Stocks hit record highs on trade optimism—here’s where 3 experts stand on what’s ahead 

Source: CNBC

“U.S. and Chinese trade authorities agreed Thursday to a plan that would roll back existing tariffs on each side’s goods…Experts said the move would undoubtedly boost the U.S. stock market in the near term but weren’t exactly sounding the “all-clear” signal on next year.

Here’s what three market specialists had to say about the move: Kathryn Rooney Vera…at Bulltick Capital Markets, called this the market’s ideal melt-up scenario: ‘This is the melt-up scenario…Now, there is no U.S. recession…you have the Fed cutting and you have a trade deal…Markets are going higher … through year-end. I think, however, that 2020 is going to present a lot of potential downside…I think there’s a lot of complacency in the markets right now and I think there’s a lot of inherent risks going into the next few years.’…Scott Wren, Wells Fargo Investment Institute senior global equity strategist: ‘3,030 is the year-end midpoint for us for the S&P 500 of our target range… think stocks are pretty close to fair value…while we might be at fair value now, you have to remember there’s a lot of investors, whether they’re pros or retail investors, they are underinvested here.’ Andrew Slimmon…at Morgan Stanley: ‘ I think [with] the Fed cutting rates [and] the China trade deal, we will have a strong economy next year and the market will reward that for a while. However, my job is to get ahead of it…I think the markets will be higher next year because the economy will be stronger. Whether this chase into year-end [plays out], I don’t think people are going to buy utilities, REITs and consumer staples. They are going to buy financials because they’ve lagged — although now they’re getting a little overbought — and I think they’re going to come back into technology, which recently has sold off. So, I think it is the stocks that have more upside versus the defensives that you buy if you think the market’s going down.’”


Why are so many people over 55 going bankrupt? 

Source: Marketwatch

“The number of people 55 and older filing bankruptcies has skyrocketed since 1991, and that’s even more true for those 65 and older. Bankruptcy can offer a fresh start if you’ve fallen on tough times and are unable to pay your bills. Once you file bankruptcy, you’re no longer responsible for the debts that are discharged. But this fresh start comes with a price: your credit will be negatively affected for years. According to a paper by Robert Lawless, a law professor at the University of Illinois, and three colleagues: The percentage of Americans declaring bankruptcy age 55 to 64 has risen 66% from 1991 to 2016. The percentage declaring bankruptcy age 65 to 74 increased 204% from 1991 to 2016. One major factor behind the rise of these bankruptcies: medical debt. In fact, six out of 10 people 65 and older who file bankruptcy do so because they can’t afford to pay their enormous medical bills, Lawless says.”


US debt surpasses $23 trillion for first time 

Source: The Hill

“The federal government’s outstanding public debt has surpassed $23 trillion for the first time in history, according to data from the Treasury Department released on Friday. Growing budget deficits have added to the nation’s debt at a speedy rate since President Trump took office. The debt has grown some 16 percent since Trump’s inauguration, when it stood at $19.9 trillion. It passed $22 trillion for the first time just 10 months ago….’Reaching $23 trillion in debt on Halloween is a scary milestone for our economy and the next generation, but Washington shows no fear,’ said Michael A. Peterson, CEO of the fiscally conservative Peter G. Peterson Foundation. ‘Piling on debt like this is especially unwise and unnecessary in a strong economy,’ he added….While the main drivers of spending are mandatory programs such as Social Security, Medicare and anti-poverty programs, major legislation has grown the deficit considerably since Trump came to office.”


The ‘mother of all bubbles’ could blow up the economy if profits don’t improve 

Source: Marketwatch

“‘When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe,’ wrote famed naturalist John Muir more than a century ago, referring to an epiphany he had while hiking in California’s Yosemite Valley. Blackstone strategist Joseph Zidle offers a similar take, but with dollar signs instead of granite cliffs. ‘At the end of any economic cycle, we often get warnings that appear to be unrelated,’ he wrote in a recent note. ‘It’s in hindsight that we realize that they were not at all random.’ Investors saw this during the runup and aftermath of the housing bubble, he added, and we’re seeing it now. Among the recent troubles he thinks are connected are repo market woes, negative-yielding debt, global trade conflicts and collapsing manufacturing. And every cycle ends with excess. The ‘mother of all bubbles’ in the sovereign debt market, Zidle says, is the catalyst that will likely trigger the next recession. He expects that to happen between mid-2020 and the end of 2021….Zidle points out that stocks tend to rise until about six months before a recession, meaning there could be some market gains left.”


China Says U.S. Will, and Must, Cut Tariffs to Reach a Trade Deal 

Source: New York Times

“The Chinese government on Thursday said Beijing and the Trump administration had agreed to get rid of some tariffs as the two sides work toward ending their 19-month-long trade war. But Beijing also hardened its stance by publicly voicing its insistence that a deal could not take place without each side canceling at least some tariffs….The Trump administration has been considering rolling back a portion of the tariffs but only if China agrees to certain concessions. American officials have so far declined to specify what, if any, portion of the tariffs on $360 billion worth of Chinese goods they might roll back or whether President Trump will abandon plans to impose another tranche, scheduled for December….American officials have emphasized that any moves depend on China taking more aggressive action to protect American intellectual property, and that Mr. Trump will make the final determination….Communist Party officials based outside of Beijing have a history of skepticism toward compromises with the United States on trade….The full elimination of new tariffs is still needed for the complete resolution of the trade dispute, a spokesman for China’s Commerce Ministry, Gao Feng said at his weekly news conference in Beijing.”


