The Trade War
Stocks rose in December, punctuating a big year for stocks and a remarkable decade in capital markets. The trade conflict between the US and China finished 2019 on a positive note, with a “phase one” deal being agreed to in principle. While productive talks are a good sign, tariffs remain significantly higher than when the year began. Trade will remain a persistent headline for months or years to come.
In the UK, Boris Johnson won a decisive victory in a general election, giving him the required votes to take the UK out of the European Union, virtually assuring Brexit. This will of course create some economic disruption, but the process has been so prolonged that we expect most major participants are adequately prepared and impact to global growth will be minimal.
The SECURE Act
Congress passed the SECURE Act which pushed back the age for required minimum distributions from IRAs from 70.5 to 72, but only for those turning 70.5 in 2020 or later. On the flip side, moving forward, IRAs inherited by non-spouses will now generally have to be distributed within 10 years. The changes overall are a positive for many but could be costly for those who inherit an IRA in their prime working years. The rules are also expected to increase the use of annuities in 401k accounts, an example of successful lobbying by the financial industry.