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Week in Perspective: A Tale of Two Deals

Week in Perspective: A Tale of Two Deals

July 12, 2021

It appears we have a deal on infrastructure.


After weeks of grandstanding, posturing, and wrangling, it looks like a bipartisan infrastructure deal that both parties can live with is in the works.

Good news: no tax hikes. But you'll want to read on because we're not out of the woods yet.

Now, onto the politics.

The bipartisan deal (can’t call it a bill yet) finds $579 billion of common ground from President Biden’s original $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan.1

It focuses on “hard” infrastructure — such as roads, bridges, rail, and public transit projects, as well as electric vehicle infrastructure and broadband internet — that both sides can agree on.

So, is it a done deal?

Not even close.

The current framework represents a compromise that makes no one happy, and there’s still a fair bit to hammer out (including how to pay for the plan).

The deal still needs to gather broad support in both parties, especially among those who think it’s too little or too much and might seek to scuttle the whole thing.

Fortunately, it doesn’t look like higher taxes are part of the deal. Though the math looks a little fuzzy from where I’m standing, it looks like funding sources could include repurposed pandemic funding, better IRS enforcement, and possibly digging through couch cushions for spare change (joking).1

So, that means my taxes won’t go up, right?

Not so fast.

There’s another bill on the table. And it's a $1.8 trillion doozy.2

The second bill, called the American Families Plan, focuses on so-called “human” infrastructure and contains many Democrat-backed priorities like childcare, climate change, health care, and education.3

Basically, the initiatives that couldn’t get Republican support are packaged up in a separate bill.

It looks like the Democrats are planning to pass that bill through a reconciliation process that doesn’t require Republican support to get through Congress.

Inside that bill are the tax increases we’ve been on the watch for. Higher taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations, as well as eliminating the step-up basis on inherited assets, among other tax hits.4

Since the bills are independent, it’s really not certain yet which (if either) will pass. Or when.

Will one pass and not the other? Will both grind to a halt this summer?

Hard to say.

What does all this mean?

That depends on where you’re standing. For industries expecting to benefit, it means an influx of tasty government cash.

For those worried about America’s crumbling infrastructure, it represents some critical moves in the right direction.

For those concerned about the spending spree the government’s been on (and how we’re going to pay for it all), it’s another brick in a looming wall of debt that will eventually come due.

Bottom line, it’s not nearly over yet. I strongly suspect the coming weeks will be full of more politicking, more grandstanding, and more arm twisting.

The S&P 500 (+0.4%), Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.2%), and Nasdaq Composite (+0.4%) eked out small gains and ended the week in record territory. The small-cap Russell 2000 struggled this week and declined 1.1%. 

The trading week was shortened to four days in observance for July 4th on Monday, so the week's action started on Tuesday when the S&P 500 snapped a streak of seven straight record closes. Reportedly, investors were worried about peak growth due to a deceleration in the June ISM Non-Manufacturing Index and the spread of the Delta Covid variant. 

The next day featured a mega-cap driven advance before the peak growth narrative again resurfaced as an excuse to do some selling on Thursday. The biggest source of angst was out of the Treasury market after the 10-yr yield traded as low as 1.25% in part due to short-covering activity since many people had been calling for yields to go up and not down. 

To be fair, growth concerns seemed legitimate on Thursday after Japan extended its coronavirus state of emergency through Aug. 22 (barring spectators from the Olympics), and reports indicated the People's Bank of China (PBOC) could soon cut the required reserve ratio for banks due to slower growth expectations. The PBOC did just that by 50 bps on Friday. 

Stocks and Treasury yields recovered a bit on Thursday and continued their rebound bids on Friday, with some attributing technical factors and a buy-the-dip mindset for the resilient price action. At the end of the sloppy week, the growth stocks stood atop the leaderboard while the value stocks lagged: the Russell 1000 Growth Index rose 1.0%, and the Russell 1000 Value Index declined 0.3%.

The S&P 500 consumer discretionary (+1.5%) and real estate (+2.6%) sectors finished with strong gains and were the only sectors that rose more than 1.0%. Conversely, the energy (-3.4%), communication services (-0.4%), and financials (-0.6%) sectors were the only sectors that closed lower. 

Interestingly, WTI crude futures briefly hit a six-year high above $76 per barrel after OPEC+ was unable to agree to further production increases. On a related note, the EIA reported its seventh-straight weekly inventory draw. 

The 10-yr yield ended the week at 1.36%, or seven basis points below last Friday's settlement.




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