The election of Donald Trump was always going to mean the months ahead would be interesting. He is viewed variously in society as a businessman who would shake up the political community to a man who was a bully with little substance. He has insufficient knowledge to do the job his critics say. In his first weeks, he has already been confronted with questions about the selection of his key personnel, has backed down over healthcare despite having a republican majority in both Houses and now his financial ideas are about to be scrutinized.
Credit strategists have observed contraction in bank lending; money supply has slowed and this is certain to have an impact on the economy. Already Trump has announced an increase in military spending and that will inevitably impact on the domestic budget because the Republicans certainly do not want to increase Federal spending.
The US Federal Reserve figures show that commercial and industrial loans hit their peak in December and have been falling since then. The rate of decline is the fastest since the same time eight years ago. With loans and leases declining as well, the action of the Fed. to raise rates has been met with surprise. This has yet to have a major impact on equity markets but credit has regularly been something that identifies trouble before it arrives.
Trump believes he can provide momentum and expansion to the US economy; after all he is an experienced and successful businessman his supporters point out. It is not going to be straightforward it seems. Experts from Morgan Stanley see this trend as worrying, pointing out that credit squeezes historically lead to recession. The current figures are bringing back concerns about another financial crisis, similar to the one caused by the Collateralized Debt Obligations that brought such devastation to Wall Street and beyond.
The IMF has studies over 120 recessions in the world’s richest economies over the last half century and slumps have inevitably been preceded by the slowdown of credit in the months leading up to them. Without necessarily concluding that there is a sure sign of recession ahead, the figures are nevertheless concerning.
Certainly investors should be cautious. Those who are nearing retirement and do not want to take any major risks with their funds should be especially careful and find safe havens for their money. A recent Markit PMI survey has identified that US business is weaker than it has been since before the election and growth is remaining elusive. There had been signs of a boom on the way last year but there is a strong argument that it may have already reached its peak.
Lack of Growth Policies
US business it seems has debt that has been used to pay dividends or buy back stock bonds rather than to create growth. Every dollar of new debt is generating a mere 17 cents of extra GDP, a quarter of what it did in the 60s. Certainly some business strategists will be waiting to hear what Donald Trump has in mind on taxation yet already there are questions about whether is policies are either sensible or achievable. The Markets appear to be taking a more positive view than some of the analysts but individual investors should be very careful.
Time is important; delay will only increase uncertainty and perhaps help in precipitating problems? The Republicans are keen on tax cuts but whether Trump delivers in line with his pre–election rhetoric is far from certain. There are certain to be battles ahead because there are many within the Republican Party who seem to be as opposed to Trump as they were to the Democratic Candidate, Hillary Clinton.
Business will go its own way. Decision makers looking at their financial figures and devising future strategy are likely to have a cushion in place for mistakes. Individual investors often have no such cushion and a poor decision can cause untold harm, especially for the average couple that is approaching retirement and building up a fund to provide a comfortable life. The coming months are likely to see volatility in society anyway; the important thing for people is to give plenty of thought about where to invest their money and minimize the risk.
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