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Interest Rates and Trade War
The two things that everybody seems to agree were weighing down the markets were the Fed’s relentless drive to normalize interest rates, and figure out where “normal” was, and, of course, the trade war – the threat of additional tariffs overhanging the markets. So I think it was pretty clear to President Trump who is hanging his hat on the stock market, has decided that the stock market performance is the best barometer of his Presidency. So the fact that the stock market was falling was really a big problem for the President so he had to do what he could to try to get the stock market to go back up.
Fed Restated “Normal”
The first part of the two-pronged attack was the interest rates. Whether he was able to convince Powell to change his tune or whether Trump just got lucky and the Fed decided to backtrack, as I mentioned in my last podcast, the Fed has now said, “We are just below normal.” Meaning that we only need one more rate hike before we get to normal, whereas in the past the Fed had said that normal was quite a ways away, and that the Fed would have to raise rates many, many more times in order to achieve normal. And of course, anybody who knows anything about the history of interest rates would have to agree that where we are now, at 2% is historically abnormal. It obviously could not be considered neutral based on any kind of past precedent. So the fact that the market was able to backtrack so quickly really threw a bone that the market and Donald Trump badly needed..
Trade Tensions Weighing Down the Market
But the other factor that was weighing down the market was all the trade tensions, and all the talk about the tariffs that were going to be imposed in less than a month. The first of next year we were going to get these 25% across-the-board tariffs.