Thursday, November 17, 2016

Goldman: "Market expectations of quick fiscal expansion may be running ahead of political and legislative realities"

by Bill McBride on 11/17/2016 04:41:00 PM

A few brief excerpts from analysis by Goldman Sachs economist Alec Phillips: A Fiscal Boost in 2017: How Much, How Fast?

Tax reform has political momentum, which is likely to increase the budget deficit... In light of the election result, we assume that the deficit will increase by more than previously expected. Specifically, we assume that fiscal policy choices under the next Congress will increase the budget deficit by around 0.75% of GDP, or around $150bn, in 2018, and similar amounts over the next few years.

... but the market is more focused on fiscal “stimulus” than Congress is. There are risks in both directions to our fiscal assumptions, but we note that financial markets appear to be more focused on fiscal “stimulus” than lawmakers are. ...

Both sides support some type of infrastructure program, but neither side seems enthusiastic. Although President-elect Trump has highlighted infrastructure among the priorities he hopes to address, the reaction from Congressional Republicans has been tepid. While some believe the inclusion of an infrastructure plan in the tax legislation that Congress is expected to consider in 2017 could increase Democratic support for the combined package, others are wary of proposals to use the proceeds from taxing the unrepatriated profits of US multinationals to pay for it. Instead, Republican lawmakers appear more inclined to use the bulk of the proceeds from taxing those overseas earnings to offset the budgetary effects of reducing statutory tax rates.

Obamacare “repeal” seems unlikely to change the fiscal picture for 2017 or even 2018. Congress will face a number of challenges in reforming the ACA in 2017, and we would expect that the process to devise a replacement plan will take until late 2017, if not 2018. We would also expect whatever replaces the current system to take effect after the midterm congressional elections, in 2019. This could lead to uncertainty regarding the changes that might be made, but we expect that whatever changes to the ACA might ultimately occur, they would probably not take effect until 2018 at the earliest and more likely 2019.
CR Note: The "infrastructure" proposal that many investors are focusing on is really a proposal for about $100+ billion in tax credits to spur private investment in infrastructure (I've seen some people talking about $1 trillion in infrastructure investment - but that is the projected size of the private investment, not the proposed government spending).  This proposal is actually very modest in terms of a fiscal boost.   More analysis to come when we see the actual proposals, but I think analysts might be overestimating the boost from government spending in 2017.