It was another quiet week for the markets even as the S&P 500 hit new all-time highs less than 25 points from 2,500. Investor focus continued to be on Trump and the goings-on at the White House. For months, years even, Republicans and Trump vowed that there would be health care reform by ending Obamacare and bringing in their own version. Tax reform was another part of the agenda that was top in investors’ minds. By week’s end, health reform lay in tatters and tax reform is becoming doubtful. Despite a number of iterations of repeal-and-replace Obamacare, in the end they did not satisfy enough Republican senators to push it through the Senate. It went either too far or not far enough. In desperation, they went for a straight repeal and that one proved to be dead on arrival.
After six months of Republicans controlling the White House, Congress, and the Senate they have not been able to pass one piece of major legislation. While seemingly it has not weighed on the stock markets, it does appear to be weighing on the US Dollar as the US$ Index sunk to new 52-week lows. As to tax reform, well, that appears to be going nowhere either and deadlines loom at the end of the fiscal year September 30, 2017. The debt ceiling is looming once again as the Treasury is poised to run out of money in early October – unless, of course, they agree to extend it once again. The debt ceiling debate is becoming increasingly rancorous, but not between Republicans and Democrats – instead, between Republicans and Republicans. The White House is on one side and Congress on the other, with one wanting and recognizing the need to raise the debt ceiling while the other wants to slam on the brakes for their own agenda.
Things continue to heat up on the Russian investigation front. Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner, the principals at the heart of the Russian meeting that was initially denied, are due to meet a Senate judiciary committee on July 26. Things continue to whirl around the investigation with constant implied threats from the White House leveled at special counsel Robert Mueller if the investigation expands into Trump’s finances. It ought to be interesting given Mueller’s authority especially if it clashes directly with the President. The President also slammed his Attorney General for recusing himself in the Russian investigation and if he had known that in advance, Jeff Sessions would never have been appointed. Something about throwing your report under the bus it seems. Finally, the President said that since he has the power to grant pardons he could pardon himself. Nothing said about the ensuing constitutional crisis.
This post was published at GoldSeek on 23 July 2017.