October is the cruellest month for markets. What to fear most? Markets? Energy? China? or America? Or will it be a “no-see-um” that sinks us?
Even as China’s markets wobble, they will view The Afghan Skedaddle as an opportunity to pressure the US.
China’s markets are under pressure from the widening Chinese Communist Party’s regulatory crackdown – which is likely as much about imposing party discipline and control as much as it was ever about consumer protection. But as investors fret about crashing China stocks, rising global uncertainty and the destabilisation caused by the Afghan debacle, the Chinese are likely to up the pressure and further test a distracted US administration. “Interesting times” lie ahead for global markets as the tension threatens to escalate.
The shocking return of the Taliban dominates the headlines. It has critical implications for markets. Biden’s loss of credibility creates many hurdles and could drive the US towards isolationism – bruised by yet another flawed foreign adventure. Meanwhile, markets struggle with inflation and climate consequences.
The media is full of China noise – does the rising tension mean it may become un-investible? The Chinese economy is very different, but recognisably similar. Investment into China boils down to how effectively a capitalist economy can succeed in the face of government diktat, bureaucracy, and intervention – and on that basis it’s a proceed with caution market.
Nothing to worry about… except Pandemic, Bonds, Inflation or Deflation, Record Container Prices and Geopolitics? Is there any chance of compromise and a deal on the US infrastructure package everyone agrees is necessary – or will it sink into the partisan swamp? And Cathie Wood talks up her investment strategies – but what’s the substance behind the leading Zeitgeist Investor?
The world looks poised on the edge of a synchronous recovery on pandemic recovery, climate-change, renewables and infrastructure investments. It will fuel a massive commodities supercycle, but is not without danger in terms of currency confidence and debt risks. A key proxy will be copper – which could rally strongly, yet still looks cheap in dollar terms. However, the growing sense of fractured political polarisation and gridlock in the US suggests substantial dollar depreciation.
Across the Occidental Economy there seems a trend towards political failure as polarization, sleaze and opportunism takes hold, even as electorates suffer from increasing inequality and declining prospects. As the threat of post-pandemic inflation rises, the ingredients are all there for further instability and labour strife. It’s all happening as the geo-political spheres of influence between China and the West are being redrawn.
The successful mass pushback on the European Super League may seem a minor issue contained in the sports arena, but it highlights growing voter dissatisfaction with politics, wealth inequality, questions who will pay for funding recovery, and just how much longer the speculative bubbles can continue as the world changes.
Markets are priced for perfection in a very imperfect world. As stocks hit new highs, are the bulls or bears correct? Politics are likely to be the major influence on where we go next, but lurking around the next corner might just be inflation.
You could not make this up; an unimaginably complex WW3 Techno-thriller unfolding as markets stumble and global supply chains hover on the edge of anarchy. On the other hand, maybe that’s just the way it was planned.