US and global equities surged on news that the US House of Representatives passed the tax reform bill, Cisco and Walmart posted blowout earnings and a potential bidding war emerged for Fox’s media assets. The rally on Thursday followed a week of carnage in the US high yield debt markets, flattening of the US Treasury yield curve and losses in the major stock market indices worldwide.
The 227–205 vote in Congress on tax reform illustrates the political polarisation in Washington. This means there will be a tough political battle for tax bill in the Senate, even among Trump foes in the Republican party. The GOP controls just 52 Senate seats, the Democrats will oppose the rich dude/corporate tax cuts with their usual loony left passion and Wisconsin Senate Ron Johnson has announced he will vote against the bill. If Theresa May faces a revolt in Westminster, Trump could well face a Republican revolt in the US Senate. This will be a Lehman scale shock for global financial markets if it happens, as I expect it will.
The military coup against Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe means the South African rand is an obvious short. After all, Jacob Zuma’s ANC is very close to Mugabe’s ZANU – Patriotic Front. Mugabe turned Zimbabwe into a personal fiefdom and an African financial basket case. The former Rhodesia has huge economic potential if the military establishes a credible technocratic government. Mugabe leaves office with a 200% inflation rate, a 90% unemployment rate and capital controls. The economy is hostage to Chinese state owned companies beholding to Beijing and tribal tensions between the Matabele and Shona people that predate even the arrival of Cecil Rhodes, let alone Ian Smith. Could Harare be the next frontier fairy tale? Stay tuned.