March 27, 2017

The “American Health Care Act” (AHCA) is now off the legislative table in Washington.  After receiving mixed reviews (from politicians and from the CBO) when the AHCA was introduced on 3/06/17, GOP lawmakers tweaked the bill with 11 different amendments targeted at its dissenters.  But the House plan to vote last Thursday 3/23/17 (on the 7th anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act) was pushed off a day and then cancelled late Friday when it was determined that the 215 votes needed for passage was not going to happen (there are 237 House GOP members).  That suggests that at least 23 House Republicans rejected the personal appeal from House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and from President Donald Trump.  The White House is now likely to pivot its attention to tax reform (source: BTN Research).

Washington’s turmoil may have slowed down Wall Street’s momentum temporarily.  The S&P 500 has fallen in 6 of the last 7 trading days.  But the index is still up +5.2% YTD (total return) with just 1 week remaining in the 1st quarter 2017.  That’s better than the index’s 25-year average return of +1.6% during the months of January-February-March, i.e., 1st quarter performance over the period 1992-2016 (source: BTN Research).

UK Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to officially trigger her nation’s exit from the 28-nation European Union on Wednesday 3/29/17, i.e., the formal start of the “Brexit” process that could last as long as 2 years (source: BTN Research).

 

Notable Numbers

TWICE AS MANY – There were 404 operating oil rigs in the United States (on land and offshore) as of 5/27/16.  There were 809 operating oil rigs in the United States as of last Friday 3/24/17.  Thus, the number of working rigs has doubled in the last 10 months (source: Baker Hughes).

WE NEED YOUR MONEY – The Treasury Department will auction $193 billion in debt securities this week, the final week of the 1st quarter 2017.  For the entire quarter, the US will have borrowed $1.542 trillion, ranging in duration from 4-week bills to 30-year bonds (source: BTN Research).

WHICH ARE YOU? – “Doves” are Fed members that are inclined to maintain low interest rates to spur hiring.  “Hawks” are Fed members that are inclined to raise interest rates to combat inflation.  Of the current 10 members of the Federal Open Market Committee, 6 are considered “doves” and just 2 are considered “hawks.”  The final 2 members fall on a continuum between the 2 extremes (source: Federal Reserve).

REALLY OLD HOMES – 40% of the 75 million single family American homes that are owner-occupied as of 12/31/16 were built before 1970 (source: Census Bureau).

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