Although for many of us−-including the writer of this piece−-December arrived way too early this year, a lot has happened in the markets and economy since the end of last year. December 2018 rocked capital markets with domestic and international equities plummeting by double digits, heightened volatility, and a US government shutdown that turned out to be the longest in history.
Moments ago, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), flanked by the chairs of the committees of jurisdiction over the House’s impeachment inquiry over the last several months (Oversight, Intelligence, Ways and Means, Financial Services, and Judiciary) announced her intention to have the House consider two articles of impeachment against President Trump. I thought I’d provide a quick primer on what’s happened this morning and what we can expect in the days and weeks ahead.
Domestic equity markets ended the month with positive returns, reaching new all-time highs on November 27 on the back of positive news of a potential trade deal agreement between the US and China. Equity markets consistently appreciated throughout the month, with reduced volatility as the Cboe Volatility Index fell to 11.75, a level not seen in more than a year and a half.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg officially entered the Democratic presidential primary last week, and it didn’t take long for his opponents to react. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) criticized the fact that Bloomberg, who is worth an estimated $54 billion, plans to self-finance his campaign.
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In September, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that in 2018, Earth’s atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) averaged 407.4 parts per million (ppm). According to NOAA, this represented the highest concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere for at least the last 800,000 years—longer than anatomically modern humans have existed.
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Despite President Donald Trump’s pleas for the whistleblower’s identity to be revealed – and his demand that he be given the opportunity to “interview” them – it should come as little surprise that it has largely remained under wraps. As PBS Newshour recently reported, while there is “nothing that can block Trump from revealing who” the whistleblower is, federal law is meant to prevent “intimidation of witnesses and reprisals against whistleblowers.” The president, of course, is tasked with enforcing these, and all, laws as the leader of the executive branch.
Has any political referendum led to more consternation and hand wringing than Brexit? Nearly three and a half years after the United Kingdom voted to usher in a new epoch in European history, we still do not have a clear vision of what the future may bring for the continent. In the last few months, a series of twists in the Brexit story has begun to lay out a variety of scenarios worth examining as we review their implications for global investors.
If you think a potential federal government shutdown is the only potential calamity barreling down on Washington, D.C., think again.
The domestic equity markets returned to a more risk-on posture from the more defensive tone of the previous month. Interest rates were cut for a third consecutive time, planned tariffs on Chinese goods were postponed, and Brexit was delayed for another three months.
It has been a difficult year for major tech companies. To demonstrate, consider what the news and polling firm Morning Consult wrote in June 2017: Google and Facebook “are enjoying high favorability ratings among U.S. consumers …”