The U.S. stock market soared after Trump’s electoral victory. Investors and traders put bets on his pledge to reduce corporate tax rates, pull back regulations and increase infrastructure spending. As seen in the chart on the right, fourth quarter returns for the U.S. stock market were higher for small companies and value-oriented stocks. Looking forward, the common theme among market forecasters is a low to moderate US stock market return (mid-single digit). This may be due to current valuations (see chart below) with price to earnings ratios well above their historical norms and an underlying fear of bubbles resulting from the Great Recession.
During a market update call on January 10th, an adviser asked if the “Trump Bump” could really be paid for by the President-elect. The market strategist explained it may be possible through reducing corporate tax rates and that every 1% drop in the effective corporate tax rate potentially generates an additional $1.50 of earnings for the S&P 500, currently at $115 per share (see attachment “Corporate profits”).
“If Trump dropped the current effective tax rate from 26% to 18%,” the strategist hypothesized, “earnings per share would increase to $128 and pay for the rally.” Ironically, “in each year from 2006 to 2012, at least two-thirds of all active corporations had no federal income tax liability…for tax years 2008 to 2012, profitable large U.S. corporations paid, on average, U.S. federal income taxes amounting to about 14 percent of the pretax net income that they reported in their financial statements (for those entities included in their tax returns).”
So, what do we know? There is a general concern about a continued decline in Treasury prices that coincides with the expectation of three Federal Reserve rate hikes in 2017. Also, leading economists like Trump’s commitment to infrastructure spending and believe it will boost non-college wages and jobs while, at the same time, they strongly disagree with his isolationist policies and deregulation of the energy industry.
What we don’t know?… the price of populism. I could not find an estimate on the timeframe or projected cost to Americans that economists fear. By the time you read this, America will have inaugurated Donald Trump as President of the United States and we will be embarking on his “100-day action plan to Make America Great Again” (attached). Whether it’s due to economic insecurity or a cultural backlash, Europeans and Americans have voted for protectionist leaders that have made big promises of change. Perhaps America will be the model for Brexit.
 GAO-16-363: Published: March 17, 2016 “Most Large Profitable U.S. Corporations Paid Tax but Effective Tax Rates Differed Significantly from the Statutory Rate”