As my years advance, I've noticed that they advance faster as I get older. So it is that 2019 flew by faster than any year before it. What happened this year, and what will it mean for the future? This year was so full of "once-in-a-lifetime events" that I had to go back and reread my old columns to understand what events shaped the year. Let's take a brief stroll down memory lane to process what these developments will mean for investors in the years to come.
The year began with and is ending with the tragedy that is Brexit. Not that I am opposed to or in favor of Brexit, necessarily. I am however saddened to see those that voted for Brexit not to get it. Now nearly four years after they voted for Brexit, the "leavers" might not actually "leave." Did Boris Johnson's electoral victory seal Brexit's fate or did Brexit seal Johnson's victory?
The perfect tool to ensure Johnson's placement in 10 Downing St., I predicted his anointment as early as 2017, and May's departure in my second column of 2019. Both came true and I'm sure many saw what I did years ago: Johnson is a great politician hand-picked for the job. He knows how to appeal to voters and win elections. Whether or not his policies will benefit the U.K. in the long term is unclear but what is clear is that he will enact the legislation that the elites who championed his unlikely ascension want him to. Look to 2020 for a year of increased trade to the benefit of the U.K. but to the detriment of income equality in that country.
The U.S.-China trade war was perhaps the most important economic story of 2019 and this week we have an indication that an agreement will be signed between both countries. Whether or not this agreement will include everything we've read about in the press is yet to be seen, but what is clear is that Trump is pushing back against China's advancement in high-tech, high-profit sectors. The U.S. is okay with importing low-cost, low-tech goods because it can't compete with China, nor does it want to, for these markets. The U.S. does, however, object to a China that threatens its dominance in global handset sales and the upcoming war over 5G dominance. There's no way Washington will allow Beijing to compete directly with it, and the trade war is just the first salvo in what will probably be more shots across the bow of the Chinese.
The final story of 2019 that will undoubtedly spill over into 2020 is the impending recession that didn't materialize. Will the global economy continue to grow and shrug off warning signs from Europe and China? Will the U.S.'s economic growth be enough to pull weaker countries out of their economic turmoil? Or has the rally run out of gas and will 2020 be the year of corrections and profit-taking? All of the warning signs are there, but I believe the Trump administration will take every measure to ensure the economy is doing well on Nov. 3, election day. The recession will have to wait.