President Trump isn’t attending this year’s SALT conference, the annual gathering of high-end investors in Las Vegas. But the honchos here are talking more about Trump than about anything else.
Trump’s election last November set financial markets ablaze, since the tax cuts he promised would boost profits and stock prices along with them. And infrastructure spending, another Trump priority, would stimulate the economy and extend the economic expansion.
But Trump’s agenda has stalled amid a series of self-inflicted controversies such as the firing of FBI director James Comey and Trump’s apparent meddling in an FBI investigation into Russia’s role in the US election. “The political noise in Washington, it’s going to make it harder for Trump to get his agenda across,” Troy Gayeski of Skybridge Capital tells Yahoo Finance in the video above. Investors, he says, “have to make sure you’re not baking in too high a probability of meaningful tax reform or massive infrastructure spending. If you are, and we keep seeing these shenanigans, it’s going to be challenging.”
Investors here generally think the US stock market can continue to grind modestly higher, as long as inflation remains under control and there’s no unexpected shock. But investors may also be too complacent about a pullback, reflected in depressed volatility. And several prominent investors here note that there seems to be more political risk in the United States these days, given Trump’s lurches, than in Europe, where a monetary union has been fraying.
The biggest risk Gayeski sees is a misfire by the Federal Reserve. “The bigger risk in the short term is a material disruption in the bond market caused by an accelerating trajectory of Fed hiking,” he says. That’s assuming Trump doesn’t make markets more interesting still.
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Rick Newman is the author of four books, including Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman.