The Independent Market Observer

Washington and the Markets

July 18, 2017

The big news today is the collapse of the Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. With two more Republican senators declaring themselves unwilling to even vote to have the full Senate debate the bill, it appears that Obamacare will live on, at least for a while.

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The Connection Between Economic Policies and Political Populism

May 24, 2017

Yesterday, I talked about the problems that have led to the current surge of populism and ended with a link to a paper discussing the connection between conventional economic policies and political populism. Today, I will offer a look at what this connection might mean for politics and policies in the future and, of course, the impact for our investments.

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A Deeper Look at Politics and Populism

May 23, 2017

There’s a lot of political turmoil around the world—here in the U.S. certainly, but also in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Much of it seems to involve at least some rise in populist ideas. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and thinking, trying to get a sense of the big picture, where these trends are coming from, and where they might be taking us. Today, I’m sharing my thoughts, along with a couple of white papers that I found both interesting and helpful.

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Political Risk Update: France and the U.S. Budget

April 25, 2017

With Emmanuel Macron through to the second round, the French election is (largely) off the table as a systemic risk. Polls show Macron well ahead of Marine Le Pen of the National Front, and the likelihood is that the next French president will be a pro-European centrist rather than an anti-European populist.

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Politics, Taxes, and Other Fun Stuff

April 18, 2017

Today is tax day here in Massachusetts, as we got an extra day due to Patriots’ Day, a state holiday. The holiday brings with it a number of special events, including the Boston Marathon, as well as reenactments of the Battles of Lexington and Concord. My wife, son, and I actually saw the local militia marching to battle yesterday morning, along the same route they did more than 200 years ago.

Politics and revolution, therefore, are in the air, and the events both here and abroad keep capturing my attention.

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Mr. Trump Goes to Washington

April 13, 2017

Yesterday, President Trump did an interview in which he apparently reversed several key tenets of his election campaign. To wit, he noted that China was not actually manipulating its currency, at least recently; that he kind of liked Fed Chair Janet Yellen and more or less approved of the Fed’s low-rate policy; that trade was, in fact, good and so were government agencies like the Export-Import Bank that supported it; and that he would be happy to see the value of the dollar weaker rather than stronger.

Any one of these statements would have generated headlines, but to hear all of them in one interview really set bells ringing.

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A Wall Street Perspective

April 5, 2017

I’m in New York today at the Goldman Sachs Asset Management Symposium, an annual event where a range of speakers discuss the markets and the world, with an eye to what might impact the future. I’m grateful to be here, listening to these smart people and trying to predict what the coming years may bring.

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Congress, the Debt Ceiling, and the Stock Market

March 28, 2017

The health care bill was pulled from the House last week before a vote was taken, a sure sign that the support wasn't there. Speaker Paul Ryan has admitted that Obamacare will remain the law of the land for some time. President Trump has, as expected, already started to move on. The papers are trumpeting what a big blow this is to the administration and the Republican Party. 

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Why Isn’t Political Turmoil Shaking the Market?

February 16, 2017

I spend most of my time thinking about economics and the economy, but over the past several years, that has increasingly included a healthy side helping of politics.

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Political Turmoil Could Restrain Market in 2017

January 31, 2017

As we approach the end of the beginning of the year, we know a couple of things:

  • The S&P 500 is up just shy of 1.5 percent for the month, as I write this. If the market mantra “As goes January so goes the year” holds, we’re in for a pretty good year, at least for the stock market.
  • President Trump actually meant most of his campaign promises and is proceeding to act on them as quickly as he can.
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