Recently, Americans and observes worldwide have been subjected to overreaction by lawmakers and media types over the "Russian hacking" of the recently-resolved US presidential elections and the possibility that certain electors in the electoral collage would bolt from the Trump camp in enough numbers to deny Donald Trump the needed 270 votes to certify him as America's 45th president.
As of 4:30 pm ET Monday, the electoral college did its job, giving Trump 306 votes, confirming his November victory and assuring the American public that all politics would proceed normally (we believe) for the foreseeable future.
Additionally, the over-hyped media and intelligence frenzy was revealed to have been yet another case of sour grapes and/or fake news fomented by the losers in the Democrat party and what appears to be rogue elements of the intelligence community. The good news is that Mr. Trump, once inaugurated on January 20, will be able to remove such rogue elements via his appointees to the CIA, FBI and other agencies. The bad news is that the sore loser Democrats and their media whores will remain, and they will likely continue to harass and object every effort Trump makes to "make America great again."
While almost nobody can reasonably oppose efforts to improve conditions for Americans, the Democrats will couch their objections in the most mealy-mouthed manners, with references to diversity, unfairness and vague commentaries on power and elitism.
Fortunately, the investor class has ignored most of the political squabbling and has moved on to increasing its wealth, with stocks up tremendously since election day. The bond markets have expressed acceptance of the Fed's minuscule rate hike of last week and have stabilized. Everything seems in place for a nice, year-end Santa Claus rally which will take the Dow Jones Industrial Average over the mythical 20,000 plateau.
The question to be asked at this juncture is, will the markets remain ebullient and bubbly into the New Year? With stocks hovering at or near all-time highs, and the bull run which began in 2009 extending into a ninth year, the answer should be obvious. Markets do not work one way (up) and corrections and bear markets often occur at what seems to be the most inopportune moments. With investor sentiment bullish to the extreme, the probability of a major correction in the first quarter of 2017 should be quite high, unless one adheres to the well-founded theory that the Fed has backstopped equity markets for years and will continue to do so. Doing otherwise, so the conventional wisdom tells, would be catastrophic, as though fair and open markets are inherently evil.
They are not, and it may be nigh on the eve of major changes in fiscal and monetary policy. On the fiscal side, Mr. Trump - a businessman with many years experience in all matters financial - the message is clear: he will do what it takes to get America on a path to prosperity for all levels of income, not just the crony capitalists and heavily financialized major corporations, but for individuals up and down the income ladder.
As for the Fed, one's guess is as good as another, but the genii inside the Fed seem intent on raising interest rates gradually in order to keep the US economy from overheating. As usual, they will be late to the party, but perhaps they can salve their damaged egos by reducing their bloated balance sheet in 2017 and leaving the number of interest rate hikes below three, ending the year around one percent, which, while traditionally absurdly low, would count as a major accomplishment since the Great Financial Crisis of the recent past.
Geopolitical events may overtake the Fed's view, however, as Japan and the Eurozone are well upon the road to financial ruin, and a crisis in either market (plus China) may cause extreme disruption to an orderly return to what is commonly referred to as "normalization."
A new administration hell-bent on returning America to greatness and leveling the playing field in international trade set against a backdrop of unelected financial and political operatives worldwide should make for an interesting, exciting, volatile year ahead.
As 2016 winds down, 2017 should present unique and various opportunities in all markets, requiring astute evaluation of not just balance sheets and P/E ratios, but insight into the political influence which has been and will continue to be exerted upon trade and commerce, globally.
At the Close: 12/19/2016
Dow: 19,883.06, +39.65 (0.20%)
NASDAQ: 5,457.44, +20.28 (0.37%)
S&P 500: 2,262.53, +4.46 (0.20%)
NYSE Composite: 11,128.54, +3.32 (0.03%)