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Here’s What You Missed “Weekend Edition” (12/16/18)

Daniel Chase

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Today, several family members of mine decided to hold a garage in anticipation of a family move taking place in the next few weeks. I felt it only prudent to bring it up now, given the ridiculousness of the events that occurred while at the sale. As many posters clearly indicated around the neighborhood, the sale was scheduled to start at 8 pm. Low and behold, at 7:15 am, a line started to form in the driveway, replete with a collection of characters from the underbelly of every major metropolitan city; garage sale hunters. These people scour the streets in search of used camera equipment and vintage handbags and sure enough, they were ready with baited breathe and cash early this morning. After several hours of customers practically begging for less-than-market value prices, the sale came to a close. Selfishly, I came home with a set of dinner plates, and I am happy with my bounty.

I hope each and every one of you had a lovely weekend and either way, here’s what you missed in the news. 

Stop Or I’ll Turn This Entire Country Right Around, You Two!

This is the new attitude adopted by the Trump Administration as America’s governing officials argue over whether to fund President Trump’s border wall between the US and Mexico or not. Trump has made it clear that if things do not head in the direction he wants, he has threatened to shut down the government until an agreeable arrangement can be found. Several political analysts, including Ezra Klein, pointed out that Trump’s current temperament surrounding the potential government shutdown has little to do with the wall being built. 

“It’s the winning, not the wall, that drives him. It’s showing his supporters he’s fighting for them that powers his presidency, not actually getting anything done. Tuesday’s Oval Office meeting was meant to give Trump what he at least thinks he wants — not the wall, but a fight over the wall.”

Ezra Klein  

As we have seen on countless occasions with President Trump, theatrics are often times more important than the substantive actions associated with them. We’ll just have to wait and see whether Trump indeed makes good on his threat to shutdown the government. 

I’m Fracking Tired Of This Pipeline 

While I fully support and recognize our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels to power our cars and homes, destroying national forests in search of oil is where I start to take issue. Over the weekend, a panel of federal judges in Virginia, specifically the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, unanimously decided to block construction of an underground oil pipeline that would cross two national forests and a portion of the Appalachian Trail, according to CNN. 

“We trust the United States Forest Service to ‘speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues. The George Washington National Forest, Monongahela National Forest, and the Appalachian Trail are national treasures. The administration was far too eager to trade them way for a pipeline conceived to deliver profit to its developers, not gas to consumers. This pipeline is unnecessary and asking fracked gas customers to pay developers to blast this boondoggle through our public lands only adds insult to injury. 

-US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals

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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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trump tweet

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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