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Printed: 13 July 2024 1:06 AM


5 Jul 2024 - Hedge Clippings | 05 July 2024



Hedge Clippings | 05 July 2024

This week we're going to start on politics, and then move on to the economy - or more specifically the outlook for inflation and interest rates. This is partly because last week's Hedge Clippings only touched on the US Presidential Debate as it was still underway as we were putting the finishing touches to our commentary, and partly because we underestimated how badly Biden had performed. We did comment that "early indications were Biden faltered badly on occasions," whereas it turns out even he admitted (finally) that it wasn't his greatest performance. You can say that again!

Based on current polling it looks as if Trump (assuming Biden doesn't take the hint and pull out) will be heading back to the White House in early November, complete, thanks to a stacked Supreme Court ruling that gives a President immunity from prosecution for official acts while taken in office. On the face of it, that appears somewhat bizarre, but we have to admit we don't fully understand either US constitutional law (i.e. what constitutes "official") or, if it comes to that, the American political landscape. If we did understand the latter we'd be able to explain how a country, and a democratic one to boot, of 330 million people, only has a choice between Sleepy Joe - aged 81 and showing every bit of it - or the Donald - a convicted felon, confirmed philanderer, and well known golf cheat.

The really unfortunate side of the lack of choice is that competition is good - and Trump in particular needs a strong opponent to keep him honest - or at least to call out his more dishonest claims. Assuming Trump wins in November, expect the unexpected. At least there'll be plenty of material for us on a weekly basis!

Meanwhile the UK's initial election results are in, and the pollsters seem to have been absolutely spot on the money - much like Rishi Sunak's staff, who somehow thought it would be smart to have a punt on the date of an early election. In politics, much like any other confrontational battle, disunity is death. The fact that the Conservatives went through four Prime Ministers in five years, (Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss, and finally Rishi Sunak) resulted in the inevitable. Given that Theresa May (PM 2016 - 2019) achieved some economic success (falling national debt, record employment, and income tax cuts for 32 million people) one could argue that her predecessor David Cameron has a lot to answer for by announcing a divisive and avoidable Brexit referendum dividing the nation (sound familiar?) and promptly quitting once the result was in.

Although yesterday's election result was overwhelmingly in favour of a change of government, only time will tell if the UK's many problems are reversible, or if the downhill slope of the past 10 or more years can be reversed.

Closer to home, Albo won't have been pleased with the distraction of one of his (now ex) senators crossing the floor, and subsequently leaving the government, just when he was wanting to focus on tax cuts for all, energy relief for all, and wage rises for all lower paid workers. We're not against these moves, but we doubt the RBA would have been overjoyed by their potential inflationary effects at a time that they're trying to curb demand, and tame inflation.

The RBA would have been more pleased by household spending data released today by the ABS which showed an increase over 12 months to May of just 0.1%, with services up +2.3% while spending on goods fell -2.5%. Household spending has been trending down since September 2022, and when combined with June quarter CPI and retail trade data both due on the 31st of July will be a key part of the mix when the RBA next meets on the 6th and 7th of August.

It will probably be too early at that stage to see the effects of the government's tax cuts and income support, but also too early to hope for a rate cut.

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