Markets shrug off impeachment proceedings to remain firmly focussed on trade

Markets have got used to Mr Trump - they may or may not like him but at least they got a clear idea of how he’s likely to proceed

Donald Trump

How much of an impact is the impeachment of Donald Trump likely to make?

Not much, if you set any store by the judgement of markets. In the US the Dow has continued to hit new highs over the past couple of weeks, even as the impeachment circus has rolled into town and Mr Trump’s twitter feed has grown ever more shrill in his own defence.

It’s a striking contrast to 2017, when talk of impeachment swirled and the corridors of power were abuzz with speculation as to its potential ramifications. Back then the markets were highly jittery and nervous at the prospect, and the volatility that ensued was seen as a threat in itself to the economic recovery that President Trump was trying to engineer.

Fast forward two years though, and the picture is very different.

For one thing, markets have got used to Mr Trump. They may or may not like him (delete as appropriate for sector or demographic), but they have at least got a clear idea of how he’s likely to proceed and what his Presidency is going to look like.

That getting to know-you period has been crucial in allowing for the current market indifference to impeachment proceedings. Mr Trump has shown himself to be a brash political battler and is unlikely to be browbeaten into any climbdowns or major policy shifts by the weight of pressure of the Washington establishment on him.

Gone is the uncertainty, and like him or loathe him, broadly speaking we now know what to expect from Mr Trump. The markets despise uncertainty, or to put it another way, they prize certainty above all else when it comes to setting the backdrop for daily trades.

So, Mr Trump is now a known quantity, he has enemies, yes, but also friends, and much like any other Presidency, investors can now feel free enough to get down to business without worrying about any major paradigm shifts.

It’s helpful too that the impeachment process itself stands very little chance of succeeding. Yes, the narrative the Democrats are running shows a damning trail of incompetence and potential corruption at the heart of Mr Trump’s government. But look by contrast to what the Republican narrative is showing: you guessed it, a damning trail of incompetence and potential corruption at the heart of the Democratic campaign to unseat Mr Trump.

Voters outside the standard political bubbles are by and large weary of this game of political tit-for-tat, and everyone knows in any case that once the impeachment proceedings move into the Senate they’ll be dead in the water because of the Republican majority there.

It could even be the case, because the Republicans can set the timetable and agenda for proceedings, that it could end up damaging the electoral chances of the Democrats in what, after all, will be an election year next year.

It’s easy to see in that context why House majority leader Nancy Pelosi was for so long opposed to any idea of impeachment, and she may well be proven right. After all, the overwhelming impression that’s been given so far, to those who are able to look up out of the minutiae of proceedings, is that Mrs Pelosi was steamrollered into giving the go-ahead for this impeachment by a party that’s been taken over by a kind of outrage culture most commonly encountered on social media.

If that’s the nature of the threat to Mr Trump, then it probably won’t amount to anything much, and the markets will be right to have remained largely nonplussed.

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