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News

Political surprises and surprising reactions

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The past year has been one of multiple surprises. The year started with fears of a sharp deceleration in China, and worries over the implications of rising Fed rates for emerging markets. Some worried that the global economy could slip into recession. Britain was expected to vote to remain in the European Union, and almost all political analysts would have named Donald Trump as the candidate least likely to win the US presidential elections.

None of these expectations proved right.  China’s economy barely decelerated. The Fed did not yet hike interest rates. Britain opted to leave the EU, and Trump is president-elect.  More surprisingly, however, is that markets moved in the opposite direction of what most analysts had expected. Emerging markets have delivered their best performance in years. The UK and US equity markets reacted positively to what was assumed to be a negative outcome.

Initial thoughts on Trump’s election

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In our most recent letter, we suggested that Donald Trump is likely to lose the election because of his personality, but that his message has considerable appeal. Evidently, the majority of voters were sufficiently appealed by his message above all else, taking markets by surprise.

Broadly speaking, Trump’s policy proposals are populist but simultaneously very favourable to domestically-oriented businesses. The election will impact markets through three avenues: increased uncertainty, substantial changes to domestic policy, and potential disruptions to foreign relations and international trade arrangements.