If we had thought that 2018 was a year to remember, we were certainly not disappointed with 2019.
The U.S and European equity markets hit record highs going into this week’s holidays and the extended U.S – China trade war ended in a phase 1 trade agreement.
Perhaps more so than in any other year, geopolitics gripped the global financial markets more so than the stats. There was monetary policy also in focus, however, as the markets went on a rollercoaster ride of rising expectations of a recession to economic euphoria.
Without a doubt, the U.S President continued to be the global financial markets’ main protagonist.
The U.S President was the center of attention in 2019 and continues to be with a week to go as we approach a new decade.
It all started back in early 2018 when Trump hit aluminum and steel imports with tariffs. Few would have anticipated the U.S President to hold is ground for an unprecedented 20 odd months to deliver a phase 1 agreement.
When you throw in the USMCA, which finally got the seal of approval after a year of wrangling, it’s hard to argue against Trump’s success at making America great again.
In spite of continued economic growth, he even managed to get the FED to reverse rate hikes, while also standing his ground on foreign affairs. A prime example was the HK Bill in support of the HK protestors. Few would have allowed such a bill to pass at such a delicate time in U.S – China trade negotiations.
To be frank, many had argued that he would only have his first 100 days to deliver on campaign pledges…
They couldn’t have been more wrong.
What he plans to deliver going into next year’s presidential election campaign remains to be seen but it’s likely to be bolder than the last one…
Boris Johnson’s sheer political resilience and persistence deserve a top 5 position. After disappearing into the political wasteland alongside the likes of David Cameron, there was a swift revival in late 2019.
Theresa May, Brexit, and ritain were on the ropes. With a minority government, Johnson failed in Parliament with a string of defeats before defying the odds.
Contrary to the EU and the Establishment’s threats, Johnson garnered a revised Brexit agreement and even got Parliament to vote in favor.
He then forced a first December General election since 1923 to deliver the Tory Party’s best outing since Thatcher’s heyday…
The Tories are now with a sizeable majority and finally reunited, with the British PM in prime position to draw the best out of the EU over the next 12-months.
And let us not forget, his pal sits in the Oval Office, just across the Pond…
In a year where many failed to stand up against the U.S President, Trump’s nemesis managed to avoid delivering zero interest rates. In a calm and collected manner, the FED Chair steered the U.S economy away from a recession. Powell managed this without the fanfare that we saw with his predecessor.
Trump may lay claim to the sustained growth and optimistic outlook, but the FED Chair does need some if not, most of the recognition. After all, the phase 1 trade agreement only came into being in the final month of the year…
If Boris gets a mention then Nigel also deserves a spot in the top 5. Firstly, he upset the apple cart in the EU elections, raising anti-EU sentiment in Brussels. He was then also a key figure in the Tory Party’s euphoric victory in early December.
His decision to fall on his sword to deliver a Tory Party victory was a rare event in politics. He did ultimately ensure Brexit. The people responded in kind, giving Johnson his majority to wrap up Brexit by the end of 2020…
While there may have been a few that got things going, it was the sheer numbers. The unity seen across HK through late 2019 deserves a spot. While the violence could have been avoided, Hong Kong’s will to retain its identity was an impressive one. It was some time ago when the world saw images of Tiananmen Square and Tank Man. 30 years to be precise.
There was not be a single iconic picture to resonate with. The length of the stand against China and outcome, however, was impressive. Beijing and the world saw firsthand just how passionate the Cantonese are in retaining their identity.
In terms of U.S politics, it was a trailblazer year for the Democrat. She became the first-ever woman speaker of the U.S House of Representatives. If that wasn’t enough, she also delivered just the 3rd impeachment in history.
Anyone who achieves such feats deserves a spot in the top 5. She may not get to oust the U.S President, but she has certainly achieved political greatness. That’s quite remarkable when considering the political landscape.
Powell and Trump were both in 2018’s top 5. We now have Boris and Donald on either side of the Pond. It will be interesting to see who makes it into next year’s list…