Morgan Stanley
  • Thoughts on the Market Podcast
  • Oct 6, 2021

Washington’s Trio of Tricky Catalysts

With Michael Zezas
U.S. Public Policy Research for Investors


Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I'm Michael Zezas, Head of Public Policy Research and Municipal Strategy for Morgan Stanley. Along with my colleagues, bringing you a variety of perspectives, I'll be talking about the intersection between US public policy and financial markets. It's Wednesday, October 6th at 10:30 a.m. in New York.

When we checked in last week, the debate was all about fiscal policy. Would Democrats go small and just focus on passing the bipartisan infrastructure framework, or BIF? Or go big, linking the BIF to the bigger plan to expand the social safety net, environmental spending and the tax base. The difference matters, as a small approach could halt the increase in bond yields we've seen in recent weeks, whereas a big approach could keep them moving higher.

In short, it looks like the Democrats are at least going to continue to try and go big, as was our expectation. No votes were taken last week as it became obvious that there wasn't enough support for the small approach, which wouldn't fly with a bloc of progressives in the Democratic party. So, despite moderates' demands for a BIF vote by week's end, Democrats were forced to extend negotiations with a new soft deadline for action of October 31st. That reinforced to us the link between both pieces of legislation. So, in our view, we're still headed toward a multitrillion dollar package being enacted in the fourth quarter, which should boost deficits, medium term growth expectations, and therefore bond yields along with it.

But in the meantime, the rise in bond yields could take a break as Washington, D.C. deals with the debt ceiling. The Treasury Department says the ceiling must be raised or suspended by October 18th, less than two weeks from today, or else the U.S. could face default and an economic crisis. Republicans and Democrats continue to be at odds over how to avoid this. Without getting into the weeds on this too much, just know that at this point, neither party is showing an inclination to resolving this in a timely manner. That could create substantial uncertainty and it's one of the reasons that our U.S. equity team continues to expect stock prices could remain volatile in the near term.

So stay tuned - DC's influence on markets is sure to be felt through the end of the year.

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Discussions in D.C. over the infrastructure framework, budget reconciliation bill and debt ceiling could impact more than just politics. What it could mean for stocks and bond yields.

In this Thoughts on the Market series, Michael Zezas offers perspective on how U.S. public policy affects equity and fixed income markets, including trade tensions, infrastructure and government policy. Listen to this week’s update.

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