The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

Importing Trouble

12/06/2018

Inside our country, the stock market has been fretting over the possibility of slowing growth in corporate earnings and GDP, as well as rising interest rates, an ominous yield curve, the trade war, and the perpetual political circus.  As if all that was not enough burden on U.S. investors, we just imported two more – overnight.

First, the once fearsome OPEC looks like it may fall apart.  Qatar has been a member of OPEC over sixty years and just withdrew.  Today, there is no agreement on the needed production cuts, possibly producing chaos.  Tomorrow, Saudi Arabia is meeting with Russia to discuss forming another alliance.  If OPEC prices fall too far too fast, that hurts our economy as the U.S. energy sector is 15% of the S&P.  A small decrease in the price of oil is good for American consumers, but a big one is bad for American investors.  Given the heavy debt incurred by U.S. energy companies, it raises the specter of another financial crisis ever so slightly.

Second, Huawei is the world’s second largest handset marker, which is controlled by the Chinese government and has been accused of technical espionage.  The CFO is the daughter of the founder and was arrested in Canada for extradition to the U.S., for violation of the sanctions against Iran.  The arrest occurred in Vancouver during the meeting between Trump and Xi in Argentina.  To arrest a “special citizen” of China at such a time has significance to the Chinese that Americans cannot appreciate.  If China now retaliates by arresting American executives in China, the trade war will get a great deal more complicated, making the 90-day truce rather silly.

American investors are carrying a heavy burden of worry, but it is not the first time, nor will it be the last time.  It just “ain’t no fun”. . .

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