveled quickly.

This happened when US President Donald Trump stated that the Chinese went back on their word. He then imposed tariff hikes on Chinese goods last Friday. The tariffs were raised to an astonishing 25% on goods worth $200 billion. Although Trump might believe this might bully the Chinese into submission, many experts believe that might not be the case.

Difficulty in Completing Deal

The President had imposed these tariff hikes right before the Chinese delegation was supposed to show up at Washington. This was for which many had believed was going to be the last round of talks. However, experts now feel that the escalation of tensions between the two countries following the latest developments will make it difficult to reach a deal that could be considered a win for the US. As soon as the tariffs kicked in, Beijing announced that it was looking at countermeasures as well. However, there were no specifics on the nature of these measures.

Last year, the two nations had been embroiled in a damaging retaliatory tariff war and it could lead to a protracted trade war, if the Chinese decided to resort of the same tactics. The Chinese delegation is going to be in Washington this week to engage in another round of talks but it is believed that a binding trade deal is unlikely to be signed.

Is A Trump Win Likely?

One of the biggest reasons why the deal might not be signed anytime soon is perhaps the fact that the US President needs to be able to claim it as a win for himself. The President has staked his personal weight behind a favorable deal for the US. But with every passing day, it is looking increasingly unlikely that it is going to happen.

If that is to happen, then China’s entire way of doing business will need to change. This is starting at intellectual property theft and expands to technology transfers by force from US companies. If those things are not part of the deal, then it would not be the sort of deal that can be claimed as a win for the US. It doesn’t help that today, China came in with its own tariffs. China will raise tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods, the Chinese Finance Ministry said Monday.

And in true Trump fashion, the U.S. may not be done retaliating. The U.S. President has threatened to put 25% tariffs on $325 billion in Chinese goods that remain untaxed. The president has signaled he is content leaving the duties in place, arguing they will damage China more than the U.S. What are your thoughts?

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Can 102 Words Really Impact Stock Prices?

Joe Samuel

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In short, the answer is yes.  We’ve witnessed, first hand, this week how just a few words can drastically impact the stock market.  If you’re just tuning in, at the beginning of the first full week of May, U.S. President Donald Trump Tweeted out a 102-word post that ended up triggering a sell-off costing the global markets around $1.36 TRILLION…with a “T”!

The “Trump Tweet” expressed that he would once again increase tariffs on Chinese goods by the end of this week. What followed has been a shock to the global markets with futures pointing at dramatic declines every day this week.  Though some say that the decline are all but a speed bump, it still hasn’t helped the fact that this drop is one of the worst seen all year. People like Kerry Craig of JPMorgan Asset Management think that a trade deal can still be reached.  The expectations, however, have been readjusted to reflect a more long-term time horizon.

Eyes Turn Toward The Second Half Of The Week

Other analysts like Oanda Asia Pacific’s Jeffrey Halley feel that investors are prudently “lightening their loads.” Halley said, “My feeling is that investors are lightening their portfolios as a precaution.”

All eyes are on the second half of this week.  As we reported on May 7th, Vice Premier Liu He, China’s top trade negotiator will be heading to the US to talk trade this week.  

“Liu will be in the U.S. from May 9-10. The invite comes from both the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.” Regardless of what “will happen,” what has happened thus far has been an emotionally charged & very fragile global market. As this story develops we will continue to follow with more updates.

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