Fifteen stories above Wall Street, it looks from here like the only thing standing in the way of the success of the Trump trade is the Trump economy, which is threatening to grow so fast that either the Federal Reserve or the bond market, or both, will consign to history the spectacular rise in stocks investors have enjoyed since President Trump's election.
The Dow fell 167 points today, ending a 350-point swing during trading after the Federal Open Markets Committee released its latest minutes, showing officials expect the U.S. economy to keep growing, and to generate higher inflation as it does. The "upside risks" to economic growth have increased as consumers increase their spending and show greater confidence, possibly because of the tax cuts passed in Congress.
"A majority of participants noted that a stronger outlook for economic growth raised the likelihood that further gradual policy firming would be appropriate," according to the summary of the Fed's minutes.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note subsequently rose to about 2.95% at 3:13 p.m. ET, while the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond increased to 3.226%. Bond yields move inversely to prices.
Higher bond yields also make equity investors contemplate moving their money into fixed income securities. The faster the economy grows, the more likely investors are going to conclude that the equity punch-bowl won't be overflowing for much longer.
For investors, the economy during the Trump administration may be providing too much of a good thing. Back in January, around Trump's first anniversary in office and amid a surge in which the Dow rose more than 1,000 points in eight days, it looked like equities were not only rising, but going to rise perpetually.
That's because for the 50% of Americans who participate in the stock market, the tax cuts just added to good news about the prospects for U.S. corporations to make greater profits, which is the point of investing in stocks in the first place.
Cutting the nominal corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% also raised the prospects for rising dividends and stock buybacks for equity holders. Look at Action Alerts Plus holding Apple's (AAPL) 25% share growth in the last year for an example of investor enthusiasm for the cash repatriation the new law encourages.
Even if the tax changes are repealed sometime in the future should Trump and Republicans lose their grip on power, higher corporate tax rates are at least a year or more away. Under President Trump, investors can be confident that U.S. corporations' profit-making power will be unchallenged by the actions of government regulators.
Meanwhile, companies facing difficulties in meeting rules regarding environmental protection, the production and distribution of energy, housing and construction, worker safety or consumer protection can plan for the near future with confidence, knowing that the President is a cheerleader for unfettered capitalism.
Corporate chiefs can take their cue from recent actions by the heads of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the Cabinet secretaries who lead the departments of Energy, the Interior, Housing and Urban Development, Education and Justice.
The only thing that can stop the Trump trade, as we're seeing, is that it's spurring the economy to perform, paradoxically, too well. That, and the prospects that Trump and his negotiators will scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). That might give some pause to the multinationals such as the aforementioned Apple.