“Face this world. Learn its ways, watch it, be careful of too hasty guesses at its meaning. In the end you will find clues to it all.” H.G. Wells, “The Time Machine”
OVERVIEW AND CONCLUSION
Cultural observers inevitably select between and analyze diverse variables to explain and predict economic, political, and social history, including relationships and trends and outcomes, in a variety of often-competing fashions. So marketplace and political visionaries inescapably interpret and forecast probable consequences for Trump’s landmark Presidential triumph in America’s 11/8/16 national election, in which Republicans also captured control of both the Senate and House of Representatives, in various ways. And of course in today’s interdependent world, the American political and economic domain intertwines closely with realms elsewhere.
The extent to which important financial playgrounds intertwine and their alleged trends converge or diverge (or, lead or lag) are matters of opinion, as are perspectives on and reasons for such relationships and movements. And marketplace history need not repeat itself, either entirely or even partly. Convergence and divergence patterns can change, sometimes dramatically.
Let’s focus on several key global financial marketplace playgrounds. Review relationships in recent years between the United States Treasury 10 year note, the broad real trade-weighted US dollar (“TWD”; Federal Reserve Board, H.10; monthly average, March 1973=100), the S+P 500, emerging marketplace stocks (MSCI Emerging Stock Markets Index, from Morgan Stanley; “MXEF”), and commodities in general (broad S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index; “GSCI”).
In the aftermath of America’s November election, it is noteworthy that whereas the S+P 500 has ascended to all-time highs, the MXEF lurks below its pre-election interim high, 9/7/16’s 930 (and 11/9/16’s 907; 11/14/16 low 837). In addition, the MXEF’s September 2016 top stands beneath its important 4/27/15 high (1069), its 9/4/14 elevation (1104), and earlier major tops. (1212 on 4/27/11; 1345 on 11/1/07).
This current divergence between the S+P 500 and MXEF recalls (resembles) the similar disparate major trends in those marketplaces from spring 2011 through spring 2015. During that span, whereas the S+P 500 continued its major upward trend, the MXEF did not. Afterwards, from spring 2015 highs down to first quarter 2016 troughs and up to around mid-summer 2016 (S+P 500 summer 2016 high 8/15/16 at 2194), the S+P 500 and MXEF “traded together”.
It is also significant that since America’s election departed, UST 10 year rates have continued to march upward and the TWD has climbed to new highs. These interest rate and currency patterns, should they continue further, and when viewed alongside the divergence between the S+P 500 and the MXEF, warn of eventual S+P 500 weakness. Marketplace history of course is not marketplace destiny. But it is particularly significant that TWD breakouts in 2014 and 2015 above critical resistance barriers eventually accompanied S+P 500 weakness. Thus at some point the advance of the TWD above its January 2016 plateau may interrelate with an important interim (and perhaps a major) high in the S+P 500. If the S+P 500 indeed weakens, the MXEF probably will slump alongside of it (as occurred from spring 2015 to the 1Q16 bottoms).
Many money (“investment”) managers in the equity sphere have their performance evaluated on a calendar year basis. As the S+P 500 upswing has persisted after the election, perhaps some of these players are choosing to move cash in their portfolio into US stocks as end December 2016 approaches. To some extent, the ongoing rally in the S+P 500 probably reflects the relatively strong American economy. Compare European economic growth, for example. Share buybacks and still relatively low interest rates remain among the relevant bullish factors for the S+P 500. To some extent, perhaps the ongoing dollar strength reflects faith in America’s economy, at least relative to that of many other regions. Washington’s recent regime change, as it promises substantial infrastructure spending and some hefty tax cuts, likely represents and will result in a more expansionary fiscal policy, which could enhance corporate earnings, particularly for American-based firms.
The relative strength of the S+P 500 benchmark in comparison to (its price divergence from) the emerging stock marketplace’s MXEF signpost in part may reflect the relative economic and political stability of the United States (despite America’s notable internal divisions).
However, also look at the Presidential winner’s slogan, “Make America Great Again!” (Compare “America First”). Such ardent “populist” wordplay joins to rhetoric which promotes nationalist (American) objectives considerably more strongly than the globalist/internationalist ideologies embraced by “the establishment” (elites). Even if over time advanced as well as emerging/developing nations benefited substantially from globalism and increasingly free markets and free trade, arguably developing nations (especially net exporters) particularly profited. The incoming American President and many of his allies not only are more hostile in general to globalism notions than the preceding Administration, but even have spoken of renegotiating (or walking away from) trade agreements and imposing (or raising) tariffs. Therefore, the renewed divergence between the S+P 500 and MXEF in recent months also probably partly reflects the declining popularity of globalist/internationalist dogmas (free market, free trade) in the US and many other nations.
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Back to the Future- the Marketplace Time Machine (12-13-16 )