Watching and Waiting

Sometimes it is best just to sit back and do nothing, and perhaps, watching the World Cup isn’t such a bad way to spend your time at the moment. Last week, I laid out what I consider the two main economic and market themes. First, real narrow money and liquidity growth is slowing, which is usually a bad sign for risk assets and second, monetary policy divergence is being stretched to new extremes. I surmise that most of the key macro-trading trends can be derived from these two stories. All other important themes are just crammed into the box labelled political uncertainty, a box which incidentally is increasingly full to the brim. The consensus is that political risk is the dog the never barks; this true on a headline level. But I can’t help but think that markets are a like deer caught in the headlight. Everyone is waiting for one of the political land mines to blow up, but no one knows what to do about it. In the U.S., Mr. Trump has escalated the global trade wars, though markets are not exactly pricing-in the end of the globalised world order as we know it. Rather, they seem to have settled on the idea that the U.S. is winning. Small cap U.S. equities have soared, and the dollar is bid. The latter effectively is an equaliser. If the dollar rises as U.S. imposes import tariffs, the real economic impact of Mr. Trump’s policies will be curbed, perhaps even neutralised altogether.

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