The Power of Gold in Times of Crisis 

Source: Zero Hedge

“While physical gold is a well-known safe haven asset which investors flock to in times of market turbulence as a way of protecting their wealth, gold is also the ultimate asset to own and possess in times of crisis and emergency….History is replete with examples of gold being the ultimate asset in times of crisis and desperation, where time and time again, gold comes to the rescue and provides its holders with choice and freedom, choice and freedom that are not available to those who do not hold gold. This is not ancient but recent history, history in our lifetimes and in some cases even events ongoing now….Gold as a safe passage for refugees from Vietnam – Refugees from Vietnam who took huge risks sailing into the unknown to a better life could only do so because they had physical gold to buy safe passage, and because gold is a universal money that can be sold almost anywhere to help finance a new life abroad….South Korea – Gold mobilization to pay external debt –South Korea’s population knew instinctively that in the midst of a dark economic crisis, only physical gold could help rescue their economy. And so they collectively mobilized to donate and sell the one true asset that had retained its value in Korea’s financial crisis, their gold….Argentina – Accustomed to crisis, accustomed to gold – Beyond providing safe passage and saving a nation, gold comes into its own during periods of hyperinflation, economic stagnation, currency collapses and frozen bank accounts…Argentinians are so used to crises and inflation, so too are they accustomed to holding physical gold, as a way of raising emergency money, and as a way of preserving their accumulated wealth….Venezuela – Gold the ‘go to asset’ in ongoing chaos – Marked by a collapsing currency, hyperinflation, banknote scarcity, social unrest and shortages of essentials, gold has replaced paper currency across most aspects of Venezuela’s economic life as a means of payment, as a form of barter to acquire goods and services, and in some cases literally for day-to-day survival….Zimbabwe – Grams of gold for a loaf of bread – Ravaged by dictatorship, corruption, election fraud, and economic collapse, the failed state of Zimbabwe has come to represent one of the world’s best-known cases of modern hyperinflation in the midst of famine and food shortages…Peak madness was reached in January 2009 with the printing of a Z$100 trillion note, the world’s largest currency denomination ever issued….Conclusion – The causes may differ – hyperinflation, death of paper currencies, economic mismanagement, capital controls, wars – but the outcome is always the same. People and economies instinctively turn to the ultimate asset gold as a safe harbor in times of crisis and emergency.”


The risks are rising that the dollar could lose its special global standing! 

Source: CNBC

“Even exorbitant privileges can be lost and there are a number of factors suggesting that, over time, the US dollar may be at risk of surrendering its lead, if not its role, as the world’s preeminent reserve currency. Some of these factors relate to U.S. policy decisions, others to policy decisions and developments elsewhere, but all point in the same direction. The primary reasons for the dollar’s continued dominance are inertia and the lack of viable alternatives, neither of which U.S. policymakers should find comforting for the longer term….While U.S. policies have clearly pushed some countries, such as Iran and Russia, away from the dollar, officials in China and the euro zone have been actively touting their currencies as reserve and transaction substitutes. The Chinese renminbi was added to the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights basket in 2016, joining the dollar, euro, yen and British pound, in a development the Fund said ‘enhances the attractiveness of the RMB as an international reserve asset.’….IMF data reveal the dollar share of foreign reserves fell from a high of 73% in 2001 to 62% at the end of last year. Similarly, the World Gold Council confirms that central banks bought more gold in 2018 than at any other time since the gold standard ended in 1971, extending a string of large net purchases that began after the global financial crisis. If the trends continue of switching from dollars to other currencies, and from currencies collectively to gold, the dollar’s reserve currency status will continue to give ground.”


Four Reasons Why The “Trade Deal” With China Remains A Farce 

Source: Zero Hedge

“The US-China trade deal…is a bum deal. Why do we say that? Without referencing our own work again, consider: 1. US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has just said Democrats are ready to get tougher on China than Trump by aligning with the EU against it…Trump might actually be the trade dove at this point in time….2. The head of the US Chamber of Commerce in China is quoted as saying of the phase one deal: ‘Of course, it’s helpful for the farmers and I’m glad to see farmers benefit, but that’s not really what we’re looking for…For every government policy in China, there’s a contradictory policy.’…Indeed, phase one on US-China trade seems an empty box in most respects, and we don’t expect there is a phase two to follow….3. China’s Shanghai Import Expo is about to get rolling to almost as much fanfare as last year’s inaugural event…where actors were allegedly hired to pretend to be buyers. Question: What was Chinese import growth y/y in USD in September 2019? Answer: minus 8.5%… the idea that China is about to be a major new source of global import demand seems science fiction….4. US Commerce Secretary Ross is suggesting sales to Huawei will begin again soon. Yet that overlooks: (1) China is plowing tens of USD billions into its pre-fab industry to make sure US chips aren’t needed in the near future.”


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