As most know we firmly believe that economic fundamentals and policy matter more to the markets than politics. But this week has been unsettling from a political and national leadership standpoint. Some key elections are still bitterly contested. News has leaked that more Mueller indictments are coming. The Trump administration appears to be beset with infighting and turmoil. We continue to have chilly relationships with historical European allies. And then there are the horrific California fires.
To the extent that this sense of national unease is widely shared, one wonders if it is casting a chill on the U.S. equity markets, notwithstanding solid fundamentals. Nevertheless, we remind ourselves that the historical pattern of the U.S. stock market has been to perform well after midterm elections through year end.
- China Trade Talks Revived: Trade conflicts with China are probably the biggest cloud over equity markets now, so news of revived talks is welcomed. This CNN article has some useful details around the issues. Clashes among Trump's economic advisors are an important subplot in this important national issue. What advisors will ultimately have the President’s ear when it comes to making a deal?
- Amazon Chooses HQ2 Sites: Amazon threw everyone a curveball by choosing two sites for its secondary headquarters. We found it fascinating how the search dominated the news and wonder if NYC and Northern Virginia will ultimately recoup the massive financial inducements being offered.
- Update on Tax Cuts: It will take some time to validly assess whether the recent tax cuts will be in our national best interest. Here is an interim report card: Are the tax cuts working?
- Maine and Ranked Choice Voting: Maine’s 2nd Congressional District is gathering national attention for its implementation of ranked choice voting. How we feel about ranked choice voting must be influenced by our perception of a given election, but we ought to keep in mind that it does not inherently favor one political party. Do its benefits outweigh its drawbacks? I’m inclined to think so but am curious what others think.
- Hidden Tribes: A friend with a keen policy and political mind highly recommended this study called the Hidden Tribes of America. Getting a deeper understanding of what motivates other people must be one step toward getting beyond the us/them dichotomy which now dominates our political discourse.
- Are We Living Longer? Many of us assume that longevity is increasing in the U.S. The numbers tell a different, more complex story.
- Former Canadian Spy Finds Blogging Niche: I have been a mega fan of blogger Shane Parrish for years, following both his deeply thoughtful Farnam Street blog and now his podcast. Apparently I’m not the only one, as I just came across this New York Times article about him. I would put his work roughly in the category of self-improvement. Don’t expect mental bubble gum from Shane however. He reads and thinks deeply and explores topics like using mental models to make better decisions.
- Portland On a Roll? First Bon Appetit magazine discovered Portland’s restaurants. Now I see Portland listed as good place for being single. Portland even gets a shout out in this Boston Globe article about small but “mighty appealing” cities.
- Movie Recommendation: This recommendation utterly lacks originality, but both Anne and I thoroughly enjoyed the 2018 remake of A Star Is Born. We don’t see many movies in the theater any more but were happy we made the effort. I came away with great respect for the performances and skills of Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. We are currently “binging” on the various versions of The Bridge and The Tunnel-I’ll save that recommendation for another time.
- Book Gift Ideas: I know, it’s unbelievably early to start thinking about holiday gifting. We haven’t even stuffed ourselves with turkey yet. I get enormous pleasure from giving books as gifts so appreciated these 22 book gift ideas and pass them on.
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