The Week’s Biggest Headlines: Taxes, the Fed and Jobs
November 3, 2017
The market has been tentative of late, but several headlines over the last few days have tried to shake things up. The first was the release of the GOP’s tax plan yesterday morning. President Trump nominated a new Fed chair yesterday afternoon, and this morning we got the all-important October jobs report. The Dow closed at a record high yesterday as a result of all the news, and it appears to be trying to follow up on that strength today.
Let’s talk about each of the market movers, starting with the new tax initiative:
Excitement and Disappointment
There appears to be major excitement over the “permanent” 20% corporate tax rate that would propel America into the lower echelon of taxes, which not only allows U.S. companies to compete with the rest of the world but also should spark greater investments and hiring.
But already, major industries from small businesses (NFIB) to the homebuilders (NAHB) are voicing opposition to the bill. I still think it’s a shame the GOP didn’t push dynamic scoring and cut taxes across the board. I think it’s a big mistake.
My biggest problem with the bill is repatriation taxes. I thought they would be much lower, and I wonder how many companies will come back when their options are borrowing money for next to nothing or paying a 12% tax rate. One of those companies, Apple (AAPL), just posted its financial results and its overseas cash hoard has swelled to $269 billion!
The Beginning of a New Reign
Still, the market seemed pleased overall with that and the nomination of Jerome Powell as the new chief of the Federal Reserve. He has gotten some flak for not being an economist, but the Street sees him as someone who will not aggressively remove the accommodations.
The Street seems cool with that at the moment, as well as with a rate hike next month after all the positive economic data that has served to underpin this stock market rally. Moreover, investors were happy to hear the Fed call the economy “solid” on Wednesday, although there are misgivings about how sanguine current Fed Chair Janet Yellen and company have been on the stubborn lack of inflation.
An Encouraging Revision
All eyes were on the employment report this morning as investors waited on pins and needles to see if October could make up for September’s dismal print. The Street was looking for 310,000 new jobs, and the report came in close with 261,000 jobs added in the month.
That was less than expected, but coupled with the +51,000 revision to September I think it’s safe to say that everything came in roughly as anticipated. I’m still digging into the numbers, but it’s clear that we saw some great news in manufacturing and construction. On the other hand, I’m worried about the sharp decline in participation.
Overall, the economy has momentum and a chance to shift into overdrive. On that note, the GOP will have to make some sharp revisions to its tax plan. It must be friendlier to small businesses and not penalize marriage. Additionally, repatriation taxes must be lowered to a realistic enough rate to attract profits from overseas.
This is a consolidation period for the market, which means investors will be tested. You’ll have to bite the bullet from time to time, but one should be careful not to sell into knee-jerk reactions. In those cases, allow the fundamentals to be your guide and you’ll come out a winner in the end.