Since U.S. President Donald Trump first took office in 2017, “he’s been under impeachment threat,” says Angelo Katsoras, a geopolitical analyst at National Bank of Canada.
Speaking at the National Bank Independent Network’s annual conference on Friday, Katsoras noted that it’s difficult to predict what’s coming down the pike and how it will affect markets.
Trump, Katsoras observed, has been embroiled in more than a few scandals in recent years. “First it was the Russian collusion, then it was the Russian obstruction and then it was [the idea] that [Trump] was mentally unstable,” he said. “Following that was the Stormy Daniels saga, and now we’re in the Ukrainian saga. We’re dealing with a never-ending impeachment threat.”
Katsoras said that support for impeaching Trump has “jumped,” but added that “it’s important to realize, too, that it has mostly jumped among the Democrats.”
“If you’re watching CNN in the morning, you think Trump is finished. If you’re watching Fox News in the evening, everything is okay. We have two parallel worlds.”
Katsoras shared that there are 228 votes in the House of Representatives supporting an impeachment inquiry. That’s more than the 218 votes needed to begin proceedings, but none of those votes comes from the Republicans. On the Republican side, 183 have voted not to impeach Trump, while 14 have yet to respond.
What’s more, Katsoras said, is that the “the Republican base loves” Trump. Since no Republican has come out saying they would support an impeachment inquiry, Katsoras said it’s possible that “turning against Trump if you’re on the Congress would be career suicide. He’s almost as popular as [40th U.S. President] Ronald Regan was among the base, back in the 1980s.”
Even if proceedings start, Katsoras said, “the question we have to ask as investors is [whether] this impeachment will be more like 1974 or 1998.”
Katsoras noted that the impeachment proceedings against 37th U.S. President Richard Nixon, who was the only president to ever resign, started with most of the country and the Republican party opposed to them. “But as things were revealed [about Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate scandal], the public opinion and the Republicans turned against Nixon.”
It was a different matter in 1998, Katsoras said, when “it was the Republicans who began the impeachment process, and they got hurt. Public opinion was that it was [an] overreach to try and impeach [42nd U.S. President Bill] Clinton for having an affair with an intern. And his popularity actually went up [as a result].”
Today, “we’re somewhere in between,” Katsoras said. While he predicted Trump may be impeached by the House of Representatives, he also thought the Senate might block the move. Kastoras didn’t think Trump would get a bump in support as a result of impeachment proceedings: “The country is so partisan and divided.”
As for how impeachment proceedings might affect the markets, Kastoras also looked to history for answers.
“When Nixon was targeted, the markets corrected significantly. However, that was more because of the Middle Eastern oil crisis in the 1970s and the breaking of the dollar.”
Kastoras added that the market also corrected “a bit” in 1998, but that there was a financial crisis at the time which exacerbated the situation. “When the International Monetary Fund got involved, things kind of stabilized,” Kastoras said.
Kastoras predicted impeachment alone would not be enough to derail U.S. markets. “The bad news is if something else occurred in the global economy, it could add to the gloom,” he said. “That’s how we have to look at it.”
Earlier this month, Charles Myers, founder and chairman of Signum Global Advisors, spoke at the second annual ETF summit hosted by Advisor’s Edge and Investment Executive, predicting that Trump would be impeached by American Thanksgiving.