Sep 30, 2018

Preparing for the end of the tax cut "sugar rush"

Reproduced from FactSet. Nationwide estimates for August 2018. Chart: Axios Visuals

Analysts and economists say there is a semi-imminent doom and gloom coming for stocks and the economy, thanks in part to a diminishing boost from President Trump's tax cuts.

The big question: Is there a "sugar rush" from the tax cuts, and if so, does it matter enough that the market and economy will tank when it wears off?

One camp says don't sweat the chart. Waning influence of tax cuts won't have a disastrous impact on companies' earnings growth, according to recent projections by Nationwide Financial's Mark Hackett:

"Even factoring out the contributions from lower corporate taxes and share buybacks, earnings growth would still be at a healthy rate ... indicating that most earnings strength is not coming from the 'sugar rush' of tax reform."

The other side: JPMorgan says in a recent note that U.S. stocks are riding a "sugar high" thanks to the tax cuts and you should sweat that chart.

  • Analysts there say the end of the tax-cut impact will lead to dramatic earnings declines followed by cuts to earnings guidance.

The bottom line: We're not going to know for a while, so for now, pick a side. If you're in the sugar-rush camp, the question is, "When will the economy and markets come down from the high?" If you're not, you're hunting for data points that prove the economy's 10-year expansion is on solid footing, with or without the boost from the tax cuts.

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