In the US, political intrigue, seemingly lifted straight out of a John Le Carré novel, has reached a crescendo and there are now multiple investigations running concurrently.
If we assume these investigations will run over weeks/months, the question is whether and to what extent this political backdrop is likely to impact financial markets, US government policy-making, the US and global economy and Federal Reserve monetary policy.
US equities have corrected lower, volatility has spiked and markets are seemingly ignoring positive data surprises
It has all been rather orderly so far but it is difficult to see how at this juncture, with major policy initiatives likely kicked down the road, US equities can launch another meaningful rally. If anything big data misses are likely to further pressure stocks.
The Dollar’s performance has been mixed in the past month, posting its biggest loss against the euro in line with the fundamentally bullish euro view I expressed in December and April.
Capital inflows into the eurozone allied to a 2% of GDP current account surplus, a pick-up in economic activity and receding political risks following the French presidential elections are likely to extend the euro’s current rally near-term.
However, the ECB’s stance on its quantitative easing program will be key in shaping the euro’s medium-term path.
US economic indicators paint a blurry picture while solid global GDP growth is seemingly struggling to make further gains.
The Fed and US rates market have the unenviable task of making sense of these macro trends and a quickly changing political landscape.
The apolitical Fed will of course stay above the political fray, even if markets do not with pricing for the probability of a 25bp hike at the 14th June policy meeting continuing to oscillate between 60% and 75%.
My core scenario is that the Fed will hike rates only once more in 2017 although I acknowledge that this is not a high conviction call. The market seems still on the fence, pricing in a further 32bp of hikes in the remainder of the year.
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