Why Trump’s Impeachment Trial Won’t Trouble Investors

After many months of economic and political turbulence, hung parliaments, deal-or-no-deal scenarios and friction between the world’s largest economies, investors are beginning to breathe a sigh of relief as chaos turns into clarity.

Delving into the latest impacts of Donald Trump’s impeachment trials on investors around the world, Wael-Al-Nahedh, CEO at Spearvest, gives us a rundown on the influence of global politics and the volatility of investment in 2020.

After three years of failed negotiations, sharp words, a prime ministerial resignation and a Christmas general election, at long last the UK government has a clear majority and the overall decision on the country’s future relationship with the European Union (EU) has been agreed. On top of this, China and the US trade deal tensions seem to be simmering down and global markets can look forward into what we all hope will be an extended period of global market stability. Meanwhile the ongoing stand-off between Iran and the world’s biggest economy appears to have quietened down, at least for the moment.

What’s more, in December 2019 and after months of speculation, the world watched as Donald Trump became only the third president of the United States history to be impeached, only to be swiftly acquitted, as was expected to happen given the Republican majority in the Senate.

However, as recent events in Wuhan, China have proven, major challenges can appear suddenly and without warning. The fast-spreading Coronavirus in Wuhan has already had a substantial impact on the Chinese economy. This crisis has led to fears around international travel and public health emergencies, in turn damaging supply chains and knocking investor confidence just as it was starting to bounce back.

This was a reminder that repercussions from local risks can have a global impact on financial markets. Specifically, what are the current challenges and how can investors navigate these situations?

Financial Markets throughout election year

All eyes will be on the US election this year, and many investors will tread cautiously in the US stock market depending on updates and promises in policy, and polling predictions when it comes to the people’s favourite candidate.

In the short term, the election can affect corporate confidence due to Trump’s business-friendly policies, such as his reform on corporate tax, could be at risk of being replaced by more topical economically viable policy.

In the short term, the election can affect corporate confidence due to Trump’s business-friendly policies, such as his reform on corporate tax, could be at risk of being replaced by more topical economically viable policy.

Alternatively, we might see certain sectors flourish from now until election day, as trade deals are renegotiated or tariffs on foreign goods are imposed or revoked. It was announced this week that China will halve tariffs on some US imports as it moves quickly to implement its ‘phase one’ trade deal.

History dictates that election years often offer prosperity when it comes to the stock market, regardless of who is eventually elected. In fact, when examining the return of the S&P 500 Index for each of the 23 election years since 1928, only four have been negative.

US-Iranian tension

US and Iran haven’t had the best of relations for a few decades now, and US sanctions on Iran’s oil exports last year had already crippled the Iranian economy. And, to see the new year in, tensions flared as a US-led drone strike killed General Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad.

On January 10th, Trump announced sanctions that went beyond oil and gas and now targeted construction, mining, manufacturing and textile goods. As a result, trade with Iran is flatlining worldwide and investors, companies and lenders should do well to avoid any partnership or investment with Iranian goods or businesses, such as the recently blacklisted, Mahan Air.

On the other hand, market impact hasn’t been as severe as one might have initially expected. Oil prices are still below the level they hit in September 2-19 after the Saudi Aramco oil attack.

The situation in China

The most significant impact on the global economy has emerged as a result of a Global Health Crisis, as a new strain of Coronavirus has all but isolated China from the rest of the world. The true impact on the economy resulting of this terrible human tragedy, is as yet unknown.

Short-term impact on the stock market in China has correlated to the global significance of this devastating virus: stock markets in china saw their biggest fall in five years as traders rushed to sell-off Asian equites amid continued fears about the impact of the Coronavirus on the global economy. Investors should keep a keen eye on the spread of this virus, as we could see it affect international markets quite severely should the number of cases of infection increase dramatically in key markets such as the US or Germany, for example.

The virus has also had a substantial impact on oil markets, with prices declining sharply as demand from China dissipates through diminished air travel, road transportation and manufacturing. Given the fact that China under normal circumstances consumes 13 of every 100 barrels of oil the world produces, we can expect the impact on oil markets to further increase should this global health crisis widen.

If not contained, retail sales and travel could suffer consequently in the next few months, especially as industrial production struggles to recover after last year’s extended slump and the consequences of the US-China trade war, which has already cut Chinese economic growth to its lowest level in 29 years.

How to navigate challenges

Such episodes of global nervousness often – counter-intuitively – represent considerable opportunity for those investors who are willing to buy when others are selling. Attractive opportunities typically arise in times of high volatility, which brings to attention the importance of relying on independent and unbiased advice before deciding to invest at a time of great global economic and political uncertainty.

Some of the highest returns in global markets often happen around periods of high volatility in an unpredictable fashion, and that is why thorough planning and a long time horizon give investors a great advantage. Over 10 years, equities have earned excess returns over cash 95% of the time. The return of a buy-and-hold investor in the S&P 500 over the past 20 years has been more than 220%, versus just 42% for someone who sold at each new all-time high and waited for a 5% pullback to reinvest.

Finally, one should always diversify an investment portfolio adding into low-correlated investments, include income-generating hard assets (like real estate), invest with a long-term horizon, and of course increase the understanding of risks.

 

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