It has been 63 days since Trump won the presidency and today we have finally had the pleasure of a press conference allowing the president-elect to begin unfolding his plan for the next few years with more substance (or waffle) than can be attained in 140 characters (which is all that Twitter, his preferred medium of rabble rousing, affords). Now just 9 days away from Trump taking the oath of office to become the 45th President of The United States of America markets are still itching for clarity on healthcare policies and potential tariffs as well as reassurances that Trump’s history of bombast and conflicts of interest are resolved.
As often, Trump talked from the hip, seemingly with more grandiloquence than specifics. In the first 3 minutes the president-elect managed to criticize the press, discuss auto companies, pharmaceuticals, veterans, military spending issues and promise to ‘be the greatest jobs producer that God ever created’. Beyond that he dispelled the rumours of being vulnerable to blackmail by Russia, persisted in refusing to divulge his tax returns and clarified how he plans to address his business conflicts of interests. Regarding this last point he will not be putting his assets into a blind trust, but instead hand management of all his companies to his sons Don and Eric along with Trump executive Allen Weisselberg. Clearly this helps separate Mr Trump from the daily responsibilities of his business empire but many would argue it does little to prevent the possible motivation of financial gain influencing executive decisions.
‘Obamacare is a complete and utter disaster’ was how Mr Trump begun discussing healthcare then promising to, ‘repeal and replace’ it as soon as he enters office. But beyond saying how ‘great’ the plan is no further details were provided. This continuing lack of clarity across the board creates a much higher level of uncertainty than markets currently seem to be factoring for. For although Trump’s welcome magnanimity invigorated markets from the moment he began his victory speech on November 9th (with many new all-time-highs and the SP500 Index up 8.8% since his victory) little has been actually said or done since to add substance or specifics to the campaign promises that much of the recent optimism has been built on. While these uncertainties continue to unfold our process of investing in high grade value debt continues to offer attractive yields and a cushion of protection against potential volatility.